If I were asked to predict a current French perfume house which is waiting patiently in the wings to one day ascend to the throne currently occupied by perfume royalty Guerlain, I would likely say Mona di Orio.
Guerlain, - though most unlikely to abdicate - are revered and celebrated (amongst others) as pioneers of modern perfumery, particularly at the hands of perfume godfather Jacques Guerlain (1874 - 1963). Their contribution to the art is colossal, and Jacques Guerlain's abstract perfume narratives such as L'Heure Bleue, Shalimar and Vol de Nuit have left their permanent perfumed fingerprint in history. The same could be said for the efforts of French master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska whose creative masterpieces Diorissimo, Eau Savage and Rochas Femme, olfactorily helped reshape the 20th century.
Mona di Orio, born in 1969 in Annecy France, became Roudnitska's teenage protégée; studying the art from the grand master himself before his death in 1996. As a result, Mona di Orio developed a fundamental sensitivity towards observing traditional values and garnered an appreciation for raw materials of only the finest quality. Now the creative partner alongside Dutch designer Jeroen Oude Sogtoen at the helm of her eponymous perfume house, this has become very apparent in her work.
Seven Mona di Orio perfumes exist to date, and all are intended to transform the wearer with their own unique alchemy on the skin. Nuit Noire is one eau de parfum creation that I feel may best illustrate Mona di Orio's tutelage under her mentor Roudnitska, and the vast, timeless heritage behind him. Nuit Noire opens with a delightful orange blossom note which is astutely and instantaneously counterbalanced by a dark, animalic (almost civety) accord of dense cardamom. Immediately, one experiences a sense of wistful recollection; much in the same way as if, perhaps one were turning the foxed pages of an antique family photo album, studying the sepia faces of well-dressed ancestors you have never really known. A complex heart of resins, woods and spices lend infinite depth, whilst a narcotising tuberose accord evokes a feeling of vintage sumptuousness. Hours later, Nuit Noire shifts more toward a creamy leather base. It is whilst familiarising oneself with the wonderful transitory layers of this perfume, that one can truly come to terms with its beauty and complexity. Here, the cherished works of early 20th century perfume virtuosos still resound, albeit now spoken with a contemporary vernacular.
I would encourage everyone to try at least one or two scents from the Mona di Orio line. The 2009 release Chamarré is also a favourite, and embraces this concept of tipping its hat, respectfully, to the greats.