Musc Botanique is the latest launch from the all-natural Strange Invisible Perfumes line. As I've said here before, I don't really care if my fragrances are all-natural or not, but I'm a big fan of Strange Invisible Perfumes; perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis, who founded the brand, has created some really unusual and compelling fragrances. With Musc Botanique, she "wanted to do something clean that also had that subtle animalistic quality"; the result is a unisex scent that includes notes of geranium, white amber, angelica and frankincense.
I think of Kevin's taste in fragrance as being fairly similar to my own — we don't always love the same things, but it's rare that we have fundamental disagreements on the basic merits of a fragrance (although it occurred to me as I typed this that perhaps Kevin does not see it that way at all). We disagreed so radically on Musc Botanique that I thought it was worth offering up both of our takes:
He said: Sour, dour and drab, Musc Botanique is Virginia Woolf in perfume form; it depresses me. Musc Botanique’s green notes (pleasant for all of 6 seconds) and botanical musks smell “off” — as if an All-Natural! Organic! herbal perfume oil has been spilled onto a damp, used washcloth that’s been balled up and “lost” at the bottom of your laundry hamper for a week. The unfresh vibe of this scent is not sexy or enticing to me; the plant-derived musk has a stale, slightly foody smell about it, and there’s a hint of sweet “medicine” in the extreme dry-down.
With its rapid development, lack of complexity, and a sickly, down-at-the-heels vibe, the best thing I can say about Musc Botanique is that it disappears quickly. After wearing Musc Botanique all day, I feel I need: a hug, a warm bubble bath and a boozy, rich cup of hot chocolate — with a Vitamin B12 injection on the side.
She said: It is perhaps because I think of Kevin and I as having such similar tastes that the diss to Virginia Woolf came as such a shock, and my first draft included a spirited defense on her behalf. On later reflection, I decided I'd rather not debate her merits in the comments — if any of the rest of ya'll think of Virginia Woolf as sour, dour and drab, don't even tell me — and I'd best stick to the fragrance at hand.
Musc Botanique opens very green and very herbal, and more than a little sharp; Kevin accuses it of being "pleasant for all of 6 seconds", but in my household, it was the opening that caused consternation ("bug spray", according to several of the innocent bystanders who were forced to take a whiff). Kevin is right that the top notes don't last long, and what's left after 5 minutes is what you're going to smell for the duration: a mild, smooth skin scent, vegetal without calling up any particular plant (or even smelling particularly green), lightly honeyed, with an almost-creamy finish.
Tom over at Perfume Smellin' Things called it "definitely, wonderfully.. odd", and it is odd: you'll probably be able to pick out some of the components if you try, but it smells somehow sui generis — it could be some lone natural material you've never encountered before. It doesn't smell clean to me, and it doesn't really smell sexy, and it doesn't smell like musk: it just smells like itself. I think it smells great; it's one of those scents that has me wandering around with my arm held up to my nose all day. It's probably my second favorite in the line, right after the stunning (but arguably much less wearable) Black Rosette.
I meant to try layering Musc Botanique, but never found the time — note to fragrance industry: how about a 4 week launch freeze so we can all catch up? I will say that I found the lasting power of the Eau de Parfum amazing for a natural perfume, in fact, about the same as for a synthetic.
Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique is available in 7.5 ml Parfum ($185) or 50 ml Eau de Parfum ($135). For buying information, see the listing for Strange Invisible Perfumes under Perfume Houses.