Losing a close friend is a personal tragedy. It’s even worse when this friend passes out suddenly and at an age too early to think of death. Unfortunately Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, a co-founder of Maison Mona di Orio had to deal with all those hard feelings when Mona died. I cannot even imagine how hard it must’ve been for him. And in all that sadness and sorrow a question echoes in a head – what now? What to do? Of course Mona is irreplaceable to him but one can’t just give up on a successful perfume brand. You have to move on… Somehow… After introducing Violette Fumee, the personal fragrance of Mr Sogtoen and the last one made by Mona that was possible to present to the world, the brand was heading towards inevitable process of reinvention.
This mentioned process of Maison Mona di Orio reinvention happens as we speak. When I met Mr Sogtoen in Florence during Pitti Fragranze, he explained to me everything with much details. First of all, the brand has received a brand new logo which I really like (and that doesn’t happen often when brands do that). Jeroen also spent some time contemplating the bottle and he came to a conclusion that they (yes, literally they) are not a square bottle. With assistance of Ateliers Dinand, a famous French bottle designer, a new bottle for Mona di Orio fragrances was born. It’s oval, with a heavy base. It fits well in the hand and has a nice weight. The cap is also oval and the flat top part is covered with black lacquer as a background for golden letters of the perfume house name.
There is also a brand new perfume called Myrrh Casati, which borrows its name from Marchesa Casati, a muse for everything eccentric and also a patron of the arts. This fragrance starts with an extraordinary pepper accord. When I took a first whiff of this perfume it literally shook me because the aroma went right up my sinuses, deep into my head. This made me think that it must be a Sichuan pepper but it actually turns out that it’s a pink pepper that was used for this composition. There was definitely something else that added to that impression and after a while I discovered what it was… It was the licorice.
I couldn’t believe it! My nemesis in food (I just hate the taste of that black licorice candy) and not a friend in most of the perfumes. In Myrrh Casati it contributed to the spiciness of the pink pepper, elevating it to another level, giving it that tingly, piquant and vibrant smell that won’t be easy to forget. It’s so intensive and almost pungent but it has that alluring element that makes you want to go back and smell it again and again. This stage lasts for 30 minutes, then the perfume begins to change.
Now the perfume starts to smell balsamic when myrrh appears on top of the composition. It has its typical, a little bit dusty and musty aroma that after a while transforms into something much more balmy, thick and concentrated. There is also a nice syrupy vibe which combines the richness and oriental soul of the material such as myrrh with the spicy touches. There is a bunch of cardamom from Guatemala as well as some saffron but they both seem to smell like they are dry and raw. The additional note of cypriol makes this stage additionally harder to approach, as it brings that typical, a little bit oily aroma combined with hay-like scent. Luckily this stage becomes rounder after some time.
As I observe the evolution of Mona di Orio Myrrh Casati, after the super spicy opening of pink pepper and slightly less spicy and balsamic tones of myrrh, the perfume consequently continues to release another waves of pleasant aromas. At some point I start to smell benzoin (from Siam, as PR materials state) – it’s mildly spicy and warm, with a hint of honeyed sweetness entwined with the balsamic elements. There’s also something woody about it. For a few hours Myrrh Casati veers around the notes of myrrh, benzoin and pepper as leading notes and cardamom, saffron and nagarmotha being in the background. This will prepare you for the drydown of this scent.
When it arrives, and that happens after around 5-6 hours, it starts of really smoky. You can smell the mystic aroma reminiscent of burning woods (perhaps a myrrh facet) combined with the smell of incense – dark, smoked, airy but substantial. The high temperature of Myrrh Casati is slowly going down but it never becomes cold. The woody aroma arises from no-where, bringing the rugged, solid fragrance of wood and its resins. It’s the guaiac wood and it still has some elements of cypriol attached to it. In the end, there’s a patchouli accord, adding depth and dimension to the entire fragrance. Patchouli also introduces some earthy scent, typical for this perfume material. Good it’s not too strong.
When I smell Myrrh Casati on my skin, I imagine a desert. An empty desert with no life around, only dunes and sand and the heat. This perfume even smells at some point like a hot sand to me, which is really funny and it fits my imagery. For the entire day the desert is hot, just like this perfume. But when the Sun sets, it instantly cools down and that’s what happens with this Maison Mona di Orio creation at the late stage, it cools down. This perfume goes from the day to the night, it has Mona’s signature chiaroscuro effect and that is amazing.
Taking into consideration that Myrrh Casati was composed by perfumer Melanie Leroux it’s good to know that Jeroen managed to find a perfumer who was able to continue the legacy and style of Mona di Orio. The perfume was created in eau de parfum concentration and the new flacon has the capacity of 75 ml. It will be available in mid-October, pre-orders are already accepted at brand’s website. Myrrh Casati is a very good perfume. It won’t suit everyone because it has a very specific mood but it’s a really well done composition that has lots of character.