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MUSC NOBLE


Musc Noble is the name of the fourth fragrance in Guerlain’s Absolus d’Orient series, and the brand’s seventh fragrance designed for the Middle East. Even though Ambre Éternel (2016) has been discontinued, almost one in five of Guerlain’s Exclusives is now inspired by Middle Eastern perfumery. Known for its loud, angular, heat-resistant scents of oud and spices, immersion in this field is a departure from the brand’s velvety vanilla signature. However, according to LVMH, a strong presence on the Middle Eastern luxury market is paramount.

Whereas Guerlain’s classics mainly bore abstract names (with Vetiver as the most well-known exception), it has become a widespread trend in high-end perfumery to simply name a fragrance after its major ingredient, possibly because marketing research has found that today's consumers are looking for products with a minimalistic approach. Unfortunately, this trend can lead to unfavourable reviews. For example, customers may be disappointed to find that Santal Royal doesn’t smell like sandalwood and Joyeuse Tubéreuse is not like tuberose. Musc Noble is Guerlain’s first fragrance since 1840 named after musk, which is actually surprising as virtually all Guerlains contain musk in one form or another. Some even claim that white musk is one of the defining traits of the post-Jean-Paul Guerlain era at Guerlain, i.e., from L’Instant de Guerlain onwards.

When a fragrance contains an overdose of white musk, French perfumers will often describe it as "doudou", the French word for children’s cuddly toys and comfort blankets. In grownup marketing lingo, this typically translates as "enveloping" or "caressing". While Musc Noble certainly is more "doudou" than Guerlain’s previous Absolus d’Orient releases, it still doesn't feel like a musky comfort scent the way L’Instant Magic or Mon Guerlain do.

If Musc Noble is not obviously musky, you could say that it is noble, in that it’s worked around rose, unarguably the noblest of all perfume ingredients. In fact, Musc Noble smells like Rose Nacrée du Desert, with is cool, smooth, natural rose note, turned into one of those trendy niche-market scents collectively known as woody-ambers. Rose Nacrée du Desert was recently announced as being discontinued due to poor sales performance, and maybe this boosted (and far less expensive) version will fare better. Quoting fragrance chemist Charles Sell, Luca Turin mocks the woody-amber aroma chemicals (all powerful, radiant materials with dry woody and ambergris aspects) as "glorified rubbing alcohol", however Musc Noble doesn't sport the nose-stinging "boisé sec" effect that encapsulates Santal Royal and Oud Essentiel from spritz to drydown, but remains much more pleasant and rounded. If not "boisé sec", maybe we could classify whatever is inside Musc Noble as "ambre sec": extremely robust and tenacious, yet warmly soft like ambergris.

People who are already familiar with Guerlain’s Middle Eastern lines will recognize a few recycled themes in Musc Noble, notably the fiercely citrusy geranium top note of Oud Essentiel, the saffron-musk accord from Encens Mythique d’Orient, and a light touch of Santal Royal's rosy peach.

In keeping with the rose theme, Musc Noble comes in an opaque red version of the lacquered Absolus d’Orient bottle. Read more about Les Absolus d'Orient
(June 2018)


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