Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

...deliciously decadent -- or gross?

When I first discovered Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums, Musc Ravageur was the one that captivated me. I was deep into my anti-fleur phase, not the least interested in hearing anything a flower had to tell me. (I've since resolved that stand-off, with Frédéric Malle Une Rose now in my top five personal favorites.)

Musc Ravageur, all furry warmth and musk with a bit of cinnamon, clove and vanilla, is too emphatic a concoction to call a “skin scent”. Yet the oil version, which I prefer to the eau de parfum, does hover invitingly close to your body in a way that allows you to claim partial credit for the good smell.

The oil is pretty much all base notes, focusing on musk, amber and the smidge of vanilla which encourages the creaminess. The edp gets there in the end, too, but not before journeying through the land of lavender and clove. All very nice, but it has a masculine flourish that isn't quite for me.

I think of Musk Ravageur as a fraternal twin to Le Labo Labdanum 18, given that both are thick, cozy, animal-inspired scents created by Maurice Roucel. Once I discovered Labdanum 18, with its more powdery, less aggressive ambered musk, it became my preferred source of perfume purr.

I tried to share my enthusiasm for both MR and L18 with my Perfume Pen Pal Dan, but he merely shrugged at Labdanum 18. And then he let rip with the following tirade at Musc Ravageur:
This, my friend, is where we part ways. Using the vernacular of an earlier generation, Roucel really goes for it, doesn't he? It was so strong! At first I was worried it was the fragrance equivalent of a tattoo and I was going to have to laser off the outer layer of my skin just to get it off me. And it smelled gross. That seems like an especially inarticulate description, I know, but I can't think of anything more appropriate to say. Might my sample have been from a bad batch? Because I've smelled lots of other Roucel scents and none of them smelled gross (Kenzo Air practically doesn't even exist). But Musc Ravageur? Wow. Gross.

I'm not exactly sure what triggered the gag reflex for Dan, since MR doesn't hit any of the popular stank stops: barnyard, gusset, diaper pail. It's rich without being a gourmand, though some MR fans claim they pick up chocolate. There is a “too muchness” to it, though, and while that might send Dan on a series of Silkwood showers, to the rest of us, Musc Ravageur smells like delicious decadence.

Check for retailers. The oil is no longer available.


  1. why is it that the combo of your comments and Dan's both draw me to want I have been fighting the inner want for awhile...will the battle be lost? I find I am drawn to a scent with a challenge. Hey you know anything about the APOM by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. That seems where my next temptation lies..although I know Musc is going to win me over one of these days.

  2. I find it interesting how scents can attract us and seem gross at the same time.

    Personally, my push-pull scents are rose fragrances. Who doesn't like the smell of roses, right? Well, I don't. And I do. The smell of roses is wonderful - in a rose. In a scent I get overripe melon, or the salty quality that reminds me of (to use one of your phrases) personal emissions of a feminine nature....Not that I mind that smell. But I'm not sure I find it attractive in a perfume. Or maybe I do, but I'm too chicken to walk around smelling like that. In public.

    Well, I'm getting in over my head here. So over and out. For now.

  3. Hi Katie! I absolutely love Musc Ravageur, especially because my mum said it made her think of the kind of scent she would have worn in the seventies. She owned a candle factory in London back then, and was very striking with a honey-coloured bowl cut and dark-rimmed tinted glasses. My mum's attitude towards a scent can influence how I feel about it - I can't wear the original Prada because she was so offended by it; she appreciated Miller Harris Coeur d'ete on me, which some people find unremarkable, and so I feel very fond of it!
    I'm interested if you find any similarity between Musc Ravageur and The Different Company's Jasmin de Nuit? I really do, though the latter is fruitier, more purple, and I guess does have a floral element.

  4. Ah, the pushmepullme of "he says she says", onesmalldog. Re the APOMs, I've not had a chance to wear them yet, but on the blotter, the pour femme strikes me as a sweet orange blossom edging into the Miel de Bois area, with a rubbery element. The pour homme is a spicy orange blossom with a barbershop cologne feel.

  5. Junelady, when you're smelling melon or "lady juice" in a "rose" perfume, don't blame the rose - blame the perfumer. S/he's the one who is playing fast and loose with Mother Nature by morphing the original rose into various homages involving other flora and fauna. Some hit the spot, others don't.

    Right now, I'm pretty hot and bothered over the bombshell rose of Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour Femme. I'm wearing it now, and falling more and more in love with each sniff. Look out for a review soon!

  6. Mia, your mum sounds like coolness personified. I've not made the connection between Musc Ravageur and Jasmin de Nuit, but I'll keep a nostril on alert for that the next time I try JdN.

  7. Katie, that's a very interesting comment on my rose-ambivalence - thank you. I guess I still have to smell a true - or loyal - rose fragrance.

    I've tried a couple of "untrue" roses recently: Kate by Kate Moss. The opening was to sour for my liking, something really sour suffocated the faint traces of rose that I could detect - the next morning I smelled something entirely different on the blouse I wore the day before: something a bit masculine and dry and definitely un-rosey.

    I've worn YSL Elle a couple of times - it's a bit hard-nosed red-berry wrapped around a peony for my taste, it doesn't soften as much as I'd like it too, although the dry down is my favorite part of Elle. There's a curious absence of lushness in Elle but I haven't given up on it yet. There is something about that attracts me still.

    And, suprisingly, Elle plays very well with Miss Dior Cherie. I wore the scents on consecutive days with the same scarf in my outfit (I use the term in the widest possible sense) and the blend of these two fragrances was lush and heavenly. I gave YSL-E the softness it lacks on its own - and rendered MDC a bit more facetted than just pure girly rub me the right way heaven.

    I did the same "trick" with MDC and Boucheron by Boucheron - and again, the combination of the two on my scarf was really interesting.

    So, eventhough MDC doesn't care if we can look up her skirt she's a good sport and an acoomplished diplomat :-)

    I'm looking forward to your upcoming rose review! Inspired by your preference for rose scents (a.o.) I'm looking into those now - I'm thinking: It's no great feat to indulge in the easy pleasures of one's comfort zones. My appreciation of rose scents may never be more than intellectual but I'm willing to try. On that note I'll try out Stella one of these days - you described it as a beginner's rose, and that's apparently what this rose novice needds :-)

  8. Haha, Junelady, I like your character reading of Miss Dior Cherie:

    "even though MDC doesn't care if we can look up her skirt, she's a good sport and an accomplished diplomat"

    I like both Kate Moss and Elle, and both are rose/patchouli blends (as is my newest love, Lumiere Noire pour Femme). Kate Moss is indeed thin and sour (perhaps reflecting its muse), but I cut it some slack since it's cheap, and different to the usual drugstore juicebox frags.

    Sounds like you're not averse to your perfume rose getting jzushed up with patchouli, you could check out Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance and Fresh Cannabis Rose. The former is sweeter, and the latter is tart with lemon freshness.

    Also, it occurs to me that Stella has a definite "morning after" salty sultriness that might not sit well with you - in public, anyway.

    2 bright, straight-ahead roses are Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose and Jo Malone Red Roses.

    Hey! I do that same scarf trick. It's a great way to layer perfumes without committing the skin space.

  9. it is so funny you bring up Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour Femme. I was reading about them the other night and I am tempted to try the homme version..not that I am afraid of the femme version either. I ware LeLabo would you compare them...can a man pull of the femme version of Lumiere Noire? or would I be happy with the homme version? so many many scents.

    xo onesmalldog

  10. "wear" that

  11. Well, I think that Dan just ruined MR for me. I have one of the small travel sprays. Every once in a while, I work up the nerve to wear it and its gooeyness is nice for a few hours. But now, I'm afraid that all I'll be able to think when I wear it is "oh gross!"

    But roses are a different story. Maybe in addition to a Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire pour Femme review (great scent!) you could do a rose post. Dark roses, lush roses, green roses, simple roses, oriental roses. Oh, can you tell that I like roses?

  12. m61 - you're preaching to the rosy choir! What are some of your rose faves?

    onesmalldog - I think LM pour Femme is pretty femme-y. It does start off reminiscent of Rose 31, or more accurately, The Different Co Rose Poivree, but it thickens up into an intense woody/musky rose that's sort of Stella/Agent Provocateur-ish.

    Have yet to try LM pour Homme.

  13. Oh no! Where to begin?

    -FM Une Rose - chewy dirt-strewn rose
    -Les Parfums de Rosine Rose Kashmirie - spicy rose
    -Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Femme earthy femme rose
    -Rochas Tocade nilla rose (see? I'm not a nilla-phobe! just a soli-nillaphobe)
    -Le Galion Snob indolic jasmine rose (great name, eh?)
    -Krigler Manhattan Rose-clear summer rose

    Oh no! Where to stop!

  14. Katie, I am guilty of research, which means that I've sniffed my way to a UK web site that sells Juliette Has a Gun. The brand name alone attracts me. I'm easy like that.

    Until a while ago the brand was available in Denmark where I live but apparently no more. Of course I had never heard of the brand before that happened. How clever is that?

    You're completely right about patchouli. I like it. I'm not sure that I could identify the stuff in a blind sniff, but I seem to like many fragrances that has patchouli as a supporting character.

    You might also be right about Stella, at least for now. Hey, I've totally surrendered to the smell of sweaty male armpit in my perfume (I've posted a comment on my Bulgari Black purchase under your review of it on this page) - it would be a bit weird (or worrisome?) if somehow I couldn't own up to the salty sultriness of my own gender. I'm putting this one on my list of fun dare myself challenges :-D

  15. m61, I know and adore those first 4 on your rose list, but haven't encountered the last 2. Just read up on Snob on Octavian's blog - look at the great artwork for Snob:

    Junelady, well, we're attracted to what we're attracted to, so if man-pit is your flavor of funk, so be it. And that makes me think even more that you'd find the FK Lumiere Noire pour Femme enjoyable, what with its spicy pit opening.

  16. Ordered my sample of musc ravageur. :)

    I haven't smelled LNPF yet but just read a review by Perfume Posse and she says LNPF is 'Caron Narcisse Noir meets Amouage Lyric Woman'. Now that sounds amazing to me. What do you think? I personally love Lyric and was thinking of getting a bottle soon but maybe I need to wait and sniff this beauty b4 I splurge?

    decisions, decisions...!

  17. I love the "furry warmth" of MR and am a huge fan of roses - indeed I had a "Road to Damascene" experience early on in my life as a born again perfume anorack.

    Are you still all right for Rose Kashmirie, Melisand61? I don't know how much of what reached you was useable, but I still have a fair bit left my end!

    I am most curious about Lumiere Noire pour Femme, though not necessarily expecting to like it.

    My favourite roses at the minute are Rose Kashmirie, Brulure de Rose and Rose Barbare. Am currently coming to terms with the apparent demise of my Rose de Siwa decant, which is quite upsetting.

  18. To me, Musc Ravageur smells like the delicious deep drydown of Jicky, highlighted and amplified. It really is amazing.

  19. Ulf, what an interesting comparison - I think you have something, there.

    flittersniffer, your rose list is divinity incarnate. And for my part, I've just rediscovered my sample of Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud and think that might be a rose "hot list" contender. I'm quite the flitter sniffer my own self.

    Lily, while I think you could put LNpF in the same line-up as Lyric Woman in terms of its full, spicy, I-mean-business rose, I think that Lyric has more depth and complexity, and the incense sets it apart from LNpF. And after its spicy start, Lumiere Noire does become more tame and warm and "pretty". The long drydown really reminds me of (my distant memory of) Ivoire Balmain.

  20. Hah - look how a rose discussion can overtake any topic - even one as forceful as Musc Ravageur!

  21. I'd love a rose post as suggested by melisand61 for my my personal betterment and enjoyment equally :-)

  22. So, Malle's Une Rose is one of your top-5 favourites... Pray tell, what are the other 4, please?

  23. Junelady, always strive to combine enjoyment with personal betterment.

  24. Katie, when you're right, you're right.

  25. Katie - digging back into the archives here. I've embarked on a real exploration of scent just in the last few months and I'm quite taken with Portrait of A Lady and I have a small sample of Musc Ravageur, but I think I'm going to purchase a larger MR with atomizer to get a more full account of the fragrance. My question is this-- I noticed in your review you say you preferred the oil version of MR-- did Frederic Malle offer oil versions of all its scents, or just this one? Also, when did they discontinue the oil version, or is the oil version available in some far away country that I didn't know I would be visiting in future to buy some of this lovely stuff?

    Seriously. I received my MR sample in the mail last week and I put it on this morning and thought "Katie must be right, must try the oil." Then seeing a note somewhere that the oil is discontinued, well, I had a sort of epiphany, as if I'd just fallen in love with the music of Tchaikovsky and then realized, "oh, he's dead. He's not making any more of this wonderful music." Well, maybe this is overly dramatic? Unless it isn't.

    1. Hah, well perhaps just a tad symphonically overdramatic to compare MR with the Tchai-guy. But to answer your question, the MR oil was phased out several years ago now, maybe...3? I can't remember if any others from the line were available in the oil. (Although now one of my fumies tells me of a Carnal Flower hair mist, which I've not yet seen.)

      The oil is simpler than the EDP, it focuses just on the heart/drydown, which I why I liked it. The EDP will get you to the same place, just with the aromatic lavender/clove/whatever intro.

  26. Thank you for the response. I've found a site where I can order samples of the oil but it's prohibitively expensive-- I think a 2ml sample is about $40. I suppose it would compound the cruelty of the situation if I found I loved the oil even more, given its scarcity. Perhaps it's better to have never loved at all, than to have loved and lost in some cases.

    1. I've had a brainwave for you, phlegmfatale. I was at Le Labo's counter the other day, and saw that Labdanum 18 now comes in an oil as well as the perfume and the balm. L18 is VERY similar to Musc Ravageur oil, probably helped by the fact that it's by the same perfumer, Maurice Roucel. Don't blow your wad on Musc Ravageur oil samples, just get Labdanum 18 oil. Actually, all versions of L18 smell like a stripped down Musc Ravageur.

  27. Fantastic. I'll give that a whirl and report back to you! Thanks for the input, Katie. Love your insight!