Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Mysterious Case Of Mona Di Orio

The latest online kerfuffle among the perfume-obsessed centers around niche brand Mona do Orio. There were some speculations that the house is going out of business, as the bottles were pulled of the shelves and no longer available. On the other hand, Mona di Orio's web site is up, running and lists a new fragrance, Chamarre.

I emailed the Mona di Orio rep as well as Aedes, trying to figure it out. Karl from Aedes confirmed they will no longer carry the brand. Getting a direct answer from the house itself proved to be a bit harder. First, they tried claiming that some of their US retailers do have an online service and that I should look at the MdO website for details, and by the way, did I know they have a new perfume?

Seriously? Head, meet desk.

I sent a second email, pointing them to the fact that out of the three US retailers listed on the Mona di Orio website, two (Bergdorf and Aedes) have officially stopped carrying it, and the third, Spafumerie* in NYC, does not have e-commerce or any mention of MdO. That, at least, got them to admit that, indeed, Mona di Orio no longer has a US outlet. According to Jeroen Oude Sogtoen who corresponded with me, they are now searching for a good distributor.

So there you have it. Mona di Orio is still producing perfumes. It's the selling part that's gotten a bit tricky.

*Spafumerie NYC (on 2nd Ave and 48th st.) seems like a wonderful place worth checking. It's gotten rave reviews from recent visitors, but their website takes you back to 1996 when merchants had their nephews who knew a couple of HTML tags do a little website with a badly taken photo and horrible graphics.


  1. I should have known you would get to the bottom of things. I emailed the Mona di Orio people, as well, but they didn't respond -- probably because I asked them where I could specifically find their brand online in the U.S.

    And you stole my thunder -- I was going to write a post about Mona di Orio possibly going out of business to accompany photos of the bottle of Nuit Noire I managed to snag from Aedes before it was all gone . . . !

    Well, now I can link to your blog post, which has a far more definitive answer than anything I managed to scrounge up.

  2. What is going on in that photo? The model's wrist looks raw, as if the perfume ate away her flesh. That can't be the image they were going for, is it?

  3. Nathan, it was pretty hard to get a straight answer from MdO. Their first email was utterly bewildering, especially since one would assume they'd like to make it very clear that they're still in business.

  4. Brava, I can only assume it was meant to be liquid gold. Hopefully it looked better as a print ad.

  5. I've had similar bewildering experiences before -- contacting fragrance houses to be met with either the cold shoulder or else utter gibberish.

    I'm often, like, "Wha? Don't you WANT people to buy your product?"

  6. It's not limited to fragrance houses. On several occasions I've contacted cosmetics companies with questions about distribution, formulation or ingredient lists and was ignored. Other times, I contacted companies at readers request because they hoped as a blogger I might be able to get some answers. Success varied, which shows how some comapnies are still light years behind.

  7. I share Gaia's bewildering : I'm one of those, who often contact cosmetic/perfume companies for ingredients or other info. And it's not even the fact that they don't want to share the info with me, but the way the say it, the cold shoulder thing. You really have to insist, write 3-4 times, and then you have the feeling they give away some info, just becasue they lost the patience with you....

    BTW, it's nothing to do with MdO, but last week I saw a top from D.v.Furstenberg, named Gaia - isn't it amazing ?!

  8. I know that Spafumerie is carrying her line . I sniffed them there in April .
    Joe and his staff would be happy to answer questions if you call them .
    Tel: 212 644-9525
    Email: [email protected] Fax: 212 644-9529

  9. Also , I have met Mona and she is a lovely passionate parfumeur who struggles with her English . She would be very distressed to know our community thinks she is going out of business !!
    I'm e-mailing Joe now , maybe he will post here and clear this up !!

  10. Joe Garces answered me immediately :

    Hi Carol ,
    We still carry Mona's line.
    Thank you

  11. Lady Jane, I saw that DVF top! Too bad it's a beach cover-up and not something I really need. I would have loved to own a "Gaia by DVF" item (and considering my devotion for the line, I so desreve to have a wrap dress or something named after me!).

  12. Carol, thank you so much for contacting Joe and providing the extra info. I hope he'll consider doing something with the web site and actually selling online.

    I've heard many nice things about Mona and it's such a shame that she and her line are not getting the attention they deserve because of marketing incompetency.

  13. Right, and what's with MdO not selling their product on their own website?

    If you're having trouble with distribution, and no one else is carrying your work online, then put it up for sale online yourself -- that shouldn't be difficult to understand.

    A website without a webshop is distressingly 20th century.

  14. Exactly. They should take lessons from Ormonde Jayne who makes it so easy for the customers.

    I have a sample of Chamarre coming in and I'm deading falling in love with it. I guess I can call Joe at Spafumerie and ask if he's going to have it in stock. But that's not how I like to do my shopping.

  15. Gaia, I love your blog - which I discovered a few months ago on a certain afternoon when I was trying on (about all) my samples of Serge Lutens' perfumes in the search of my next one from him. I wear Daim Blond and was leaning towards Fumerie Turque or Bornéo, but was opened to all possibilities really. So here I was sniffing here and sniffing there and trying to find some new spots on my arms to apply the promising scents.

    I think it was you who made me discover "layering" which was not so much a surprise as I was already thinking that maybe something like "Rahät Loukoum" which was perhaps a big too sugary for me - even though I was looking for very different perfumes from what I used to wear - was indeed very interesting next to "Fleurs d'Oranger" (for as you well know there's only so much skin you can find on a person's arms). So what if one were to put two different perfumes ? I just wouldn't have dared putting one on top of the other.

    I also discovered here @ The Non Blonde as well as on one of your friends' blog (Perfume Shrine, great Vetiver Series) Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and got so curious I went avenue Victor Hugo to smell those. (I'm French and living in Paris).

    Left the shop with two samples and fell so madly in love with "Vétiver Extraordinaire" - although I also love "Musc Ravageur" but this one is a bit similar to what I usually wear - that I'm planning to buy it even before buying my next Lutens - and at that point I was contemplating buying MKK, I just wasn't sure if I should buy another more classic Lutens before that...

    I'm posting this long introduction here because the other day I heard Mona Di Orio on the radio, I caught the programme in the middle heard they were talking perfumes, it seemed really interesting and I went to the website to see who it was that was talking. I did not know Mona Di Orio then, so I figured I might get some answers from you about the perfumes, and you had just posted this. Now of course I am very curious about the perfumes, I will definitely go and smell those !

    The show was on Wednesday 29, I am putting the link here for the people who can understand French can listen to it for still another week I think.

    Mona Di Orio sur France CultureThanks,


  16. Anne, thank you so much for taking the time and write this thoughtful comment and for the link. I'm giving myself the daily kick for never learning French (probably my biggest regret in life). I'm missing on too much because of it. Hopefully, other readers would enjoy it.

    I'm very fond of Mona di Orio's perfumes. They must be tested on skin and not on a paper strip- they smell weird and almost jarring on paper. But once they're on skin and start blooming they come alive. Carnation might be my favorite as I have a thing for skin scents, but all of them are worth checking. I'm eagerly waiting for the new sample.

    As for Papa Serge and layering, I see a detailed post on this subject in my near future (the Salon du Palais Royal might send an assassin after me). The scents are, of course, magnificent individually. I guess I layer them as a form as accessorizing, if that makes any sense. Just like I choose shoes, jewelry and a purse to make an outfit, Lutens perfumes have this special quality that makes them go well together. So expect a post about my favorite combinations.

    By the way, I share your love of Vetiver Extraordinaire, even if my husband mistakenly thinks the bottle belongs to him ;) .

    Thank you for introducing yourself. I love hearing from my readers and getting to know someone from one of my favorite cities is always extra special.

  17. Gaia,

    I tried to listen to the program after I had put the link but it did not work so I downloaded the podcast and I just put the file for sharing @ mediafire.

    So anyone who wants to listen to it can do that by clicking here.

    The interview is really interesting. (It is mostly the first half hour.)

    They start the conversation on how the vocabulary related to perfumes is largely derived from music (at least in French it is) or other arts, and that there is not a specific vocabulary for perfumes, probably because smell was not considered as noble as other senses.

    Then Mona di Orio speaks about her work as an independant composer of perfumes who is lucky to be able to make everything she wants since she does not have to follow a brief telling her to create something starting like that perfume with the middle notes of that other one and the finishing notes of yet that third one for a young brown haired woman who would be 20 to 30. (Apparently the main brands seem to be targeting young women with brown hair...)

    She's then totally free to put whatever ingredients she wants in her perfumes regardless of the price (just what Frederic Malle will tell his "noses" I understand). "Chamarré" will cost 90 euros for 50 ml. (By comparison, since I am using euros, this is the same price as "En Passant" & "Lipstick Rose" @ Frédéric Malle and the Lutens @ The Palais Royal are 110 euros for 75 ml.)

    She tells about how she will compose a perfume and she speaks about the latest one "Chamarré".

    "Chamarré" was at first a perfume she had created for a friend of hers, her associate who lives in Amsterdam, and a lot of people were curious about that perfume, loved it and remarked how it was not in the Mona Di Orio line so he told her she should make one like that one but not exactly like it because he wanted his own to remain unique.

    She also says that every creator of perfumes will have some favorite ingredients and one of hers is vétyver and she always puts some in her creations.

    As I said it is all very interesting, and it made me even more curious to go and try on the perfumes. From the descriptions and elements in them I am especially looking forward to trying "Lux", "Nuit noire" and "Carnation". And of course "Chamarré".

    As for "layering" the Lutens perfumes, I agree that they are amazing individually but I think I understand how someone like you who is so into scents and smells would want to try and mix some. I am guessing you must be particularly sensitive to the smallest variations and perhaps "layering" is a way to add some complexity, also a way to discover new facets of a particular perfume. I also think that with experience you might want to add new depths to a perfume. Also it is obvious that your memory of smells is highly active - unlike most people - and you might become more and more difficult as to what you might want to smell like. Have you ever contemplated having your own perfume created ? Because it seems to me that people who are so into scents and perfumes would naturally tend to that.

    (And I do not think you should fear too much for any lurking assassin since I remember telling the sales woman @ The Salons du Palais Royal that I had read about perfume addicts "layering" and she was very aware of that and seemed to think it quite ok.)

    But your post should definitely be interesting.

    And I'll stop there because I think I am already being way too long.


  18. Anna, having a bespoke perfume made for me is definitely on my list. I have yet to decide on a perfumer, but I have some thoughts on this. My only reservation is I might feel I'm cheating on my perfume whenever I'll be wearing something else (which would be often. That's just how I am). But I want that special scent that was made for me only and suits me perfectly. The closest I get now is L'air du desert Marocain by Andy Tauer.

  19. You know I discovered Andy Tauer on your blog and his perfumes have since been on my "Wow, I so want to try this" list !

    And I think a lot of your readers are looking forward to read about your personal odyssey in the land of custom made perfumes...


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