A perfume should be able to speak for itself. But on some occasions, hearing its creator explain the logic behind its formulation adds considerable depth to how the scent is appreciated. Mona Di Orio's Vanille - one of four new additions to the Nombre D'Or line - is a case in point.
Anxious to steer away from more conventional interpretations of vanilla, Di Orio hit upon the idea of an old ship carrying spices between Europe and the east coast of Africa. In addition to the pods responsible for the world's favourite ice-cream flavour, the cargo would have included cloves, nutmeg and barrels of rum. The sailors would have eaten large quantities of bitter oranges to prevent the development of scurvy. And the ship itself would have been partially constructed from palo santo wood, the distillation of which provides the perfume industry with guaiac oil. Di Orio's intention was to harmonise these elements into a coherent whole, and I'm pleased to say that she's succeeded with commendable finesse.
The spices, the citrus fruit and the woody notes are all in evidence, seamlessly combined to create an effect that is subtle, luxurious and wholly surprising. Some may claim that the unmistakable scent of vanilla isn't sufficiently prominent in this composition to warrant the name Vanille, and there may be something in that argument. But there's no doubt that the effect of the vanilla absolute is all pervasive in the blend, imbuing the disparate elements - particularly the boozy, CO2 rum extract - with a well-judged dose of sensuous powderiness.
Vétyver and Tubéreuse - two other new Nombre D'Or entrants - may be more faithful in their representation of their eponymous materials, but Vanille gets my vote for its charming originality. Finely balanced and compelling, it may well be Di Orio's best work so far.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Mona Di Orio in 2011; fragrance tested on skin.]
For a chance to win a small sample of Vanille or Vétyver or Tubéreuse, please leave a comment on the subject of scented journeys.
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Give-Away Draw Terms & Conditions:
i) the draw will be open until 10 pm (UK time) on Thursday 7th July; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) if the winner has not made contact with me before Thursday 14th July in order to claim his/her prize, an alternative winner will be selected; iv) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; v) by entering the draw, you indicate that you are willing to pay customs charges (if applicable) and that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume / perfumery product posted from the UK; vi) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be sent; vii) the address of the winner will not be kept on record, nor will it be passed on to any third parties; viii) I take no responsibility for the composition of the perfume, as regards potential allergens and/or restricted materials.