Sunday, February 16, 2014

Masque Milano- Montecristo

Do you ever get The Look from people, strangers and not,  who get caught in your sillage? The Look is a typical reaction of the L'Eau d'Issey wearer to stuff from MKK to vintage Mitsouko. They're usually  trying to be polite, unlike the group of teenagers who rode the Barnes & Noble escalator behind me that time I left the house wearing a pin-drop of an especially feral moukhalat. I can't imagine the reaction of an average perfume buyer to Montecristo by new(ish) perfume house Masque Milano. I just can't. This is not the perfume to wear in close quarters with the uninitiated, because you will get The Look, I guarantee.

There are too many perfume brands and too many perfumes on the market. Very few of them offer anything new, even fewer come up with anything exciting that gets added to my "Must.Get.Bottle.Now" list. I just ordered my third sample set of Masque Milano perfumes, but I already know that Montecristo is going to be in my life from now on. Because it's that good. That sexy. That fascinating.

As you've probably figured out by now, Montecristo is an unabashedly animalic perfume. The main culprits are two: ambrette seed with its expensive but unwashed musky vibe, and hyrax or hyraceum, which is basically fossilized pee of a cute rodent (completely cruelty free). The complexity of this animalic combination is mind boggling. It reminds me of really good civet, gorgeous intimate musk, the dirtiest part of exquisite oud, and a general air of debauchery. But wearing Montecristo is not an exercise in trying to find the most obnoxious perfumes to shock your in-laws (that can be an amusing side-effect, though). While Montecristo is, indeed, dirty and slightly sweaty (cumin isn't listed anywhere, but I swear I can smell traces about four hours into its wear-time) , it's also warm, very boozy, leathery and intimate. It holds you close and tells you its interesting life story all through the night, and there are so many amusing anecdotes from years of traveling and visiting the seedier parts of Europe, that winter so many years ago in Paris with some real characters, his friends Jojo and Pierre... you really should have been there.

Montecristo is still there the next morning. The mysterious strangers has left when you dozed off for just a second and you're not sure you actually caught his name. But the perfume lingers until you wash it off, and the memory will remain for a long long time.

Notes: Cabreuva, Ambrette Seeds, Hyrax, Rum, Tobacco Leaves, Celery Seeds, Cistus, Benzoin, Styrax Gum, Gaiac Wood, Cedar Wood, Patchouli.

Montecristo by Masque Milano ($215, 100ml) is available from Luckyscent.

Photo of Jacques Brel from somewhere around the web. I think it was actually the cover of one of his albums.


  1. This is one of my all time favorite reviews of yours. From "The Look" to your very funny "life story" description. I think I really must try this fragrance!

  2. I love when perfume takes me on a journey. Thank you so much for taking me on you yours. It was fantastic! This is definitely on my must-try list.


  3. Great review! Animalic, slightly sweaty, very boozy, leathery - wow, I'm sold! Any one of those descriptive adjectives you used rank extremely high on my list of things that make me happy in a perfume - put them all together and I'm in total olfactory heaven.
    And regarding the super clean scent lovers in the US who give anyone wearing retro or animalic scents The Look - I always wonder what they feel when they travel or if they even travel at all. Are they able to enjoy the often wonderfully pungent and/or diverse scents in other places around the world? Or do they cover their noses and race back to the sanctuary of clean, homogenized hotels? Encountering diverse smells has been one of the great joys of my life in living or traveling outside of the US (and in the US as well, of course, although I've not traveled as much here). I guess I basically feel really out of sync with people who need to always be surrounded by sanitized smells.

  4. Agreed, great review - one of my favorites from you. Thank you for introducing me to this scent. I've gotten a sample and it really is the definition of "nice fragrance".


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