Dans Tes Bras hit me like a train. The perfume is so intimate – so venerable and so sexy. Maurice Roucel, the perfumer responsible for this fragrance, reached staggering success with his prior perfume Musc Ravageur, a musky, yet-not-so musky fragrance that exudes sinful and carnal fragrant qualities without shame. Musc Ravageur is a measured orchestration of sheer hubris, and as sensual and extravagant as baroque art that showcases grandeur and immense drama. If Musc Ravageur is the uncompromising oriental featuring a sole naked body, then Dans Tes Bras (appropriately translating to ‘in your arms’) is the embodiment of some seriously intimate love making without the exuberance of Musc Ravageur. In this fragrance, the naked body is not being presented as an object of desire, but much rather a greater motif for passion and irrefutable love between two individuals.
Dans Tes Bras isn’t a scent of merely the physical nature of love and lovemaking, but instead a somewhat philosophical approach to love and a beautiful stance on the topic created by Maurice Roucel.
© 2014 Liam Sardea
“Dans Tes Bras has more musk than Musc Ravageur” said Maurice himself in an interview. Rightly so. Musk is such an amazingly legendary perfume ingredient that itself has a whole category of fragrance under its banner. Originally musk was obtained from the small scenting pouch of a musk deer yet nowadays is recreated synthetically. The musk ingredient itself is not sensual, but in tincture form the ingredient is sensual, complex and an obvious aphrodisiac.
The musk note is comforting and pillowy, yet bares an interesting metallic undertone redolent of damp spores dotted in a cold cavern. These notes together remind me of skin on skin contact. There’s something sacred about it, as it is both a sensual and an emotional sensation. The notions of unity and togetherness mingled with the reality that skin on skin contact promotes a constant temperature between two persons and the incubatory sensation it creates makes for a fragrance that is nothing short of sheer comfort.
Maurice Roucel has deliberately chosen perfume ingredients that fosters a sense of security – an overdosing of the synthetic compound cashmeran has a scent profile encompassing both musky woods and wet concrete, further creating the mushroom vibe. Dans Tes Bras is the smell that emulates the taste of skin: salty and ferrous. The sour heliotrope and sweet jammy plum notes make for a somewhat confronting, yet an easily likeable delicious scent. Salicylates gives a broad radiance creating exhilaration with each wear; they are used like seasoning.
I thoroughly enjoy the rollercoaster that this fragrance delineates, mimicking the vertigo of love in a close and exalting skin scent manner. Dans Tes Bras is complicated too – the medicinal clove note is never mentioned but it becomes obvious when stated, and sweet and sultry almond milk notes also whisper throughout.
The overall idea of comfort is encapsulated with the warmth of a tender hug and a whiff of perfume alongside it, or perhaps just (once again) the skin on skin contact with a soulmate. Maurice subjected himself to the difficult task of really personifying this idea with fragrance and trying to replicate the smell of skin without the ghastly suggestions. It envelops the wearer into a swirl of white and transparent musk with a magnificent violet flower note. Generally violet nowadays is lifted with the aromamolecule ionone, which always provides a sensual powdery backbone. Violet in this instance reminds me of Dior’s Fahrenheit, which fully utilises the power of violet and violet leaf creating a mesmerising concoction, with a quality somewhat bizzaro yet equally attractive. In that sense, I guess Dans Tes Bras picks up a very mild petrol vibe too.
In simpler terms this fragrance has two levels of complexity both fighting it out to take the crown. Firstly a sweet-yet-sour floral accord that is earthy and purple wages it out with a heavy musky wood accord. Patchouli borders the retro-funk territory, but rather than oppressing and subduing it, it imparts a dank quality combating the sour notes. Additionally sandalwood, famously complex, combines with the smokey undertones of incense giving a creamy and rich body – without ever smelling like the sad reformulated Opium by YSL (1977).
Finally, I find that this fragrance shares a similar note profile to Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue also consisting of heliotrope, sandalwood and musk – ergo, they are both classy and to a small degree powdery scents. The opening of both fragrances have a sour quality, but L’Heure Bleue always reminds me of a really powdery ‘blue-acid’ smell, and this goes into mushroom territory instead. Dans Tes Bras is perfect abstraction – a shocking abstract work for some (Chandler Burr included), who calls(ed?) it ‘stupefying and eerily beautiful’. He himself told me that he didn’t like this at first sniff and promptly called up Roucel, who scolded him and in essence told him to ‘give it time’. It was only with an encounter with a friend days later he questioned ‘What is this beautiful smell?!’
Alternatives: Shalimar by Guerlain; Musc Ravageur for Frederic Malle; Fahrenheit by Dior; and L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain.
The answer? Dans Tes Bras by Maurice Roucel for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums. A new interpretation of sexiness.
Subjective rating : 5/5
Objective rating: 4/5