With Aedes de Venustas Musc Encensé, it’s all about texture. A musk-centered fragrance — especially one that puts incense on the billing — could easily be stifling and itchy, a fur stole of a perfume. Musc Encensé, however, is a vapor that hangs as sheer as the waft off of a cup of tea. It’s the sort of fragrance you spray on, forget about, then later catch a whiff of something nice and realize it’s you.
Ralf Schwieger composed Musc Encensé. Its notes include clary sage, cashmeran, tonka, musk, incense and leather. The musk-savvy perfume lover will want to know what kind of musk this fragrance embraces. Is it the skank of Serge Lutens Muscs Kublaï Khan? Or maybe the white musk of another Serge Lutens, Clair de Musc? Could it be a laundry musk, like the Clean empire was built upon?
I first sampled Musc Encensé with Kevin, who couldn’t smell anything but a hint of alcohol. So, for some people, Musc Encensé might be a non-musk musk. Me, I smelled a comfortable, warm musk like Coty Vanilla Musk, but much less sticky and thick. A Tonkin musk. Think a whisper-weight silk button-down versus Coty's acrylic turtleneck. Dabbed on, it’s even a bit peppery. Sprayed, not so much.
How about incense? Any incense in Musc Encensé is subtle and not sharp or dank. In fact, puzzled at the lack of an assertive incense note, I ran to my dictionary and learned that “encens” translates as “incense” in French, sure, but “encensé” can also mean “highly praised.” Clever.
Musc Encensé is a comfortable, fairly linear musk with a feather-weight floral leather heart and a tonka-tinged dry down. A hint of green and a jasmine tingle keep the musk from feeling heavy-footed. Dry wood and suede save it from soppiness. Its cashmeran gives it the familiar comfort of a family room sectional sofa strewn with soft throws, with the television stuck on the Hallmark channel. Amber and tonka sweeten Musc Encensé after its first half hour.
All in all, Musc Encensé is the ideal fragrance for someone who wants a warm, delicious, non-intrusive background scent to toss on. It doesn’t make a statement. It doesn’t demand attention — or detract from it. True, Musc Encensé might not break new ground. But the ground it treads can definitely use a few more elegant passersby, especially one as artfully crafted as this olfactory wingman.
Aedes de Venustas Musc Encensé Eau de Parfum is $245 for 100 ml. For information on where to buy it, see Aedes de Venustas under Perfume Houses.