Mona di Orio Violette Fumée (Les Nombres d’Or)

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

Violette Fumée is a fresh, citric floral musk from Mona di Orio that was posthumously released in 2013 as part of her Nombres d’Or Collection. Madame di Orio was a very talented perfumer who died tragically at the age of 41 in 2011 from post-surgical complications, and Violette Fumée was her last creation. It was originally made as a personal, private gift to her business partner and the company’s co-founder, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, based on his favorite notes. He decided to release the scent publicly in 2013 as an homage to her.

Source: Luckyscent

Source: Luckyscent

Violette Fumée is described as an “eau de parfum intense” on the Mona di Orio website, and also as an “Oriental Balsamic Floral.” The official description for the fragrance is interesting, as it discusses some elements that are not actually included in the accompanying note list:

With the creation of Violette Fumée, Mona composed the melody of my favorite passions, memories and materials.

With flirty florals like violet and rose fumed with pipe tobacco, the exquisite smoothness of cashmere and suede, and deep resinous undertones, this warmly smoldering scent evokes my sensorial love for luxury, and makes me feel, dream, travel and remember.

Revved at the start, crisp, fresh notes of herbal lavender and sparkling bergamot pair with inky oakmoss and get a twist as the scent unfolds into the elegance of vetiver and clary sage.

VioletsThe shy violet and iconic rose develop into a powdery and gourmand fume and then ramp up as spicy and savory notes of aphrodisiac saffron and smoky bois de gaiac communicate with the florals and begin to ignite.

The smoldering continues as resinous opoponax, myrrh, and musky cashmeran dive slowly into an intense velvety embrace.

Top notes: Mediterranean Lavender, Bergamot from Calabria, Oakmoss from the Balkans
Heart notes: Violet flowers and leaves from Egypt, Turkish Rose, Vetiver from Haiti, Clary Sage
Base notes: Opoponax and Myrrh from Somalia, Cashmeran.

As you can see from the description, saffron, tobacco, and guaiac wood are mentioned, but they do not appear on the actual list of notes. I detected small, minute traces of the last two notes, but not the saffron.



Violette Fumée opens on my skin as a very cool citrus, aromatic, and floral bouquet. There is crisp, chilled bergamot and pungent, herbal lavender, followed by dewy, metallic violets, its crunchy green leaves, and tendrils of light, sheer smoke. The violets smell slightly dewy and liquidy, but primarily carry the aroma of its crunchy, fuzzy, peppered leaves. There is a metallic sharpness that violets can sometimes demonstrate, but the note is also accentuated here by clean, synthetic, white musk. Touches of clary sage waft about, emitting a slight soapiness amidst the plant’s lavender and leathery undertones. Vetiver trails behind it, smelling both green and mineralized.

Oakmoss or tree moss.

Oakmoss or tree moss.

A few minutes later, another green note arrives on the scene: oakmoss. Like the vetiver, it initially has a mineralized aspect and doesn’t smell plushly green. Yet, it is not completely the grey, fusty, dusty, more pungent version, either. It lies somewhere in-between, supplemented by the bergamot to prevent the mosses from feeling too austere. As a whole, Violette Fumée is a visual palette of green, yellow and purple, with small streaks of black. It is initially a very cool fragrance in temperature as well, thanks largely to the chilliness of the crisp bergamot and the violet’s floral liquidity.

The black smoke that ties the aromatic, citric and floral elements together is very muted on my skin. It is a subtle touch which I wish were far stronger. Interestingly, the first time I wore Violette Fumée, the smokiness was much more apparent than on my two subsequent tests and I have to wonder if temperature was responsible as it was far cooler that first time around. Yet, even so, if I were to quantify the smoke on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, it was a 3 in my first test and perhaps a 1.5 at best on subsequent occasions. In short, rather minor as a whole. Even more minor is the tobacco undertone that I detected in one test, but which never subsequently reappeared.

Violet Leaf via

Violet Leaf via

Violette Fumée slowly shifts, though by very fractional degrees. After 10 minutes, the fragrance feels softer and warmer. The bergamot’s zesty briskness turns sweeter, while the lavender and clary sage lose some of their sharp, herbal pungency. The violets grow stronger, their scent feeling more floral now than just the crunchy, piquant green leaves. Their dewiness and metallic edge fade away, though the clean musk remains. In fact, the latter’s synthetic sharpness is consistently intertwined with the bergamot note, resulting in a clean lemoniness that I think has a very harsh edge. It continues largely unabated until the very end of Violette Fumée’s development on my skin, and it is the thing that I like the least about the perfume.



Violette Fumée begins to turn abstract and wispy 45 minutes into its development. There are fluctuating levels of greenness, but the smokiness has faded away, along with the lavender and clary sage. The oakmoss feels almost nebulous, more like an abstract suggestion than anything clearly delineated. In fact, many of Violette Fumée’s notes lose their distinct shape, except for violet and the lemony musk, and the perfume feels very sheer.

What appears instead is a generalized, rather amorphous woodiness. Neither the guaiac nor the cashmeran are detectable in any individual way, but they blend in with the other notes to create a sort of nebulous, “woody musk” cocoon in which the violets are nestled. The cashmeran is noticeable mostly through the growing touch of creaminess in Violette Fumée’s base, almost like shea. By the 90-minute mark, the perfume is primarily a fresh, violet floral scent with strong bergamot musk and a touch of sweetness, all resting upon a thin base of creamy woods. A hint of vetiver lingers in the background, but there is no smokiness, very little sense of oakmoss, and only a suggestion of crisp greenness. The perfume now lies just an inch, at best, above my skin.

As a whole, Violette Fumée is a very airy, lightweight fragrance with soft, quiet sillage. Three smears amounting to 2 small spritzes from an actual bottle gave me 2 inches in projection. Applying a larger quantity did not significantly change that number. By the end of the second hour, the perfume is a skin scent on me and feels very thin.

Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

Artist unknown. Source: pinterest via eBay.

At the start of the 3rd hour, Violette Fumée is a fresh, light, largely abstract floral with a vague suggestion of violets, followed by sharp, synthetic, lemony musk, all atop a base of generic woodiness with creaminess. As a whole, the perfume feels very clean and has something of a soapy nuance, thanks to the fabric softener musk. The impression of greenness has completely disappeared, but a slight powderiness has taken its place.

Violette Fumée remains largely unchanged for hours to come. The rose makes a quiet appearance at the end of the 6th hour, but it feels thin, pink, and very wan. The general bouquet is now primarily an abstract “floral” accord dominated by citric cleanness and a touch of vague woodiness. Even the creaminess in the base feels more muted and thin. In its final moments, Violette Fumée is a blur of something floral and clean. All in all, the perfume consistently lasted between 10 and 11 hours, largely because my skin holds onto clean musk synthetics like the devil.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

Violette Fumée has generally received very good reviews, both from bloggers and on Fragrantica. The Non-Blonde writes, in part:

Violette Fumée is a gender-bending fragrance. Smoke and flowers, delicate tendrils and petals against musky creamy wood. Pipe tobacco that has an almost fruity core, a rich texture with a modern sensibility. I wanted to describe the dry-down as a purple cloak, but that’s a bit over the top, while Mona di Orio created Violette Fumée as a wearable and sophisticated personal fragrance for a man with an impeccable urbane taste.

The musky dry-down is of the slightly fruity kind, round, rich and satisfying. It still has those purple fumes surrounding it, and I feel an urge to lose myself in this mist. Despite all of that and the high concentration of the juice, Violette Fumée is not a heavy perfume. Applied moderately, it’s somewhere between a skin scent and a fashion accessory that you notice but doesn’t steal the show from your words.

"Green-purpel Fractal by Aqualoop31." Source:

“Green-purpel Fractal by Aqualoop31.” Source:

For The Scented Hound, Violette Fumée was also a lovely experience, one which reminded him of a “page from a 19th century botanical illustrative leather bound book.” He writes, in part:

Violette Fumee opens with the most beautiful lavender and bergamot combination; it’s herbal and refreshing in a creamy comforting way.  After a few minutes, the fragrance starts to warm and become deeper as a beefy oakmoss emerges from the bottom that envelopes and seems to fold over the lavender.  After about 10 minutes or so, the violet seems to make an appearance from the edge of the fragrance. I know this is going to sound strange, but it’s appearance is like prairie dogs popping their head out of the ground.  What I mean is that the violet doesn’t come out at once, but seems to pop in and out until eventually you feel like you are surrounded by violets tinged with rose.  Violette Fumee at this point still retains its creaminess but it becomes slightly brighter without becoming sheer.  What I love about this is that the herbal aspects of the fragrance keep this from becoming too floral and pretty which allow Violette Fumee to retain a substantive elegance.  After some time, the myrrh and opoponax emerge from below and a slight suede provides for a beautiful finish to this multi-faceted fragrance.



On Fragrantica, most people seem to adore Violette Fumée, with some comparing it to Chanel‘s No. 19 and Cristalle. For example, “kxnaiades” writes, in part:

Violette Fumee is like no other violet scent I’ve come across. I thought Lez Nez’s Unicorn Spell and CDG Stephen Jones were different and unique takes on violet. Mona di Orio’s Violet Fumee pretty much blazes past these and leaves them in her smoke, in terms of originality. This really has to be sat down with and taken time with to enjoy, it’s complex and does not reveal it’s entirety in the first half hour. I agree that it’s opening reminds me alot of Cristalle and the like. Cristalle opens cold and unreachable on me, just like Violette Fumee did. I know perfectly well what clary sage smells like now, the leathery note was clearly in the icy herbal opening. However, making friends does take time and I was patient. My faith was well-placed and with time, the chill air left and I was greeted with a fresh violet with its leaves still green and perky, resins and woods. I much much prefer the warmer drydown to the opening so thankfully this lasts very well on my skin with a single spritz. This is not an easy scent to like, but neither were Cristalle or No. 19 for me intially, but now is a different story from then. Violette Fumee is not for those looking for a sweet violet pastille scent. It’s a decidedly unisex take on violet with a bold entrance and uncompromising quality I’ve come to expect from Mona di Orio. This is no shrinking violet.



For “Mick Trick,” Violet Fumée didn’t remind him of any Chanels but he also really liked the scent, though he does note that the “fumee” aspect was barely noticeable on his skin. He writes, in part:

Violette Fumee opens with a fresh sparkly triumvirate of green violet leaf, a splash of golden effervescent honeyed bergamot and subtle herbal lavender. Towards the heart the violet flower builds, an ultra-fine polished smooth powderiness is present but checked and never overwhelms, as opoponax adds resinous sweetness and a creaminess to the violet, forming the languorous sinuous and slightly shimmering heart of the fragrance. There’s also a very subtle tobacco note appearing at the beginning of the drydown, although I noticed this only on the second full wearing. At late drydown the violet flower recedes and watery violet leaf endures with a soft suede musky aspect (must be the cashmeran).

As others have noted the ‘fumee’ aspect is noticeable by its absence. Although I experienced a couple of phantom smokey tendrils that are gone as soon as I noticed then. It lays close and after around 4 hours is really a skin scent, however I experienced +12 hours longevity, on fabric it’s also +next day material. Not bad at all. There is a sweetness to VF, but it always retains a freshness and never threatens to become cloying. I’ve worn it now three times in the last four days, it’s got a subtle luxurious allure that keeps me coming back for more, I like it very much.

There are only two negative reviews for the fragrance:

  • Awful, smoky and cheap, totally synth. [¶] Crazy price, sillage bad, longevity bad. [¶] Thumbs down.
  • The drydown smells on me like Earl Grey tea leaves.

Violet Fumée is not cheap at $330 or €230, though the bottle is a 100 ml. I don’t think it feels like an eau de parfum at all, something that one Fragrantica commentator also mentioned. For me, the perfume is very over-priced for what it is, and I don’t find its quality to be impressive. The bergamot musk dominated much of the drydown on my skin, which is perhaps why that last quote from Fragrantica mentions “Earl Grey tea leaves,” but it is the sharpness of the synthetic that I found to be particularly objectionable. For $330, I’d like a lot more than citric fabric softener emanating from my skin — and a sheer, wispy, thin, largely abstract floral-woody-musk isn’t it.

In all fairness, I despise clean, white musk — in anything — and other people don’t have the same issues with the note. They also are not so sensitive to synthetics which my skin amplifies quite a bit. Plus, as I’ve tried to make clear, I’m in a distinct, tiny minority regarding this scent. Everyone else seems to be a fan. So, if you love violet fragrances and clean, fresh florals as a whole, then you may want to give Violette Fumée a sniff.

Cost, Sizes, Sets & Availability: Violette Fumée is an eau de parfum, and is available in two different options or sizes. The full bottle is 3.4 oz/100 ml and costs $330, €230, or £195. It is available world-wide on the Mona di Orio website which also sells a 5 ml roll-on bottle for €20. However, Violette Fumée is not one of the fragrances included in the usual MdO Travel set of 3 minis or in the Nombres d’Or Discovery Set of 8 x 5ml bottles. In the U.S.: Violette Fumée is sold at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and MinNewYork. All three places sell samples. Outside the U.S: In the UK, you can find Violette Fumée at Les Senteurs which sells it for £195, and also offers a sample vial for sale. Mona di Orio’s full line can also be found at Roullier White. In Europe, Violette Fumée is sold at Premiere Avenue, Jovoy, and First in Fragrance. The Mona di Orio line is also sold at Essenza Nobile. In Paris, Mona di Orio is sold at Marie Antoinette, and you can email Antonio to purchase. In the Netherlands, the line is offered at ParfuMaria and Skin Cosmetics. In the United Arab Emirates, Mona di Orio is sold at Harvey Nichols. In Australia, Melbourne’s Peony Haute Parfumerie carries the brand. For all other countries from Russia to Spain, you can use the Store Locator guide on the company website. Samples: Samples are available at Surrender to Chance starting at $4.50 for a 1/2 ml vial, at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and many of the European retailers linked to above.

LM Parfums Patchouly Bohème

Photo: "Fiery Mesquite Sunset" by Delusionist on Deviant Art.

Photo: “Fiery Mesquite Sunset” by Delusionist on Deviant Art.

The smoky sweetness of singed woods and a mesquite barbecue are the beginning of a woody perfume that later transforms into an absolutely lovely, cozy cloud of caramel amber, darkened resins, balsams, and dry vanilla. It is the most unusual “patchouli” fragrance that I’ve ever encountered: Patchouly Boheme from LM Parfums.

Patchouly Boheme is an eau de parfum released in 2011. It is frequently spelled as “Patchouli Boheme” on various sites, including Fragrantica and many retailers, but I will go with the company’s own spelling of the fragrance. The perfume was created by the late Mona di Orio, a very close, personal friend of Laurent Mazzone, LM Parfums’ founder. Her touch definitely shows, especially in the strong vein of cozy caramel flan that appears at one point in Patchouly Boheme and which is the centerpiece of her other creation for LM Parfums, Ambre Muscadin.  



LM Parfums describes Patchouly Boheme and its notes as follows:

The Pathouly Bohème, sensual and insolent dressed in precious woods, spices intoxicating …
It sows confusion, mystery, we hugged its wake profound and haunting, like a play of shadows and light with hints of leather, tobacco, resin tolu and tonka bean …

Top notes: geranium leaves Egypt, precious wood
Heart Notes: patchouli indonesia, virginia tobacco, leather
Base notes: musk, tolu balm, tonka bean.

Patchouly Boheme opens on my skin with smoky woods that are exactly like mesquite and a mesquite barbecue on my skin. It is immediately followed by an amber-vanilla accord that is the precise same one that lies at the heart (and drydown) of Ambre Muscadin and which I found to smell like a delicious caramel flan. Just as in Ambre Muscadin, the smell here in Patchouly Boheme is also infused with cedar, but it is not nearly as dominant. It also lacks the musk aspects of Ambre Muscadin.

Mesquite wood chips on coal. Source:  My Story in Recipes blogspot.

Mesquite wood chips on coal. Source: My Story in Recipes blogspot.

The main chord in Patchouly Boheme’s opening, however, is that mesquite wood. As Wikipedia explains, Mesquite is a type of wood common to the American Southwest, northern Mexico, Texas, and parts of South America. I live in an area where mesquite barbecues are extremely common, if not the characteristic type of barbecue for the region. Mesquite is such a big deal here that even deli foods like ham, turkey, cheese, and potato salads come with smoky mesquite flavouring. I highly doubt the same is true in London, Paris, or New York, so you have to put my issues into that context to understand why the note in Patchouly Boheme is difficult for me. I absolutely adore patchouli in all its true, original, brown facets, but nothing in the perfume’s first few hours translates as that sort of patchouli to me. No, it’s primarily mesquite wood that is singed and sweetened.

If I’m to be honest, I actually recoiled the first time I smelled Patchouli Boheme’s opening. And the second time, too. In both instances, I clung on primarily because of how much I love the caramel flan note that lies behind it, as if coyly veiled by a thin curtain of smoking woods. Plus, I was fascinated (and completely bewildered) by smelling Texas mesquite in a French perfume so clearly done by Mona di Orio. Had she been to the American Southwest? How did she decide that the unnamed “precious woods” in her perfume should be mesquite of all crazy things??!



The third time I tried Patchouly Boheme, I still didn’t like it very much, but I’d become rather addicted to the cozy comfort of the caramel amber flan, not to mention the stellar drydown. (It really is stellar!) So, I basically decided to ignore the difficult 40 minutes or first hour in order to get to the delicious rest. In truth, it’s taken me a good 7 wearings to smoothly move past that beginning and to almost like it. I’m not sure I will ever actually love the smoked mesquite, but then I’m strongly impacted by the fact that I live in an area where that precise smell is associated with barbecue and food. I think those who are new to mesquite will be free of my mental associations, and will probably find it to be quite a fascinating woody note. Mesquite really is extremely different, bordering on the unusual. 

The other thing I puzzle over each and every time that I wear Patchouly Boheme is the eponymous “patchouli” note. This is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, and I’m a “patch head,” as they say. There is a subtle earthiness to the fragrance, yes, and the merest suggestion of something leathered, but none of it translates as “patchouli” to my nose. The core of Patchouly Boheme lies fully in the smoky woods sweetened with a dry, caramel-vanilla, amber note.

Photo: "Mesquite Tree Sunset" by Delusionist on Deviant Art.

Photo: “Mesquite Tree Sunset” by Delusionist on Deviant Art.

Patchouly Boheme remains that way for the entire first hour, with the “caramel flan” note growing stronger behind the wooden veil with every passing quarter-hour. The perfume is very rich and deep, billowing about in an airy, light cloud that belies the forcefulness of some of its notes. At first, Patchouly Boheme wafts about 3 inches above the skin with 2 good sprays, but the projection starts to drop after 40 minutes.

Each and every time I smell Patchouly Boheme’s opening stage, I spend the whole time trying to dissect the puzzling aroma that I am smelling. There are things in that unspecified “precious woods” accord that go beyond the powerful mesquite element. Cedar, most definitely, in my opinion, but perhaps some vetiver as well? A lot of the times, I think, yes. I also drive myself a little crazy wondering why I detect something vaguely similar to a bitter expresso note underlying all the woods, but no chocolate, spices, greenness, or real earthiness the way patchouli usually manifests.

Photo:  Patricia Bieszk. Source:

Photo: Patricia Bieszk. Source:

Instead, on occasion, Patchouly Boheme will manifest a slightly medicinal aspect in its opening hour. It’s not the full-on, camphorated muscle-rub or peppermint aroma of true patchouli, but there is definitely something green or herbal lurking deep, deep in the base. Once in a blue moon, if I really spray on a lot of Patchouly Boheme and focus, it almost seems like a dry, smoked peppermint, but, yet, not quite. Actually, I’m pretty certain that I’m grasping at straws in the desperate attempt to smell a more usual, traditional form of patchouli, but that never appears for a good portion of Patchouly Boheme’s lifespan on my skin. It most definitely is not there at the start.

In my opinion, the real cause of that subtle green undertone is Haitian vetiver. I would bet money on it. For one thing, vetiver (along with cedar) is a very traditional complement to patchouli fragrances. That seems especially true in Europe, judging by all the patchouli fragrances that I grew up with, as well as the ones I smelled on my recent trip back. For another, the earth, woody, and green sides to vetiver are a good way to underscore those same facets in patchouli. And, lastly, something about the nuances to the base notes in Patchouly Boheme calls to mind La Via del Profumo‘s Milano Caffé. That is a fragrance where the patchouli is also dominated by and supplemented with Haitian vetiver (and cedar). It’s a very different scent than Patchouly Boheme all in all, but there is a very distant, very faint resemblance in both fragrances’ foundation. I suspect the “bitter expresso” nuance that I detect deep in Patchouly Boheme’s base is the result of some similar combination of woody tonalities, including vetiver.



My favorite part of Patchouly Boheme’s opening is always that tantalizing, dry, rich, incredibly smooth “caramel flan” accord. It finally emerges in full at the end of the first hour, as though the dry, smoked veil of wood has parted to welcome the ambered vanilla onto center stage. Both accords now stand side-by-side, each infusing the other in a seamless blend. For all that I use the term “caramel flan,” the note is never cloying, overly sweet, or dessert-like; it’s far too airy and dry to be gourmand in nature. Instead, it’s a cozy, dry richness that feels soothing and comforting, which is one of the reasons why I like wearing Patchouly Boheme to bed. And that cozy feel merely grows stronger with time, as the notes in the base start to stir.

About 1.75 hours into its development, Patchouly Boheme turns into a lovely, golden-brown woody scent infused with a rich sweetness. The mesquite wood resemblance has faded away by 65%, leaving an earthier scent with more abstract wood tonalities. I still don’t smell patchouli in the way that I’m used to, however. Instead, there are other notes. There continues to be quite a bit of cedar lurking in the background, adding dryness and a touch of smoke. There is also the tiniest suggestion of dry tobacco leaves, but it’s extremely muffled and nebulous. Much more noticeable, though, is the tonka in the base which is taking on the first whisper of a lightly powdered sweetness. The whole thing is a visual tableau of soft browns, caramels, camel brown, amber, mahogany, and cream in a soft, cozy cloud.

Patchouly Boheme continues to shift in small degrees. At the start of the 3rd hour, the perfume has turned into a smooth tonka-and-vanilla scent that is thoroughly immersed in that odd, unconventional “patchouli” note, dry woods, and a touch of sweetened powder. The fragrance lies just above the skin, perhaps an inch at best. As the dry vanilla and tonka grow more prominent, so too does the tolu balsam. It is my second favorite resin, and it’s incredibly smooth here. Fragrantica and other sites describe Tolu balsam as having a deeply velvety richness with a vanilla aroma that is much darker than that of benzoins. To my nose, however, it is always a very spiced, slightly smoky, rather treacly, dark note with a subtle leathered nuance; it doesn’t feel like a truly vanillic element. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a some of the perfumes listed by Fragrantica as scents that feature Tolu balsam (or its close sibling, Peru balsam, in some cases): Bal à Versailles, Mona di Orio‘s Ambre, Opium, Ormonde Jayne’s ToluEstée Lauder‘s Youth Dew and Cinnabar, MPG’s Ambre Precieux, Guerlain‘s Chamade, Reminiscence‘s Patchouli Elixir, and many others.



In Patchouly Boheme, the Tolu is too smooth to be sticky, very smoky, or hugely dark, but it’s definitely like a balsamic, golden richness with carefully calibrated levels of sweetness, and smokiness. It has a much stronger cinnamon nuance than I’ve encountered before, almost as if the more intense, leathered, and dark elements were refined out of it. It’s a note that works perfectly with the tonka, caramel vanilla, and that strange “patchouli.” I keep thinking about a camel-coloured suede jacket that I once owned; Patchouli Boheme’s drydown has the same sort of soft smoothness and visual colour in my mind.

The perfume continues to realign itself, changing the order and prominence of its notes. The tonka and vanilla slowly make way for the deeply resinous tolu as the dominant note. All traces of mesquite wood have finally vanished, and Patchouly Boheme is now a balsamic amber that is sweet, dry, vanillic, slightly smoky, and lightly dusted with a bit of cinnamon. The scent continues to hover just above the skin, but finally turns into a skin scent around the 5.5 hour mark. To my surprise, an hour later, the patchouli that I’m used to finally emerges. It is still fully swathed in tolu amber resin and tonka, but its red-gold spicy nature is much more apparent. A lingering touch of cedar seems to remain at the perfume’s edges, but it soon fades away entirely.



Patchouly Boheme’s drydown is a seamless blend of soft patchouli, amber, and vanillic tonka, and it remains that way largely until its end. In its final moments, the perfume is an abstract blur of soft sweetness. On average, Patchouly Boheme lasts between 9.75 and 10.75 hours on me, depending on whether I use 2 sprays or 3. The sillage is always soft after the start of the 3rd hour, but the dry, golden woodiness is easy to detect until the start of the 6th hour which is when the resinous, amber, and tonka phase kicks in. At no time does Patchouly Boheme ever seem like a patchouli soliflore to me, but one centered either on smoke woods or golden, sweet accords.

On the surface, I think it would be easy to consider Patchouly Boheme as linear, but it definitely has at least 3 distinct phases. The perfume — like all the LM Parfums that I’ve tried — is marked by a smoothness and seamlessness to its notes that masks the slow transition from one stage to another. Patchouly Boheme realigns itself by fractions, so unless you’re sniffing constantly and with focus, you will only see the larger brush strokes. One minute, you’re wafting mesquite barbecue woods, and the next, it seems that the perfume has turned into a cuddly, cozy, tolu resin, amber, and tonka fragrance. However, there are two bridges in-between them: first, that “caramel flan” accord from Ambre Muscadin, and, then, later, the transitional woody-tonka phase.

Dried Indonesian patchouli leaves via

Dried Indonesian patchouli leaves via

All the reviews for Patchouly Boheme on Fragrantica are highly complementary. Two people call it a “masterpiece,” one of whom says flat-out that the perfume’s beginning was very difficult for him (or her). In fact, “Cereza” doesn’t seem fond of patchouli fragrances as a whole, but the LM Parfums creation appears to be an exception:

A very high quality patchouli that should be tried by each and every lover of patchouli dominated fragrances. Fantastic silage and stays strong all trough the day.

It opened harsh and medical, almost too much for me as I am not a huge fan of patchouli, but as it settled and calmed down a bit it turned to a fantastic patchouli. It’s earthy, it’s dirty, it’s wild, yet sugary sweet and even mouthwatering (yes patchouli can be that sometimes). It changes all the time, sometimes leather which also is very noticeable in this plays a lead role, so it gets a bit rough, when tobacco and tolu shows themselves it gets sweeter and more feminine.

Really a masterpiece even I who does not wear patchouli frags can appreciate. Give this a go, you won’t be dissapointed.

Another commentator writes:

To me, this is a MASTERPIECE.
Very original, complex and well blended patchouli frag. with notes of tobacco, tonka, leather (light leather) and too sweet in the dry down. Mixed with very good quality in the ingredients.

The best from this house.

Longevity is more than 12 hours and sillage is strong.

scent: 9/10
longevity: 10/10
sillage: 9/10.

Photo by Jianwei Yang, I think. Source:

Photo by Jianwei Yang, I think. Source:

The only blog review I could find for Patchouly Boheme came from BL’eauOG who raves about the fragrance. It actually seems to be his favorite from the line. His long review is primarily about LM Parfums and Laurent Mazzone in general, but the portions pertaining to Patchouly Boheme read, in part, as follows:

Patchouly Boheme is very special perfume with great story. For me, it is temptation from the first moment. I consider it as masterpiece of perfume making because it is one of the most opulent perfumes I’ve ever tried. It is so strong and special that you can almost feel the emotions inside. Laurent practically uses perfumers as an instrument because he already has idea, emotion or picture in his head, and through the perfume, he expresses what’s inside of him. Laurent is playing with materials, alpacas are more elegant, silk gets more voluptuous, mohair gets more caressing, gabardines gets more hot. […] That’s why I am captured by Patchouly Boheme. You should try Mona di Orio Musc and compare it with PB and then you’ll see what I am talking about. […][¶]

Patchouly Boheme is very special perfume[….] I like it a lot because you can feel the passion from it, that’s the reason why it is my favorite. […] It is so opulent and “heavy” that the one is instantly drunk of intoxicating notes. Opening is very herbal with the distinctive geranium note but only few minutes later, opulent balsamic notes are most dominant. On my skin it’s like the most reputable resin bathed in precious patchouli, tobacco and tolu balm. Strangely, I don’t get lots of leather. It is herbal patchouli in general with lots of balms. Dry down is soft and delicate. Creamy notes of balms and resins will stay on your skin for hours and hours giving the same boemic feeling. Beautiful and magnificient, that’s the story of LM Parfums you shouldn’t miss because each perfume has significance and it’s little masterpiece!

I obviously experienced a very different scent at the start, but we both seem to have had the same balsamic, resinous, cozy drydown. It’s as beautiful as he says it is, though the “caramel flan” aspect of the middle is just as nice.



I realise that not everyone shares my passion for the glories of patchouli, at least the real kind, as opposed to the revolting, purple, fruit-chouli modern variety in so many rose fragrances today. True, spicy, smoky, brown-red patchouli is magnificent and wholly addictive, in my highly biased, personal opinion. LM Parfums’ Patchouly Boheme is a very different creature, however, with a completely original focus that centers on smoked, singed, sweetened woods and balsam resins. I can’t decide if that unique twist on “patchouli” will make the fragrance easier or harder for those who are phobic about the note.

If it’s of any use, I’ve heard that Le Labo‘s Patchouli 24 also has a strong barbecue note. I’ve never tried it, but a brief Google search seems to indicate that people have experienced elements ranging from rubber and cooked meat, to smoked birch notes and fecal tonalities as well. Patchouly Boheme is nothing like that. Not even remotely. However, those of you who are familiar with the smell or taste of smoked mesquite wood should be aware that it is a definite part of the fragrance’s first hour.

As noted above, I found it difficult at first, but I think the rest of Patchouly Boheme makes it a scent that definitely merits some patience. I’ve said quite bluntly that one of my absolute favorite scents, Alahine by Téo Cabanel, requires a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and at least 4 repeated tries, and Patchouly Boheme is in the same category for me. Yet, even in my early tests when I was struggling with the oddness of the mesquite puzzle, the lure of that absolutely delicious caramel-vanilla flan and the subsequent cozy, resinous drydown was hard to resist. In short, you may want to persevere with Patchouly Boheme, and keep in mind that the difficult part only lasts an hour or so.

Of course, if you’re a die-hard patch head, you definitely need to try Patchouly Boheme. It feels really unique to me out of the other options out there in the same genre. Plus, it bears the Mona di Orio signature merged with Laurent Mazzone/LM Parfums’ refined smoothness. I suspect you won’t have encountered anything quite like it.

In all cases, though, I think Patchouly Boheme will take a few tries, and will be one of those “love it or hate it” fragrances.

Disclosure: Perfume provided courtesy of LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers. 

Cost & Availability: Patchouly Boheme is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs $175, €135, or £135. In the U.S.: LM Parfums is exclusive to Osswald NYC. They currently have Patchouly Boheme in stock but, if, at some point in the future, the link doesn’t work, it’s because Osswald takes down a perfume’s page when they’re temporarily out, then puts it back up later. Outside the U.S.: you can buy Patchouly Boheme directly from LM Parfums. In addition, they offer large decant samples of all LM Parfums eau de parfums which are priced at €14 for 5 ml size. LM Parfums also owns Premiere Avenue which sells both Patchouly Boheme and the 5 ml decant. It ships worldwide. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is exclusive to Harvey Nichols. They sell Patchouly Boheme for £135. In Paris, LM Parfums are sold at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, you can find Patchouly Boheme at ParfuMaria, while in Italy, it is sold at Vittoria Profumi. The LM Parfums line is also available at the NL’s Silks Cosmetics. In Germany, First in Fragrance has Patchouly Boheme along with the full LM Parfums line, and sells samples as well. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, and Italy’s Alla Violetta. In the Middle East, I found most of the LM Parfums line at the UAE’s Souq perfume site. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well. Samples: A number of the sites listed above offer vials for sale. In the U.S., none of the decanting sites carry LM Parfums, but Surrender to Chance has a European Exclusives section that is tucked away. There, they list two (and ONLY two) vials of Patchouli Boheme. Each is 1 ml for $3.99. Other than that, you can call Osswald NYC at (212) 625-3111 to order samples. They have a special phone deal for U.S. customers where 10 samples of any 10 fragrances in 1 ml vials is $10 with free shipping. However, they are currently out of vials until mid-March.

LM Parfums Ambre Muscadin

Ambre MuscadinAmbre Muscadin is an unusual fragrance for an amber. It starts off as the dryest, smoked woody fragrance with sharp animalic notes, before ending up as something quite different. Its progression actually reminds me of a horse race where the three dark, woody, smoky, animalic sprinters burst right out of the gate to lead the pack before, suddenly, everything changes. A small, golden, amber gelding and a powerful, creamy, vanilla stallion both surge ahead to tie, neck and neck, with the front-runners, before gradually overtaking them in a long haul. Midway during the race, like Secretariat or Barbaro in days gone by, the mighty vanilla stallion sweeps them all with a flourish.

Ambre Muscadin is a fragrance from LM Parfums, a French niche house founded by Laurent Mazzone. I’ve met Mr. Mazzone and he is a rather adorable man, with a passion for very classic, but bold, perfumery done with a modern twist. That philosophy is certainly visible in Ambre Muscadin, an eau de parfum (with 15% perfume oil concentration) that was released in 2011. It is unclear who was the nose who collaborated with Mr. Mazzone on the fragrance. Rumour has it that it was the late Mona di Orio, with whom I know Mr. Mazzone was quite close.

Atlas cedar. Source:

Atlas cedar. Source:

LM Parfums describes Ambre Muscadin as follows:

The opulence of the atlas cedar adorned with mystery.
A bold violet, a charmer vetyver rise up its natural elegance.
White honey, lascivious vanilla, highlights its facets flesh and velvety. Then Amber reveals its heart of a sensuous mosaic cryptic, balsamic radiates the charms of the Orient …

Top Notes: Mount Atlas cedar, vetiver java, Violet
Heart Notes: Madagascar vanilla absolute, white honey
Base Notes: Siam benzoin, amber, musk

Ambre Muscadin opens on my skin with a ferocious blast of cedar, then vetiver. The notes are all coated with the faintest sliver of vanilla, white honey, amber and a very sharp musk that veers between feeling wholly animalic and, initially, a wee bit synthetic. I must confess, I’m not a particular fan of how Ambre Muscadin begins on me, because it consistently reminds me of some murky cedar swamp, infused with mossy, peaty, smoked vetiver. Once in a while, I think of the cedar chips underlying a hamster’s cage, only this cage is also filled with vetiver, and the whole thing lies under a dome of sharp smokiness, intense dryness, and the feral, urinous whiff of a musky animal. Ambre Muscadin is a very masculine amber on my skin in these opening moments, very much a woody fragrance first and foremost, then animalic, with amber and honeyed vanilla coming in absolutely last on the list.

"Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp" by Jason Howell.

“Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp” by Jason Howell.

Five minutes in, Ambre Muscadin slowly begins to shift. The vetiver becomes as prominent as the cedar, and it smells just like the note in really expensive, single-malt Scotch. The mossy, peaty aroma has a slightly burnt nuance, however, and both woody elements merge together to create something definitely quite leathery in feel on my skin. For some odd reason, the overall bouquet sometime reminds me of a significantly less sweet, drier version of Profumum Roma‘s Arso, only with a slightly honeyed tone, sharp animalism, and very little amber. Ambre Muscadin is hardly as thick, dense, sweet or sticky, but there is something about the profoundly dominant cedar focus of both fragrances, along with their smoked sharpness, that feels distantly related. 

Civet. Source:

Civet. Source:

The impression is fleeting. The amber in Ambre Muscadin starts to rise to the surface ten minutes into the fragrance’s development. Trailing behind it is the honey which most definitely feels like the white, creamy kind. It is a light touch, never very strongly sweetened, and delicately coated with the sheerest breath of vanilla. Like horses in a race, the notes stalk the front-runners, trying to catch up and tame Ambre Muscadin’s sharpness. They don’t succeed for the next 15 minutes, as that pungently feral, almost civet-like, urinous edge fights with the cedar and vetiver for the lead. It’s not my favorite combination in the world, so it’s quite a relief when the fragrance finally starts to mellow about 20 minutes in. The cedar pipes down to a medium hum, the vetiver feels more woody than burnt, and that animalic pungency is lightly diffused by a sweet, golden warmth.

I frequently feel as though I should write the beginning of this review from the perspective of someone other than myself. I’ve sprayed Ambre Muscadin on a lot of people; at no time has it smelled quite so intensely masculine, dry, woody, or sharp on their skin from the opening burst. In fact, on almost everyone, the aroma bouquet which wafts from the first spray is of a dry, but slightly sweet, caramel flan. Women, men…. it’s always caramel flan. Actually, to be precise, it’s rather more like “sexy flan,” to quote my friend and fellow blogger, Caro of Te de Violetas. She deserves full credit for the term, since she was the first to label it as such. And, yes, lest you are curious, there is a difference between regular flan and “sexy” flan, which all comes down to the degree of sweetness or having a subtle heart of dry darkness amidst the golden hues.

Adding a dry, smoked touch to food using a chef's cloche. Photo: my own.

Adding a dry, smoked touch to food using a chef’s cloche. Photo: my own.

I end up with “sexy flan” too, but it always takes me a whole hour to even begin to reach that same point. The first step occurs around the 20-minute mark, when the flan slowly merges into the drier, woody top notes, resulting in a cedar fragrance that is still smoked, but now also softly tinged with caramel amber. It’s not a fluffy, gooey, or dessert-y amber by any means. It is light, filled with a musky, animalic edge, and flecked with creamed honey.

Then, at the end of the second hour, Ambre Muscadin finally metamorphoses into pure caramel flan that sits on a plate with a tiny sauce of dry vanilla and atop a thin layer of white honey. There are the merest lingering, smoky traces of dark cedar and vetiver at the edges. Much more noticeable, but temperamental, however, is the animalic musk which hovers around like a ghost. It rears its head from time to time behind the sweetened amber, then traipses off, before popping back in unexpectedly. The musk continues to linger as a slightly urinous, Jack-in-the-Box undercurrent before it finally gives up near the end of the fourth hour, and vanishes.



By the start of the fourth hour, I smell rather delicious, even if I do say so myself. Delicate, sheer caramel-vanilla amber coats my skin, with a subtle whisper of honey. the bouquet is still too dry and woody to be really “foodie” in nature, though. In fact, the unusual nature of the vanilla element leads me to think that the rumour may, in fact, be true, and that Mona di Orio might have created this fragrance. For one thing, she loved Bourbon Vanilla extract, but often tried to make it rather dry in nature. Something about the amber-vanilla here reminds me of her Ambre, though Ambre Muscadin thankfully never manifests that fragrance’s heavily powdered nature on my skin.

Instead, Ambre Muscadin is a sheer organza of dry, caramel-vanilla, amber flan that continues to feel smoked and somewhat woody in an abstract way. As time passes, the vanilla starts to overtake even the amber, eventually turning Ambre Muscadin into a fragrance that is primarily a dry, abstractly woody vanilla with only the mildest dusting of sweet benzoin powder. It dies away in much the same way, a full 12.75 hours from the time of the first spray.



Ambre Muscadin is very pretty in its secondary manifestation, and lasts a prodigiously long amount of time for such a sheer, airy fragrance. On my skin, it was never unctuous, heavy, thick, or very sweet. The sillage was initially moderate, despite the fragrance’s sharpness, and hovered 2-3 inches above the skin. Ambre Muscadin started to soften after the first hour, in both forcefulness, weight, and sillage. It took about four hours to turn into a skin scent on me, but the perfume clung on tenaciously despite its sheerness.

My favorite review for Ambre Muscadin comes from Caro of Te de Violetas, though I notice her detailed description sadly never mentions the utterly wonderful “sexy flan” phrase. (I absolutely love that summation, and can never think of Ambre Muscadin as anything else since the moment I heard it!) According to Caro, it is indeed Mona di Orio who is behind the fragrance. Her review also finds some thematic similarities to the late perfumer’s Ambre, and it reads, in part, as follows:

Ambre Muscadin brings instantly to mind two other fragrances that I love: Mona di Orio Ambre and Editions de Parfums Musc Ravageur. Deeper, sweeter and more intense than any of those two, it also smells less abstract.

The opening is all about cedarwood at its most opulent and resinous. For a moment, I wonder whether this should be renamed Cèdre Muscadin. A dark, velvety violet briefly peeks from underneath the coniferous greenness. Before I can even realise it, I am carried away by a whirlwind of honey, amber and vanillaAmbre Muscadin is thick and sweet but the omnipresent cedarwood note cuts through the sweetness keeping it at bay; consequently the composition never becomes cloying. The drydown is powdery and musky, slightly animalic but not excessively dirty.

There is an aura of nostalgia about Ambre Muscadin, but the result is not passé. Nothing in it smells synthetic and I find it wondefully comforting. Its tenacious vanillic embrace holds me for hours on end.

I’m not in love with Ambre Muscadin the way she is, no doubt due to the fact that I had, quite obviously, a very different experience. From the nature of the musk to our perceptions of Ambre Muscadin’s density, to the peaty vetiver in lieu of violet, my version was substantially drier, woodier, smokier, dirtier, and more pungently animalic. There was more of a modern twist on me, with little sweetness, powder, or aura of nostalgia. Yet, I very much agree with the core of her review, and I think she summed it up well. I most definitely share her feeling that the fragrance seems, at times, to be more aptly described as Cèdre Muscadin. In fact, I wrote the exact same thing in my notes. Verbatim. (That should tell you how much the cedar dominates Ambre Muscadin’s opening phase!)

Caro’s experience seems similar to that of Juraj from BL’eauOG who writes:

Ambre Muscadin … is very powdery and woody oriental. Ambre Muscadin is very soft, thick and sweet perfume with generous amber dry down. It feels like the liquid gold on the skin. Opening of Ambre Muscadin is very woody with vetiver, cedar wood and later on, the softness takes over – vanilla, violet, honey notes. Dry down is made of gold because it has beautiful, soft amber and benzoin. For the grand finale, everything is wrapped with musk.

For Lucas of Chemist in the Bottle, things were a little different. For one thing, the musk was as dominant on his skin for the opening stage as it was on mine. It was also somewhat dirty, though it doesn’t seem to have been half as animalic as my experience. His review reads, in part:

Musk plays a significant role in this perfume. It’s sensual and erotic. Not exactly clean as it has some dirtier facets bringing to mind a view of sweaty, sporty body. Amber is luminous here. Not plastic at all but more mineral, slightly marine-salty with a noticeable tones from cedar wood. Later on vanilla and benzoin amplify the amber accord adding it more depth and weight. They add a creamy and slightly gourmand feeling to the composition of Ambre Muscadin. The notes of amber, musk, honey, entwine with each other creating a harmony of aromas.

Most of the people upon whom I sprayed Ambre Muscadin had slightly different experiences from all the above-mentioned bloggers, and even myself. To my surprise, on two of the four people’s skins, the opening had very little cedar and no animalic pungency at all. On one person, Ambre Muscadin was almost entirely a dry, slightly smoky caramel-vanilla flan from the very start. On all of them, I never detected any thickness or strong sweetness. And the sillage was incredibly discrete on two of them after a mere hour, though the longevity was excellent as it usually is for all LM Parfums. 

I generally like Ambre Muscadin, but only after its sharp opening has passed. In fairness, however, the perfume seems to be a little bit of a chameleon, with the nature of that starting phase depending largely on individual skin chemistry. While I may not be swooning over the fragrance as a whole, or tempted to reach for it frequently, I do think Ambre Muscadin is well done. If you’re a huge fan of cedar perfumes, Mona di Orio’s fragrance style, and/or dry, woody, amber-vanillas, I think it’s definitely worth a test sniff.

Disclosure: My sample of Ambre Muscadin was provided by Laurent Mazzone of LM Parfums. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers.

Cost & Availability: Ambre Muscadin is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. It costs $175, €125 or £125. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC. Unfortunately, none of the U.S. perfume sample sites currently offer samples of this fragrance. However, Osswald offers a special sample offer for its US customers where any 10 fragrances are available in 1 ml vials for $10, with free domestic shipping. You have to call (212) 625-3111. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy Ambre Muscadin directly from LM Parfums for €195. Samples are also available for €14, and come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols which sells the Eau de Parfums for £125. In France, you can find all the LM Parfums, along with the 5 ml samples of each, at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, it’s sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells Ambre Muscadin for €125, in addition to samples. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find the line at ParfuMaria. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well. 

Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Eau Absolue (Les Nombres d’Or)

A lazy day in the sun. The summer’s heat brings out the spiciness of the sugar cane and Jamaican bay trees in the distance. Oranges and lemons hang heavy from the trees in a grove nearby. As the heat warms your body even further, you stretch out on your chaise lounge by the pool and reach for a refreshing glass of lemonade. And then you slather sweet, citrus-infused honey on yourself as if it were suntan lotion.

Images of sun, heat, honey and citrus are what come to mind when I wear Eau Absolue, the latest release from Mona di Orio and part of her Nombres d’Or Collection. Mona di Orio was an extremely talented perfumer who died tragically at the age of 41 in 2011 from post-surgical complications. Yet, the new Eau Absolue is her creation, based on a formula made by Ms. Orio before her death as an ode to the Mediterranean. According to an article on Now Smell This, Mona di Orio’s business partner and the company’s co-founder,Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, was determined to remain faithful to her formula, her vision, her style and her legacy, so her formula has not been altered in any way.

Mona di Orio Eau AbsoluePart of that Mona di Orio signature style is something called “Chiaroscuro.” It is a term which refers to the interplay between dark and light, and a way of creating depth or three-dimensionality by using sharp, bold contrasts. The chiaroscuro construction is very much at play in Eau Absolue which is described on the Mona di Orio website as a “Hesperide Woody Balsamic” with the following character:

Eau Absolue is a memoir steeped in Mona di Orio’s love for the Mediterranean. Composed in her signature olfactory chiaroscuro construction, the scent envelopes in joyous warmth.

Eau Absolue effervesces like a summer breeze carrying a zestful bouquet of bergamot, mandarin, clementine and Petitgrain. These bright, convivial citruses splash against the epicurean spice of pink peppercorn.

The scent becomes earthy and softly floral, with whispers of geranium, dry vetiver and balsamic St Thomas Bay Leaf. The nocturnal shade intensifies, arching ever deeper, until plunging directly into a caress of cistus labdanum, the ambry smell of the Mediterranean, and sensual musk, an elegant and intoxicating denouement.

Eau Absolue Notes:
Sicilian bergamot, clementine and Petitgrain Citronnier, Litsea Cubeba from China, Egyptian geranium, vetiver from Java & Haiti, Jamaican St. Thomas Bay Leaf, pink peppercorn from Peru, cedar wood from Virginia, musk, cistus labdanum.

A brief explanation of some of these notes may be useful. According to my research, Litsea Cubeba (or “May Chang”) oil comes from an evergreen tree or shrub native to China. It possesses a lemon-like odor that has sometimes been compared to lemongrass or lemon verbena, thought it is supposedly sweeter than lemongrass. As for Jamaican St. Thomas Bay Leaf (Pimenta racemosa), its aroma isn’t like that of the dried leaves used in cooking. Instead, it is said to have a spicy, balsam-like odor that is like a resin, though some say it’s also a little like cloves due to all the eugenol in the plant.

Orange and lemon via Herbal Teas InternationalFrom the very first sniff, Eau Absolue is a rich lemon-honey fragrance. The honey is not dark but sweet, imbued with delicate floral notes and strong dashes of that litsea cubeba. It really smells as described: like lemongrass but sweeter; like verbena but richer and without any soapiness. It’s heady and beautiful. There is also a subtle, sweet muskiness underlying the notes. Slowly, slowly, as if on tiptoes, there is: a hint of juicy, fresh mandarin orange; the spicy resin of the St. Thomas Bay leaf; a ghostly bit of petitgrain with its bitter, woody nuance; and the merest pinches of cedar.



And that generally is the sum-total of the entire fragrance for most of its lifespan on my skin. Eau Absolue fluctuates in the depth, degree or intensity of some of its notes, but the primary bouquet remains the same with absolutely no change or additions. Even out of those original notes, the main, dominant scent on my skin is a lovely lemon-infused honey with spicy resin, orange and a whisper of musk — the remaining notes merely circle around the back like shadows in the sunlight. Around the 40 minute mark, the honey turns richer, deeper, and darker, while also taking on a slightly sulfurous nuance, similar to that in Vero Profumo‘s Onda. I don’t mind it, but it can be a little sharp for a while.



Two hours into the perfume’s development, Eau Absolute softens, losing a bit of that edge, while simultaneously becoming even more resinous, spicy and balsamic as the St. Thomas bay leaf becomes much more prominent. Interestingly, there is also a sudden, but subtle, flicker of smokiness to the base which intensifies as times goes on. If Eau Absolue were a recipe, it would now be something like this: 2 cups of honey with 3 teaspoons of sun-sweetened lemon; 2 teaspoons of spicy resin; a teaspoon of warm, juicy orange; a teaspoon of dark smoke; and a dash of light, soft, sweet musk.


Caramelized sugar cane cubes. Source:

The perfume remains that way until the drydown starts at the top of the sixth hour when Eau Absolue turns into sweetened, spicy woodiness infused by smoky, caramelized honey and the merest hint of orange. The smoky nuance is fascinating because it’s almost like singed sugar cane, both the leaf and the sugar cubes itself. It’s beautifully warm, woody, dry, spicy, and molten — all at once. There is also an occasional note of melted wax, as if the honey had deepened to the point that it had turned into solid beeswax and then been melted. It’s not prominent and is just a subtext to the overall honey note, but it’s there. Another note that has deepened is the musk which has now taken on an ambery quality. It’s not animalic, raunchy or intimate at all on me, but feels more like the light muskiness from heated, sweetened skin. The whole combination is incredibly light and airy, though it is also a skin scent at this point.



The drydown begins at the sixth hour, but Eau Absolue is by no means finished. On my voracious, perfume-consuming skin, Eau Absolute lasted almost another 8 hours! Granted, I frequently thought it had vanished, only to be surprised by its tenaciousness as it chugged away subtly and silently as the most infinitesimal veil. In its final three hours, Eau Absolue turned into general, abstract, nebulous, sweet muskiness and nothing more. All in all, it lasted just short of 14 hours on me, even if was an amorphous, sheer skin scent for eight of those hours. The longevity was astounding, especially as I did not apply any more than my usual quantity. In terms of sillage, it was quite powerful at the start, radiating out a good 5-6 inches for the first hour before becoming a little bit softer. Even when the perfume was wafting only an inch or so above my arm, the notes were still potent and very strong within that small cloud.

I am a sucker for honey fragrances, so I absolutely adored Eau Absolue, but I must advise caution when it comes to this perfume. Honey is one of those notes which can turn rancid, intimately animalic, funky, or sour on one’s skin, depending on skin chemistry. And the same applies to labdanum which can often manifest itself with a honey characteristic. I’ve noticed that my skin not only amplifies labdanum, but also minimizes the barnyard aspect, one of its many possible nuances. While I’m lucky that both honey and labdanum bloom on me, that’s not the case with everyone. Take, for example, a friend of mine who is an experienced perfumista and whose skin chemistry normally works well even with a rich, musky, labdanum, slightly animalic perfume like Maison Francis Kurkdjian‘s stunning Absolue Pour Le Soir. She had an atrocious experience with Mona di Orio’s Eau Absolue. She gave me permission to quote her private description to me: Eau Absolue “was instant nose wrinkling, gasping, rotten, fermented body odor and stinky shoes.” Oh dear.

I think my skin chemistry’s interaction with labdanum explains why I found “honey” to be the primary essence of Eau Absolue on me, while other reviewers had quite a different experience. For example, it was all green, citric, soapy, animalic notes for Now Smell This whose review reads, in part:

Eau Absolue is citrusy, but because of the perfume’s weight and other notes it smells to me more like a green fragrance with bergamot, lemon, and orange rather than like a classic Eau de Cologne. On first sniff, Eau Absolue is thick with a mélange of tart citrus rind and smashed green stems. Bay leaf smoothes away any sharp edges, and an underpinning of cedar casts an almost horsey-animalic note deep in the perfume’s heart.

All in all, Eau Absolue feels clean and green-fresh, reminding me of an expensive bar of artisanal soap. Over time the citrus ebbs, and the fragrance becomes a tiny bit sweeter but remains green. Eventually it gracefully fades, growing quieter, but still true to the perfume’s overall story. Like the other Mona di Orio fragrances I’ve tried, it’s dense and warm, not an airy tingle of citrus like, say, Guerlain Eau de Cologne Impériale.

Lucas of Chemist in the Bottle also got lots of green notes, along with a very pulpy citrus opening (that he briefly found to be reminiscent of household cleaners), then petitgrain, big doses of geranium, light cedar, a slightly burnt and mineralized amber and, in the final drydown, a “sweaty feel” to the base. He was not a fan.

As always, my experience was closest to that of The Non-Blonde (we really must have extremely similar skin), though she doesn’t seem to have experienced heaps of honey:

Eau Absolue opens with a rather misleading burst of citrus. It’s bracing and lemony, dry and slightly bitter like a very grownup drink. This early summer morning is followed closely by unfolding layers of crisp aromatics, woods and spices that surround and protect a resinous-incense core. Cistus labdanum can turn quite dirty and musky. In Eau Absolue Mona di Orio kept the barnyard at a safe distance, though there is an animalic presence in the late dry-down. Somehow the fragrance manages not to get its white shirt soiled even though it steps dangerously close at times.

The juxtaposition of clean and dirty notes makes the dry-down of Eau Absolue very enchanting. It’s warm and slightly ambery, you can almost feel and smell crumbling soil that has soaked sunshine and clean air all day. Eau Absolue is almost bursting with life– it’s zesty, peppery, and just animalic enough to feel the heartbeat under the surface.

Sunshine and warmth, after the start of a cool citrus drink. It’s very much what Eau Absolue evoked in me, too. And that impression extended as well to a reviewer on Fragrantica who called Eau Absolue “breathtakingly beautiful” with a “warm and summery… Mediterranean vibe[.]” (The only other review currently up on Fragrantica simply says: “it is a cologne, yet rather animalic.”) 

My suggestion to you is to try Eau Absolue if you know your skin chemistry works well with animalic notes, honey and/or labdanum. I didn’t think the perfume was animalic at all (beyond general, light muskiness), and The Non-Blonde thought Eau Absolue kept “the barnyard at a safe distance,” but if your skin tends to amplify those notes and, more importantly, if you hate the result, then you may feel the distance is not far enough. As for me, I adored Eau Absolue’s beautiful honey-citrus essence and plan on getting a decant for myself — something I’m not frequently inspired to do. I don’t think I’ll want to smell of honey every day and I don’t know how versatile it is, but I find something incredibly soothing, comforting, cozy and relaxing about Eau Absolue. I swear, I think my blood pressure and stress level went down two notches while wearing it. I give it two thumbs up.

Cost, Sizes, Sets & Availability: Eau Absolue is an eau de parfum, and comes in a variety of different options and sizes. The full bottle is 3.4 oz/100 ml and costs $230, €160 or £135.00. It is available world-wide on the Mona di Orio website which also sells a 5 ml roll-on version for €12 or a Travel Set of 3 x 10ml bottles for €85. There is also a Nombres d’Or Discovery Set of 8 x 5ml bottles which is sold for €90 and, for the company’s website version at least, Eau Absolue is included. (Boxes from other vendors don’t seem to have been updated yet to include this brand new fragrance.) In the U.S.: you can find Eau Absolue at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and MinNewYork (which also offers free shipping within the US). All three places sell samples of the perfume. LuckyscentParfum1 sell the Discovery Set of 8 x 5ml roll-on bottles of the entire Nombres d’Or for $145, while MinNY discounts the set for $5 off, pricing it at $140. Luckyscent’s version of the box doesn’t currently include Eau Absolue since it is so new, so you may want to buy the set offered directly from Mona di Orio’s website if you’re interested in trying Eau Absolue as well. You can also purchase a bottle of Eau Absolue in the 100 ml size from Olfactif which has a perfume subscription service. Outside the U.S: In the UK, you can find Eau Absolue at Les Senteurs which sells it for £135.00 and which also carries a sample vial for sale. In Paris, I see Mona di Orio listed on the Marie Antoinette Paris website but can’t find prices or individual perfumes for the line. In the Netherlands, Eau Absolue is carried at Skin Cosmetics. For the rest of Europe, you can turn to Germany’s First in Fragrance which carries the perfume for €160.00, along with a sample for purchase. In the United Arab Emirates, the Mona di Orio line is sold at Harvey Nichols. In Australia, Eau Absolue is available at Melbourne’s Peony Haute Perfumerie for AUD $230. For all other countries from Russia to Spain, you can use the Store Locator guide on the company website. Samples: Samples are available at Surrender to Chance or The Perfumed Court (both of whom sells vials starting at $6.99 for a 1 ml), at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and many of the European retailers linked to above.