A peculiar event takes place when you pair patchouli with marine notes, it turns into an animalic beast.
We are fond of smelling our patchouli alongside ‘soft’ notes such as an amber accord, vanilla or balsamic benzoin and tonka. No wonder really as it’s strident character benefits from a little gentility. Together with some sweetness, patchouli is a sensual, warming note that evokes a comforting hippy vibe (as in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Patchouli Patch) or a dose of late night glamour (at it’s best in Givenchy’s original Givenchy Gentleman).
Byredo created an unusual (I’m understating here) patchouli beast in M/Mink. By beast, I refer not to a hideous ogre, more to a grand fierce animal. It belongs in the category of ‘very close to human/animal/marine effluence that is strangely beguiling’. It shares it’s category with Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s Absolue Pour Le Soir, mentioned in my last post for it’s notably ‘pissy’ top note. To see the post click here. Alike Absolue Pour Le Soir, M/Mink becomes more comfortable after it’s challenging top notes wear off, leaving you with something quite beautiful.
Very pretty packaging indeed
It reminds me a little of ‘Secretions Magnifique’ by the notorious Etat Libre D’ Orange. However, it doesn’t make me gag or scrub at my wrist with Swarfega industrial gunk remover (which I did after first trying Clinique’s hugely abrasive skin Claryfing Lotion which is best left for cleaning a filthy computer screen or moments of terrible perfume sample application). What it does share with Secretions Magnifique is a veritable ocean of saltiness and minerals.
Back to M/Mink. At first application, you are hit (strongly, in the face) by a gigantic musky and leathery whiff. This often smelt, albeit with less intensity, in fumes that contain labdanum. It’s not the gentle Hermes saddlery leather, more a ‘bag from a market in Tunisia’ leather which still holds a little scented suggestion of the ‘only just about cured’ skin of it’s animal benefactor. This sounds revolting but it’s not. It’s (just) on the right side of animalic, beastly but not deathly. Leather is not listed as a note in M/Mink so I am presuming that the sensation comes from the pairing of a sea water note and patchouli, like an old lost boot washed up shore-side to dry in the sun.
Alongside the animal note is a very clear re-creation of the sea. Unlike polite refreshing scents such as Aqua Di Gio, this ocean is reminiscent of industrial docks, where working ships float in the murky water giving off a faint whiff of diesel, damp ropes and wood varnish.
M/Mink is said to have been inspired by a lump of solid oriental calligraphy ink, something I’ve never had the delight of smelling, but a quick flick through online reviews reveals a shared sense of printing toner arising in the nostrils of many. Again, adding to the connotation of ‘industrial’ scent.
Once you’ve ridden out the magnificently fearsome journey of M/Mink at it’s peak, the whole thing dries down to a very pretty and gentle trail of patchouli as we know it. It’s possibly the most charming dry down of any of it’s genre, the mewing kitten at the close of the bloody toothed roaring lion.
It’s not for me but I admire it’s eccentricity and powerhouse punch. So who would I recommend it to?
- Those seeking a truly niche perfume that will mark them out as unique and adventurous.
- Those who liked the idea of Secretions Magnifique but couldn’t contain their gag reflex.
- Those who frequent leather/rubber fetish clubs or adore German Industrial Techno.
A brilliant beastly marvel.