If you’ve been around perfume and perfume blogs for any length of time, you’ve heard the term
when referring to some of the dirtier perfumes, ones that are a lot more animalic, usually hopped up on civet, musk, maybe some indolic florals or all of the above. Did you ever stop and wonder where the term came from? it used to mean the girl above taking a walk or drive of shame early Saturday or Sunday morning or that girl in high school that slept with everyone’s boyfriend, but no guy would actually admit it.
But what does it mean when it comes to perfume? This is where the whole
category came into being. Yeah, it’s her fault. I was doing a bunch of SEO crap that’s long overdo, which entails going through 100+ pages of old posts dating back to 2005 and putting in the correct – oh, I’ll shut up before you all start throwing perfume bottles at your computer screen. Ran across the first post that referenced skank because I had forgotten which one it was. As soon as I started reading, I stared howling with laughter. You can go read it here yourself. Or let me just cut out the relevant pieces where March starts winding up with her own term that we have all just adopted since then because, well, she got it exactly right.
“What I love about classic Guerlain scents is their their Guerlain-ness, that cold, often citrus-y champagne fizz atop the warm oakmoss-vanilla base, with a dollop of something even I admit is a little funky and animalic. Mentally I term it the Guerlain Skank. My guess is that you either love it or loathe it– there probably isn’t much room for compromise. Jicky has the Skank. Mitsouko has it. Cuir Beluga and Angelique Noir, lovely as they are, don’t have it and are not interesting to me. And let me be brutally clear: the Skank is not gracious, or nice, or even fundamentally pretty. The Skank is about sex, and only sex. It’s a rump-grinding, head-shaking invitation to a booty call, no matter how politely the scent’s been dressed up at the opening. I walk around wafting, on average, four or five fragrances a day, and the only one my husband ever noticed was the Jicky EDT I’d spritzed at Saks. He noticed the Jicky so enthusiastically that I ordered a bottle of parfum, unsniffed, the following day. It’s worth every penny.
There is only one exception to my Guerlain Skank Rule: Apres l’Ondee, which to me is completely missing the Guerlinade and lasts about two hours on my skin, but who cares? Because it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful that no rules apply. I wear it when I need to cry, and sometimes when I need a cheering-up. It makes no sense, but that’s the way it is sometimes with perfume.
Now I’m working my way through the old or rare Guerlains — sampling them one at a time, when I can get my hands on the right concentration, because the other thing I’ve learned about Guerlain is that the EDT versions, the only ones for sample in my city, are mostly worthless because they’re simultaneously too harsh and too weak. (If you’ve based your assessment of Guerlain on just the EDTs, humor me and get your hands on a decant of at least an EDP. Then you’ll know you’ve made an educated decision.) So far the Skank factor has been detected strongly in Attrape-Coeur, and (oddly) in Chant d’Aromes, which I’d initially dismissed based on reviews because it sounds so flowery. Metalys has the Skank but goes off in an odd, dark direction on me, somewhat like Vol de Nuit, which I adore in the bottle but not on my skin. I have thus far failed to appreciate Shalimar, Nahema, Chamade, l’Instant and Champs Elysees. L’Heure Bleue is a winner, one of the sweetest perfumes I own, kept honest by the hint of Skank. Vega has it, and so does Liu. Parure has the Skank but the jury’s still out — it has a winey drydown on me (plum?) that’s very reminiscent of Serge, and I don’t mean that as a compliment, because it’s not supposed to be Serge.