Friday, June 11, 2010

Coty Wild Musk: Fragrance Review

There are few images more precious to an adult than one that involves angst-ridden teen years, when we spent our time snatching vintage stuff of our mother's wardrobe, coupled with a few of our dear father's, lining our peepers in black khol like some Siouxsie wannabe and riding the Coty Wild Musk shelves out of their inventory stinking up every place we went to in the process. But now that Wild Musk is becoming increasingly difficult to find (and a reformulation or two have been implemented to disfigure a little of that fresh raw face that smiled beneath the angled fringe that recalled Flock of Seagulls) we view it with the nostalgic melancholy reserved for bruises that are slowly fading into yellow, having pained us for so long we sort of miss them when they're gone.

Musk notes are experiencing a revival lately, especially vintage animalic stuff which growls a bit teasingly when you approach, and Wild Musk is among the very best in a field that is becoming crowded with more pretentious and more expensive upstarts. But what sets apart this inexpensive beauty apart is that there is a cozy barber-shop atmosphere about this floriental, hot towels and shaving cream paraphernalia on smooth skin, a little rose and sandalwood powder in the air as well. And yet this is a fragrance that although can be unisex it has a very cuddly quality about it. Gentle, yet bawdy, warm and unobtrusive, but with a flirtatious edge, it deserves to be carried into adultdom with no intersections along the way. Not to mention that there is a special synergy between this creamy scent and the smell of sweat, carrying itself into intimacy without vulgarity. Compared to Jovan Musk the similarity is there, although I find Wild Musk creamier, a little sweeter and softer, especially in the oil edition. Not "dirty" or spicy as Muscs Kublai Khan or Khiel's older oil, yet not sanitized "clean" like the plethora of white musk offerings around (from Musc Bleu to The Body Shop White Musk), Wild Musk with its great lasting power on clothes and its vanillic trail stands at the utopian crossroads between the two directions.

Wild Musk came out in 1973, just when Coty and Coty International were united after being sold to Pfizer & Co ten years earlier (Imprevu is another one which is a follow up after this take-over), issuing a handful of popular products including Styx, Sweet Earth, and Wild Musk fragrances and the Equatone beauty-treatment line. This is also the time when the production facility relocated from New York City to Sanford, North Caroline, thus heralding a new era for the brand.
Perhaps the most characteristic trait is how Wild Musk had been taken over in that time-frame by arty types and carried over as a small hint that underneath the existentialist ennui and their assertions that culture is going through an agonizing death they were sensitive, affectionate souls after all.

Notes for Coty Wild Musk:
A solid note of musk is accented by bergamot, lavender, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, amber and vanilla

The formula of Wild Musk by Coty circulated as both an oil and an alcohol-spray version. The oil is superior in aspects of smoothness, although the spray is not bad either. The newer version does bear a difference to the older, due to the substitution of the musk components for reasons of biodegradability (see Musk Series part 2 for more info on nitro-musks) which makes it significantly tamer and with a more alcohol-prominent top. Intermediary-age boxes of the Cologne concentrate spray carry the swoosh design in a single ribbon instead of the flou, hazy rendition that the newer ones have. The even older ones had a completely different graphic as depicted in the ad, some of which had a rectangle bottle with a red cap and label (similar to Musk Patchouli).Bottles of the latest edition are carried at Walmart, Target's and drugstores, while older versions circulate on online etailers and Amazon.

What about you? Did you wear musk fragrances when you were (very) young? What were your choices?


  1. I wore Coty Wild Musk for a number of years. Funny thing is that out of all the scents I wore, this was a former boyfriend's favorite...and it was by far the cheapest!

  2. Lovely trip down memory lane! Thanks!! I was a Jovan Musk girl myself. Brings back memories of snuggly moments.

  3. Anonymous20:41

    Dear E,

    I am wracking my brain for the name of the musk I wore and it is just not happening. It may have just been called "Musk" and the bottle is imprinted on my mind (taking the place of the name). It was a very smooth, curvacious bottle containing a deep golden juice. The shape was very womanly, like a pear. The shape was echoed by the small drawing on the bottle; a stylized depiction of a woman sitting with legs folded beneath her, everyhting in shades of gold. Still no idea what it was called but it was an inexepnsive drugstore brand and it was beautiful.


  4. There's another Karin here...

    No, I was never successful wearing musk in my 20s. I always liked patchouli though!

  5. Anonymous23:53

    I remember wearing Aviance Night Musk as well as Jovan Musk. I, too, found that the guys liked them.

  6. lilacskin15:51

    i had a boyfriend when i was 16 who always smelled delicious and swore up and down that this was just his natural scent. almost believed it, too, until i found, on his bathroom counter, a BIG bottle of jovan musk for men. 25 years later that scent still makes my knees a bit weak. i was a sandalwood oil girl myself back then but now occasionally layer 'skin'musk under an orchid or iris frag.

  7. Elizabeth18:52

    Jovan Musk Oil was my musk of choice in my teens, oh how I loved that stuff. The only musks I really enjoy now are Micallef Royal Muska and MKK.

  8. Hi E! Though I never cared for Jovan Musk, which was very popular in junior high, and for some strange reason have no memory of Coty Wild Musk, I really loved reading your post. It sent me right back to those years in a very affectionate way. (Love your line, "we view it with the nostalgic melancholy reserved for bruises that are slowly fading into yellow, having pained us for so long we sort of miss them when they're gone.")

  9. Anonymous18:26

    From about the ages of 13-16 I was a total Coty Wild Musk devotee! Not only did I consider it my signature scent, but it also meant a great deal to me at the time to choose 'wild' and 'musk' over frou-frou fragrances like Love's Baby Soft or Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth- also wildly popular during my adolescence. Aside from the scent I can still intimately recall the textured feeling of that "intermediary-age" bottle. In fact, I think it may have been the first fragrance I *ever* purchased, though I soon 'graduated' to a mix of CWM and Jovan's straight-up patchouli oil. Still searching for an equivalent.

  10. I was a kid in the 80's too. The early years of high school were Chloe, the old one in the orange box!
    My last year of high school was Obsession, which I sprayed liberally. I thought it was the sexiest thing ever.

  11. K,

    not surprised at all, it's indeed a lovely scent. And men are more objective concerning those things, so go girl!

  12. S,

    thanks, glad you liked it!
    Jovan is also pleasant, I seem to prefer the men's version to the women's myself (the regular, not the white). I hear it was hugely popular (certainly for a reason, as you say...)!!!

  13. Natalia,

    I think I know the one you mean, although I might have caught it in a different bottle than what you described. Was it Musk oil No.6 by Gosh?
    Here is a link. And another one. It's a drugstore brand, it's deep golden to amber and it is indeed beautiful...I am going to review it. ;-) This might help too.

    Other than that, I also believe the Jean Louis Gady Musk is truly beautiful and it's a little less inexpensive, although not really expensive either. That's on the schedule as well ;-)

  14. Karin the 2nd, we love our Karins here! :-)

    I know patchouli was very big during a certain time! I didn't catch that one, but I have heard endless tales. Patchouli, especially aged, can be ever so alluring as well.

  15. Anon,

    Aviance is among the very few musks which I haven't tried. It just never was available in Europe from what I have seen and whenever I have been on US or non-European ground, other sirens took my fancy and never searched for it. Is it really good? Warm? Coolish? Clean? Dirty?

  16. Lilacskin,

    wow, what a memory!! I bet he did smell amazing if it was mistaken for his own smell. I love, love, love Jovan Musk for Men myself ;-)
    Not for the same reason, but it's a great scent, I find it better than the women's.

    And I agree about the layering. Do you have a particular musk you use for layering? I like the Nemat Himalayan one for that purpose. But always eager to find out more!

  17. Elizabeth,

    memories, ah memories...I LOVE your current choices, they're exquisite scents!

  18. Suzanne,

    thanks honey for your most kind compliment and most of all for stopping by and commenting. :-)

    Musks are love it or hate it scents. But if you're not totally averse to it and if you can't secure some vintage Coty Wild Musk to rejog your memory (if it exists of it), I could send a little to you, if interested. It'd be a pleasure. LMK!

  19. Anon,

    that textured bottle is amidst my stash as well, love it. And who can argue with your reasoning based on name (and smell of course)? Teenagers do want to do their own rebel yell, always.

    The layering sounds very yummy indeed, I should try it! Do you have a current musk and something else layering worthy of inclusion?

  20. KJ,

    oh...Chloe was big with my aunt and it was quite strong. Pretty though, I can't argue with that.
    Now Obsession, even today I think it's the bee's knees in terms of sexiness (and SO does too, so jackpot!). The parfum is lovely, I also use the men's version. Have you tried it?

  21. Anonymous20:26

    Musk & a worthy layer? If I'm not wearing CdG Luxe Patchouli (not patchouli so much to me as it is rich and woody, cognac, vanilla, and something green), I like a spray of Clarins Sunshine Fragrance and Sunshine brand Arabian Musk Oil. Odd, but warm and delicious!

  22. Thanks for the article. I absolutely loved this stuff and wore it CONSTANTLY during my freshman year of high school (1985/86). My boyfriend at the time loved it on me. So weird. I probably would hate it if I came across it now. =]

    1. Thanks for commenting. :-) Yeah, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing, I suppose. We grow out of things. But it was a great thing to begin with.

  23. I know this is a women's fragrance, but as a guy (32 years old), I have to say that Coty Wild Musk Oil is one of my favorite scents to wear.

    Years ago, I had tried several colognes and body oils and found most of them unpleasant, even when applied very lightly.

    Finally I realized I should just wear something I really liked the smell of, and Coty's Wild Musk Oil was intoxicating.

    Since I usually wear very little hair product or any deodorants, a tiny amount is enough for an occaisional breath of it's invogorating odour.

    It wears well later in the evening and doesn't overpower if applied delicately.

    Comments have been very complimentary, but so far no one is able to pin down any particular scent. I find this ideal. When I have admitted to wearing musk, most people have been surprised. Responses such as "Wow, I usually can't even be around musk, who is that by?" are not uncommon.

    I get more close contact and personal attention when I wear it. Hearing your girlfriend breathe more deeply as her face caresses the back of your neck is only the best reason to choose this scent.

    Coty Wild Musk Oil is rare these days. Most stores carry a handful of fragrances by Coty, one in fifty have the Wild Musk Spray, never in the Oil. Coty Wild Musk Oil is not even available on Amazon at the moment.

    I am currently buying ten 0.5oz bottles from an unknown online retailer (gasp!) at $12.60 each, plus shipping. They are the last people I can find that have any in stock. If I never find it again, maybe I will sell a few bottles myself.

    1. Anonymous03:20

      Did you ever find the wild Coty musk oil if so please allow me to purchase at least one at a reasonable price. itsmelillie43@yahoo.com

  24. Alguém lembra de um óleo da Coty com a mesma embalagem, só que era Ginseng?Saiu de linha e nunca mais ouvi falar...era delicioso!

  25. Rosana,

    unfortunately I don't know where Gingesg oil by Coty is. You could search Ebay however, usually there are all sorts of old things surfacing there from time to time. Good luck!!

  26. Zarquon,

    sounds like a good plan on your part.
    Indeed the oil is very nice. It's been ages since I saw it in stores.

  27. Anon,

    interesting combinations! I love the Ressourcante fragrance from the Clarins line-up, I might try with that one as well!

  28. Kristenevol,

    sorry I am late in replying, just saw this.
    Yeah, I bet many wore this at high school and it's full of memories for them. It's funny how our mind works, isn't it? But don't knock it, it might still smell good to you. ;-)

  29. Clay04:01

    If you liked Coty Wild Musk oil, you'll love Body Time's Civet Musk oil. The BT oil is richer and longer lasting. You can get it at www.bodytime.com (and no, I'm not affiliated). Ava Luxe has an oil that's very similar as well. It's called Dancing Queen.

  30. Anonymous06:26

    Wow I remember Coty Wild Musk was my signature fragrance! Every Fall I would wear it and we would take our family trip up to the mountains to see the foliage. I would spray it on my navy Gap sweatshirt and it paired well with the St. Ives Jojaba shampoo/cond....memories! Oh and I think I wore it during my first kiss!

  31. Anonymous22:07

    this wild musk oil makes me SICK to my stomach. i can't stand this smell and i wish they would discontinue it.

  32. Clay,

    thank you for the recommendation.
    I do remember Dancing Queen!! So this goes on to my "to try" list. Thanks!

  33. @anon #1,

    wow, so many memories!! (and so precise too). Must be great to be able to sniff this from time to time.
    Thanks for commenting!

  34. @anon#2,

    oh, sorry about that. But surely you can avoid wearers of it, right? It's not that ubiquitous!

  35. Anonymous20:13

    I received a little brown jar of Coty Wild Musk cream perfume. It was about 4" high and about 3" in diam. And the lid was sort of ruffled looking around the top edge. I am beginning to think I imagined it because I can't find anything anywhere about it. I would really like to find somewhere I could find another one, but at this point I'm just hoping someone remembers it.

    1. To my knowledge there is no official such thing, though I could be ignorant of a very localized one-time-off thing (commemorative perhaps?). My best guess is that someone actually "made" this cream using Coty Musk Oil and plain old cold cream or something. People do that and then swap these or include them in a care package and then the final recipient gets wondering when it circulated.
      Has happened to me before....

      Hope this helps and by all means if you find out different, please let me know! :-)

  36. for me Satana Oil of Musk was and still is the very best of the Musk oils. I wish I could find some....its almost extinct and believe me I keep looking. The smell lasted all day and stayed with you even after you washed your clothes. If anyone knows where I can get some please let me know


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