Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Il Profumo Musc Bleu: fragrance review

Among "white musk" fragrances which are reminiscent of clean laundry off the line, Musc Bleu by Il Profumo is among the best, eschewing the metallic screechiness present in other white musks and possessing a baby soft silkiness making it extremely popular, like an wide-eyed, amiable ingénue at a Vienesse ball would be. If it weren't for that latter element, Joan Crawford might be scrubbing her fingernails with the stuff, in a fit of cleanliness ritualistic mania after a wire hanger episode. But you see, Musc Bleu is softly voiced, not harsh. Ever. Childlike in its softness, yet cool. It's almost "ice-princess" like, yet with a hint of sensuality, like Estella in Alfonso Cuarón's version of Great Expectations. But not much, beyond a naughty kiss.

Musc Bleu was created by the Italian brand Il Profumo and the perfumer Silvana Casoli in 2004. There is a European feel about it, no doubt, as it avoids the mall associations and the dense, heavy feel of most musks found there, as well as the pervading, cut-through-the-air sharpeness some of them in the "white musk" camp possess (aimed at cutting through the mall smells of cinnamon rolls and candied popcorn emanating from the multiramas).
The tradition of Eau de Cologne underscored with musk for its lasting power is ingrained in the Mediterranean basin and people react well to those undefinable base notes, so it doesn't surprise me that this is an Italian product.
Personally, I have little use for such an opaline musk, unless I had been stranded on a deserted island on which the givens of civilization were severely compromised and I needed to create distractions that would fool me into believing I'm in less hardship than I would really be in. Nevertheless, I cannot deny its wearability and "easy", polished feel which accounts for its tremendous appeal to those hankering after "clean" smells reminiscent of dryer sheets, yet without any allegiance to "drugstore musks". Or those who are in favour of "scent layering", a process in which one sprays a "base" fragrance underneath a second one which is more nuanced and in a different style. Musc Bleu would be the perfect canvas, exactly because it's so pliable to just about any other material coupled with it. Again, not my thing, but I can see how others would like it a lot.

The scent of Musc Bleu doesn't reveal floral facets ~beyond a hint of ylang ylang and the "scrubbed" aldehyde that stands as cyclamen~ like most "white musks" do (refer to our article on types of musk). Instead it has a delicate powdery and soapy feel which is girlish, comfortable and dicreet. It oscillates between a tonic freshness and cozy warmth, which bridges the gap that several musk fragrances create, veering as they do to either one or the other direction. It wouldn't be out of place in the office or the seat right beside at the underground and it fits well in the evenings as well, if you're after an innofensive smell which will be detected only when you hug someone. In fact, I bet several people might be anosmic to it, due to its lightness. Musk anosmia is a phenomenon common with people, as musks are just about the maximum size of molecules a nose can handle, so perfumers routinely use a couple of different musky ingredients (please refer to our article) to combat that. Still, there are people who have an "umbrella effect" anosmia. For those, something else might break through. For the rest, it is a light musk, don't expect anything potent.
Even though Musc Bleu seems light and vanishing into skin in about an hour, it doesn't disappear. It becomes a "skin scent" (a scent that feels like your own skin) with a very satisfactory lasting power if you lean closer. The concentration is described as "parfum" by the company (denoting concentrated essences), but it reads as a lasting Eau de Parfum to me. There is a pronounced reminiscence with Musc Blanc by Les Bains du Marais, another clean musk which doesn't read as "metallic", yet the latter is a little more expensive and to my experience a little less lasting.

Two versions are available by Il Profumo, Musc Bleu and Musc Bleu Absolu Osmo. Between the two, the Absolu is richer, fuller with a silkier feel to my nose, probably due to the abcence of alcohol in the formula. Please note the latter doesn't come in a spray, but as a splash or dab on. Available at Luckyscent and First in Fragrance and also as of this minute, at a nice discount, on Amazon on this link.

Notes for Il Profumo Musc Bleu:
Neroli, black geranium, ylang-ylang, cyclamen, musk, oakmoss, woods, white sandalwood.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: The Musk Series (ingredients & cultural history), Scented Musketeers: Musk fragrances reviews.

Photo La Ribambelle by anonymous.


  1. Such a poetic, appealing review!
    I wish I could wear Musc Bleu as well as you describe, but it's imperceptible, on me and to me. Like water! Anosmia? Who knows.

    Oh well! I will try the Les Bains de Marais one.

  2. Anonymous23:21

    I very much like this one, as I live in a scentophobic office where we can't put any fragrance that smells like fragrance. Luckily for me, this goes undetected so far. I just wish it weren't as expensive.

    Thanks for reviewing it, as it hasn't garnered the internet buzz it deserves, imho.

  3. Sue,

    oh don't worry, I don't wear it either. It's too clean for me, although it's among the very best in that field (not harsh).
    Do try the Les Bains du Marais musk, it's nice.

  4. Anon,

    thanks for commenting! I guess that would be indeed its most fitting environment, I can't think of a cleaner musk, no matter how much I rack my brains.

    You think it hasn't created Net buzz?

  5. Mimi Gardenia16:40

    I think I am anosmic to this one- such a shame !

  6. Oh well, I guess there's got to be one for each of us eventually.

    Try Les Bains du Marais and Royal Muska if you haven't already. :-)


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