Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Moss't We Now?

Abdes Salaam Attar characterizes oak moss extract (Evernia prunastri) as an "olfactory bridge between the perfumes of yesteryear and the future." Previously known as oak lung, lungwort, and lung moss, the indigenous population of North America used this indispensable ingredient of modern perfumery in primitive medical practices. Today, oak moss is used for its heavy Oriental scent and for its strengths as a fixative. Found in better fougère and chypre compositions, oak moss has been something of a bone of contention due to the fact that about 1 in 10 people find themselves allergic to it. Recently, I found that two of Vero Kern's scents–Onda (reviewed on July 30th) and Rubj–contain this vital ingredient in its natural form. My beloved Mouchoir de Monsieur from Guerlain forges a powerful triumvirate with oak moss extract, civet, and lavender. Geo F Trumper's woody-mossy-green Wild Fern (1877) does, too. The problem, however, lies in the fact that synthetic oak moss has terrible longevity. These classics–and Vero Kern's new classics as well as the vintage concentrations of scents like Lady Caron, Chanel Nos. 5 and 19 and Piguet's Bandit–contain it in its natural form, and, I might add, to fine effect. Oak moss is a wonderful alternative for those people who value the earthy warmth of musks without the animalic notes. We moss't, shan't we?


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