I have never shied away from the stronger polarizing scents in perfumery. One of my favorites is musk in all its forms. Some of it comes from the underlying chemistry which is fascinating to my scientist side. Most of it comes from the way the best musk feels vital. When used intelligently perfumes which feature it feel alive. I, and many other writers, use terms like feral or growling to describe it because of that. That’s the carnal funky animalic version of musk. There is a next level above which is less furry. These are the musks which smell like skin. These find their way into many summery beach perfumes as the sun-kissed skin accord. They have also been part of the fresh “clean skin” accords of those shower-fresh perfumes. Those are often banal perfumes; Marlou Poudrextase shows that does not need to be the case.
Marlou is a small artisanal brand from Grasse, France. I discovered them about eighteen months ago when friends who know how much I enjoy the animalic musk pointed me in their direction. Of the first two releases D’Ambiguite has become a favorite on my perfume shelves becoming one of the few in that section. That was a dynamic mixture of cumin, castoreum, and costus. It was raw and glorious.
The Bath by Alfred Stevens c.1867
When I heard Poudrextase was coming I ordered a sample immediately. Reading the description on their brand-new website it said it would be “composed around notes of the sweet natural secretions of clean skin.” From this brand I was wondering what it could be.
What the to date anonymous creative team does with Poudrextase is to use both parts of the French portmanteau word; powder and ecstasy. They take the fine rose powder of an elegant courtesan as she dusts herself after her bath. The ecstasy is the smell of that clean skin below the powder which has just the right dash of the animalic to remind you this is an erotic assignation.
As my courtesan sits at her vanity, she considers the man she is to meet. He is a man of cultured tastes outside the boudoir. She looks through her possibilities and her eye alight on the pot with the Japanese characters on top. Perfect. A rice powder scented with dried roses. She shrugs off her bath wrap and applies it. As the subtle rice and the more present rose tint the air she smiles into her mirror. As she moves to her closet to choose her clothing the scent of her freshly bathed skin meshes with the powder creating a discrete soapiness. As she thinks about the evening to come her skin begins to add a hint of the sensual ending as powder and ecstasy combine.
Poudrextase has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I would really like to know the team behind this perfume because it is so precisely balanced. In the first two Marlou releases because that was all animalic ferocity I probably overlooked that takes a similar skill to get right. Poudrextase must wear that kind of delicacy on its sleeve. If you thought the two earlier Marlou releases were just too much I urge you to give Poudrextase a try. This is how clean skin should appear in perfume; on the surface of a courtesan.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.