Monday 5 December 2016


There are times when you suddenly rediscover a lost favourite and wonder why you ever stopped using it. This happened to me a few weeks ago, and the emails that I got after I mentioned it on twitter made me realise that it needed to be reviewed again. We are constantly bombarded with perfume release after perfume release but it’s an occasional glance back to the past that makes you realise some of these "new" fragrances actually owe a lot to earlier scents. I’m talking about ORIGINAL MUSK by Kiehl’s, their most famous fragrance, and getting to know it again has been a pretty sexy experience.

Kiehl’s was founded in 1851 on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 13th Street in New York, although at this point it was called Brunswick Apotheke. It would be in 1894 that the famous brand name first appeared when John Kiehl, who was originally an apprentice, purchased the pharmacy. The rest, as they say, is history. It was sold to Irving Morse in 1921 and stayed a family firm until L’Oréal bought it in 2000. L’Oréal was very clever though because they didn’t change the feel of the company, they just facilitated expansion and distribution.

So, where does ORIGINAL MUSK fit into all of this? Well, the story from the company, and I really want to believe that this is true because it’s such a great explanation, is that it was originally created in 1921 by “Prince Karl of Russia”. However it was deemed too provocative and so was consigned to the basement. When it was rediscovered in 1958 by Aaron Morse, in a canister labeled “Love Oil”, Kiehl’s didn’t know what to do with it and so it was archived for another five years. In 1963 ORIGINAL MUSK was finally reintroduced to the public, although a few ingredients had be substituted to get it through new regulations.

History lesson over, let’s spray ORIGINAL MUSK and see whether it really is “Love Oil”. The thing about this fragrance is that it doesn’t work if you just spray it onto a blotter; you have to spray it on your skin. Believe me, the scent just comes alive and instantly you know that you’re in the company of something a bit naughty. The first impression that you get is a full on, punch in the face, dose of animalic richness. You sort of find yourself right in the middle of the fragrance and then you can start to separate the scents.

The oriental base is present from the beginning, with a prominent tonka, but the musk is mixed with an almost civet-like aroma which is where the “love oil” description comes from. This links beautifully upwards to the floral heart, which contains the sensual lily and ylang ylang, before you get a rush of bergamot. I know that this sounds like it’s in the wrong order but that is how it reveals itself. Throughout the fragrance you also get the orange blossom and neroli combination which helps to sweeten the overall perfume. I’m not going to lie, ORIGINAL MUSK is a naughty fragrance, and at £39.50 for 50ml my only advice would be to spray liberally and get ready for fireworks.

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