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Mona di Orio

Smoke, Woods, & Resins: Top 15 for Fall/Winter

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2016 has been a bad year for celebrity deaths and an even worse one for celebrity presidential elections, so I’ve found myself craving and wearing mostly woody, resinous perfumes that perform like one long howling basenote, working my tired neck muscles like a Russian massage therapist. This year, no roses, no leathers, and no ambers – just a long line of calming, resinous woods that make me feel like I’ve slipped into the Nirvana of a silent forest, isolated from all the problems of the world around me. KEEP ON READING

Absolue d’Osmanthe Eau de Parfum — Perris Monte Carlo

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The Osmanthus, or Osmanthus fragrans, is a flower famously associated with the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan as well as Taiwan and Southern Japan.  In fact, it is the city flower of Guilin, the beautiful city by the Li River, whose name actually means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus.”   Osmanthus is famed for its fragrant flowers which have a strong, sweet fruity scent often associated with smell of peaches or apricots.

With its strong ties to the lore of the Orient, the Osmanthus fragrance note is often paired with tea notes like Oolong (Providence Perfume Company’s Osmanthus Oolong) or Yunnan (Elléna’s Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès).  However, given its Far East associations, Osmanthus is used in a surprisingly large number of perfumes (Basenotes lists over 400 perfumes containing the note) across a wide spectrum—it is even successfully paired with oud (Tom Ford’s Oud Fleur, Mona di Orio’s Oudh Osmanthus and Xerjoff’s Oud Stars), which, given the current craze for oud fragrances, comes as no surprise.  Given its distinctive nature, it adapts well to the soliflore category, like a The Different Company’s Osmanthus and Absolue d’Osmanthe. KEEP ON READING

Three Great Non-Rose-y Oud Fragrances

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Is anyone here just a teeny tiny bit tired of the rose-oud combination? Don’t get me wrong – there are days when I still crave that wonderful combination of smoky, sour oud and sweet rose. But increasingly, I am turning to oud fragrances that either do away with the rose part of the equation, or bury the oud in dark woods and crisp leather so that it becomes more of a bit player than the main attraction.

The key words here are subtlety and novelty. Can oud be presented in a manner that surprises and pleases even the most jaded of palates? Here are my thoughts on a few fragrances I’ve been testing recently that place the oud note in a new light. KEEP ON READING

Bond-T by Sammarco: A Great Masculine Gourmand

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Men – step away from the A*Men and your L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme Eau Extreme, and pick up a bottle of this little beauty instead. This is sexy stuff. Bond-T by Sammarco is just the type of release you hope to see coming out of indie perfumers on their first outing – a smart re-thinking of common tropes, in this case the hyper-masculine patchouli-cocoa-tonka bean combo.

This one does everything right. It pairs a brown, dusty cocoa note with a dirty, castoreum-driven leather – and manages to come off as its own beast. Although it shares similarities of tone with Serge Lutens’ wonderful Borneo 1834, there is none of Borneo’s oriental richness. Rather, underneath the cocoa-patchouli skin of Bond-T there beats a heart of what smells like a wad of fruity, slightly fermented tobacco leaves and grimy leather. It smells rich and tannic, and just off-putting enough to stop it from being fully gourmand. KEEP ON READING

Sarrasins – Transcendent Indolic Summer Beauty

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Science & Technology

One of the challenges of travel is deciding what few frags will accompany you for the duration. I tend to regard season, occasion, duration and luggage space into the equation. This summer we headed to my best friend’s house on the Turkish Aegean coast. It would be informal. And hot. My picks were simple: Mona Di Orio Vetyver, vintage Dior Eau Fraiche, Fragonard Cologne Grand Luxe, Pekji EauMer for daytime and Serge Lutens Sarrasins for the nights. What an inspired decision that would be, because although I’ve come to know and love Sarrasins, the extreme sultry, salty heat brought out facets that were previously unknown to me. Lemme explain….. KEEP ON READING

Mini Guide for the Land of Tuberose Perfumes

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Soon in this part of world the tuberose will bloom again and while waiting for this narcotic moment the idea of writing about some interesting tuberose perfumes came to my mind.Among the floral notes tuberose is the most contradicting, being made out of green floral freshness and carnal opulence, of daylight radiance and darkness of the deep night when it blooms and haunts perfumery for more than four decades

.During all these years tuberose note have passionate fans and detractors, you either love or hate this smell, there is no middle way. Those hating this scent frequently complain about that feeling that you have smelling for the first time a tuberose perfume: it’s like a big fist hitting your face, a smell that appears sickly and cloying for them but, in the meantime, a tuberose fan smelling the same perfume will be on cloud number nine and will describe its intensity , sensuality and creaminess. There are not so many notes in perfumery that have a reference scent like tuberose has. All tuberose perfumes are compared with Fracas, golden standard of this note, a beautiful composition but for me wearing it means “Mission Impossible”.I’ll try to refer more to tuberose centered releases from the last decade that are more or less close to the standard in no particular order in this mini guide for tuberose perfumes. KEEP ON READING

My Best “Soft Oud” Perfumes

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As we all know in the last couple of years oudh/oud also known as agarwood has started to be almost ubiquitous in Perfumeland. Everybody, either designer, mainstream or niche brand, carry at least one oud note centered perfume in their lines. Agarwood is now everywhere and for all the pockets. Oud theme, orchestrated more or less with the synthetic stuff dominates the “Men’s World” mainly.Even names like Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle that previously took distance from this trend finally couldn’t resist and change their minds approaching oud. KEEP ON READING

Shalimar: The Original Golden Girl

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Sitting down to write a review of Guerlain’s Shalimar is like looking up at the top of Mount Everest and wondering how the hell you even begin the climb. It seems to cover (in one single bottle) a lot of the themes and notes people go looking for in separate perfumes – if you want vanilla, it’s the textbook example, if you want smoke and incense, well you got that too, if you want amber, then Shalimar is the mother of all modern ambers, and if you want animalics and leather, ditto. If you also happen to be the type of person who is interested in freaky notes, like baby diaper, burning tires, tar, and slightly rancid butter, then, why yes, Shalimar also has you covered. KEEP ON READING

Mona di Orio Lux-light, darkness and the shadows in between

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It is evident to me that Mona di Orio had a special kind of sensibility. Her esthetic is very soulful, partly melancholic, partly elegant glamour and partly discrete eroticism, and that shows, particularly in her later perfumes.
Les Nombres d’or Collection has gained cult status among perfume lovers for its sophisticated interpretations of various raw materials, Vanille, Ambre, Musc and Cuir being amongst the most popular ones.

Lux is part of the reissued perfumes with which Mona di Orio made her début under her own name. Luca Turin, he of the “Perfumes-The A to Z Guide” fame was particularly harsh towards both Mona di Orio’s person and work. He awarded only one star to all her three launching fragrances: Carnation, Lux and Nuit Noire, which were released in 2006. His review for Carnation really is rather cruel: “Di Orio describes herself in her press material as a living Modigliani, which, desirable or not, is clearly delusional. She also says she studied with Edmond Roudnitska, but her creations suggest she paid little attention. The good news about Carnation is that it does not smell of cloves, as most attempts at that elusive flower do. The bad news is that after teetering for a few moments on the edge of something interesting, a sort of leathery Chinatown, it settles into an awful fruity-chemical mess“. And about Lux, which he calls “dire citrus” he says it’s “the world’s most expensive cheap lemon sorbet flavor“. I don’t know what prompted such a vitriolic reaction, because in fairness Lux or other Mona di Orio creations I’ve smelled are far from being bad, in fact Mona’s delicate and elegant touch comes through in each and everyone of them. Of course, Turin’s negative remarks only made me more curious about those elusive first Di Orio releases, so when I found out some of them were going to be reissued I made sure to obtain some samples. I thought I had a Nuit Noire one as well, but that performed a disappearing act on me, so I had to just soothe myself with some Lux. By the way, the name is the Latin word for light, and indeed it’s a luminous fragrance, at least in the beginning. KEEP ON READING

Vanilla Madness: The Search to Find My Perfect Vanilla

in Reviews/Thoughts by

Winter is a-coming, and I be a-laying down fat to keep myself warm. Ambers, dark musks, spicy orientals, creamy gourmands…..I’ll take one of each, please. But the perfect vanilla has always eluded me. I mean, yes, there’s Shalimar, and Shalimar is pretty much the perfect everything. But Shalimar is an awful lot more than pure vanilla – there’s leather, incense, musk, and bergamot in there too. I’m on the look-out for a vanilla vanilla.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Even though the word ‘vanilla’ itself has come to mean something pedestrian, simple, or even a little boring, the variations that perfumers are able to visit upon it seem to be endless. My quest therefore becomes like the search for the Baby Bear’s Porridge – you know, the vanilla that is ‘just right’. Of course, it would help if I knew what exactly I was looking for in a perfect vanilla fragrance. But, like with good art, it’s something I’ll only know when I smell it. Here are the vanillas that I have tried and tested thus far. KEEP ON READING

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