Telling Stories – Mona di Orio Violette Fumée Perfume Review

Les Nombres d'Or by Mona di Orio
Les Nombres d’Or by Mona di Orio

Nowadays every perfume release comes with a story, normally one that involves a good degree of creative license courtesy of the brand’s PR department. This is no bad thing really, a good story can add to the experience of a scent, after all no art is quite as transportive as the art of olfaction, but at times it’s best to approach a perfume without any pre-conceived notions and just allow the scent itself to tell the story.

Some stories in particular are important and the tale behind Mona di Orio’s latest release – ‘Violette Fumée‘ – is both worth telling and incredibly touching. Created privately by Mona di Orio before her death for the private use of her business partner and co-founder Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, Violette Fumée captures “the melody of Jeroen’s favourite passions, memories and materials.” It’s a perfume made out of love, admiration and respect.

On an olfactory level, Violette Fumée is described by the brand as an “oriental balsamic floral” and in the same vein as many other perfumes from the house it feels incredibly unusual when compared to its peers. It stands as a true testament to Mona’s talent as a perfumer and is a fitting legacy for someone who brought so much intrigue to the world of fragrance.

Violette Fumée
Violette Fumée

The Notes

Top: Mediterranean Lavender, Bergamot from Calabria and Oakmoss from the Balkans
Heart: Egyptia Violet Flowers & Leaves, Turkish Rose, Haitian Vetiver and Clary Sage
Base: Opoponax & Myrrh from Somali and Cashmeran

How Does it Smell?

Violette Fumée is a pretty stealthy violet as far as violets go. Where most fragrances within the genre are filled to the brim with sweet violet powder, Mona di Orio’s interpretation presents an entirely unique version of perfumery’s most prim and proper flower, one that sits squarely in the green and natural area within the big wide world of violets.

In the opening, Violette Fumée is all about the note lavender and a rather interesting one at that. The astringent, herbaceous quality of the fragrant purple flower is in full force right at the very start and it never really sweetens, slowly revealing its more green facets as opposed to those more evocative of burned sugar. Touches of rose intensify the more acidic parts of the lavender, presenting a sour, yet dewy floral tone that fits in rather nicely.

The violet is omnipresent but subtly so and for the most part the note is shown in an entirely new light. Mona di Orio’s Les Nombres d’Or collection is well known for performing tried and tested notes/themes in surprising ways, all one needs to do is look at her take on Oud, Tubéreuse and Musc to see that the approach to perfumery in this line is to be different. Tis is also true of Violette Fumée and when including it in my Guide to Violet, I summed up this intriguing perfume as follows:

“Where Violette Fumée is different from other violets is in its green nature. Most violets sit somewhere on a spectrum where the polar ends are ‘sickly sweet’ and ‘fresh earth’, but Mona di Orio’s violet places itself somewhere outside of this spectrum, opting for notes of lavender, rose and violet leaf to give it more of a natural feel.”

Violette Fumée’s smoky aspect comes later in the scent’s development and much like its violet note, the pipe tobacco that is found within the core isn’t exactly what one would expect. Here it feels more like fresh tobacco leaf in all its green, aromatic glory rather than anything remotely similar to the sweeter dried product ready for smoking.

In the base Violette Fumée becomes much softer and more resinous with lavish vanilla and velvety cashmeran. Stripes of vetiver maintain that slightly off-kilter vibe found right the way through the fragrance’s trajectory, whilst helping to preserve the overall ‘greenness’ and adding a masculine edge. It’s all nicely in proportion and the mix of notes is both unusual and satisfying.

Violette Fumée is most definitely an captivating offering from the house of di Orio. It’s most definitely an individual and it showcases the wonderful talent Mona had for taking an intensely familiar genre and turning on its head. This one comes highly recommended if one is looking for a new type of violet perfume – one that places the delicate flower in a decadent, oriental setting.


Violette Fumée is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum Intense Spray and 5ml Eau de Parfum Intense Roll-On.

Sample, notes, quotes and images via Mona di Orio Parfums.