I have recently discovered that I do have a desert island perfume, one that I could probably wear forever if I had to make that choice. And despite the fact that this revelation is a relatively recent one I don't think it's going to be short-lived. A bit like finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. OK, not that life changing, I admit, but exciting and quite a surprise. The perfume in question is Musc Ravageur, by Edition Fredric Malle, and I hope that I never fall out of love with it. Bought on the spot after sniffing it for the first time, it gives me everything I want in perfume. It makes me feel all comforted and warm, illuminates me, gives me a posture and makes me smile. It's luxury, filth and self confidence in a bottle.
It been said, that when Maurice Roucel created it he wanted to pay homage to Guerlain's grand old dame Shalimar, and I can absolutely see that. Musc plays on the same themes without ever trying to copy. Needless to say that I love Shalimar as well and the idea to compare those two visually was very tempting. But there is another fragrance out there that will make an excellent comparison companion - L'Erbolario's Meharees. At a fraction of the price of Musc Ravageur, this offering from the Italian natural beauty company is considered as an extraordinary dupe. But is it really? I will try to compare these three by using my visual imagination. Let's start with the predominant colours. For me these are warm, golden yellow, rose, orange and earthy ochre.
Another aspect that all three fragrances share is their softness. Don't get me wrong, they are powerful perfumes and make the statements they want to make, but they do so without too many sharp angles and coarse textures. To make it easier to compare them I chose a similar way of 'painting' for all three, with lots of layering and over lapping gradients.
They seem pretty similar so close together, don't they? But even in the scaled down versions you can see that the openings and dry downs are decidedly different. Shalimar is the only one which bursts in citruses, and it also has a stronger floral heart. Musc Ravageur is edgier, dirtier than the other two, here represented by the ochre at the top and bottom of the image. and Meharees is the most linear of the three. Let's look at them in detail:
|My visualisation of Shalimar|
The initial citrus already sets the tone. Fresh, but never clean, Shalimar from then on makes one of those long journeys we often associate with old school perfumes. It goes and flows from yellow to orange to amber to pink to purple to brown. A powdery floral heart is kept from being overly pretty by strong bodied animalic side kicks and in the last stages it develops the wonderful Guerlinade mix of vanilla, resins and incense. Shalimar is a beautiful lady and I couldn't care less about her age.
|My visualisation of Musc Ravageur|
Musc Ravager doesn't really bother with much of a top note. It is, basically from the start, a dirty little number. The animalic aspect is stronger than in Shalimar, and there is a slight edge to it. Instead of florals it has a handful of spice, but how they toned down by musk is similar to the effect Guerlain used on Shalimar's floral notes. It is dirtier and obviously a modern creation. Urban, if you like. To illustrate that I have used a few sharp lines and 'furry' brush strokes. I've already mentioned that I love it and I find it has just the right level of silage. Won't get unnoticed, but doesn't harm the sensitive types.
|My visualisation of Meharees|
Now Meharees did really surprise me. It is, to a certain degree, a perfect dupe of Musc Ravageur. The opening is softer and much sweeter, but after half an hour it stays were it is and it stays there long. I find Meharees a bit grating in the end. It simply doesn't do much. What is does is nice enough, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't excite me. Some reviewers find it more palatable than MR, and that is certainly the case, but it is a bit flat. If you're looking for a sweet and spicy amber that doesn't break the bank it's an excellent choice. It has far less in common with Shalimar and it wouldn't have occurred to me to put the two together in one post, but Musc Ravageur adds as the missing link here. All three are lovely orientals, I just happen to love the dirtiest of the trio.
I hope you did enjoy this little comparison post, it was an interesting experiment for me, not least because I created the images with a new application. Anyone who needs or likes to use Photoshop and Illustrator but is frustrated by Adobe's subscription only policy, have a look at Affinity Design and Affinity Photo (currently in beta). I am well impressed by them.