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Animalis: The Allure of Wild Animal Scents in Perfumery
Animal notes, reminiscent of the scents emanating from locker rooms, sweaty socks, or pure masculinity, have a unique allure in the world of fragrance. These notes predominantly cater to the virility and robust masculinity of male perfumes. While the use of animalis, an animal-based ingredient, is limited in certain fragrances, its presence has inspired many other compositions, channeling the raw animality of refined, well-groomed men.
Animalis Base: A Synthesis of Masculine Animal Notes
Historically, animal notes were incorporated into fragrances favored by men for their power, allure, seductive properties, and distinct masculinity. In recent decades, however, animal notes have become more subtle, in part due to ethical concerns surrounding the use of animals and changing preferences for cleaner scents over the wild, untamed aromas.
Developed by Synarôme laboratories, the animalis base is a blend of civet and tonkin musk, created from several raw materials. Its leathery scent evokes the essence of wild animals, such as fawns or lions, awakening the primal instincts in every man. The 1980s saw a revival of this bold animal base, as it boldly expressed the raw masculinity many men sought to embody.
Animalis and its Role in Male Perfumery
The animalis base is closely associated with Yves Saint-Laurent's iconic Kouros fragrance, a symbol of the flamboyant and innovative 1980s. Kouros aimed to capture the essence of a sultry night in a bottle, opening with ferns and aromatics before transitioning into dense, masculine animal and leathery notes. The animalis base, combined with civet, forms the heart of this composition.
Following the success of Kouros, Montana's chypre leather Parfum de Peau debuted in 1986. This fragrance employed the animalis base alongside amber, resulting in a deep trail accentuated by spices and floral notes.
Although the use of the animalis base has declined in recent years, its influence continues to inspire contemporary fragrances. A noteworthy example is Etat Libre d'Orange's Virgins and Toreros, which showcases the duality of masculinity. The fragrance juxtaposes clean and polished notes of tuberose flowers with the combative, animalistic elements of the animalis base, costus, and leather.