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.