It’s a simple fact that the late perfumer, Mona di Orio made beautiful perfumes. Having studied under the great Edmond Roudnitska (Dior’s Eau Sauvage & Diorissimo, and Rochas’ Femme), di Orio had a knack for creating romantic and surprising compositions that often turned a familiar signature on its head. Since her death, Mona’s co-founder, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen has remained faithful to her legacy and has released a number of fragrances from the archives – fragrances created by Mona di Orio before her untimely death. These have included the stunning Eau Absolue and the masterpiece that is Violette Fumée.
It seems that the brand is now turning a corner. There was always going to come a point where di Orio’s back catalogue of unreleased material would run out and an external perfumer would need to be invited in to compose something new. Now is that time and the brand is launching their first fragrance under their new Monogram collection, as well as re-releasing older perfumes (e.g. Nuit Noire and Lux) into the Signature collection. They’re also slowly re-packing the Les Nombres d’Or collection, starting with Oud, which is now called Oudh Osmanthus.
Myrrh Casati is Mona di Orio’s first fragrance composed by an external perfumer. Penned by Melanie Leroux, Myrrh Casati makes a statement as something quite different from the other perfumes within Mona di Orio’s extensive collection. The brand describe this ode to myrrh as being “extravagant, dark, [and] mysterious”, and I’d definitely agree with the latter two descriptors in that sentence – I’m just not entirely convinced that it is extravagant in the same way many of the Mona di Orio fragrances are. Myrrh Casati serves as an interesting diversification for the brand, for sure.
“Inspired by Marchesa Casati, the legendary patron of the arts and muse of eccentricity, known for her extravagant dark fashion and lavish fetes replete with exotic animals, gilded servants, and an infectious waft of incense and mystery that surrounded her.”
Peruvian Red Berries, Pink Pepper, Guatemalan Cardamom, Saffron, Licorice, Siamese Benzoin, Myrrh and Incense from Somalia, Indonesian Patchouli, Indian Cypriol Nagarmotha and Guaiac Wood from Paraguay
How Does it Smell?
Myrrh Casati opens with an intense wave of dry and arid spices. Compared to other myrrh-based fragrances, such as Guerlain’s Myrrhe et Délires (Thierry Wasser; 2012) and Huitième Art’s Myrrhiad (Pierre Guillaume; 2011), this take on myrrh is entirely devoid of any sweetness or comfort, instead opting for a harsher and more exotic sensibility that is painted purely in black and white. Pepper and cardamom provide an almost foody opening, evoking the idea of a modern dish from somewhere hot and strange.
The heart and base are less spicy, and more resinous. Patchouli, incense and myrrh come together to create an effect that is ethereal and metallic. Everything wafts up from the skin in transparent wisps of silver steam, producing an almost white floral effect that is decidedly jasmine-esque. This transparency allows for the spices to really come through and stand out in a columnar fashion – there’s no soft crackle of spice here, it’s a steady rumble.
Myrrh Casati is well put together and pleasant, but it isn’t surprising or exciting. Mona di Orio’s perfumes always have a body and volume that feels voluptuous, and almost sensual. Myrrh Casati doesn’t quite capture all of the body-ody-ody one would hope to find in something bearing the Mona di Orio name. Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad perfume by any means, far from it in fact, but it would perhaps be fair to say that this is a fragrance that could come from any number of niche brands. It simply lacks a unique sense of identity, and that’s a shame.
Myrrh Casati is available in 75ml Eau de Parfum as part of Mona di Orio’s Monogram Collection.
Sample via Mona di Orio. Image 1 via maolei.me. Image 2 via fragrantica.com. Notes and quotes via press release.