Areej Le Doré Musk Lave

It’s taken me three tests to wrap my head around Musk Lave from Areej Le Doré’s new S6 collection and I’m still not entirely certain what I think. The only things that I’m certain of is that Musk Lave has a number of paradoxical aspects and that I’m completely the wrong audience for this type of fragrance. Areej Le Dore ALD S6

All fragrance perceptions are highly individualistic and subjective, dependent on a person’s tastes, and there are a few things that make Musk Lave a challenge for me personally: I’m a lavenderphobe, although I’m fighting it and I do own two lavender-driven fragrances; I cannot stand laundry fresh, clean notes, particularly anything that resembles white musk; and I have an incredibly low tolerance for anything sugary or candied. All three issues are at play with how Musk Lave presents itself on my skin.

Musk Lave is a pure parfum with the following note list:

Top notes: bergamot and lavender from 1920
Heart notes: lavender absolute from 1915 – 1920, osmanthus, aged Mysore sandalwood and wild Siberian deer musk
Base notes: iris accord, oakmoss and labdanum

Musk Lave opens with a fascinating lavender paradox: clean, fresh, sweet, bright, and strangely aerated lavender that is also dry, dusty, dirty, musky, woody, leathery, smoky, and resinous. It is lavender that has been plucked straight from the fields and splattered with drops of warm but crisp, full-bodied bergamot but it is also desiccated lavender that’s been stored in an ancient wooden chest next to dried, earthy, dusty deer musk pods and dried, mineralized, slightly fusty oakmoss.

The polarities don’t end there. This is also lavender which is liberally tufted with practically laundry-fresh balls of cotton picked from a field —which is the most unusual, confounding iteration of either osmanthus or iris that I have ever encountered, almost as if one were smelling fresh, clean cotton towels straight out of the dryer— but it is also lavender that smells masculine, smoky, incense-like, tobacco-like, darkly musky, leathery, and resinous. This must be from the aged, and I’m guessing intensely concentrated, Mysore absolute, and the notes are further amplified and darkened by the labdanum and the oakmoss. Not all labdanum smells like toffee and not all oakmoss smells of greenery; some labdanum absolutes can smell of everything from gunpowder to tobacco, woody tar, leather, and tobacco, while some oakmoss absolutes can also smell of those same notes.

There is something else which appears after 15 minutes: licorice. To be precise, salty, sticky, resinous black licorice. I’m guessing it comes from the oakmoss but, whatever its source, it’s not particularly sweet. That’s probably just as well given that the lavender turns intensely candied on my skin after just 10 minutes, almost like it had been dunked into crystallized sugar. And, yet, this licorice lavender candy also smells like freshly plumped cotton towels, Bounce laundry dryer sheets, charred wood smoke, incense, resinous leather, and dried earth from the deer musk.

Certain aspects of Musk Lave seem familiar. The licorice lavender combination calls to mind the same combination in Francis Kurkdjian‘s Eau Noire for Dior Privé, albeit minus the latter’s immortelle. The candied, vanillic, but inordinately clean lavender with sandalwood recalls elements of Gaultier‘s Le Male, while the same sugary sweet, dried lavender with painful amounts of laundry white musk as well as incense smoke, wisps of green, and dark, dry woods evokes Serge Lutens‘ reformulated version of Gris Clair.

Yet, something about Musk Lave as a cumulative whole feels different to me, as though lavender has been rendered topsy-turvy somehow. Maybe it’s all the juxtapositions and contrasts, particularly of light and dark. Maybe it’s because Musk Lave is an unusual twist on the sorts of oriental fougères that I’ve previously encounter (not that I’ve encountered all that many since it’s not a widely done sub-genre) and because the more common aromatic fougères are so completely different. Or perhaps it’s a question of expectations: I had expected Musk Lave to be an animalic lavender, or possibly a hybrid of an animalic, aromatic fougère with some chypre-like traits, and it turned out to be something altogether different. I don’t know. I can’t explain it and it doesn’t make complete sense to me, but I can say that Musk Lave left me feeling a little confounded the first time I tried it.

There is also something else. Musk Lave’s development falls into two halves, neither of which feels like the same fragrance. While it’s not uncommon for fragrances to morph across genres, they don’t typically split into two, very distinct, and very long stages, each of which lasts over 8 hours in length. Areej Le Doré fragrances are often shape-shifters on my skin but they typically have a minimum of three stages that flow quite naturally from one to another. Musk Lave doesn’t really follow that pattern, although there are certainly elements in the second half that flow from the first, like the musk, smoke, and wood. Again, for reasons that I’m having trouble articulating or even figuring out, the cumulative feel and focus seem different, as though Musk Lave veers off in a completely unexpected direction. Perhaps it comes down to the pre-existing perceptions I had going into the scent and what I had anticipated it would be like.

Musk Lave’s long first half consists of the paradoxical contrasts that I’ve outlined and they don’t vary much over the course of the first nine hours. The changes are mostly of degree. Musk Lave consistently turns sweeter after 90 minutes, reminding me of a lavender marshmallow. It had traces of ambered warmth and goldenness in one test, but the more consistent accompaniment was a wave of darkness and dryness, smelling both of incense and of wood smoke. In one test, when I applied a much larger quantity of scent, roughly 4 spritzes from the atomizer, Musk Lave’s warm cotton towels, cotton puffs, and vanillic sugar were much weaker while the Mysore’s resin, leather, incense, wood smoke, and dark muskiness were more profound. Again, these are all really changes in the degree or strength of some notes, nothing more.

Regardless of test or dosage, however, Musk Lave consistently turns blurry about 4.5 hours into its development, becoming a haze of candied, aromatic, clean, desiccated lavender rendered dark and brittle through smoke. It’s infused with clean cotton, black licorice, smoky woods, smoky leather, and a hint of abstract floralcy. There is no real sense of osmanthus or iris in an concrete way. Ditto for the oakmoss.

Another consistent change is the advent of creaminess. It pops up initially around the 4.25 hour mark as a subtle thing, but it isn’t a major part of Musk Lave at this stage. It also constantly fluctuates in strength or obviousness. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to the smoke, darkness, dryness, and woodiness that become particularly profound after 5.5 hours. During this time, there are also small hints of something fruity buried within the haze, possibly something peachy, perhaps from the osmanthus, but they’re fleeting and they’re as engulfed by the other major elements as the oakmoss is on my skin.

At the end of the 6th hour and start of the 7th, Musk Lave starts to transition into a very different fragrance than it was at its start. It’s turning into a woody musk, now laced with an increasingly abstract and nebulous lavender note as well as cleannness, vanillic sugar, incense, and wood smoke. There are fluctuating, sometimes very random, hints of elements that are indecipherably creamy, vegetal, herbal, green, and possibly citrusy or fruity, but they’re miniscule flickers in the heavy fog.

Musk Lave’s long second half begins roughly at the start of the 9th hour. It is now wholly a woody musk and the creaminess is no longer a hint but a clear, strong, unmistakable essential element, one that feels almost tactile. It stems from the Mysore sandalwood and it floods the other notes with an almost custard texture that I find incredibly beautiful and mesmerizing. It’s as though buttery calfskin leather has merged with wood custard and cream, fused together with small ribbons of incense and wood smoke. What I’m grateful for is that the sheer amount of Mysore cream has muffled and halved the sugary sweetness, the cottony cleanness and freshness, and the other parts of Musk Lave that I’ve struggled with up to now. To be clear, Musk Lave is still painfully sweet for my personal tastes when I sniff my arm up close, but it’s less than it was and it’s also less profound on the scent trail.

What strikes me about this second half is just how distinct it feels from what came before. It’s one of the reasons why I tested Musk Lave three times despite the rapidly approaching launch date for S6 on or about September 12th/13th. I wanted to ensure that the transformation from a quasi-oriental fougère or a lavender fragrance into a woody musk that, in many ways,rightly or wrongly, feels almost unrelated wasn’t simply some fluke on my skin on my skin but a consistent pattern. And it is.

There aren’t any significant or major transformations after this point, though there is one smaller change around the 11th hour: Musk Lave turns more powdery on my skin. It’s unquestionably related to the musk; it’s as though the deer musk pod grains got caught up in the Mysore’s velvety custard, cutting through some of the butteriness, turning the texture more granular, and also drenching the wood with far greater amounts of powdered musk.

There really isn’t much more to Musk Lave’s bouquet from this point forth: it’s a simple sweet, smoky woody musk infused with fluctuating amounts of creaminess, cleanness, powderiness and, after the 15th hour, a subtle, nebulous goldenness from the labdanum amber in the base. When the fragrance finally dies away, all that’s left is a slightly sweet-dry creaminess that is vaguely woody and sweet in nature.

Musk Lave has fairly good projection and sillage on my skin and very good longevity. With a small dosage equal to roughly 2 or 3 small squirts from the atomizer, the opening sillage was about 8 to 10 inches and the projection off my arm was around 5-6 inches. The numbers dropped after 7 hours, but Musk Lave was easy to detect up close. It didn’t become a skin scent until the end of the 10th hour, and lasted just a bit over 17.5 hours.

With a larger dose, about 4 or 5 squirts, Musk Lave’s opening sillage was about 12-13 inches, though the projection was roughly the same. Again, the sillage dropped late in the 7th hour, but Musk Lave didn’t become a skin scent until the 14th hour. Even then, it wasn’t hard to detect up close; it only took more effort to detect after the 21st hour when I had to bury my nose more deeply into my arm. In total, however, Musk Lave lasted just over 25 hours.

A few final fragrance and house-keeping matters before I conclude this review. First, I’m not certain of when exactly and precisely the new S6 fragrances will launch but I believe it should be on or around September 12th or 13th. Second, Musk Lave is a pure parfum that comes in a 30 ml bottle and costs $220. Roughly 400 bottles were produced, and around 100 were sold as part of the pre-launch special involving purchases of all five S6 releases, so around 300 bottles now remain. They will sell exclusively on Areej Le Doré during the initial launch, but Luckyscent may get some bottles later.

Lastly, this will be the last S6 review that I’ll do on this site. I may do Grandenia and Cuir de Russie on Twitter in either text screenshots or in a tweet thread style, I may do only one of them, or I may do neither of them. It’s not a reflection on either one of those fragrances; I have not yet tested them. Quite simply, these days, I’m taking everything on a day-by-day basis and seeing how things go. Be safe and be well, friends.

12 thoughts on “Areej Le Doré Musk Lave

  1. Hi Kafkaesque, I was hoping for a throwback to Bogue’s Cologne Reloaded (you know how I feel about CR (still have a few drops left of my sample given to me at Antonio’s studio 3 years ago)), but your description sounds more like Ennui Noir (which I also have, courtesy of STC). I saved up my pennies and pre-ordered the whole ALD6 line so I’m looking forward to spraying with abandon, just like Russian Adam’s videos!

      • Well… my full bottles of #ALD6 arrived on Friday and I am wearing Musk Lave (ML) today. On my skin, the blend of ingredients is much less paradoxical than on yours. Russian Adam calls it a barbershop fougere, but on my skin its more Chypre-like. That said, there is something in it that reminds me of something you wrote about and Ive tried before. In fact, I only have a small travel size of it due to its high cost. Are you ready for it?…. Roja’s Haute Luxe! I know you’re scratching your head now, but I went back to my travel size of HL and smelled it again, and compared it to the ML on my skin. I can best summarize it by saying that ML is much more sharp and HL is more rounded and full-bodied. ML is no CR, but happy to have it in my collection!

  2. Hm, yes, I don’t know, Musk Lave sounds very good in your review, but R.A. calls it „animalic barbershop composition“, which sounds rather scary to me… I just came back from Provence, where a.o. I visited my trusted lavender distillery. I have the pure oil of Lavender Sovage, what I use as medicine (anti-inflammatory, calming). And while I like its aroma, it can be pretty sharp in undiluted form. I‘d expect the old lavender to be dusty (as you wrote) and mellow and that‘s very appealing. I sometimes crave the clean white musk scent, especially when life gets too much and I need some clarity – however, I detest anything in the face artificial and prefer smoother and lighter notes (which mostly quickly disappear from my skin and seemingly only linger in my memory…).
    Well, sugar is quite a no go, but in this constellation I could imagine to work !
    These days I don‘t follow the new releases anymore, but indulge on my old treasures…

  3. I’m so glad to read you on WordPress again! I’ve found you on Twitter too and agree with you on the state of the world. To each his/her own, but I do hope you’ll at least re-post here your fragrance Tweets and keep this site. I use Twitter (under a different name) almost entirely for politics and I come to WordPress when I need a short break from those. Fragrance has become for me a peaceful refuge from the strife and stress of both work (my job has been deeply reshaped by COVID-19) and life in the USA (I’m ratcheting up my involvement in voting rights and election protection work).

    So while I’m truly happy to follow you on both fronts, it was a pleasure to open WordPress today and find you here, even if it’s only briefly! And I hope you’ll find a way to preserve your posts so I and others can go back and re-read them. A subscription site of some kind seems promising!

    You have been missed.

  4. Hi, I’m a new reader and total niche perfume novice, who -tragically- is just now discovering your blog,and and wishing I had found it so much sooner! Your writing absolutely brings these scents to life,and while I don’t know why you don’t write here regularly anymore, I truly wish you would, because you write like a master somm tastes, and your posts are EXQUISITE. I want to pick your brain so badly! If there is a particular post you’d recommend I read for an accessible niche brand if Areej is out of my budget? I was dissapointed by my Les Labo sampler, and while I loved the experience of buying out of the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, I found a lot of their scents less than nuanced.

    In any case, thank you so much for this gem of a blog…I’m a hospital worker, and reading these posts really lift me out of the bleak situation we’re in, and that’s no small thing. Chin up…only 2 more months…

    • Hi there, thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot. And thank you also for your work as a front-line responder in this time.

      With regard to your question, I don’t your tastes or your exact budget, but Diane St. Clair offers some affordable travel size decants and I really liked both her Casablanca and her Pandora and Eve duo. The former is a super-rich oriental-chypre hybrid, while the latter are vetiver floral chypres. She also has Ellena-esque fragrances in other genres, so perhaps you can try a sample set before deciding if an affordable travel bottle would be warranted.

      Another brand worth trying is Neela Vermeire, who does French-style fragrances with an Indian twist. She also offers travel sizes, but they’re in a duo coffret. Her Bombay Bling is frequently called Prozac in a bottle, including by me. I also love her Trayee, a rich oriental with incense and real Mysore sandalwood, among other things. And her Mohur parfum is stunning, even for someone like myself who doesn’t gravitate towards rose-based fragrances. But what a rose that one is! Unfortunately, that fragrance isn’t cheap, but her regular Mohur EDP is lovely as well. You can find samples of all her fragrances on Luckyscent and Surrender to Chance, I believe, as well as various retailers in Europe. (I don’t know your location to be more specific.)

      Another brand that offers travel sizes is Frederic Malle. I love his Musk Ravageur and it’s my favourite from the line, but I don’t know your feelings about animalics, ginger, or ambered orientals. He has a slew of other fragrances as well, but I can’t say he is my favourite brand so you may do better to read other reviewers or sites on his fragrances.

      BTW, I am not particularly impressed by Le Labo’s fragrances, lol, just to put my tastes into context.

      If I were you, and if you have the time, I’d start by reading reviews for Neela Vermeire’s Bombay Bling, Trayee, and Mohur (both versions, EDP and Extrait, because they’re a little different) as well as my Diane St. Clair article on Casablanca. I didn’t review her Pandora or Eve on the site, only roughly on Twitter. I did cover her debut trio, though, and you may well like one of those because of their lighter, airier, and more Jean-Claude Ellena aesthetic.

      As a side note, I love Papillon fragrances but those don’t come in travel sizes. They are about $185-$190, which might be far outside your price range. However, Papillon consistently ranked high in my past “Top 10 New Releases of the Year” lists and you might be able to find decants on Basenotes if you end up falling in love with something. Surrender to Chance offers a variety of decant sizes as well, but those are usually far higher in price than what you might find from a Basenotes member who does decants. Anyway, I would absolutely read some of my Papillon reviews if you want to discover a generally fantastic brand with consistently solid output.

      I haven’t linked to any specific review because I’ve mentioned a lot of different fragrances and brands, but you should be able to pull them easily via the site’s search button. You can search by brand name. Remember: Neela Vermeire, St. Clair Scents, and Papillon.

      I hope that helps a little and isn’t too overwhelming in detail. 🙂

      • It’s absolutely what I was looking for! Thank you so much for taking the time to hold my hand and lead me nose first into this brave new world…I’m a sucker for loud florientals, citrus, those in your face 80s barnburners, and the lighter gourmands (current rotation includes Pure Poison, Toca Stella, YSL Libre, Flowerbomb, Nars. Rod. Etc, but I’m trying to train myself to appreciate the sophistication of the Guerlain -style French classics as well. Your suggestions seem to give me a great place to start…thank you so much!

  5. Reading your review, I thought of MEM, the skunky caramelized lavender. They probably don’t smell alike, though.

    One other thing was why do they have to spoil the perfumes making them too sweet? And that got me thinking of Francesca Bianchi Black Knight which starts with dark oily leather and smokey vetiver and turns into very sweet dust. Why do they have to make them sweet? And by the way… did you smelled anything from Francesca Bianchi?

  6. Hi Kafkaesque . Recently , the community has had a couple new releases . Taha’s Agar Aura extraits , along with Dixit&Zak’s new releases . Both of these houses are well regarded , and can cost some cash. I’m thinking that’s why there’s been a delay from Russian Adam’s second week of September releases. Just sampled Musk Lave . Not to bad. I was a little apprehensive because of the lavender, but it works well on me.

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