Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio : Perfume Review

Mona di Orio is the type of house one wants to love: It is a house with integrity, solid background, commitment to high quality and last but certainly not least, wonderfully thoughtful packaging. Having said that, I’ll have to admit that even though it’s been more than a year since I first discovered the line, I never actually felt motivated enough to actually devote skin space for one of the scents on any of my regular Saturday-morning sniffing excursions. On blotting strips the scents seemed nice enough, but not quite exciting enough to be sprayed on skin; there was always something else I found more deserving of the limited skin space on offer. I find it is time to rectify this however, so I recently procured some Mona di Orio samples to try at home, effectively eliminating the distractions of other hard to find fragrances begging to be tested instead. Today, Fragrance Bouquet explores Nuit Noire.

Nuit Noire seems to positively shun conformity: It is a scent without the merest trace of trend, something quite bold in and out of itself. It smells old, but not aged, like a fresh batch created from an old recipe. Those of you that have smelled DSH’s “The Perfumed Court” collection of 17th and 18th century inspired fragrances will know what I mean. An interesting bitter note reveals itself in the opening, but it is quickly drowned under gentle, subdued sweetness that smells like a shower of flower petals. Suddenly the dull opening begins to sparkle with the aroma of citrus oils. Yet, unexpectedly, the scent is not fresh; the overall impression is that of stale aromatic water and orange that has gone bad. Suddenly, the spell of darkness lifts and the fragrance brightens, smelling intensely like citronella, while underneath there is the faint smell of orange blossom, mingled with the sweet scent of orange candy. The unmistakable, citrusy, soapy scent of ginger becomes stronger and stronger, a perfect counterpart to the rising scent of pungent, green cardamom. The heart notes sound complex and seductive, listing clove, cedarwood, olibanum, tuberose, cinnamon and sandalwood. Unfortunately, in all honesty I can’t detect even a hint of some of these notes, like clove, cinnamon and sandalwood. I still smell the familiar scent of the now mellower orange blossom, mingling with a dark, velvety tuberose, very unlike any other rendition of the flower I’ve smelled before. The olibanum is there, but seems quite discordant, while there is also a certain oily smell I can’t quite place. The drydown is quite beautiful: ambery and balsamic notes hugged by smooth vegetal musk. The sweetness is just right and the result is semi-transparent, a quite admirable result considering many of the fragrances with similar base notes tend to have a heavy, smothering effect, especially when applied liberally. What does go wrong for me is the leather note, which in this composition my mind illogically seems to interpret as having a human component – specifically, I tend to perceive it as smelling of warm, stale human breath. The ‘staleness’ seems to be a recurring theme in my description of Nuit Noire and indeed, I find this sense of something being off in the perfume quite perturbing. Admittedly, the more I wear it, the more I warm up to it and the more I can appreciate its undoubtedly unique character. I know however that I shan’t be able to get past its disconcerting kind of dirtiness any time soon.

Images:, and


Jenavira13 said...

No matter how much you admire a fragrance, if it has one really disturbing component that you can't get passed it just is not going to happen. Which reminds me of Ralph Lauren's Blue (I ended up getting sticky saliva from it) and the worst Molinard's Nirmala (a man out in the jungle for two weeks having not bathed and then rolled in cat pee). Sometime's skin reaction is amazing.

PinstripedZebra said...

Dear Div,

Very nice review, i like it that you give us both the good and the bad on a fragrance, this is what I look for in a reviewer!


Linda said...

Dear Divina,
So interesting to read this: I'm in total agreement with the comment above! I would love to try this and shall do so next time I visit London. Your mentioning the word "stale" immediately gives the impression of a strong discord in the fragrance, and although I very much like a "dirty" base, I find something quite offputting about Nuit Noire in the last part of your excellent review. Many many thanks and hugs,

Anonymous said...

I had to comment on your announcement post first because it really moved me, but I can't leave without commenting on this one too! It is so good to read a new review :o) I really missed your writing! Nuit noir doesn't sound like "me" but it was a pleasure to read your words again.

kiss kiss, like a guerlain lippie. Bye!


TMH256 said...

"Disconcerting kind of dirtiness": what great words to describe a quality in some fragrances that prevent me from truly giving them attention. I am glad you were able to get a sample to experience at home Divina! I have found that the only way to try fragrances I normally wouldn't when shopping. I think it's quite lovely that every Saturday you shop for fragrance and I daydream that we can do that together some day!

By the way, since you're e-mail isn't up, would you like to do Springtime fragrances for this month's PFTO? You can comment on my blog in response if you'd like. So nice to see you back and writing so beautifully!


italian girl said...

Hi Divina, I am sorry your Grandma is ill and am glad that you spent some quality time with her. I have some wonderful memories of both of my grandmothers. My nonna's were uneducated, but more intelligent than most college graduates. Anyway, I feel for you and hope she will get better.



Divina said...

Jen I agree, and omg, your descriptions are *hilarious*!!!! Thanks for making me laugh :) Wish I could rush out and find Nirmala just to see what it would smell like to me, but unfortunately I've never seen it around these parts.

Divina said...

Dearest Z, I am afraid sometimes I can be way negative and only manage to see the bad side of a perfume if I hate it... But in general, yes, I try to keep the balance and be unbiased. (insofar as one can be unbiased with something as personal as taste)

Divina said...

Linda, I totally agree with you. I also love a dirty base, but this one just didn't work. As you understood, it was this strange staleness that kept me from enjoying this. To be sure, it is an interesting one though. Worth a try.

Divina said...

Dearest T, wouldn't that be lovely indeed? We would have such a laugh! Now you got me curious about which fragrances you're referring to, btw.


Divina said...

Dearest Giulia, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing. You are such an open, lovely woman. I don't think my grandma can get much better, but I do hope and pray she doesn't suffer. I truly love her.

Divina said...

Christine, so sorry, I missed your comment initially. Thank you, I missed writing too! My schedulle is always busy but I can't help but make time for the Bouquet. I just love it :)

Jenavira13 said...

Divina, I am one of the small few who get the reaction from Nirmala, most end up comparing it to Angel. It was nowhere near Angel on me.