Les Liquides Imaginaires Peau de Bete: Sex & The Beast

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, "Girl gone wild." Source: kontraplan.com

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, “Girl gone wild.” Source: kontraplan.com

Sex, heated skin, animalic musk, wild horses sweaty after their ride through forests, sweaty balls, and even S&M leather — they’re all things that come to mind with the very evocative and aptly named Peau de Bete (or “Skin of the Beast”) from Les Liquides Imaginaires. An immensely animalic fragrance, it is bold in aroma, but skin-like in both its feel and soft reach. Above all else, though, its animalic muskiness is redolent of human sexuality.

While other fragrances have trodden this path before, most recently Papillon‘s fantastic Salome, few of them have done so with quite as much singularity as Peau de Bete. It strips everything away but its sexualized animalics; there are no extraneous elements like chyprish bergamot top accords or middle-layer florals to adulterate the purity of vision. It’s as though the composition were merely one, single (albeit multi-faceted) base accord. Depending on your tastes and on your experience levels with raunchy, sexual, and dirty animalic musk fragrances, that’s either a good thing or something that will make you scrub right away. I happened to think Peau de Bete was damn sexy, but it is certainly not a scent for everyone.

Peau de Bete. Source: beautik.ro

Peau de Bete. Source: beautik.ro

Peau de Bete and its box. Source: Les Liquides Imaginaires website. [Photo lightly cropped by me on the sides.]

Peau de Bete and its box. Source: Les Liquides Imaginaires website. [Photo lightly cropped by me on the sides.]

Peau de Bete is an eau de parfum that was created by Carine Bouin and released in 2015. Les Liquides Imaginaires typically released its scents as trios, and Fragrantica says that Peau de Bete is the first in a trilogy that will be called Animal Beauty. Thus far, it is the only one in the series. Les Liquides Imaginaires has no description for the scent on its website, but the bottle gives you full warning of its olfactory focus on the skin, as well as its soft character in terms of sillage, with the words: “Peau de Bete, Eau de Peau.” In French, “Peau” means “skin,” so the company is clearly calling it a soft skin scent in style.

The note list, as translated from the French, is:

Top: Chamomile, Safranal [Saffron], Cumin, Black Pepper, Parsley, Herbs
Base: Cade, Guaiac, Atlas Cedar, Texan Cedar, Indonesian Patchouli, Indian Cypriol, Leather Accord, Styrax resin, Flouve Absolute, Ambrarome Absolute, Castoreum, Civet, and Scatol/Skatole.

Flouve grass via en.academic.ru

Flouve grass via en.academic.ru

It’s worth taking a few minutes to go over what some of those materials smell like. Flouve is a type of grass, and the Absolute form has a complex aroma that smells of: sweet grasses; soft loamy, dark earth; dry hay; and even a bit of moss sometimes. Styrax is a type of benzoin resin, but it’s the smokiest resin around and also has a leathery side instead of the more common cinnamon-scented or vanillic tonalities. Ambrarome Absolu is extracted from labdanum gum, the resin of the cistus plant. Despite its labdanum connection, its aroma is animalic, musky, and leathery, so it is more frequently compared to ambergris instead. It is also widely described as having “hints of pepper, tar, tobacco and coffee” as well. Skatole is an organic compound that belongs to the indole family. It can be found in feces, coal tar, and some white flowers. At a low dosage, it can smell a bit flowery but, at a high dosage, it smells just like poo.

Painting: Catherine Bath. Source: Catherine Bath website. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Painting: Catherine Bath. Source: Catherine Bath website. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Peau de Bete opens on my skin with seemingly all its notes at once but, in particular, earthy cumin, rich saffron, herbaceous greenness, skanky civet, leathery castoreum, rich patchouli, smoky resins, and sweet grasses, all infused with campfire smoke from the cade and from singed, leathery, tarry woods that give a slight barbecue effect. Hanging like a thick, dark, and chewy blanket over everything are the by-products of the notes, half smoky, half dirty musks, but all fully animalic.

The overall effect and the technique used continuously remind me of a Pointilist painting by George Seurat. In Pointillism, art is created through hundreds of tiny dots of colour, each one is clearly visible if you peer up close (very close) and focus. But, take a few steps back, and you’re struck only by the overall picture, the colours blending in the viewer’s eye to transform into a sum greater than their tiny individual parts.

Photo: Chris Gordaneer for Pendelton Woolen Mills. Source: randycole.com. (Direct website link to Chris Gordaneer's website embedded within.)

Photo: Chris Gordaneer for Pendelton Woolen Mills. Source: randycole.com. (Direct website link to Chris Gordaneer’s website embedded within.)

That blended picture transforms in the case of the Pointilist-style Peau de Bete as well, sometimes from one moment to another. With one blink of the eye, you see horses, flying through smoky forests, the leather of their saddles darkened and slick from the heated sweat that covers their flanks, their hooves kicking through rich earth, green herbs, resins, grasses, and patchouli leaves.

With another blink, though, the picture and accompanying landscape change yet again, expanding to embrace the ultimate olfactory archetype symbolized or represented by this genre: human sexuality. It’s the aroma of the naked body in its most intimate places, the skin velvety with warmth and slick with sweat that smells ripe but not unpleasantly so. It’s not the ripeness of three-day old body odor and stale sweat, but it is most definitely the aroma of a man’s crotch after sex or intense exertion.

Photo: Eitan Bernat. Source: Kontraplan (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Eitan Bernat. Source: Kontraplan (Direct website link embedded within.)

At its core, Peau de Bete feels like a really multi-faceted base accord rather than the more traditionally structured fragrance with its three levels. To the extent that there is a top layer (chamomile, spices, grasses, earth, and herbs), it folds into the expanding base less than 20 minutes into Peau de Bete’s development. Once there, everything overlaps in an increasingly blurry haze, as though the dots in the Pointilist painting had started to seep into each other, accentuating the sum-total rather than the individual parts. Up close, if you sniff and focus, it’s still easy to pick out the patchouli, the cade campfire and barbecue accord, and the castoreum leather, but they’re increasingly turning into mere representations: spiciness, earthiness, smokiness, leatheriness, and animalic muskiness. It’s basically the same transformation that occurs with base notes during a fragrance’s late drydown. As such Peau de Bete’s entire focus is upon the purest essence of a skanky animalic, stripped of superfluous elements that may dilute or distract from that goal.

For some people, the use of a base accord as the sum-total entirety of a fragrance may be overly simplistic, but I respect it in this instance because of the sheer complexity of all the “Dots” that have gone into creating it, as well as its purity and its smoothness. The result is akin to having a single shot of really top-notch expresso instead of futzing about with a pumpkin spice latte that hides the taste of the coffee under flavourings and additives. There is a time and a place for each, but it depends on what you’re in the mood for, and how well each one has been done.

Here, I think Peau de Bete has been extremely well crafted for a “mood” fragrance, even if its isolated, singular base results in fewer changes than a regular composition. Development is largely limited to the way the notes interact with each other and the nuances they emit. Roughly 30-40 minutes in, all the elements fuse together, the close-up on the Pointilist “dots” now completely ended in favour of the overall picture. At the same time, Peau de Bete grows smokier, darker, and significantly more leathered in feel. Instead of smelling like a horse and the sweet grasses of the plains on which it roams, the images it evokes are now centered on a barbecue campfire, tarry leather, and sweaty, naked bodies writhing amidst  the smoke. To put it more crudely, it’s the smell of sweaty balls after leather-based S&M sex conducted near a barbecue pit in a forest that is slowly going up in smoke. (Not that I’ve actually experienced this precise scenario, but it’s really not difficult to imagine once you smell Peau de Bete….)

"Wild Things" by Boris Ovini. Source: KontraPLAN. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Wild Things” by Boris Ovini. Source: KontraPLAN. (Direct website link embedded within.)

For all that, Peau de Bete feels like a very polished, sophisticated, and purely classical olfactory interpretation of an S&M session. I made my mother — yes, my mother — sniff Peau de Bete for the simple reason that she is my barometer for all things animalic in fragrance. She not only taught me about haute perfumery as a young child but, more importantly for our purposes here, she has never encountered a “skanky” fragrance that she thought was “filthy,” “too much,” or unappealing. Not once. Not ever. Not Salome, Maai, MKKMontecristo, Hard Leather, Roja Dove’s original NuWa, vintage Femme, or anything else for that matter. To her, these aren’t “dirty” or “raunchy” fragrances at all but, rather, the norm and “the way fragrances are meant to be.” (For her, it is modern gourmands that are beyond all comprehension. “Who wants to smell of food?!”) So, it should tell you something that this grande dame and classicist took one sniff of Peau de Bete and did an immediate double take, her head whipping around for a second try. “That’s wonderful,” she sighed happily. Then, she gave it her highest accolade — “That’s the way perfumes used to be” — followed by the automatic second question that arises whenever she loves something enough to consider buying it for herself: “How is the projection or sillage?”

This is where Peau de Bete falls short for my personal preferences (and hers), but, let’s face it, it’s completely unfair to level any sillage criticism at a scent that explicitly warns you ahead of time that it’s an “Eau de Peau.” With my standard baseline quantity of a 2-spray equivalent, the fragrance was rich and bold in aroma up close, but light in weight and projection, turning into an airy cloud at the 30-minute mark and then into a fine mist at the end of the first hour. The vaporous ribbons not only lost all body but half of their projection at that time as well, hovering an inch above the skin. The sillage was better, comparatively speaking, at roughly 2-3 inches in the opening moments, but it dropped at the 90-minute mark, then precipitously so at the end of the 2nd hour to lie close to the skin, as intimate in reach as it had become in olfaction.

Photographer unknown. Source: pinterest.com

Photographer unknown. Source: pinterest.com

In terms of precise olfactory development, Peau de Bete doesn’t change dramatically except, as mentioned earlier, in its nuances. Roughly 40-45 minutes in, the dirty musk turns a little sharp, feeling slightly high-pitched rather than rounded or smooth. I don’t know if any macrocyclic musks like Muscone or Muscenone have been used, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had. Regardless, the note softens about 1.75 hours. Not long after, the fragrance’s focus shifts slightly as Peau de Bete becomes more urinous and more sexual in bent with the civet, cumin, castoreum and amber musks surging to the forefront, pushing the woods and their barbecue smoke to the sidelines. This essentially marks a transition phase where Peau de Bete moves from a land-based olfactory animalic accord (horses, earth, grasses, woods) to a human skin one that is sexual in scent, skin-like in textural feel, and skin-like also in sillage as well. Basically, sex skin and sweaty balls.

Carl Warner, "Bodyscape 1" via his website, Carl Warner. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Carl Warner, “Bodyscape 1” via his website, Carl Warner. (Direct website link embedded within.)

That’s it really it for the rest of Peau de Bete’s development. In its late stage, there is a soft, spicy sweetness to the dirty muskiness that is really delightful. There is also a sort of golden feel to the notes, a velvety softness that, once in a blue moon, hints at traces of salt on heated skin, but it’s a subtle suggestion more than a concrete, distinct, and powerful Ambrarome note. For the most part, Peau de Bete’s final hours really consist of an incredibly sexy muskiness that is heated, quietly spiced, and wholly suggestive of post-sex skin.

Peau de Bete had good longevity, low projection, and low sillage on my skin. I’ve already mentioned the opening numbers with my standard 2-spray quantity. Using that amount, Peau de Bete became a skin scent just short of the 3.25 hour mark; it lasted 8.5 hours, but I had to put my nose right on the skin to detect it after the 6th hour. The fragrance was so soft that I tested it with a larger amount than my norm, as well as a smaller one. Basically, with a 1-spray equivalent, Peau de Bete became a skin scent about 2.5 hours in, and lasted just a bit over 6.75 hours. With a 3-spray amount, it took almost 4.25-4.5 hours to become a skin scent, became difficult to detect without effort after the 6th hour again, but lasted just shy of 11 hours in total. In short, Peau de Bete is there on one’s skin, but it’s so discreet and soft that you won’t detect it until you make an effort or unless someone sniffs you intimately. The latter is a fitting symbolic parallel in many ways.

There isn’t a lot of discussion about Peau de Bete out there, and I think the reason is two-fold. Part of it stems from the fact that this isn’t the easiest fragrance to find and try. Quite a few of Les Liquides Imaginaires’ regular retailers don’t carry it, even though they have all the other fragrances in the line, and I suspect they think Peau de Bete would not sell well since it’s not a fragrance with wide, easy appeal or versatility. In that regard, they would be correct because I have to emphasize again that this is NOT a fragrance for the average perfumista.

Salome. Photo: my own.

Salome. Photo: my own.

In fact, I would not recommend it to anyone except that narrow group who loved the base notes and sex aroma of fragrances like Salome. Peau de Bete is exactly that, minus the chypre and floral top layers. Personally, I think that the animalics in Peau de Bete may be even milder than the Salome levels, and certainly much less hardcore than the ones in Maai, but how you interpret Peau de Bete’s degree of “skank,” “raunch,” or “filth” will depend on a few things. It’s not only your individual skin chemistry but, more importantly, your level of experience with such scents and, thus, the lens through which you filter or process the aromas.

The Telegraph's choice of photo for Peau de Bete. Source: telegraph.co.uk

The Telegraph’s choice of photo for Peau de Bete. Source: telegraph.co.uk

If you’re used to the modern style of perfumery with its “fresh and clean” aromas, then you may well conclude, as the Telegraph‘s journalist did, that Peau de Bete was “the eau de parfum that makes you smell like horse sweat and faeces.” It will be your experience levels that determine if you sigh ecstatically like my mother, or if you interpret it as the journalist did:

Imagine riding through the forest, bareback, possibly butt naked and you’re three quarters there.

It’s not all about horse though. If you’re wondering what the ‘human’ bit of the fragrance is, well – and there’s no polite way to put this – it’s pretty much the unmistakable smell of man bits (“ball musk” if you will), an odour recognisable to all men (and plenty of women) and one whose ‘attractiveness’ divides opinion even more than current series of the X Factor.  […][¶]

The result of these ingredients is an extraordinarily potent concoction whose overtly sexual notes come together to create something that’s more pornography than perfumery. So filthy is it that it makes fragrances that purport to be sexy and sensual, like Gucci Guilty Black, and Calvin Klein’s Obsession, appear to be the kind of scents you’d wear to a boring business meeting.

Certainly the women who’ve smelt Peau De Bête on me were intrigued, describing it, variously, as “intense”, “compelling” and “having a certain something” (I didn’t mention the skatole). [snip]

See, he’s used to fragrances like Calvin Klein Obsession for his baseline definition of “sexy and sensual,” so it’s hardly a surprise that he found Peau de Bete to be olfactory “pornography.” Many thought the same of Salome when it was released, reeling back in horror, while those who wore, loved, or knew of fragrances like vintage Femme simply shrugged at the claims of “filth” and sniffed it rapturously. It will be the same story here.

For Persolaise, Peau de Bete was hardly pornographic filth and most certainly not “the hoof-stomping, nostril-flaring Minotaur some would have us believe,” but a “compelling” fragrance due to its balance and its textural feel. His review reads, in part, as follows:

Source: ebay.uk.

Source: ebay.uk.

yes, there’s no denying that bodily, near-scatological odours form the sinuous backbone of this fragrance’s composition: you can’t use substantial quantities of cumin, cloves and leather materials – made transparent through the use of cedar and citrus notes – without evoking steaming flesh. But it’s the nature of the fabric covering the backbone – the texture of the perfume – that’s far more compelling. Situated somewhere between velvet, suede and angora, it envelops the wearer like a hybrid epidermis, sleek and inscrutable, yet concealing a deep-rooted core of heat.

For him, Peau de Bete had perfect pitch and balance, thereby overcoming issues that he found in other recent releases — Alaia, Salome, and Malle’s Monsieur —  because it managed to be distinctive, beautiful, “skin-hugging,” and have a personality but without going overboard (like Salome or Monsieur) in terms of filth or “testosterone.” “Somehow, Peau De Bête succeeds where all three of those scents fall short, and it does so without ever raising the volume of its growl.”

On Fragrantica, there are only three reviews at this time and they are, as you might expect for a fragrance like this, mixed in nature. “Q80,” the Fragrantica writer known as Sergey Borisov, calls it a “skunk” scent that left him feeling “disturbed.” He added:

there is something in this juice that makes me extremely disliking it and at the same time there is something that attracts me and pull me to it, It’s like a LOVE HATE on one plate.

A second commentator, “kl99” writes:

A bitter sweet fragrance. Dry spices. Real leather. Dark Liqueur. Smell like a warm sweet zoo somehow. [¶] Interesting. [¶] Can’t describe more.
Not such great longevity or sillage. Quite weak.

Source: wallpaper24x7.com

Source: wallpaper24x7.com

The third poster, “RockettoSheila,” starts off with a “horse walked into a bar” joke, writing:

a horse walks into a bar…
hard to describe, like LM Hard Leather, but without the “palmolive” sweet musk, like MKK, but without the “dead ashtray pencil shavings Moscow nightclub armpit” smell …that is replaced by a something more naturally clean and “alive”… no ashtray, no armpit, no dirt… more like “food” smells, like fresh baked bread, salami, and dirty martinis…the sweetness isn’t quite vanilla or tonka, more like hot buttered rum, there is a definite “hair and skin smell” to the leather, maybe a dash of saddle soap to really bring the horse to life… like all good fragrances, it won’t smell like you have something “ON you”, so much as people might assume this is just how you smell, as it somehow shares the right amount of “human” notes to overlap…..yes, weak sillage, but so cozy and purring, it is not meant to be a shout  [Emphasis to other perfume names added by me.]

If you love animalic musks, skanky orientals, or are looking for the unadulterated base layer of Salome without anything else, then I strongly recommend trying Peau de Bete, if you can find a sample. Given the sillage issue, I would advise testing first, unless you know from ahead of time both the scent of Salome and the fact that you would enjoy skin-hugging discreetness.

For me, that sillage was too, too low for my personal tastes, but I contemplated buying a bottle nonetheless to layer under other fragrances (ambers, florals, leathers). The one thing that stopped me is that Peau de Bete is rather expensive to buy solely and purely as an occasional layering base. It is €250 or £230 for a 100 ml bottle, which is roughly $283 at today’s rate of currency exchange. As noted earlier, several of Les Liquides Imaginaires’ retailers have chosen not to carry Peau de Bete, and that includes its only US retailers at the time of this review, Luckyscent, Barney’s, and Portland’s Fumerie. However, samples are easy to obtain, both in America and Europe, including some European retailers who ship worldwide. (See the Details section for links.)

The long and short of it is that Peau de Bete will be a sexy beast for those who love dirty musks and skanky animalic fragrances, but unlikely to appeal to anyone else. Try it at your own risk if this is a genre of perfumery that you don’t know well.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Peau de Bete is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml bottle for €250 or £230. In the U.S.: I haven’t found Peau de Bete sold anywhere in America. Barney’sLuckyscent, and Portland’s Fumerie carry Les Liquides Imaginaires, but they don’t sell Peau de Bete at the time of this review. Outside the U.S.: Liquides Imaginaires lists Peau de Bete, but it has an “add to wishlist” note and I can’t manage to put the fragrance into a shopping cart. Maybe you’ll have better luck. First in Fragrance and Essenza Nobile have Peau de Bete, sell samples, and ship worldwide. In the U.K., I’ve read you can find it at Harrods’ Salon de Parfums. Selfridges was the exclusive vendor for the brand, but Les Liquides Imaginaires is not listed anywhere on their website at this time. Elsewhere, you can find Peau de Bete at: France’s Bon Marche; Italy’s Alla Violetta (for a bit below retail at €215) along with a 2 ml sample; Germany’s Brueckner; the Swiss Magando; Russia’s SpellSmell (with a small sale on the price) and Ry7; and Poland’s Mood Scent Bar. Other Liquides Imaginaires retailers include: Jovoy Paris, Premiere Avenue, Ukraine’s Boheme, Romania’s Beautik, and South Africa’s Metro Cosmetics. However, none of them carry Peau de Bete at the time of this review. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells Peau de Bete starting at $4.49 for a 1/2 ml vial. Several of the European sites listed here sell samples as well.

33 thoughts on “Les Liquides Imaginaires Peau de Bete: Sex & The Beast

  1. I must must must try this. An animatics skin scent? That’s what I wished Salome was. Flouve styrax and an ambergris cousin???. Soooooooo trying this.

  2. Oooh! Hadn’t noticed this one (how could I with the number of new releases?) and will be sure to add a sample to my next STC order. I’m always game to sniff “filthy” scents and am fine with low projection.

  3. I was thinking of ”Ruthvah, the Perfume of Immortality”. Ambergris, muskus, civet (all natural, of course): the perfume of Aleister Crowley. Maybe that was similar?
    His biograph Symonds: ” sweet, slightly nausaceous smell”.

    • Given those notes and what you’ve described, I don’t think it would be similar. The Ruthvah notes and description imply a sweet, golden muskiness with some urinous aspects (the civet). Peau de Bete and fragrances in this genre have a lot of cumin, with all the spicy earthiness and body aromas that are involved as a result. It’s a completely different type of body aroma than the one created by civet alone. Plus, Peau de Bete also has woods, leather, wood smoke, other spices, and earthy patchouli. I think Peau de Bete would be darker, less sweet, and with a different animalic profile than the Crowley scent that you’ve described, at least judging by those particulars. If you are aware of the underlying “skank” accord in vintage Femme or modern Salome, this is essentially that scent.

  4. Bugger, I was just in Paris and must have skipped testing this one in Jovoy somehow. And that is sad because I love Salomé – it is my ‘cheer me up’ work perfume. Maybe a sample? Definitely a sample.

    Skank is never skank on me, just really elegant and sometimes pretty. Unless it is iris and then I head into foetid, rotting plant territory.

    • Jovoy doesn’t carry it. All the others, yes, but not this one. Samples are easy to order, though. I think you’ll find Peau de Bête even more suitable for work than Salome. 🙂

      Btw, I laughed at what iris does on your skin. Poor thing, that doesn’t sound good.

    • Hey Anne. I’m so very glad to know that I’m not the only one for whom “skank is never skank”. I do like regular/sweaty horse smell so I hope it’s there when I try it.

  5. Thank you for the review, do you know when the others from “Animal Beauty” will be available? I love horses and I love how they smell, I cannot wait for my sample to arrive!

    • No, I’m afraid I don’t know their release date, or if they will be released at all. The Liquides Imaginaires trios are usually all released at the same time, 3 at once. The fact that they weren’t in this case, that Peau de Bete was a solo release, and that it’s been more than a year without any additional two to fill the series… well, it’s odd.

  6. I’m surprised that Salome is the first fragrance you mentioned for comparison in your review. The first time I saw the pictures in your Facebook announcement, I went “oh boy, another Hard Leather-esque snuff film in a bottle”. Needless to say, after reading your blog, I am stoked to try it out if I have the chance.

    On the topic of animalic fragrances, I’ve managed to try out others lately such as Hard Leather, MKK and Montecristo. To date, Maai and Hard Leather are the most dirty fragrances I’ve tried, the former being “urinous” and the latter being “fecal” (especially in the opening… man, WOOO!). If Hard Leather and Maai were a husband-and-wife, then their pet animal would be MKK: it smells like an animal farm with a bit of cognac. Their cottage house would be Montecristo: it smells like an unchartered woods. Salome is the next big target for me.

    Not sure which other animalic fragrances to try… maybe Musc Tonkin?

    • “Snuff film in a bottle??” ROFL. Hilarious. Also hilarious was your set of stories — Nazrul’s Animal Tales, more Aesop than Beatrix Potter… lol. The husband-wife-pet part made me grin to no end.

      I referenced Salome and not Hard Leather because Peau de Bete has a significant amount of cumin. Salome did so as well on my skin, but not Hard Leather. (It wasn’t fecal on me, either. But I know others have an experience similar to yours during Hard Leather’s first 15-20 minutes. Oddly, the number I’m told is always 15-20 minutes in duration, at least from those who have spoken to me about it.) On a separate and unrelated side note, I’ve used naked male torso photos in a number of reviews, both before and after the Hard Leather one. 🙂

      You should definitely add Musc Tonkin to your list, in particular if you can try the original Extrait version, though it was a limited-edition release in that concentration. I haven’t tried or reviewed the current EDP version.

      I would also add O’Driu’s tobacco-spice, urinous Peety, and maybe the cumin-heavy Rubj by Vero Profumo if you don’t mind a floral or orange blossom focus. The latter didn’t work for me, but many people love it, particularly if they’re orange blossom fans.

      If you want to try animalics merely for the sake of expanding your range or knowledge, then try Eris’ Ma Bete and also, I hesitate to mention this, maybe Secretions Magnifiques, just for the sake of it, if you haven’t tried it already. It really isn’t as bad as the mass social psychology says. It’s not a pleasant fragrance to wear in my estimation, but it’s hardly the source of instant, immediate vomiting and mass hysteria that it’s been described to be. That said, if you’re looking for a proper dirty musk, I don’t think that would be it at all. The selection of truly skanky, “dirty” animalic fragrances is rather limited in this regard, at least beyond the ones you’ve already mentioned.

      What you may want to do is look for vintage animalic fragrances, like vintage Shocking (Schiaparelli), vintage Bandit (Robert Piguet) and vintage pre-1987 Femme (Rochas). BTW, vintage Femme that was post-1989 but, let’s say, pre-2000, is still good and mildly animalic (very mildly) but it’s more cumin-based than the original formula which was heavy on the castoreum. Vintage Bal a Versailles is a civet-laden floral oriental, but may be too floral for your tastes. Actually most of those fragrances may feel too feminine for your tastes, because most of them are skanky floral orientals.

      That may make Bandit a better fit for you, because it is leather-scentric (with tons of galbanum), but I find it to be a brutal fragrance. Worthy of great respect and sometimes repellingly beautiful in an odd way, but utterly brutal, at least until the very final hours. Neither modern nor vintage Bandit have the cumin/dirty musks/spices or great orientalism etc. of fragrances like MKK, Salome or the like. Again, leather is the real focus. Very, very tough, very cold, hard, black leather. The perfumer, the legendary Germaine Cellier, intentionally made it as a fragrance for “dykes” (her own exact choice of words, if I recall correctly) or at least she was inspired by them.

      So, those are some options. Hope that helps.

      • Thank you for naming some fragrances that slipped my mind!

        Ah yes, Secretions Magnifique… I remember testing that some time ago. Very metallic and saline scent, and it reminded me of seawater and a tinge of blood. Not a fan of it although it achieves what it sets out to do as a “gag perfume”.

        Bandit by Robert Piguet sounds interesting but for this I really want to smell the original vintage since I heard the current one has been uhh… “neutered” to a large extent. I’m curious to know what the legendary “Butch” smells like.

        And oh Bal a Versailles, how can I forget!? Not sure if the current will be any different from the original vintage. This one’s ought to a stunner… probably Hard Leather’s “mistress” in a bottle.

        P.S. Sorry for all the analogies. I just find it funny how all the animalic fragrances can relate to each other based on how people have described them. I can honestly go all day with this…

        • Unless you’re a huge galbanum lover, the current version of Bandit isn’t all that tamed. Tamer, yes, definitely, but not exactly tamed.

          As for vintage Bal à Versailles, if you look up my review, you can read about two different formulations sold on eBay, including the 1960s Cologne version that I have that isn’t really a “cologne” at all, is strong, and is (or was) relatively easy to find on eBay. It’s definitely a vintage formulation that’s worth trying, and it’s not hugely expensive, either. Or, at least, it wasn’t 3 or 4 years ago as compared to many vintages out there. Not hugely skanky at all, but lovely, really lovely.

  7. I bought a full bottle as soon as it became available. To me it is a gentle beast and none too skanky. I really enjoy it. Your mention of Musc Tonkin made me realize that PDB reminds me a lot of Tonkin, but with more cumin and minus the floral aspect. I’m wearing Peau de Bête as I read this and just went and grabbed the Musc Tonkin and layered it. Niiiiiice! A little more bang for the buck.

    One another note, Having read some fine reviews I was very anxious to try a sample of Orto Parisi Seminalis. I got that chance yesterday. Oh Lord, no! There is some semblance of sexy, spicy, musk in there, but overall it smelled to me like a can of creamed corn. I tried to wait for the dry down but ultimately couldn’t scrub it fast enough. I still shudder at the thought.

    • I remember you ordering a bottle, and thought of you quite a bit while writing the review. 🙂 Adding Musc Tonkin to the mix is definitely more bang for the buck.

      Thanks for the heads up on Seminalis. Creamed corn seems to be the very antithesis of the goal that the fragrance was reportedly trying to achieve! LOL. I had heard it was an oud scent, but I’ll confess I wasn’t running out to order a sample even then.

  8. So Kafka how did *you* think it compared to Hard Leather? That’s one that doesn’t smell barnyard on me or my DH & daughters, in fact all of them liked it (!!) I may want a sample or decant

    • I didn’t really think it compared to Hard Leather at all, beyond having dirty animalics and leatheriness. The huge amount of cumin is a critical difference. Hard Leather has none, and so no “sweaty balls” aroma. (Hard Leather also has no horsey aroma, but does have a lot of Mysore sandalwood and Norlimbanol. Peau de Bete does not.) Salome’s sex-phase drydown is much closer, in my eyes. The other parts occasionally reminded me of Serge Lutens’ Serge Noire, given a horsey twist.

  9. I walked by a scandalous scent, as if smelling something common. Again. I dabbed some of my sample on my wrist – and wondered, why everybody is talking about it. What I got was an undefinable blur, a chaotic bit of everything. I found that phase so uninteresting and uninspiring that I forgot to follow its development, I was distracted by something else and the Bete left me cold…. I will revisit, in order to have the experience you describe.

    • Perhaps if you apply a greater quantity, you’ll have a stronger scent with better clarity? I think it’s worth a try, my dear. I can promise you that, on my skin, the last thing one can say about Peau de Bete is boring, bland, or “uninteresting.” Definitely try more. Up-end the vial on your skin, smear it back and forth at least 2 times, maybe even 3, and then see what happens. That’s how I apply most things. 🙂 Come back and tell me if the scent or your feelings change, okay?

  10. I’m kind of glad this fragrance has low projection/sillage…typically I wear perfume to mask the reek of other people’s sweaty balls and feces on the subway during my morning commute 🙂 (among other reasons)

    Was skatole named for, um, scat?

    • I don’t know which word came first, if it was Skatole or Scat. I assume Skatole or skatalogical came first, then got abbreviated into Scat, but that’s merely a guess. 🙂

      And I completely understand your point about the sillage. Your comment regarding the subway made me laugh.

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  12. On Fragrantica, people seem to have a difficult relation with Xerjoff’s Al-Khat as well. Le_Coeur_Gothique, for example, wonders ‘how they managed to fit a whole stable in a bottle’ and Taskphorce says ‘is the worst smelling fragrance I’ve ever encountered in my life’, given that his current collection and the list of perfumes he has had are quite impressive and they all seem to be rather strong (ambery, earthy, musky, oudy, spicy, smoky) and unconventional pieces, whilst ConsumerThis says it is a ‘mouth watering good’ worthy a full bottle, deadidol considers ‘it’s a clever blend with a distinctly Eastern feel, but quite bodied and oppressive’ which will not work for everyone, and Parfumista2010, an extreme and difficult scent, yet ‘ALIEN, ALIEN, ALIEN’, which instantly made me think of your Micallef’s Akowa review.

    Although in most reviews oud seems to stand out, Al-Khat is listed as a floral oriental, to the point of not satisfying user fumigateur’s crave for oud, yet acknowledging the superbness of the jasmine. For user Jack_Hunter, the jasmine accord seems to dominate the fragrance as well, making it lean toward the more feminine side of the unisex. So, given the reviews, I doubt the Pointilist effect in this one as well, and expect a rather classic development underneath the dirty/fecal notes – floral clash which seems to lean towards an engrossment of the fragrance of one of the sides. So the technique here may be Scumble, which works similarly to Pointillism, being an opaque layer applied very thinly on a painting to modify the appearance of the underlying layer whilst allowing bits of the latter to shine through. Given that Scumbling works mostly with lighter tones, I guess the covering layer may be the jasmine. Again, just using my imagination, I haven’t smelt neither of the scents.

    According Wikipedia, khat (or qat) seems to be a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula containing a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone which is said to cause loss of appetite (the repugnant reaction of some would certainly make sense if the ingredient were listed, haha) and excitement and euphoria (which would naturally explain the sexuality of the scent, if Al-Khat has a jittery human side as well as Peau de Bête).

    Have you happened to sniff this one? Maybe it could make its way to the skanky fragrances collection. Rawr.

    • I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand why are you quoting so extensively people’s thoughts about Al Khatt, or a consumer magazine’s assessment of that fragrance in a review for *Peau de Bete.* You’ve said you haven’t tried either fragrance. As such, how can you “doubt” my personal experience with Peau de Bete, particularly if you’re going by what people have said about a totally *different* and unrelated fragrance?

      Even if other people’s opinions of Al Khatt were somehow relevant to Peau de Bete, my experience is still my experience. Your “using [your] imagination” about Al Khatt and what it may be like does not change how **Peau de Bête** was on *my skin* and to me.

      And, yes, I have tried Al Khatt. There is a review for it on the site. That would be the suitable place for your musings, theories and hypotheses about Al Khatt and its potential nature.

      Perhaps you could try both fragrances first before rendering your “doubts” on the applicability of Pointillism in another person’s perspective and individual experience (which you were not there to smell or know).

      • Oh, I’m so far from doubting your experiences regarding both fragrances! You’re actually an idol for me when it comes to fragrance literacy – I love your capacity of putting into words the volatile and the ephemeral, and the stunning analogies and comparisons. Oh, and your overall knowledge about … everything. And sorry for the flattery, but you do have a beautiful mind I’m glad I was lucky enough to come across and – literally – read. I’ve learned a lot from you. Thank you.

        I admit it was my mistake for not having checked if you had already reviewed Al-Khatt.
        I’ve thought, based on people’s mixed reactions to this one as well, and the barnyard and animalic feel, that similarities could be found, and I was curious if Al-Khatt could be mentioned alongside with those from the animalic genre you’ve mentioned in the comments in terms of … level of repellence or debauchery so to say.

        And I wasn’t arguing the Pointilist effect in Peau de Bête, but in Xerjoff’s. I happened to run across the latter after reading your review about PdB, and my mind probably started to envision. I don’t have to possibility to try as many fragrances as I’d like in order to train my nose, and I’m not trying to find an excuse here, but I have to make do with words about perfumes for the time being. And mostly … imagine.

        Sorry if my message sounded like an offense or sorts, it was not intended.

        • Ah, okay, thank you for explaining your thought process and no problem! 🙂 With the issue of animalics, I honestly think that a lot of people’s varied reactions must be seen through the lens of their personal experience with this very particular genre, not to mention indolic fragrances which is what Al Khatt definitely is. Someone may like dark, intense, or heavy orientals, but that doesn’t mean that they’re comfortable with or have a wide experience with animalics.

          Then, there is the whole separate and very critical issue of skin chemistry. Some people’s skin really seems to squash down any animalic notes, suppressing them, diluting them, muting them. Other people, however, have skin which not only amplifies the notes but often brings out their worst sides, like the fecal, barnyard, or sexual raunchiness and dirtiness.

          So, I think you have to consider both issues when reading someone else’s interpretation of an animalic scent or even a very indolic one like Al Khatt. Depending on the person’s skin, indoles can range from sensual muskiness, golden velvetiness, or a touch of smoke to the other end of the spectrum like hardcore mothballs and insecticide. Even, in some cases, poo, plasticity, or some else, although I think those last things are more common with civet than with an indolic white floral.

          I honestly don’t think Al Khatt is animalic in the sense of Bete de Peau, and particularly not when the fragrance is taken as a whole. Yes, the oud gives off an animalic, barnyard-like aroma for the first few minutes, but not beyond that on my skin and it’s hardly a central feature of the fragrance from start to finish. Not on anyone’s skin. It is, however, immensely syrupy and heavily indolic from start to finish. In general, it’s not a sexual or fecal fragrance. It’s a heavily indolic, syrupy floral or floral oriental.

          However, once again, that is my interpretation based on how it appeared on my skin, given the extremely short duration of the oud, and things may well be different on someone else’s skin in terms of how long that oud lasts and how intense it’s raunch may be. 🙂

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