Created by : Christopher Sheldrake
Date : 1998
Genre : Animalic musk
Concentration : Eau de parfum
I didn’t understand Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens until I saw my first Wagnerian opera. To be specific, it was Wagner’s Die Valkyries. When Siegmund stumbled on stage dressed in animal hides and stinking from being chased and Wotan charged across the stage in knee-high leather boots with big metal straps and a metal vest looking like he hadn’t seen the inside of a shower stall in a couple of months, Muscs Koublaï Khän suddenly made complete sense… the fur skins, the leather, the animal smells… GOT IT!
Muscs Koubläi Khän is a great big animalic musk… on steroids. Supposedly they used all the animalic notes available to the perfumer : several musks, civet (cat urine), castoreum (beaver marking scent and urine), costus roots (wet dog), ambergris (salty whale vomit), eye of newt (OK… I made that last one up, there is no eye of newt)… but whatever is in there, it smells about as animalic as it gets. Even armpit Eau d’Hermès seems almost tame compared to it… a cat compared to a lion.
Muscs Koublaï Khän might not be wearable (and this is debatable) but what’s truly wonderful about it is that Serge Lutens has staked new territory with it. I can’t imagine it will ever become a best seller but it might bring us somewhere else… far away from fruity florals… to something completely new and wild and delicious.
This one is VERY hard to describe. I’m up to 6 tags (or notes) and I could have added more. It’s like pastry… very much a Guerlain in a sense… but not edible. Think of musk and honey and some rose and animal scents dancing around in there. It’s as spectacular and as wicked as a Wagnerian opera.
When and where to wear MKK? I have no idea! First date? No way. In bed? Too risky. You might just buy it like I did because in the history of perfume this one stands alone… for the moment… and it’s magnificent.
Now back to our story where Siegmund and Hunding are about to fight while Sieglinde looks on in horror. Brünnhilde is about to appear (at right of screen) to help Siegmund against Wotan’s wishes.
Quick Brünnhilde! Tell Siegmund about the sword!
Siegmund, trust in the sword! Trust in the sword!!!
Oh no! It’s Wotan! THAT BASTARD!
Brünnhilde! Get Sieglinde out of there! There’s no time to waste. Don’t forget the broken sword! HURRY! RUN AND HIDE!
Sniffles… sorry, I’m too verklempt to go on. Have a nice week everyone.
Top image : Publicity still of Bryn Terfel as Wotan by Brigitte Lacombe for the Metropolitan Opera