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”
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.”
Awards Season is set to end this Sunday with the 86th Academy Awards (a.k.a. ‘The Oscars’) and the stars will be out in full force, donning their finest garb having spent hours preening their faces and coiffing their hair. Of course, us mere mortals will simply be watching the ceremony at home in our pyjamas, possibly scoffing on some popcorn in a nod to the wonders of the silver screen. Still, we can live vicariously through the glamour of the winners and losers, can’t we?
Thinking about the Oscars and the upcoming Jasmine Awards (for which I need to pick myself an outfit) led me to ponder over which perfumes are best suited to formal occasions. Most of the time I’m of the belief that one should wear whatever they heck they want when they want, but in situations where dress codes are enforced and one has to be smart, it can be beneficial to pick out a scent that is suitably dapper to match.
For this post I’ve put together some of my favourite ‘smart’ perfumes for black tie or formal occasions. They range from the smart casual to the well-tailored and the dramatic, and between them they serve as a mini-guide to picking that perfect scent for a special occasion. Most are unisex so are suitable regardless of whether you’re a guy or a girl and can be paired with a suit, tux or fancy dress to ensure that you’re looking good and smelling fine.
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.
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to series is an olfactory exploration of individual notes and ingredients that looks at the essential perfumes one must try as part of their fragrant journey. Each episode focuses on a particular note and lists the reference perfumes (i.e. the ‘must sniffs’) within that particular genre.
So far in the series we’ve explored the worlds of; Tuberose, Lavender, Oud, Orange Blossom and Chocolate. Up until now the ‘Guide to’ series has been relatively sporadic but moving forward, the intention is to schedule instalments for the beginning of each quarter – therefore suggestions on which note/genre to explore next are most welcome.
This episode takes a look at the humble violet – a genre that doesn’t quite get the exposure that it deserves. It’s a note that is more likely to be associated with the stiff upper lip of Victorian Britain than the contemporary world of modern perfumery but a number of perfume houses are making solid efforts to change this perception and are making pretty fantastic perfumes along the way.
“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”
No celebrity needs more perfume assistance than Lady Gaga, especially after the massive disappointment that was her debut fragrance ‘Fame‘ and it’s safe to say that because of this her taste level perhaps isn’t where it should be. Fame’s crime wasn’t that it was a dreadful fragrance (general consensus was that it’s decidedly ‘meh’) but the fact that it was frightfully generic and captured only the pretentious element of Lady Gaga’s personality without any of the talent.
Love her or hate her it’s hard to deny that Lady Gaga is indeed talented. Yes, a lot of her ideas are derivative and she does have a tendency to bang on about how what she does is ‘art’ (her upcoming album is annoyingly entitled ‘ARTPOP’) but all-in-all she’s an exciting and provocative voice with a brand of pop that is satisfyingly addictive.
With this edition of the Scent a Celebrity Series, I have picked four perfumes that accurately capture the weird and wonderful persona of Lady Gaga – a woman who has sported fashions made from Muppets, beef and bubbles, to name just a few. Amongst them, these scents embody a spirit that seeks out the weirder odours and isn’t afraid of perfume that is challenging, confrontational and darkly beautiful.
The Perfume Lovers London events organised by Lila Das Gupta as part of Olfactory Events are a fabulous opportunity to learn about perfume, to talk to and meet with like minded perfumeophiles and discover a plethora of new, exciting perfumes. It’s safe to say that every event is a joy to attend so the news that one of my favourite bloggers, Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels, was going to be holding her very own event was very exciting indeed!
I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here, but Olfactoria’s Travels has become a go-to blog for many perfume lovers and it’s teeming with beautifully written reviews, informed discussion and passion from Birgit and Tara, who have both changed the face of the perfume blogosphere.
For her event, Birgit promised to take us on a journey through the world of amber, a sensible subject choice seeing as she has rightfully earned the title of “Queen of Amber” through her love for the genre. Now, I’ve made it no secret that amber isn’t my favourite genre of perfumes, but that’s not to say that I don’t like it either, I simply haven’t had the right amount of exposure to it, but now thanks to Birgit and Perfume Lovers London I feels as if I am well-versed on the subject!
My love for leather in perfume is certainly a work in progress. It was Lila Das Gupta’s Evening of Leather for Perfume Lovers London that helped me forge a new appreciation for the genre, but I’m very much in the curiosity stage and full blown leather-love (which is not as rude as it sounds) is still a long way off. At Lila’s talk two fragrances in particular caught my attention, and Mona di Orio’s Cuir was one of them.
To say I have been blown away by the fragrances in Mona di Orio’s Les Nombres d’Or collection is a vast understatement. Each one is a fabulous and contemporary take on such well visited notes such as; Oud, Musc, Tuberéuse, Vetiver and Ambre and the collection takes inspiration from the golden ratio, a mathematical theory of proportion which is intelligently showcased in each and every one the perfumes.
All of the other perfumes in the Les Nombres d’Or collection have been very easy for me to love and Cuir is most definitely the exception. I still don’t love it, and I don’t think I ever will. You see, Cuir and I cannot be friends, but I admire its balls. It is an extreme, maverick leather that doesn’t care about being pretty, or even pleasant, it just wants to be wild. The Mona di Orio website says of Cuir “In these days of anodyne scents, trans-fat free lives this is a welcome walk on the wild side that would be wonderful on a man. On a woman? Only one way to put it: Cuir is ruthlessly chic.” 
I have to admit that I’m not the hugest fan of leather in fragrance, mainly because I really haven’t a great deal of exposure to the note, which is why I was particularly interested in attending last week’s ‘Evening of Leather’ organised by Lila Das Gupta of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactory Events. I wanted to explore leather, deconstruct and understand it, but most of all I wanted to find a leather that I loved.
Perfume Lovers London is a Meetup Group run by Olfactory Events in conjunction with Basenotes. They have so far held two events, with many more exciting meet ups in the pipeline. An Evening of Leather was hosted by Lila Das Gupta who has a penchant for leather fragrances, was the perfect captain for our voyage of discovery of a note that is steeped in history and comes in many guises.
An Evening of Leather promised to “map out the geography of leather fragrances from the meaty to the haughty” and I’m please to say that it was an event that delivered on all counts. I may have walked into the event being clueless about, and not really loving leather but I left with a new found appreciation for the genre and a head full of leather fragrances that demanded to be explored further.