L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc ~ fragrance reviews

L'Artisan Mure et Musc limited edition bottle

I bought my first bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur Mûre et Musc in 1990, twelve years after its debut. It’s been ten years since my last bottle of Mûre et Musc and, as luck would have it, a friend has a bottle of Mûre et Musc from 1988 — a high school graduation gift — and she let me wear the ‘vintage’ perfume; the fragrance is just as I remember it: a deep, rich smell of berries (like the scent of fresh, ripe berries cooking in sugar syrup with a whole vanilla bean and lemon rind tossed in for good measure) coupled with a lively and almost “resinous” musk. The mood of 1988 Mûre et Musc is happy, summery (and unisex).

Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette (current version)

I did a double-sniff when I recently sampled a brand-new bottle of Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette. Today’s Mûre et Musc is diffuse and gauzy, and the “happy” tone of the Mûre et Musc formula has changed too — full-throated laughter (1988) has been replaced with girlish giggles (2008). I still smell berries but they are pale berries that have been over-sweetened to compensate for their unripe state; after a flat berry-citrus smell, I detect “musk” (if you can call Mûre et Musc’s slightly vanillic, wan base notes “musk” at all). I also smell a soapy, slightly sour white floral aroma, verging on orange blossom, during the dry-down. Mûre et Musc stays close to the body and disappears quickly on my skin. Mûre et Musc no longer smells like a perfume so much as it does an aroma to be used in a personal hygiene or home fragrance product.

Mûre et Musc Extrême

Mûre et Musc Extrême is stronger and more interesting than Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette. As I spray on Mûre et Musc Extrême, I notice the opening berry notes have been amplified and the berry accord (containing blackberry, black and red currants, and raspberry notes) is more powerful, “colorful” and sprightly; as the fragrance dries on my skin the vanilla-musk of Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette has been lightened with a “greenish” note (basil?). I’ll certainly take Mûre et Musc Extrême over regular Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette, but it still comes up lacking when compared to the vintage-1988 Eau de Toilette version.

Mûre et Musc Extrait de Parfum

Mûre et Musc’s latest incarnation, created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, is a limited edition Parfum version. Mûre et Musc Extrait de Parfum contains notes of Turkish rose essential oil, iris absolute, kumquat, bergamot, basil, pink and black pepper, patchouli, oak moss, vanilla and leather. Mûre et Musc Extrait de Parfum is an extremely well blended fragrance with momentary hints of leather and warm citrus, black pepper and creamy vanilla. Shockingly, I do smell kumquat…for a second or two. Mûre et Musc Extrait de Parfum’s berries, the mûres, are almost missing from this formulation, submerged by other notes, especially the iris absolute (the most substantial and longest-lasting ingredient); only during the extreme dry-down do I detect the berry-musk accord that is ‘Mûre et Musc’ to me. Though its ingredients may be costly, Mûre et Musc Extrait de Parfum’s fleeting ‘lifespan’ is not worth $280 (for 30 ml.) to me.

Cologne Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette

Cologne Mûre et Musc, my favorite in the Mûre et Musc line-up, is a pleasant, citrus-y, natural-smelling body splash-type fragrance (it lasts all of 30 minutes on me). Cologne Mûre et Musc adds grapefruit, tangerine and (more noticeable) basil to the berry-musk Mûre et Musc formula and the herbal and grapefruit notes in this fragrance make it more wearable for men. This lightweight Mûre et Musc formula turns slightly soapy in the dry-down and reminds me of a citrus-leather-scented soap I used to order from the U.K. ages ago (can’t remember the name, but it was a favorite of Osbert Sitwell’s according to the manufacturer). Still, at almost $100 for a 50 ml bottle, Cologne Mûre et Musc is expensive for a body splash. There are fragrances available at a fraction of the price with ingredients that smell almost as good. In fact, as I was wearing the many formulations of Mûre et Musc, I came across Mûre Musc cologne by L’Aromarine (100 ml/$22); it possess some of vintage Mûre et Musc’s strong character and I can recommend it if you like berry-musk blends. (And if you don’t like it, you won’t hate me over a $22 purchase, will you?)

Nine days of my life have been dedicated to Mûre et Musc — and I’m so ready to move on — without any backward glances or sniffs. Mûre et Musc, in its present state, is ‘okay’ and would make a nice, if expensive (50 ml./$95 - 100 ml./$135) first perfume for a young girl, but unless my friend gives me her vintage bottle of the fragrance, I won’t be wearing Mûre et Musc again. Wait…I guess I should never say “Never!” — perhaps there’s a Mûre et Musc Homme, Mûre et Musc Double Extrême or Mûre et Musc de Nuit in the pipeline.

For buying information, see the listing for L'Artisan under Perfume Houses.

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37 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin!

    Such a shame, the recent incarnation doesn't sound as lovely as the original. I usually love Bertrand Duchaufour's creations too.

    I must say, I love. that. bottle!

  2. Anonymous says:

    One of the first things I read on this blog was when you were looking for something to replace Mure et Musc. Not knowing what you were looking for, and almost suggesting B&BW Black Raspberry Vanilla, which I enjoy but would have been so wrong, I got a sample. Your description of the berries overcooked because they were not ripe is SPOT ON. The “musk” is so wan. I find myself looking very hard for anything that smells like anything. I happen to like berries in scents, for some reason, RIPE ones, and this so doesn't fit the bill. I'd rather wear Avon Imari Seduction. I would have loved to try the original M et M – it sounds delish.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love that bottle too – it reminds me of one of my family's most ancient Christmas Ornaments!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tama, I've heard Trish McEvoy's #9 Black berry & vanilla musk is nice. I haven't tried it though…..

  5. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it great?

    For now, I'll have to avoid round breakable items. My Kitten loves to bat round thingies around……. All breakables are under lockdown.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The first time I smelled MeM a few months ago, I was totally unimpressed. I kept thinking, 'this is what everyone's talking about!?'. Maybe it wsa due to the vintage/new descriptions you mentioned above or maybe it was my slight anosmia to certain musks. But both it (and the Extreme) are my least favorite L'Artisans.

    Thanks for the review of the parfum – it seems like I hadn't heard from ANYONE online about it and it's nice to know it's impressive but not bottle worthy (especially at that price!)

  7. Anonymous says:

    SFLizbeth: the berry bottle IS nice

  8. Anonymous says:

    Tama: I have seen the bottle in person and you could probably make it into an ornament…for the heavy lower branches of a tree.

  9. Anonymous says:

    SFL: my newest addition will be experiencing his first tree this year…can't wait to see the damage.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tama; the old version is so vibrant…have you tried the new “Pulp” fragrance? talk about FRUIT to the extreme…(Robin reviewed it here)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Mike: I know…I was hoping the parfum would restore some gutsiness to the MetM line.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If I ever want blackmerry and musk I must got to Trish #9. It's the berriest of them all. I use to own MeM Extreme but swapped it away so my husband would shut up about how manly it was… it does sort of have this aftershave thing goin'on in it. I use to wear it camping. It was made for the outdoors, IMHO. Maybe Marina could chime in to give her 2 cents since she works for em!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Kayliana: seems like everyone likes the Trish 9. Goodness…I never think of any Mure et Musc as “manly!” HA!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ha! How cute is that! Ours loves the blinking lights too….

  15. Anonymous says:

    I've only sniffed Mure et Musc. My experience with it has been SPRAY…wait…WHERE DID IT GO? Oh well. Notes sound appealing but didnt come thru at all…at least NOT on my skin.

  16. Anonymous says:

    C: the musk must not “compute” with your nose….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Okay, adding two more to my BIG-ASS list! Thanks, you guys.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well, it's frustrating AND inexplicable. It's not like they had to update … I don't know, Aromatics Elixir to “fit in” with the current market, and I highly doubt the original 80s version was made from super-expensive endangered. So why the change? I like the current version all right, but I guess Luca/Tania were right when they complained how much better it used to be. A shame. I admire your persistance, though! And I had the same result with the cologne; it was pretty but so short lived (on ME and I hold onto scents forever) I thought, forget it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think you're right k. It's a funny thing…I 've had a problematic nose my entire life…allergies…post nasal drip etc…but my sense of smell is almost scary. I can smell EVERYTHING even when I have a sinus infection…when it comes to MUSC…my brain and nose just do not register.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Love that bottle too! K you have a NEW addition?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Oooh, Kevin — in a hurry, but I'll need to read more in depth later.

    Even though I'm sure I have the reformulated version, MetM is just the thing some days, and I'm glad I own it. Simple is sometimes perfect. Pity the new extrait is so boring, but then again, I wouldn't be paying that much for it anyway… EVER.

  22. Anonymous says:

    C: the “Strawberry-Blond Italian” was HERE last winter but only moved into the house in January 2008 after his “snip'n'tuck' procedure. HA!

  23. Anonymous says:

    March: a mystery…the old version does not smell dated in the least…maybe a “problematic” ingredient from the Euro standpoint/law was the ingredient that was substituted?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Joe: I know what you mean, for me the best “almost-not-there” scent in the world is Guerlain's Eau Impériale … but I can get it for WAAAAAAY less than $95!

  25. Anonymous says:

    What a disappointment, and especially compared to that wonderful bottle. Perhaps we should be calling it MeH instead of MeM… Thanks for doing all the hard work for us, though.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Exist: you're welcome…and so glad I can move on!

  27. Anonymous says:

    What a shame, I never tried any Mure et Musc fragrances from L'Artisan! I used to own Premier Figuier, both the regular and the extreme, I've tried so many others too… I just never got to try Mure et Musc, supposingly the most popular from the entire line!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I can't imagine the chaos that would ensue if my cat was introduced to a Christmas tree – and he is more than 3!

    My friend had a black cat that would eat tinsel – it would come partway out eventually and she would look very festive with the tinsel against her black booty.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Great review! I'd have to agree with the “personal hygiene or home fragrance” sentiment. I think it's absolutely divine in the candle though.

  30. Anonymous says:

    That bottle and the Premier Figuer Extreme. I lust after those two bottles.

  31. Anonymous says:

    IrisNobile: it's an easy one to find…I've gotten several emails saying how great the Mure et Musc candle is…haven't tried a candle from L'Artisan.

  32. Anonymous says:

    eminere: I'll have to sniff that candle come Monday! LOTS of people seem to love it.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Its a wonder that an official review of Trish#9 doesn't exist on this blog, as it is an incredibly popular scent. And for those whose purse strings cannot stretch to Trish#9 (which, given its range, is a little over-priced), I feel that Vera Wang's Princess provides a favorably cheaper comparison. Childish packaging and lack of longevity let Princess down somewhat, – and I'm sure my suggestion will be much maligned – but I believe this scent has some integrity. I received it as a gift and, whilst apprehensive at about the sickly-sweet branding (mistake VW!), I found it struck an immediate chord with Trish#9; albeit an outline without the filling.

  34. 3xasif says:

    i’m sorry Mure et Musc is not as you recall. however, i am also sorry to read over & over & over in blogs & reviews, how current versions of scents do not live up to their former alleged beauty. yes, i understand it’s opinions, & yes of course perfumes have been reformulated. fair enough.

    but, when one has NEVER sniffed the original & is excited about acquiring the newer version, to read yet another “this is a thin and pale imitation of what was once brilliant” is, for lack of a better term, a downer.

    idea: how about 2 reviews for these scents, one being by someone who has not sniffed the original? i adore Mure et Musc Extreme, it was my first l’Artisan in 1994 (post reformulation i assume) & having just received the beautiful LE bottle etched with flowers as a birthday gift, i was looking forward to celebrating with someone in the perfume blogosphere :-(

    a one-sided review is not really fair &, one could almost say biased, in the case of a “reformulated” perfume.

    that said, i adore reading your reviews, & NST is an integral part of my daily “news” :-)

    • Robin says:

      I’m butting in to answer since this is to some extent a matter of editorial policy. I can understand your distress at always having to read that everything is a pale shadow of its former self, but the fact is that that’s exactly what most people want to know: does it still smell the same, and whenever possible I ask our contributors to answer that question.

      All of our reviews are one-sided & biased — they’re opinions, after all. The balance comes, I suppose, from the fact that there are multiple sources on the internet. I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to read our reviews as though they were gospel. And, of course, people can always add their own 2 cents in the comments.

      If it’s a downer, and I agree that it is, I’d have to answer that it’s not our fault — the fragrance industry needs to stop moving to cheaper formulas for old products, and I would consider us negligent if we failed to point out obvious differences between new & old.

      • Kevin says:

        3xasif/Robin: and I’ll add that sometimes a reformulation does NOT bother me in the least…and that I still love the perfume: Guerlain Mitsouko comes to mind (and believe me, in this case I am not in the majority on the blogosphere!) I’m of the “tell it like you smell it” school, not only with my reviews but with reviewers I read daily…I like a blunt opinion (that being said: I’ve learned to trust no one till I smell a perfume myself). Any reviewer that constantly goes down the “middle path” to the point I can’t tell if they like or dislike something is no help to me and usually no fun to read either. All that being said: THANK YOU for the compliment.

  35. 3xasif says:

    i was by no means implying that your reviews are anything other than your opinions, nor was i trying to offend – so please accept my apology if that is how my comment came off. by no means was my comment meant to be snarky or disrespectful of the great writing i read here. i think i would find the “middle path” quite boring as well. i appreciate the ” tell it like it is” attitude as it makes for much more interesting reading!

    just thought it might be an interesting angle to have re-formulated fragrances reviewed by someone who is not comparing it to the old, in addition to the reviewers who know the tried & true vintage/original formulations. to only read about how good the older unavailable version is compared to what is available now IS a downer, at least to me. and, that is just MY opinion :-)

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