Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mona di Orio Chamarre (and more disturbing news)

The good news is that Chamarré, the new perfume from Mona di Orio, is quite lovely and doesn't have the disturbing opening found in so many of Di Orio's scents*. The bad news is that if you're in the USA, there's no way to buy it (unless one of the few remaining European distributors is willing to ship).

The even worse news is that the only place that still carries the Mona di Orio line here, Spafumerie (2nd Ave. and 48th st, NYC. A must-visit destination), will not be getting Chamarré and according to the SA with whom I spoke today, is most likely to stop offering the other MdO perfumes. The reason? It's a hard sell. Customers just don't get it and are unwilling to give the fragrances the time of the day once they smell the unpleasant opening. The store still has a few bottles of the older perfumes (Lux, Nuit Noire, Carnation, Amyitis and Oiro) and the scented candles, but as of right now, they would not be getting any more.

But back to Chamarre. The opening is very friendly with a burst of lavender and clary sage. The official notes also include aldehyde, but this isn't what you expect from an aldehydic perfume- the ghosts of No. 5 and Arpege are definitely not here. There's just a light and airy burst that keeps the lavender from smelling like a traditional cologne. The first time I wore Chamarre, it made me think of the top notes in Tauer's Reverie, but it might have been just a craving on my side, as the perfumes are nothing alike, despite the herbal aspect.

As the opening wears off, Chamarré becomes much more of a skin scent. The florals are powdery and subdued, I get more violet than rose and it all dries down into an almost fuzzy, nubby texure. It has a musky presence, and just like in Carnation, the result is more than a little carnal. The effect has also reminded me of Frederic Malle's Dans tes Bras (sans earth and mushrooms), though Chamarré is brighter.

I wish Chamarré had a better sillage and was longer lasting. After three hours one risks a neck injury from the nose-to-cleavage action (there was nothing left on my wrists). The leftover scent on my clothes reveals a warm and dry violet, elegant and not too rich. I'm starting to think of is as a violet scent the more I wear it, probably for this reason. My husband tried it once and found it pleasant enough and men-friendly, but nothing to rock his socks. I like it quite a bit and think it could have been more popular than the other di Orio perfumes (personally, I still prefer Carnation), if not for the little problem of marketing and availability.

As I've mentioned in my previous post on the subject, Mona di Orio perfumes are no longer sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Aedes in NYC. If I understand correctly, the problem is not limited to the US and other European distributors have also removed the line from the shelves, though unlike the USA situation it is not confirmed. Liberty London only has Lux, Nuit Noire and Oiro, but Les Senteurs actually has Chamarré in stock, which is a very good sign. If any of my readers know more details, please comment. The MdO web site does not have e-commerce at this time (why? You'd think they'd learn something from Ormonde Jayne, Andy Tauer, Vero Kern and many others. It's not that complicated). It's sad how such a deserving line is getting lost not because of quality, but because of poor marketing and communication from the house and mostly an oversight when it comes to the house's biggest and best potential fan base.

The perfume enthusiasts are online. We read (and write) blogs. We post on message boards and join Facebook groups. We email , we Twit and most of all: we shop online. That is, if you let us.

*My husband's intitial reaction to Nuit Noire on a scent strip was "vile". Then I sprayed it on and he agreed it was beautiful and sexy. Take that, Luca Turin.

Art: Violet Nude by John Keaton


  1. "We read (and write) blogs. We post on message boards and join Facebook groups. We email , we Twit and most of all: we shop online. That is, if you let us."

    You hit that nail so square on the head, I'm not certain it will ever recover.

  2. Hear, hear! (I hope they do.)

  3. Also wanted to comment on the scent strip vs. spraying on skin situation you mentioned regarding Nuit Noire -- Turin and Sanchez do test fragrances on scent strips.

    For example, from Turin's review for Cabaret by Gres: "Given Cabaret’s fugly bottle and Grès’s
    recent Marlene Dietrich series, I was ready for the
    worst. Ten seconds after putting it on a strip, I was
    smiling beatifically . . . "

    Once I discovered that (some/many/a lot?) of their reviews are based off of sniffing at strips of paper rather than testing on themselves, some of their wildest headscratchers became self-explanatory.

    It might also explain why he found the Mona di Orio series so vile. They don't smell great on a scent strip, but turn into another creature entirely when applied to the skin.

  4. Les Senteurs ship to the U.S. Not perfect, I know, but the low pound makes such a purchase viable right now for you yankeedoodles.


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