Viewer Mail: I Want to Smell Like a Skunk


Ever since I was small, I have liked the smell of skunks in the distance. Not a close-up, just got sprayed, time to break out the tomato juice skunk, but more like road kill skunk the next street over. Is there a perfume that captures this scent?


Kirsten, you're so right to specify “in the distance” when it comes to skunks. I'll never forget the time I was having a nightmare about corpses and zombies, and awoke to the full-on gassing provided by a skunk right outside my open window. Dawn of the Dead, indeed.

But I agree, there is something appealing about the (extremely) faded smell of skunk. As anyone who's ever been to an Amsterdam coffee shop or a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show can attest, the earthy combination of smoke and burning pot paints a vivid picture of Pepe Le Pew.

Described in perfume notes, I'd say distant skunk smells of charred herbalness, smoky vetiver, tar, leather. Therefore, my Mouffette Lointain choices for you are the following:

Nasomatto Black Afgano: tarry hashish that mellows to fragrantly burnt weeds.

Vero Kern Onda: smoked-out vetiver with an incredibly gamey drydown.

Fumies, any thoughts on how Kirsten can skunk up the joint -- so to speak?


  1. Muscs Koublaï Khan by Serge Lutens reminds me of a very friendly but very smelly animal.

    ♥ you Katie!

  2. Nasomatto Black Afgano is one I will agree on. It is in my collection but don't wear it too often expect on those days I want to have a funk.
    keep up the wonderful work Katie

  3. Can you image Distant Skunk as a name for a fragrance :-D I love it!

    Maybe it should be in French - something like Mouffette Eloignee (crude instant translation).

    Personally, I have no idea what a skunk smells like as there are no skunks in Denmark, but for your information the literal translation of the Danish word for skunk would be "stinky animal". We like to cut to the chase.

    In general, it's really interesting how some "unpleasant" smells are really quite appealing in small doses - personally, I find some types of exhaust fumes quite pleasing, but for obvious reasons I don't indulge in them.
    Instead I have Bulgari Black which satisfies my craving for petro chemical smells.

    Really interesting to see more suggestions for skunk scents - another opportunity to learn.

  4. Le Critique de Parfum: perhaps Muscs KK is the skunk *before* it sprays its secret weapon - gamey and beasty, but minus the acrid skunk juice smell.

    Junelady, you missed my stab at "Distant Skunk" en Français: Mouffette Lointain. Perhaps Le Critique de Parfum can tell us the best way to say it in French. "Stinky animal" is funny, too.

    onesmalldog, you probably have the most exotic fragrance collection in Baltimore!

  5. Katie - Oh, man, I'm gettin' slow! I blame it on the drug administered by my dentist today.

    I'm quite sure that my attempt at a translation requires lots of qualified improvement.
    My French is beyond rusty - and wasn't much to write home about in the first place. And it most certainly lacks all kinds of poetic qualities.

    By the way, you may very well be responsible for a conversion in the making. I tried Stella today and my immediate reaction was: Wow, that smells good! I cannot for the life of me understand why I disliked it so much when I smelled it for the first time some years ago. And if the fragrance didn't change, my perception of rose scents must have.

    So, the world might see a new rose scent lover in the making. Just goes to show that acquired tastes shouldn't be dismissed. And converts are often the holiest of the bunch.

  6. Junelady, interesting to hear about your "Road to Damascus (Rose)" conversion. The more we expose ourselves to the incredible variety of scents out there, the more we refine and evolve our tastes, I find.

    3 years ago, I didn't give a fig for rose perfumes, and now I'm an absolute rose FIEND. I'm a holy rose roller, indeed.

    And I remember thinking Stella was musty and "off" when I first encountered it years back. Now I love those very aspects of it.

  7. And I wondering whether you simply no longer find it musty or if you now find musty attractive. Changes in tastes might be both, depending, I suppose. Have you redefined the concept musty in your mind to no longer include rose scents? Or have changed your perception of whether musty is a good or a bad thing?

    Suprising things can happen to our perception of taste, smell etc. I remember the very moment I started liking the taste of olives. Before that moment I detested the taste, but I didn't want to seem uncool to the people (OK, it was a guy) I was with and so I ate the darn olive and in that very moment I realized how good they were.

    I'm not saying this will happen with all the things we dislike. There's probably genetics invovled in our preferences and tastes/smells that are forever associated with something unpleasant. Or we cannot see ourselves as someone who wears this or that scent because it goes against the way we perceive ourselves, even when we might like a certain scent in the bottle, so to speak.

    Either way, it's still exhilarating to widen one's horizon - and there are still loads of new pleasurable experiences to be had out there!

    Skunks, beware! Your tricks might no longer work.

  8. Yes…I was thinking about the “skunk” situation couple times but never had opportunity to actually smell the “original state of art of odor” of this animal…but if Katie’s choice of Nasomatto Black Afgano: tarry hashish…gets close…then I am so in game…in fact I am golden :-)
    Lots of love!

  9. Love Serge's MKK. It is one of my favorites...But you can't wear it everywhere, that's for sure! I find it best worn "intimately." An interesting "gamey" scent...I guess "skunkish" would be Pan by Anya's Garden. Also, anything with a hint of violet in in the background...would probably translate odor of skunk.

  10. Heliotrope Tree House, I agree with you on the violet. I've always found that's there something not essentially floral about violet. My nose perceives it more along the lines of something that's on the verge of going bad. And that's not always a bad thing in itself.

  11. This violet=skunk-ish is news to me! I will now reapproach violets with a whole new awareness.

    Junelady, enjoyed your musings on the psychological reasons for our tastes. And re musty and Stella, there are 2 things: one is that I am better able to tolerate "musty" and a wider range of non-pretty smells the more I open myself up to our terrific oderific world. The other is that it's not the rose in Stella I find musty, but the salty musky stuff that's in there.

  12. Katie, also there is beauty in decay.

    I've been housebound this past week and had the chance to follow the slow decay of a bouquet of roses that I bought before the housebound-thing occurred - and I have rediscovered that roses are at their most gorgeous when their heads start to droop, at this point they are at their maximum state of lushness - and it's almost too much. It's the plump state just before the petals go light brown that I enjoy most in a rose.

    Maybe the same applies to certain smells: They are at their best just before they turn potentially nasty - re skunk.

  13. Junelady, so interesting, your "beauty in decay" comment, because that is the very thing that inspired the creation of Stella McCartney Stella, according to the PR: "inspired by a ripe rose on the verge of wilting". So there ya go!

  14. What about Tar from Comme de Garcon's Synthetic series? It has that blastvof rubber in the top notes and smoke and some vanilla in the base. It's fairly linear, but I think of it having that odd love it/loathe it scent that is eau de polekitty for me.

    It also blends interestingly with soliflores. I love Tar layered with Perfect Gardenia. The tar enhances the earthiness of that photoreal gardenia. It also reminds me of the odd rubber notes I love in Bvlgari Black. Have any of you tried Tar? Be well.

  15. Now that is some advanced-level layering you got going there, kim! And from your description, Tar sounds like a worth pole-kitty contender. Now I can't wait to smell it.

  16. i have always enjoyed the smell of distant skunk because skunk odor would always come through the AC in my dad's car when we were on our home from my grandparents' house (after christmas for example). so it reminds me of that mixture of exhaustion and contentment that follows periods of excitement.

    anytime i happened to mention to someone that i'm fond of skunk, they'd call it weird. how lovely and strange a coincidence that this request appears on your blog. =)

    i will defo try out those scents when i get a chance!

  17. xaryax, just goes to show you there's a weird, lovely and strange little corner of the world for all of us.

  18. Katie, this morning my ripe rose arrived in the mail. I found a good deal on Stella and ordered it online.

    I applied it on yesterday's Bulgari Black because I was impatient and the result is really pleasing! The light traces of smoke and vanilla provided a suave, laid back atmosphere for Stellas fruity, feminine (peachy?)rose. A very presentable couple they are.

    I might try this combo again - perhaps with BB as a body lotion so as not to smoke out Stella completely.

    Just to remind me that there are very few, if any, original thoughts left in this world - case in point being my BB-Stella combo:

    This afternoon I read through a number of Chandler Burrs Scent Notes, a.o. his review of Rose d'Homme by Parfums de Rosine in which he also briefly describes some of the women's fragrances, and lo and behold - right there was a description of a smokey rose: "Conversely, Zest de Rose (2002) is a rose of shadowed lemony citrus framing a strong lapsang souchong tea". And Bulgari Black contains Lapsang Souchong notes!

    I would really like to sample Zest de Rose and have Parfums de Rosine do the hard work of figuring out the right proportions of smoke and rose for me.

    Anyone on this forum familiar with Zest de Rose?

    P.S. I don't find Stella's staying power impressive (could the smoke be to blame?), but her top notes are so beautiful that I can live with quite frequent re-applications.

  19. xaryax, I'm quite sure that those that find it odd that you like the smell of skunk have some odd preferences of their own that they consider quite ordinary.

    I don't know how skunk smells, but I do know that I have a couple of funny favorite smells of my own.

    Honestly, I think that the main difference between us (the funny smell lovers) and the weirdness proclaimers is that we verbalize and reflect more on our sensory experiences than they do.

    That's what I'd like to believe ;-)

  20. Hi Junelady!

    I'd like to think you're right with that final paragraph.

    I guess it's a good time to admit I also like poop-type smells, which most people find gross, but i absolutely can't stomach exhaust/gasoline smells (no matter the concentration), which is what people seem to cite most often as an example of something that's supposed to smell bad but actually smells good to them, which is to say.... maybe i am just weird.

    either way, hurrah for the sense of smell! hurrah that we have the power to smell things and they make us feel things and remember things and we either like or dislike them! HURRAH! isn't it magical? =D

  21. I agree 100% with how what some would perceive as an unpleasant smell can strike a chord with us and remind one of a pleasant memory, thus making that smell acceptable. I was in an antique store once here in Virginia and opened a door and was immediately hit with a musty smell that smelled very familiar. It reminded me of a musty smell I experienced in an old house we lived in in Germany when my father was stationed there through the military. While is wasn't a pleasant smell, per se, I had fond memories of that house and I stood there for a few minutes and took some deep sniffs! My sister was with me and I called her over to see if she recalled the smell. Unfortunately she was too young when we were overseas to remember the smell. But it was a great reminder.

  22. When I walk into a bathroom that was recently cleaned with something that contains chlorine it always reminds me of being in my grandmother's apartment when I was a child. Her bathroom always had a faint smell of chlorine sometimes mixed with the smell of some kind of herbally scented hand soap. Lavender or rosemary.

    I enjoyed being alone with her without my parents or my cousins and I had my little treasures that I played with, a little engraved box made of wood, a couple of porcelain birds. As a grown-up I realized that her apartment and its contents were very modest indeed, she had very little in terms of worldy goods, but to me all her things were treasures.

    Chlorine in itself is not pleasant smell, but in some situations it takes me back to the times I spent in my grandmother's home where time seemed to slow down.

  23. Couple of things, Junelady: you can amp up Stella's staying power two ways. It's available in a great shower gel, body lotion and body creme, so you can layer enough so that you'll never stop smelling of Stella. Or, you can step up to the next level: Stella Rose Absolute, a denser version of Stella with better longevity.

    The other thing is, you succinctly summed up "the weirdness of fumies" with your observation that we reflect upon and verbalize odors. I call it having a "conscious nose".

    The other other thing is I appreciate your delight at making the connection between your smoky tea + rose and Chandler's description of Zest de Rose (which I've not smelled). Those little "a-ha!" moments help connect the dots in this mysterious perfume world we all love.

  24. Ha-ha, xaryax, I like the cautious resignation implied by "I guess it's a good time to admit I also like poop-type smells". And I second your emotion on the magical power of smells to pop us into an instant time machine.

  25. Try a couple of dabs of Ajmal's A.A Indian musk. It is the skunkiest ho in the game park! Quite literally the most powerful perfume that I own.

  26. Good to know, Water Tiger. Next time I think I smell a skunk I'll know it might be you.

  27. I am new to this blog (great witty insight by the way!) and I couldn't help but comment on this entry. I know exactly what you mean by distant skunk smell, and after reading that I immediately thought of the scratch and sniff sticker from the late 80s that featured a skunk. Not sure if they still make those, or if there is a real perfume that captures that smell, but figured it wouldn't hurt to mention that sticker for a blast from the past

  28. Welcome aboard, meganelena! Your skunk sticker recollection made me think of John Water's "Polyester" scratch and sniff card. Was there a skunk on that one, does anyone remember?

  29. I apologize for commenting on these old threads as I work back in time through Katie's posts but the skunk thing I couldn't pass up on. I've been telling select people about my skunk interest for a while now and although they haven't enthusiastically agreed with me, I've wondered if they woudn't be more disgusted with the idea if they weren't my wife, close friend, etc. So seeing this question helped reassure me that there are others out there with similar weird likes. Skunk takes me back to childhood driving with my Father to mow my Grandmother's yard in the country or with the family pulling our camper out to another off the beaten path vacation. And when I would smell it then I remember it being awful, or at least saying I did and my sisters or friends would similarly echo their disgust. And I don't know if it was the newness of the smell or the strength of it, but for the past several years at least I have just loved the smell when I randomly encounter it. And I don't tell anyone at the time but it can be intoxicating. I wish I could just drive towards the scent to see how close I would have to be before it would be unpleasant. I look for a little black and white furry critter scurrying under a bush somewhere just at the limits of my vision. If that smell can be tamed and mixed to be socially acceptable and yet reminiscently intoxicating, I would not stop until I found it.

    1. I was really drawn into your reminiscence, Darin. There's a threshold where pleasure turns into pain here, and finding the equilibrium between the two is the quest.