In any sensorial experience there are parts of it which are “acquired tastes”. What that phrase generally identifies is something that is going to challenge most who participate in said sensorial experience. Perfume is no different and if there are two ingredients which are widely accepted as acquired tastes it would be cumin and castoreum. Cumin when used as a keynote smells like unwashed armpit. Castoreum is the secretions from the anal glands of a beaver. If you tell most people a perfume is going to start with armpits and anal glands I suspect, they will politely decline. Whenever I have shared the fragrances in my collection which feature these I have watched people recoil from the strip. I love them. These are some of my favorite perfumes in my collection there is a vitality to them which burrows deep inside as I surround myself with the scent of life.
Marlou is a small artisanal brand based in Grasse, France. The perfumer has not been identified but they have released two perfumes in the last year or so. Last spring L’Animal Sauvage felt like it was going to offer me what I craved. When I received my sample, there was some impressive animalic aspects but it felt like it was just a more concentrated version of other musky perfumes. I felt like if the Marlou team let it all hang out they would have something that would make some beautiful music. That perfume is D’Ambiguite.
D’Ambiguite is cumin and castoreum in full throated harmony laying down a bass line. As you might already have guessed a well-blended version of just those two notes would have pleased me. Except D’Ambiguite layers on another challenging ingredient, costus. We’ve had a couple corpse flower bloom nearby and we visited. I was struck that it is an overwhelming waxy and fatty smell. Costus is like that but subtler. By subtler I mean ball peen hammer versus sledgehammer. As this fatty meat encased in wax intersperses itself between the armpit and the anal glands I was in my glory.
D’Ambiguite has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
When I say this is an acquired taste I really mean it. If you have any interest, please make sure you get a sample and try it first. You’re as likely to think it smells like a dirty diaper pail as something gorgeously animalic. It was exactly what I wanted to spend a couple of weekend days in the New Year with.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.