After trashing Serge Lutens' fragrances for so long here and on Basenotes, I think it's finally time to give credit where credit is due to this niche perfume brand, and review their brilliant Muscs Koublai Khan. This is the one and only Lutens fragrance that I like and own, and I have a feeling it always will be. I've tried probably eight or nine other Lutens perfumes, and they all smelled basically the same to me: overly warm, rich, sweet, and annoyingly androgynous. I hate his fragrances, and find them overly complex, pretentious and unwearable. But Muscs Koublai Khan is the one huge exception, and is truly a special scent. It is the best musk fragrance in the world, hands down.
Muscs Koublai Khan is
colorful, complex and animalic. I notice
people either hate this fragrance for its animalic funk, saying it smells like
someone's asshole, or they claim they don't find it dirty or skanky smelling
at all. My perception of it falls somewhere in the
Muscs Koublai Khan clearly
leans towards the dirty, sweaty, beastly end of the musk spectrum, with the
opposite extreme being the clean, powdery musks used in laundry
detergents. Though made of synthetic
musks, MKK certainly smells natural, and in a way that makes a lot of people uncomfortable; it always reminds you and those near you that musk was originally an animal product. It literally smells like MKK is a perfume
made of almost entirely bodily fluids.
However, it is not a raunchy, gross smell of B.O. or skid-marked
underpants. This is more "body
smell" rather than "body odor".
It reminds me of the smell of sweat on clean, warm, tanned skin.
It's a complex scent, but
not the ego trip of the other Lutens fragrances I've tried. The sense of perfect balance and complexity
in Muscs Koublai Khan is amazing, and makes it so comforting to wear. It smells like there are several different
types of musk used in MKK - light, heavy, white, dark, etc.. They're all unified by soft floral and herbal
notes, which add depth to the scent and prevent it from smelling like someone's
I've often described complex
and colorful perfumes as being "kaleidoscopic". Muscs Koublai Khan is also kaleidoscopic, but
in a different way. Instead of thinking
of bright, dazzling colors like blue, red and yellow, think of a kaleidoscope
of all different shades of brown, gold and black. They're the colors of the earth and of skin,
and those are the kinds of colors that come to mind when I wear this fragrance.
Muscs Koublai Khan is not only
the most wearable Serge Lutens perfume I've ever smelled. It's perhaps the most wearable scent I've
ever worn, period. This is a fragrance, more than any other I've
tried, that absolutely must be worn on skin, and that's because it smells like skin. When you wear this, it becomes a part of you,
smelling like it's part of your body.
It's both extremely masculine and extremely feminine, depending on who's
wearing it, and it melds itself to its wearer.
I can't imagine Muscs Koublai Khan smelling unsuitable on anybody. So it's both daring and suitable for
anyone. Think about what an incredible
acheivement that is for a perfumer.
I don't wear Muscs Koublai
Khan very often, but it's one of the fragrances I treasure most in my large collection.
It is truly the perfect musk fragrance in every way.
MY RATING: 10/10
Fragrance House: Serge Lutens