The two most recent perfumes from Spanish perfumer Ramon Monegal are store exclusives. One is Dubai Next To Me (review coming soon, I promise) which you can only buy in Bloomingdales Dubai, and the other one is Very Private for Bergdorf Goodman. Like everyone else, I tend to grumble and kvetch when a much-desired perfume is unattainable (see Le Labo city exclusives), right until I'm traveling and visiting somewhere nice where I want to shop for something unique that I can't get anywhere else. I was pretty disappointed last time I was in Paris and Guerlain's flagship store had nothing I couldn't get from Bergdorf, Saks, or the Las Vegas boutique. So, yes, grumpiness aside, it does make sense for Bergdorf Goodman to have a fragrance exclusive to the store.
Ramon Monegal has most certainly delivered on the promise of an Upper East Side atmosphere. The inspiration is supposed to be Central Park in the spring, which at its best smells fresh and full of life, and its worst (as a very dear friend, a NYC native, commented the other day) smells like hot dogs. But a stroll in Central Park is often a part of leisurely shopping at Bergdorf (does anyone still leisurely shop at any of the 5th Avenue department stores? but that's a different rant). Delicate florals, crisp and tailored spring suits, ladies-who-lunch, the Bergdorf Blonde myth-- it's all here, and it's far out of my comfort zone.
The most dominant note in the opening of Ramon Monegal's Very Private is a watery lilac. It's sailing on the lake in Central Park, a cool breeze bringing the scent of a thousand trees and bushes blossoming all at once and hitting you in the face. This can be a problem because I can smell the cucumbery-melony facet of this light and fresh note, and normally I have a major problem with it. But here, despite the fact that I'm out of my element, I can appreciate the picture Mr. Monegal is painting. I get it. It's pretty. But considering what my skin is doing to the lilac, violet, and tea rose I'm not entirely sure I should be wearing it. But I do, because I can't stay away. Melon, lake water and all- I'm attracted to the image and to the fantasy. I might be wearing a perfume meant for someone else, so what? For a while I'm hiding my true self in this periwinkle-colored costume.
I recently acquired a bottle of 1960s Casaque by Jean d'Albret. It's a cool hyacinth and muguet little thing with a blonde vibe (and I'm really not into a "perfume for blondes/perfume for brunette" theory. It's just the kind of mental impression I get from certain fragrances, like they were composed with Grace Kelly in mind). Very Private smells nothing like Casaque, but they have that cool spring day on the Upper East Side thing in common, a certain daintiness that I enjoy despite myself, like borrowing someone else's life for the day.
The dry-down of Very Private makes it easier for me to settle for a picnic on the fresh green grass. It's a barely sweetened musk that still carries traces of purple blossoms and tender leaves. It sits rather nicely on my skin, and eventually gets a surprisingly sensual warmth. An hour into wearing the perfume I smell less like a curiosity and more like myself. I can finally relax into my own skin and truly enjoy the ride. This is not the first time Ramon Monegal takes a problematic concept and turns it on its head: Monegal's Pure Mariposa for Neiman Marcus, an ozonic floral could have been my worst nightmare and instead became a summery delight. Who needs a comfort zone, really?
Notes: citrus, fruity notes, tea rose, violet, lilac, orange blossom, oak moss, licorice, vanilla and musk.
Ramon Monegal- Very Private For Bergdorf Goodman ($270, 50ml EDP) is exclusive to the store but can also be ordered online. The press sample for this review was provided by the company.
Art: Central Park Spring by Peter Max, 2010.