Tag Archives: Fredrik Dalman

Castle Made of Sand, Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea

Books about mysterious lands, people who lived there & their doings are among my favorites when it comes to reading, especially if some magic is involved in the storyline. While most authors create landscapes of cities, countries or continents with their pure imagination, some of the mythical places & civilizations were once more than real… Thought maybe not seen by many. Like Petra, a city carved in sandstone, that became the cradle of the Kingdom of Nabataea. Trade routes of that place and legacy of its people are now being reflected in new fragrance by Maison Mona di Orio.


Calm is the word I would use to describe the opening of Santal Nabataea and it would be the most misleading word I could use.  Because once the perfume accommodates on skin, it reveals a prominent accord of black pepper. Warm & quiet for the first couple of seconds it becomes a vibrant ingredient in no time. Realistic spiciness and a twist of freshness that it has in the back smell as if someone crushed a peppercorn right in front of you. It has that slightly metallic pungency that goes right inside your sinuses, fills your nose with its aroma and make you exhale slowly, with content.

After a few minutes a peppery edge of Santal Nabataea becomes softer and other notes start to emerge. Fruity facet appears at that time but its smell is very unusual. It is apricot, but the juiciness and soft, fuzzy skin of a fresh fruit have been replaced by more dusty, tangy and less lactonic smells – an interpretation of a dried apricot. Less appealing in appearance but richer in flavor. A bit of tartness that is somewhere distant in the background could be associated with black currant leaf mentioned by brand but I’ll cut my speculations here since its role is minor for me.


Heart of Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea is filled with a floral scent that is quite abstract to my nose, therefore difficult to describe with words. It’s like a combination of something like rose, honeysuckle and waxy leaves. The smell I get is sweet and has powdery nuances. Looking at the composition I’m guessing that this is how oleander smells like. I don’t know many fragrances that would use it, hence my problems in describing it properly. Probably the fact that when I smell it I get sort of an overlay of black pepper and some resinous ingredient over the oleander accord. My perception is disturbed.

Resinous facet that I just mentioned becomes more defined as time goes by. Opoponax, as that’s what it is, introduces a balmy, gently honeyed vibe to Santal Nabataea. Followed by a smoked woody facet the perfume becomes more mysterious and enigmatic. I really like this charred wood impression as it adds more dimension to the blend opening up the ‘space’ it creates around the wearer with its sillage. When sandalwood joins the composition it instantly makes a statement – it created a ‘stand still’ moment in which anything else stops to matter and santal steals the show.


Sandalwood of Santal Nabatea isn’t like a varnished furniture piece that has a glossy surface and expensive look. Experience it gives is more raw – more realistic because of that. Imagine a cupboard in which you keep some little chunks of sandalwood. Their scent fills the space inside of a drawer and as soon as you open it the fragrance pours into the room. And there’s also a sack of coffee beans inside. Twist to the drydown of new Mona di Orio perfume that I love is when an impression of clay smell appears. It gives a whole new vibe to the scent. Mineral, incensy and moist. Love it!

When I first tried Santal Nabataea it was one day during summer and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I made a note that I should try it again once the summer is over. So I did and I totally fell in love with this Maison Mona di Orio new creation. I’m truly amazed how original and interesting it is. Plus added bonus in form of meeting brand’s in-house perfumer Fredrik Dalman in Florence made me appreciate Santal Nabataea even more. If you love sandalwood it’s a must-try. Hopefully you’ll find it as unusual as I did. It comes in EdP concentration, in 75 ml flacon and 10 ml travel spray.

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Memory of friendship, Mona di Orio Dõjima

As life goes on things around us change, people that surround us change and most importantly we change as well. Some changes are hard to live with, but in the end they make us stronger. When Mona di Orio passed away her business partner & friend Jeroen Oude Sogtoen didn’t give up. He didn’t let the legacy of Mona die, it lives on through the perfumes she made and there’s a bit of her soul in every fragrance composed by a different perfumer for this brand. Maybe I don’t have as close relationship with this maison de parfum but I keep in mind to try new things they are offering. One of the two perfumes launched in 2017 smells to me as a memory of an old friend or a diary page.

At first allow me to say that I am not much into fragrances with ‘edible’ notes. I can handle some vanilla, caramel or toffee but to me there’s a distinct difference between gourmand scent and actual foody scent. That’s why I was afraid to try Dõjima until the very end. Lucky me that this fear vanished with the first attempt to trying it on skin. It’s true that it opens with a prominent scent of rice but it doesn’t smell like a rice cooker (I experienced that in other perfume & it was bad). It smells much more like a rice pudding – slow boiled and with bunch of other ingredients to add more flavor.

Apart from the rice accord that feels gently warm on the skin & that has some hidden creaminess that will come forth later, Dõjima hides some spicy elements underneath a top layer. After 5 minutes this impression becomes stronger and at that point the presence of nutmeg is revealed. It combines dry, woody and spicy elements but it also feels fresh as if it was grated only a moment ago. The perfume feels soft and very round from the beginning but becomes even rounder after some time. It develops some familiar smoothness that gives a new dimention to this perfume creation.


Good news to us all – Dõjima has some iris that in my opinion brings a lot of difference. It’s very creamy, with buttery hints and little floral nuances. It blends well with rice accord. Now it really smells like a pudding. There’s some sweetness to it but not a lot. Nexr hour or two show how notes can rotate and entwine with each other as they form various facets. Afterwards there comes a time when this new Mona di Orio scent becomes more powdery. Blend of iris and rice powder is quite loose at first but gains substantivity when sandalwood joins the composition to make it creamier again.

Sandalwood in Dõjima is smooth and more lightweight but its not lacking density and character. There is a term for that and I think it suits here perfectly. It’s a woody pudding. I also catch some whiffs of vanilla although it’s not mentioned by the brand as an official note. As different elements twirl around there’s a brief moment of sunny, radiant amber emanating from this fragrance. As time passes Dõjima becomes more musky. It becomes enveloping like a soft & fluffy blanket. Musk tries to add more volume and fuzziness to it but ambrette makes it smaller and more elegant. In the end there’s a minimal touch of labdanum that feels like a silk veil of sensuality. Like a cherry on top.

Dõjima after my initial fear turned out to be a very positive surprise & I’m glad the turn of events allowed me to like it. It’s definitely a cozy, warm, enveloping fragrance that can do its magic when it’s colder so perhaps it’s more suited for autumn/winter time and not for coming spring. The fragrance was developed for Mona di Orio by Swedish perfumer Fredrik DalmanDõjima has a small projection but it lingers on the skin in a quiet manner for a greater part of the day. It’s concentrated at eau de parfum level and is available in 10 ml travel spray (singular or set of 3) and in 75 ml flacon.

[note] featured photophraphy (cropped) belongs to Roberto Greco. Check out his awesome work!

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