Wednesday, June 23, 2010

M.Micallef Royal Muska: fragrance review

Royal Muská is a relative newcomer in the game of musk fragrances, being issued by niche brand M.Micallef in as recently as 2008, yet it has gained something of a cult status already, thanks to its cloudy soft, warmish personality, with a gentle sheen like mother-of-pearl and a ray or two of the sun hidden in there.

Fragrantica describes it as "the fragrance of tanned skin, of hot days and sultry nights" and classifies it under "fruity floral". How can a musk be tropical, you ask? Well, with the suffusion of salicylates, molecules naturally present in ylang ylang essence, of which perfumer Martine Micallef made ample use. The effect is like a delectable whiff of baked skin, almost amber-ed over with a hint of Ambre Solaire suntan lotion, but only a little. It's also rather soapy (rosy aldehydic), especially when smelled at an arm's length rather than up close, yet without any harsh alcaline edges or lily-of-the-valley "clean" vibe. Yes, it's a clean, white musk, but not quite. The best way I could describe it is "hazy", puffy-pillowy and honeyed sweetish, a real skin-scent.
Then again you might heed Katie Puckrick's warning if you're averse to musks in general, who says "on paper it seems like the kind of thing I'd dig. But I don't. It bugs me. Seems a little rank, like the inside of my friend from 6th grade’s not-very-clean house". In fragrance parlance, this is often associated with "mature" scents and I guess it is, somewhat, although it certainly lacks the complexity of old blends which incorporated musk as a supporting actor rather than the protagonist.

Royal Muská comes as an Eau de Parfum and is usually referred to as Royal Muska, the accent omitted in oversimplification, so don't get alarmed if you find it with either spelling online. More feminine than unisex, although theoretically it could be carried by both sexes. And caveat emptor regarding possible musk anosmia just like with Musc Bleu by Il Profumo applies here as well. The rectangular bottle is impressive and luxurious, even better looking than the round Micallef ones.

Notes for M.Micallef Royal Muská:
Ylang ylang, rose, white musks, precious woods, fruit notes, crystal musk and benzoin.

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

Photo from the Greek film Mantalena, 1960, starring Aliki Vougiouklaki and Dimitris Papamichael.


  1. Mimi Gardenia16:41

    This one is incredibly sniffable and I love it.

  2. Hi E. This is quite a nice scent -- definitely on the femme side of the midline, as you state. I don't get anything rank from it; it's one of the cleanest of clean skin musks, and quite sweet, really. Good sillage and lasting power, as I remember. One of those that does better sprayed rather than dabbed from a small vial, which doesn't show it off to good effect.

    I have a really high opinion of Micallef as a luxury fragrance house. Gaiac is one of my absolute favorites, and I was very impressed recently by Jewel (have you tried it?).

  3. MG,

    yeah, it's pretty nice. I can see it being worn with a lot of things too.

  4. Joe,

    I have to put a disclaimer probably that I don't find anything dirty really (certainly not anything in relation to musks or civet and the like). I find a few things musty, but dirty, no...LOL! Otherwise readers might get ahold of something and nod their heads in a puzzled manner saying "whatever was she thinking recommending this stink?" ;-)

    Having said that, I personally find it less sudsy clean than Musc Bleu (see prior entry), which is perhaps the cleanest thing possible, but it's still quite clean to me. Still, it's quite likeable, because it doesn't scream "I'm scrubbed!!!"

    Agree with you on the Micallefs on the whole. What I've tried (Jewel alas not among them yet, do tell me more!!) I have liked so far. They're slowly getting some deserved recognition which must feel nice for them.


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