Mona di Orio seems to regularly employ a signature dirty cord, and while I most definitely count myself among the group of perfume lovers who not only love but fervently look for animalic notes in perfume, Mona di Orio’s particular signature of animalic perfume components seems to disagree with me. In the case of Chamarré, the problematic (for me) accord is effusive from the very beginning, rendering the potently herbal lavender-clary sage opening warm and heady. The lavender note is exceptionally beatific, sweet, warm and cuddly (indeed completely unnatural as far as lavender goes, yet magically matching the profile of the note so as to be recognized as such), but it regretfully loses its sweet warmth rather rapidly. The combined effect of the opoponax base and the sweet-yet-dirty, warm lavender seem to be directly inspired by modern day Jicky. After a weak citrus sparkle that completely fails to light up the composition like a lonely firefly in a dark cellar, the by now subdued herbal accord gives way to a creamy gentle aldehyde sweetness that is mindful of the same elegance found in Chanel’s Eau Premiere. Unfortunately where that same aldehydic sweetness is magically turned into frothy, exceptional lightness and luminosity in Eau Premiere, in Chamarré it sits heavily on the skin, refusing to budge, weighing everything down like a lead weight. Chamarré further makes use of the same iris component used in its predecessor Amyitis in its heart, combined with slightly salty violet. The sweetness of the rose is well blended and almost barely there; I have to concentrate to detect its signature. The base features an overdose of (excellent) ambergris - just about the only redeeming feature of this perfume. In fact the use of ambergris is so seductive, that I can’t help imagining what Chamarré would have been like without the unfortunate use of heavy (read: as Lee mentions you will get old-lady reference from this) aldehydes and the boring iris-salty violet-ionones heart cord. Mona di Orio’s murky, dirty signature too remains a problem – for me at least. If you have the patience to give this one a couple of hours till the heart notes fade enough, you can enjoy one of the most gorgeous ambergris glows I’ve come across in a modern perfume. However, at 145 euro a pop, I don’t have that kind of patience.
To add a slightly more positive note to this review, I have to say that contrary to my disenchantment with Mona di Orio’s perfumes, I find myself deeply in love with her candles which are all exceptional. Retailing at 53 euro each, they are definitely not cheap but I am sorely tempted to buy at least one of them. Now if only I could decide which one! All three (Mauve, Ebony & Taupe) are really well made and mouthwateringly delicious.