After hearing all the reviews about MKK's severely animalic and sweaty musk, I purchased a small decant to try for myself. The decant sat untried for the past few months, but inspired by a recent "skankfest" synchronized scent day on Basenotes, I decided to take that genie out of the bottle.
That didn't happen quite as planned. (stick with me here, I'm getting round to the MKK in a bit.)
That morning, I'd put on Guerlain Samsara, which is one of my favorite Guerlains, as it is to me the louder sister of Mitsuoko (my FAVORITE Guerlain) - Samsara is the sister who loves incense with her fruit and vanilla.
The day was filled with scented "accidents" because I'd just opened a new hair product that I spritzed on, on the way out the door for work, and realized that the "citrus sunset" scent of this product clashed horribly with the Samsara... a combination of too much nectarine and pink coral flower and whatever passes for "fragrance" in the product had me smelling for all the world as though I'd either slept in someone's car, inadvertently tangling the fruit-shaped air freshener in my hair, or I'd spent the night in a head shop wrestling with the cheap incense rack, and lost. So by my inattention at the hair products counter, I'd accidentally given myself the cheapest, nastiest, skankiest scent ever. Fake vanilla, phony sandalwood, those "natural fruit and flower essences" and "fragrance" on top of dearSamsara resulted in a scent impression of a Hippie Streetwalker after a night without a shower!
Without enough time to take another shower and start over, I went to work and kept my head down, but the first words from the coworker was "now THAT's the first perfume you've ever worn that I really DO . NOT . LIKE." So much for "sneaking in" and repairing the damage when I could! After a few attempts in the washroom to "wet brush" the horrid hair product out, which helped a bit, I made it somewhat self-consciously through the day. What the hair product lacked in quality, it made up in sillage and longevity.
So I was a cartoon version of my usually nicely-scented self all day, and a really odd and unintentional scent "skankfest."
In the evening, I planned on trying MKK in the privacy of home, just in case it was TOO much. So I went to the scent cabinet. Fortunately, by now the unfortunate hair product's sillage had backed off, I'd been in the fresh air for a while, and what was left was faint... and Samsara was coming through lightly in the background. So I made my move. MKK it was.
Or not. Accidentally grabbed the unmarked decant of Coromandel!
So... the next day I decided it was definitely time to try MKK. Got the CORRECT decant, spritzed and dabbed...
Nothing spectacular or shocking here. In fact, this decant (from Rei Rien) was a smooth slight floral musk that reminded me more of my grandmother than of Koublai Khan, sweaty saddles, sweaty men, or anything remotely like it. This scent on my skin is a warm and slightly sweet musky floral that evokes memories of a little cloth book my grandmother gave the toddler version of me many years ago. Her perfume must've absorbed into the book the many times she read... and thanks to MKK, I got to smell that scent again. I do get some ambergris and civet and castoreum, but nothing rank about it. I suppose that's in the expert blending.
I have about half the decant left and will wear it again on a cold day, to work, when I am in need of comfort. I'll wrap myself in warm flannel and cotton and spritz the rest of it while I fondly recall my grandmother and her warmth, her long braided hair that she kept up in a bun in the daytime and took down, brushed carefully, and rebraided before bed... her modest vanity shelf of small bottles and powder boxes and silver-backed brush and comb, tortoiseshell hair combs and bobby pins... her small-floral-print slightly faded cotton dresses and her brass powder compacts with traces of scent... and not once will the image of swarthy leather-garbed men on dark horses enter my mind.
Sure, musk is animalic by nature, and the musk my grandmother wore was probably real musk...and ambergris... but a lovely warm musk with just a hint of the animalic is how I remember it, and how it smelled on the cloth of that little book. A musky skin scent. And the memory of a scent sometimes dictates how you experience it later... so to another this same warm soft skin scent musk might seem dirty and more animalic.
Compared to Kiehls Original Musk, I find Kiehls a stronger musk but the effect is somewhat similar once Kiehls does the drydown. That's really the only comparison of the two, both musk-heavy, but different, scents. Definitely unisex, both of 'em, but quite different.
For the price I don't think I'd buy a FB of MKK... but I might give a bottle split a try sometime. The experience I expected from MKK didn't happen, but since it does bring back fond memories and evokes exactly that lovely musk scent from my childhood, not as anticlimactic as it could be.