Magnolia and Pearl Musk (Attar Bazaar)

The magnolia -- that great icon of the languid South, one of the oldest flowers in existence (predating even honeybees!) -- signifies dignity and nobility in the language of flowers, though its scent speaks quite clearly of baser sentiments. Its fleshy tepals (no typo there; flowers possess tepals, sepals, or petals, and sometimes all three) feel like the softest skin and give off the scent of idealized sex: sweeter than honey, deeper than midnight, and redolent of a thousand petites morts.

Without a faint hint of organic decay -- those odd notes of fungus, feces, carrion, and other earthly delights that simultaneously lure and disturb -- the scent of white flowers would honestly be nothing more than sugar and soap. At first, this is all one seems to get from Attar Bazaar's Magnolia, a white flower so sparkly-clean you could eat off of it. The longer it remains on skin, an arresting green note begins to peep through, lending the semblance of dimension-- but not enough.

Clearly Magnolia needs help; a white musk would not have been my instinctive first choice. It would be silly to expect something so patently clean to provide the touch of dirt that Magnolia needs. But Pearl Musk Original possesses a faint marine-salt tang that lifts it above the usual 'laundry soap' and restores the organic angle to Magnolia's arsenal. The resulting skin scent is a most attractive phenomenon, only arrived at via a combination of forces.

I don't know that I would wear Pearl Musk on its own; it's too subtle and reticent to hold my attention. But layered with Magnolia, it magically summons the pellucid, sleepy haze of a tropical beach... and all the trouble one might get oneself into there.

And if you can't think of a few ways to make some of that trouble, you need more help than Magnolia.

Scent Elements: Magnolia and white musk.