A few weeks back I cast my inquisitive nose over Myrrh Casati, the latest fragrance from niche brand, Mona di Orio, and the first launch that has been created by the house in conjunction with an external perfumer. Myrrh Casati represents a distinct shift in style for the Mona di Orio name, and whilst I found it to be competently composed, it doesn’t quite portray the unique sense of magic one usually finds in one of Mona’s creations.
The brand may be looking directly forward to the future, but at the same time they are not shying away from celebrating Mona’s legacy, and have started to re-dress a number of her fragrances in beautiful new flacons. They’ve also relaunched Nuit Noire and Lux (originally launched in 2006) – two cult fragrances from the Mona di Orio archives as part of the new Signature Collection. It’s an exciting and interesting time for the brand, and this relaunch of the original formulas serves as a firm nod to the extreme talent of a wonderful perfumer.
“A good perfume will surprise before touching the heart deeply, slowly it will give you its soul as it evolves and reveals its final notes. Perfume, like poetry, must stimulate and create passion instantly”
– Mona di Orio
“Nuit Noire elicits the steaming sensuality of a dark, sultry night in North Africa, exotic, spicy, and animalic. A strikingly carnal affair, the raw energy and heat at the start rises from floral notes colliding with woods, spices and leather, but as it is with lovers, this sophisticated floriental dries down richly intimate into a velvety seduction of spices.”
Orange Flower, Cardamom, Ginger, Orange, Frankincense, Cinnamon, Tuberose, Sandalwood, Clove, Cedarwood, Amber, Leather, Musk and Tonka
How Does it Smell?
I’d heard a lot of hyperbole about Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire, but had never been lucky enough to sniff it before it was discontinued. The noise had it pegged as a beastly and erotic tour de force that was funky, sexy and polarising. Hearing that, you can see why I was a little disappointed that I never got to smell it before it was removed from sale, can’t you? Well, now that I’ve given it a big ole sniff, do I feel that it has lived up to expectations? The answer is, yes.
Nuit Noire opens with a subtle animalic musk. There’s a touch of cardamom and castoreum that together, provide warmth and funk. Orange blossom, tuberose and cinnamon come together to create an off-centre floral accord that is partly indolic and partly gourmand. This intensifies as the fragrance dries down and ultimately becomes plusher and more vanillic. The overall impression is of a delicate brown fur, perhaps a coat, that has been passed down through the ages, and has been imbued with the human odour of each person that has worn it.
Nuit Noire is all I expected and more. Yes it’s animalic, full of funk and darkly delicious, but it presents all of this filth (for want of a better word) in a soft and delicate manner, that is quite surprising. Nuit Noire is not a muscular panther stalking its prey, its a purring house cat that softly warms one’s lap. Yes, it’s a beastly little thing, but it isn’t wild – it is comforting, loving and beautifully smooth.
“Created as Mona’s personal secret passion, Lux is a study on light with precious raw materials that harmoniously develop in her signature olfactory chiaroscuro style. Gently effervescent at the start, the brightness warms into an captivating embrace of sweet and sensual notes that wears close on the skin.”
Sicilian Lemon, Listea Cubeba, Bigarade Petitgrain, Haitian Vetiver, Mysore Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Musk, Amber, Siamese Benzoin and Bourbon Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Lux is interesting to me because it actually comes across as more animalic than Nuit Noire, which is quite unexpected given the fact that its name translates as ‘Light’. But with light comes richness and Lux presents waves upon waves of golden shimmering light, right from the champagne sparkle of its lemon opening straight through to the resinous, gauzy base.
At first, the light is clear and bright, speaking with clarity and transparency. With time it softens and blurs, losing the definition and precision that marks its top notes. The bitterness of bigarade melts into a cloud of golden amber and soft, funky woods that is offset by subtle stripes of earthy vetiver. It’s quite striking, in an unconventional and effortless way.
Lux is truly a masterful composition that is a reminder of Mona di Orio’s talent. Mona had a knack for taking the expected and turning it square on its head, and Lux is a perfect example of this. Here you will find a citrus fragrance and an amber fragrance that is neither of these things when smelled as a whole. To call Lux marvelous is an understatement and an injustice, instead I shall just encourage you to seek it and give it a sniff – it’s the least this excellent fragrance deserves.
Nuit Noire and Lux have recently been relaunched in Mona di Orio’s Signature Collection. They are available in 75ml Eau de Parfum for €140.
Samples via Mona di Orio. Image 1 is by Steven Klein. Image 2 via Mona di Orio. Quotes via Mona di Orio.