Mona di Orio is a remarkable perfumer in many ways, and one whose progress we follow keenly. She is, firstly, a woman – something historically rare in the profession, though increasingly less so. She has propelled herself into a profession that is often quite closed through sheer passion and persuasion – she had no connection with the world of perfume until, aged 16 she wrote to one the most celebrated noses of the time, Edmond Roudnitska, and pleaded with him to meet her.
At 21 she started work in Rouditska’s laboratory and was apprenticed with him for many years. She grew into a perfume purist, and when her training was complete, found herself unable to make the classic move to one of the world’s larger perfume houses and all the boundaries and briefs that are a part of working within these companies.
She instead worked on creations that are entirely her own. She developed longstanding ideas that over the years she had mused on, toyed with, left and comeback to. She launched her eponymous line a couple of years ago with three scents, Lux, Carnation and Nuit Noire and it has grown to include Orio and, the latest masterpiece, Amyitis.
There is something refreshing about her old-school approach – a lost romanticism and poetry to her inspirations, and complexity to her scents. But an originality too that stops them from being too uncomfortably close in style to the perfumes of an older generation.
Amyitis is inspired by King Nebuchadnezzar’s queen, Amyitis, who was the daughter of the King of Medes, and as such came from a far greener, rugged land than that of her husband, Mesopotamia. It is said that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built by Nebuchadnezzar as a gift to his homesick queen.
Mona di Orio’s fragrance aims to interpret Amyitis’s garden with a harmonious balance of fresh green notes, setting off a heart of iris, gaic wood and cedar, with saffron, moss and amber at the base, all with a surprisingly light touch. It’s a far cry from some of the more prosaic olfactory inspirations of late, but is a restrospective approach we are happy to embrace.