Eau Absolue – Mona Di Orio

So here I am still desperately trying to fall in love with something in the Mona Di Orio line up. I have to admit, Vetyver has my attention again and I’ll be sampling it more soon, after sniffing it from the bottle last time I was in London recently, I almost bought it on the spot! Maybe next time. I discussed with the shop assistant at Les Senteurs my issues with her base, and he insisted that Eau Absolue is the only fragrance that worked on his skin… so I thought it was worth a shot and grabbed a sample.

Eau Absolue Mona di Orio

I LOVE the muted citrus opening of Eau Absolue. It is a big citrus mashup of bergamot, lime, bitter orange rind, undercut already with a subtle animalic presence of castoreum. The castoreum here has the nutty/smoky quality of Cuir, only greatly toned down… it smells very old school and classical, almost dusty and aged. There’s also a hint of that vetiver from Vetyver underneath, bone dry and earthy – just how I like it! This citrus/vetiver combo thankfully doesn’t go all out fresh and scrubbed up, and is the closest I can imagine to a perfect citrus/vetiver combination to be honest – a structure I have always been put off by and avoided.

There’s some subtle herbal notes going on, I get mainly bay leaf, petit grain and a cooler geranium. The contrast between warm and cool is gorgeous, resulting in a fragrance that embraces you whilst smelling relatively fresh to a more inexperienced nose. There’s a hint of pink pepper, and as I write about it, it sounds totally plain and un-interesting… heck if I’d read this notes list, I’d have thought the same. The thing is, the execution is charming and totally unique – it doesn’t smell particularly complicated, but it’s balance is harmonious. I wish at times during the heart here, it pushed the animalic and now resinous base a little more, maybe even the vetiver, but then I forget that this IS a cologne-esque creation, and what’s underneath is awesome enough as it is.

The whole thing remains close to my skin and as smooth as perfume can be. The most wonderful part of the whole thing? I get absolutely none of that sulphurous, animalic vanilla that knocks me sick in Vanille (and to a lesser extent Vetyver). That stomach churning cream is nowhere in sight and I love it. What is there instead, is that quiet smoke of castoreum, a bitter stain of labdanum (that at times sweetens to a more golden amber) and a soft, masculine, woody base with vetiver. Throughout the heart there are hints of honeyed orange blossom and a touch of rose – sitting in a very light, but dense layer above the thick base. Eau Absolue is not a show stopping fragrance that is going to get you noticed, but if by any chance someone does catch a whiff of it, it doesn’t go through a single bad spell in its development and it’s undoubtedly captivating.

I find the restrained and refined performance of Eau Absolue pretty breathtaking actually, and I surprised myself even when I decided to review this in full – after a couple of quick passing sniffs, I dismissed this also – explored, it is gorgeous. Bizarrely, one of my favourite phases of Eau Absolue is the very end – it leaves on the skin a honeyed pollen stain, and one of the most refined honey notes I’ve ever smelt.
I think this could be the Mona Di Orio fragrance I need a full bottle of in my collection, and soon! <3

Eau Absolue 100ml EDP Mona Di Orio – £135 http://www.lessenteurs.co.uk

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4 thoughts on “Eau Absolue – Mona Di Orio

  1. Vanessa says:

    I had never heard of this one till I spotted your review and am now officially intrigued. I have better luck with this generation of Mona di Orios than the original releases, and always prick up my ears when something is mentioned as ‘restrained’ – I see that it also has a ‘refined’ honey note’ – sounds as though I might get on better with this than Hedonist’s peculiar twizzle…

    • I hadn’t paid any attention to it either before I got the sample! Seriously fell head over heels for it. It definitely doesn’t shout, and the honey DID remind me of Hedonist… but done RIGHT. I promise ;)
      The development of this is exceptional, it unfolds more overtly than any other fragrance I’ve ever sniffed. It develops from citrus, to herbal, to floral, to honey, to labdanum piece by piece. Gorgeous to wear – I’ll be picking it up on the 8th ;)

  2. Gen says:

    Honest descriptive critique, bravo freddie!
    Much as I admire mona di oro’s carefully constructed perfumes and fantastic bottles, oily, animallic castoreum is a huge issue for me. I find castoreum features in all her perfumes. And even when it’s not dominating, as your synopsis discusses, I sense I posess a hard wired sensitivity and dislike of castoreum.
    Well done freddie for having a second crack at Eau Absolu and delighting in the complexities and construction

    • Thank you so much Gen – yep I fell pretty hard for it and I feel I need to revisit her other work (especially Vetyver).. Vanille will never work for me because it’s her vanilla and resins I don’t like :(
      I can understand the dislike of castoreum, I personally love the note, and was a bit let down by Cuir which was pretty much just diluted castoreum with little else – nice enough, not worth the price! Eau Absolue however is a restrained, hugely elegant piece that I adore. Have you tried it then? I don’t find it dominating at all here, the final is sure an animalic labdanum, but yep, more labdanum than castoreum. All that honey, florals, citrus… sweet lord it’s beautiful.

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