Tracing kindred spirits in perfumery is occasionally as uncomplicated as finding the common mastermind behind them. In the case of Musc Ravageur and L de Lempicka that one is none other than Maurice Roucel, celebrated perfumer and creator of some of the most delectable orientals and florientals in existence (and the occasional stellar chyprish floral, such as in K de Krizia). Although the fragrances are not 100% interchangeable, as evident in my review below, they bear a keen similarity that would have lovers of one eager to discover the other and those on a budget discovering a smell-alike that isn't a travesty.
Musc Ravageur the explosive departure of bergamot, tangerine and cinnamon is set against a backdrop of vanilla, musk and amber. No flowers, just a refined skin scent. Yet contrary to name, Musc Ravageur isn't really about musk! Though it is rather "dirty". It's more of a spicy oriental, old-school-style and raw. And the reason I am including it in a section devoted to musks is mainly due to nomenclature and readers' expectation.
If you have been fearing (or loving, like myself) the reputation of Muscs Kublai Khan and Christopher Brosius I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvented, you will be puzzled by this one, recalling as it does the base of such classic orientals as Shalimar or even less classical, like Teatro alla Scala by Krizia.
Smelling Musc Ravageur on skin one cannot but form an opinion towards the latter. Musc Ravageur, just like the big paws of its creator, is more of a naughty & voracious home cat with a furry tongue giving you a bath, rather than a wild tiger in the jungle shredding its prey in pieces. A very sensual amber -rather than musk, compare with Kiehl's Original Musk oil for instance- is hiding in the core of the fragrance. A characteristic citrus-spice top note is there (I detect clove and lavender as well), which recalls the Gallified "oriental" mould, and a silky vanilla-amber dry down which isn't really sweet, but interplaying between warm & cool, almost a bit herbal. The artistry lies in having the amber perform like a Chinese gymnast: all over the place, but with an elasticity that creates the illusion of weightlessness!
Annick Goutal’s Sables and Christian Dior Eau Noire, it has a weird sense of hot summer images (immortelle is a very usual sight around the Mediterranean coast) despite vanilla’s traditional association with winter and homely smells. A cul de sac manicurist's existence in a crammed, abandonded apartment in the suburbs of some French town during the summer perhaps? More appealing, surely.
In Sables the impression is more of a wearable maple syrup, a very warm hug, a drier beach with no fish like that near a fossilised forest at the island of Lesbos. Sables is like seeing the earth’s history in a long gaze and a moment of eternity becoming yours.
L de Lempicka comparatively is much tamer than the Goutal and for that reason, above all, it will undoubtedly be more popular. It features also orange and cinnamon notes that contribute to the likeness I detect with Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. However the effect is not as spicy-dense in L de Lempicka, while at the same time L comes off as more calorific and rounder, more ambery. L de Lempicka also lists almond , bergamot, precious woods (sandalwood) , tonka bean (coumarin notes)and solar musks. It comes in Parfum and eau de parfum and my review is based on the latter.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: see more smell-alikes on the Twin Peaks articles link
Photos of Catherine Deneuve,top via MademoiselleB, bottom film still from Roman Polanski's thriller Repulsion