Scent Note: What does costus smell like?

Costus in perfumery

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The costus, the pretty Indian plant of the peaks

The costus is a long plant with slender leaves growing in India and only between altitudes of 2,000 to 5,000 meters. Despite very difficult harvesting conditions, costus is considered by both Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine as a powerful remedy listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia among the 50 plants with essential medicinal properties.

Europeans, particularly fond of discovering these new worlds of their plant potential, used costus root for its medicinal properties, of course, but also for its powerful and racy fragrance, which in fact combines very well with other scented animal notes. If the costus remains one of the preferred raw materials for men's perfumes, its too dangerous root is prohibited. These are the different synthetic molecules that recreate the unique dusty and plastered scent of this plant with leather facets.

The use of costus root in perfumes with animal notes

The costus by its smell of dust and earth naturally evokes the family of animal notes. However, if the costus flourishes in magnificent fern or woody bottles, it is above all thanks to its beneficial association with other notes which “cleanse” it. Indeed, the famous perfume designer Annick Goutal does not hesitate to compare the smell of costus with unsavory scents: “Its smell is quite particular, I hesitate between the smell of dirty socks, greasy hair and the smell of goat… but in a composition it can be excellent! . And yet!

The costus appears almost systematically in woody and fern perfumes in base notes associated with musk, amber, leathers, incense which come to give power and deep wakes to beautiful natural juices and let us not be afraid of words. , manly! The costus thus appears in the beautiful “Kouros” leather fern by Yves Saint Laurent, in the chypre woody “Gentleman” of Givenchy, but also in recent juices such as “Cerruti 1881 Acqua Forte” by Cerruti.

In short, you have understood the costus is THE touch of assumed virility! And indeed these ladies might not be very receptive to the smell of dirty socks in their perfumes! Even though they forget that the animal note is also in theirs… but it's true, with names that make it less bestial! However, some creators have dared to offer mixed fragrances, often of the oriental type, with costus such as “Nothing” from Etat Libre d'Orange or even “Muscs Koublaï Khän” by Serge Lutens.

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