|Bologna ~ Source: Gaspa via Wikimedia Commons|
"I remember you saying about buying you some perfume here. We've just walked past an open perfumerie and I wondered what you wanted?"
Which prompted the following shaming exchange:
"Oh, I say. It was a specific brand called L'Erbolario, and the scent is Méharées. Will try to find more info - there is a dedicated L'Erbolario shop in the centre..."
"If you can find its address I'll look. It isn't the one we just passed."
Thirteen texts later, I was trying to steer my GPS-less friends towards the L'Erbolario store like some kind of rudimentary air traffic controller:
"Okay, if you have a square, Piazza Roosevelt is the right hand side, Cesare Battisti is the left hand side and Via Ugo Bassi is the top side - does that help? So if you are heading north on Cesare wotsit turn right when you hit Ugo Bassi and it is a couple of doors down. Or ask someone? 'Dove Via Ugo Bassi per favore?'"
(Reader, don't try those directions - or that Italian - at home. I mean abroad. I sent my friend and her husband round what could euphemistically be termed 'the long way', however, they were very sporting about it, explaining much later in an email that if I hadn't made them go round the houses they would have missed some splendid architecture and that all-important tourist attraction of a public convenience. So all's well that ends well.)
There was a disconcertingly long pause after the text with all the directions, but I knew there must have been an orienteering breakthrough when I received this tantalising query:
"Is it the 50ml perfume?"
Quickly followed by:
"Done. 21.5 euros and it was all so lovely I have bought a Patchouly for myself. : D"
|Jane's husband in triumphant pose outside the store|
Well, that was a turn up for the books, as my friend is vegan and a Lush / Gorilla loyalist.
Anyway....without further ado I will have to explain myself, won't I? - what on earth was I doing making a purchase of a full bottle - even by proxy - when just two days previously I had compiled a list of my desert island collection of perfumes...on which L'Erbolario Méharées was conspicuously absent. In my defence, I did think of including it, but Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade pipped it to the one and only 'cosy or naughty musk' spot.
So the only way that I can square this latest full bottle acquisition with my conscience is that it was:
b) purchased in fulfilment of a prior request - you know, like a will you forgot to revoke. Sure I could have said: 'No, thank you, I am really not bothered anymore' when Jane texted me in the first place, but that would have felt churlish somehow, as she was over there, in situ, and all primed to do this errand for me.
c) I did say I would reserve the right to change my mind, so I will hereby effect a straight swap with Musc Nomade, to keep the numbers square.
d) I am allowed to be a bit bonkers - on any front, really.
Reprising a) for a moment, 21.50 euros is ludicrously cheap for a scent that is in fact a very creditable dupe of Frédéric Malle's Musc Ravageur. I was first introduced to Méharées by Odiferess when we met up in Manchester last November - she gave me a sample and some moisturiser infused with the scent that she had knocked up herself using a neutral base cream! Champney's eat your heart out. ;) Odiferess positioned Méharées to me as a Musc Ravageur copy, and the likeness is telling - for a fraction of the price. (About a fifth, based on a 50ml bottle. Just checked Liberty's site and it is retailing for £105 there.) The resemblance also caused quite a stir on the Basenotes men's forum - and they don't take any prisoners as we know.
|My Méharées starter kit from Odiferess|
Here are the notes for Musc Ravageur:
Top notes: lavender, bergamot
Middle notes: clove, cinnamon
Base notes: gaiac wood, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka, musk
All we can glean about Méharées is that it features myrrh and sweet date. It does have a fruity aspect, certainly, and a distinctly spicy kick to it, though I would be hard pushed to name names.
The best way I could describe the difference between the two is to say that Méharées is slightly lighter, cleaner and more vanillic, whereas Musc Ravageur has more oomph - more of an animalic undercurrent to it - but the resemblance is still very marked. Méharées is at the cleaner end of what a friend of mine would perhaps term 'rude business' musks, but rude it remains. This scenario is qualitatively comparable to Lidl's Suddenly Madame Glamour as a cheapo copy of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. The Lidl perfume doesn't have the same patchouli-centred depth and heft to it as Coco Mademoiselle, but the scent itself is eerily close. Yes, for those of you familiar with the Lidl copies of mainstream fragrances, just imagine that if Lidl brought out a me-too of Musc Ravageur called 'Suddenly Seduction' (because the titles are never too obvious), it would be very much in Méharées vein. They just couldn't afford as much of the raunch factor maybe, whatever musk molecule that might be. And that may even suit some people.
I also tested Méharées against Les Parfums du Soleil's Soir de Marrakech. My own mini-reviews of the latter (here and here) - some four years ago when I had a limited frame of reference - liken this one to PG L'Ombre Fauve and Tauer's LADDM. To me now, Soir de Marrakech is more vanillic and gourmand, with a dark fruity twist that could also be from dates, though I see none listed. I now actually feel it is firmly in our Musc Ravageur territory, but with an amber/patch/vanilla undercurrent that does still evoke for me a more delicate interpretation of the barnyard earthiness of L'Ombre Fauve..
For Odiferess's (considerably more deconstructed!) take on Méharées, hop over to her review. She is also reminded of Chopard Casmir, which I can definitely relate to 'atmospherically', though I find Casmir too plasticky for my taste. Méharées is in another quality league, I'd say, which is all the more remarkable at this price point. Unfortunately the shipping, even within the EU, adds about 50% to the bottle price, so the best way to bag this bargain scent is clearly to take advantage of a friend passing through Italy...;)
Oh, and you can tell how much I like this perfume, because I could be bothered to put both its acute accents in. And lately I have found accent insertion far too tedious, and have been gradually phasing them out and hoping nobody would notice.
PS I should also mention that I am off tomorrow for a week, attending some gigs in Germany, and hopefully doing some high end sniffing in Berlin, where I will have the most free time. I am not selling the merchandise on the tour this year - my friends have assumed that role on a more or less permanent basis - but the job of part-time BlueTack removal operative (from the sample posters) is always open to me, plus I may be called upon to do a bit of ad hoc interpreting and translation. ;)