Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Vanille (Les Nombres d`Or Collection)

Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red), 1949. Source: The Guggenheim Museum.

Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red), 1949. Source: The Guggenheim Museum.

There is something strangely captivating about Vanille from the highly admired perfume house of Mona di Orio. Vanille is part of Les Nombres d`Or Collection, and it is not your standard vanilla at all. Actually, the best way to sum up the perfume Vanille might be through analogy to the work of the famous painter, Mark Rothko, with his “Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red) 1949.” Like that painting, the perfume starts out as blood-red orange — and I mean that quite literally. Then, it turns into orange with the merest hints of yellow, before slowly transforming into creamy custardy yellow, custardy yellow on a darker, smoky, woody base, and, finally, into the palest of cream.

I wasn’t a fan of the blood-orange phase, and found Vanille’s opening to be almost a little nauseating, but the middle to end phases captured my interest. Almost against my will, I might add. Those of you who have read me for any amount of time know that I like neither very sweet perfumes nor gourmand ones. But, again, this is not your standard vanilla perfume. You might even argue that it is an Oriental-Gourmand hybrid at times, and one which merely happens to be heavily based on raw, concentrated vanilla. In the end, and taken as a whole, Mona di Orio Vanille was not my personal cup of tea, but I would definitely recommend it to those who adore non-traditional vanilla fragrances.

Mona di OrioThe company’s website explains the inspiration and character of the perfume, with a key point about how their key note differs from that used in some other vanilla perfumes:

When composing Vanille, Mona di Orio imagined a romantic back story involving an old ship from long ago, on its way to Madagascar or the Comoros Islands, carrying precious cargo: rum barrels, oranges, vanilla beans, ylang-ylang, cloves and sandalwood …
Gourmand, smoky, and boozy with a subtle aromatic orange note lingering in the background, Vanille is one Bateau Ivre of perfectly blended notes that will derange your senses with its sensuality.Vanille opens with a shot of rum flavoured with orange rind and spiced with cloves. Amber and tonka further warm up this brew as ylang-ylang’s sharp sweetness joins with rich vanilla. Gaiac wood adds incensey smoke as woody notes from vetyver and sandalwood help to create an elegant finish.

But the real star of the show, not surprisingly, is vanilla. Instead of using ethyl vanillin, one of vanilla’s main components that can come across as powdery and sugary, di Orio used pure vanilla in this elixir. For a moment — amid this elegant orchestral arrangement of notes in the key of Vanilla — the pulpy, sensual creaminess of a split vanilla bean is right there in front of your nose. Delicious!

The exact notes are as follows:

Bitter Orange from Brazil, Rhum Absolute, Petitgrain, Clove, Vanilla from Madagascar, Tolu [Balsam, a resin], Gaiac Wood, Vetyver, Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, Tonka Bean, Leather, Musk, Amber.

"The Orange Album - Abstract Art, Custom Painting, Imagery" by Bob Shelley at CustomMade.com

“The Orange Album – Abstract Art, Custom Painting, Imagery” by Bob Shelley at CustomMade.com

Vanille opens on my skin with a veritable explosion of orange in every form and variation possible. There is what feels like the most concentrated form of floral orange blossom, along with loads of highly sweetened blood orange, browned and very bitter petitgrain, and rummy Bourbon. This is orange to the Nth degree — sometimes blood-red in nature; heavily dark twig-brown; sometimes rum-like orange-brown, and always sweet. So, so sweet. Frankly, I’m a little overwhelmed.

Orange blossom is not listed in the notes but it is one of the most prominent notes to my nose during those opening minutes. Mona di Orio Vanille doesn’t feel like pulpy, orange or citrus fruits, but more like a combination of neroli and petitgrain. It has an oddly buttery feel to it — and I’m talking about actual melted butter. There are also touches of gaiac wood, the merest suggestion of cloves, and strong vetiver, all over a dry, smoky, vanilla base with cups of bitter petitgrain, and galloping gallons of Bourbon.

Bourbon is an American type of whiskey that is extremely sweet, and tinged with the wood from the charred-oak caskets in which it is aged. The alcohol note in Vanille has been compared to rum but, to me, it’s more akin to the woody, smoked aspect of sweet Bourbon. And it is such a huge part of the opening that the only way to really describe it all is to coin a new word: Bourbon-ized. Every note in the perfume is coated with Bourbon, but the main thrust is bourbonized orange blossom.

Vanilla BeansAfter about 5 minutes, the perfume starts to shift a little. Vanilla starts to rise to the surface. It is just like a freshly sliced vanilla pod; rich, raw, custardy, and potent. It immediately impacts the other notes, softening the orange blossom and taming the bitter petitgrain to something a little less sharp. It serves to alleviate some of the heavier aspects of the perfume that were, to me, unbearably cloying. And, with every passing moment, the sweetness drops — matched by a converse rise in the fragrance’s dry notes.

Less than fifteen minutes into the perfume’s development, Mona di Orio Vanille begins to turn into something much more nuanced and balanced. The pepper, smoke and woody notes appear (much to my relief) in a more individually distinct form. The gaiac wood is backed by the merest suggestion of cloves and earthy vetiver, but it is the slow, quiet, almost muted suggestion of smokiness in the background that I prefer. The perfume is still incredibly potent, rich and heavy, but it is not a cupcake sugariness or something that is purely gourmand. However, it is still far, far too rich for those who like airy, gauzy, sheer perfumes.

Clarified butter.

Clarified butter. Source: Sodahead.com

The note which perplexes me is something that definitely evokes the aroma of melted, clarified butter. I cannot explain it, but it is inescapable. I’ll tell you a brief story of my experience the other day. I planned to test the perfume, opened the vial to give it a sniff, but, then, suddenly, realised the time and that I had to go to my book club meeting. Unbeknownst to me, I must have gotten faint traces of Vanille on my fingers. Well, for the next two hours, I kept asking my hostess, “What is that smell of melted butter and vanilla?” She looked at me blankly, especially as I kept sniffing the air, my shirt, and parts of her kitchen like some sort of crazy person. I thought it may have been one of her hot, very buttered rolls that she had out, but it didn’t smell anything like the aroma that was haunting me. Finally, I realised that the scent came from two of my fingers. It was Mona di Orio’s Vanille. And, I’m telling you, it was just like the most concentrated form of highly sweetened, pure vanilla extract in a saucepan of bright yellow, sweet cream, Bourbon butter, with a touch of orange petitgrain. The note was there during both of my two, full tests of the perfume — and I really didn’t like it. Something about it called to mind the large canisters of cloying, heavy, butter oil that American movie cinemas use on popcorn.

Forty minutes into the development of the perfume, Mona di Orio Vanille is a strong vanilla custard with buttered Bourbon, followed by orange blossom, and muted hints of smoke and wood. On me, both the clove note and the dry, wood, smoke combination are significantly less than what others on Fragrantica and elsewhere have reported. Then, things start to get interesting. There is the merest whiff of ylang-ylang which just grows stronger as the time passes.

Less than 90 minutes in, the perfume becomes a wonderfully balanced, mellow, smooth, floral vanilla custard. The vanilla is still the dominant note, but it is tinged with airy ylang-ylang. The creaminess of the vanilla is perfectly complemented by the custardy, banana-like aspects of the flower which is, itself, balanced by its sheerness and lightness. Underneath it all, there are whispers of orange blossom, woods and vetiver. The buttery note is much more muted now (thank God), and the perfume feels significantly less opaque, gooey and unctuously sweet. In fact, even the sillage has dropped to a perfect amount, projecting in such a small cloud around you.

I started to smile and sniff my arm with some enthusiasm exactly two and a half hours in, when the sandalwood appeared. Creamy, soft, luxurious, rich sandalwood was intertwined sinuously with the vanilla, creating a silky, smooth, wonderfully blended scent. There were some mysteriously tantalizing hints of smoke and woodiness in the background that made Vanille seem a little more like an Oriental/Gourmand hybrid than a purely gourmand one. It’s almost as if there is some incense note but, like the clove one before it, it’s far from prominent on my skin. I still wouldn’t go so far as to call Vanille an incense-vanilla fragrance the way so many others do, but it is a lovely, subtle touch at this stage.

For reasons I can’t quite explain, Mona di Orio Vanille makes me think of Serge LutensUn Bois Vanillé which I like quite a bit. It’s a peculiar thought as they actually aren’t very alike. Mona di Orio’s perfume is monumentally richer, stronger, deeper, thicker, and more Oriental with its floral and smoky touches. The Lutens is milkier, creamier, with almond, licorice, light coconut, and honey. No flowers or buttered Bourbon at all. And the vanilla never feels raw, like concentrated pod paste as it does here with the Mona di Orio. However, Un Bois Vanillé does share the guaiac wood and sandalwood notes which combine with the vanilla to create a definitely smoky, woody, vanilla feel at certain stages — even if it is substantially lighter and milder. Perhaps the similarity in my mind stems from the fact that I haven’t encountered a lot of woody vanilla-sandalwood fragrances, as opposed to purely dessert and cupcake ones (which I despise).

Mark Rothko. "No. 14-10 Yellow Greens."

Mark Rothko. “No. 14-10 Yellow Greens.”

As the perfume starts the dry-down phase, a little over six hours later, Mona di Orio Vanille turns into a tonka vanilla perfume with sandalwood, quiet amber, a touch of wood, and subtle orange notes lurking in the background. It’s sheer, soft, and pleasant. In its final moments, about 9.5 hours, it’s really just simple tonka with some amorphous, lightly musked, woody note. All in all, Vanille lasted just short of 10 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. It was a strong perfume throughout much of its early development, but the sillage went from heavy to moderate by the second hour, then dropped further as the perfume progressed. It became a skin scent around the fifth hour.

The comments on Fragrantica are all over the place for Mona di Orio Vanille. The majority absolutely love it, calling it a well-balanced, smoky vanilla with lots of wood. A number find the opening to be unpleasant; a large number call the fragrance a dirty, complex vanilla that is their favorite; some compare the vanilla note to that in Dior‘s Addict; and a handful comment on how it is essentially “Rum, rum, rum. I hope you like rum, because…rum.” There are scattered statements here or there on how parts of the perfume are stomach-churning or “nearly nauseating.” I would bet you anything that it’s the Bourbonized butter and orange combination that the commentators are finding to be excessively cloying. I certainly felt queasy myself.

Yet, one of the bloggers whom I respect — The Non-Blonde — really adored this fragrance and you may find parts of her review to be instructive:

Vanille is reasonably sweet and somewhat ambery, but the main thing that’s amplified on my skin and tales me on some serious ride is sandalwood. Sandalwood like I haven’t smelled in ages: deep exotic and spicy as well as creamy. It’s a very posh cousin of the chai-sandalwood blend from Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.

Vanille progresses from slightly boozy and intoxicating to smooth and mysterious. There’s no question about sex-appeal: this would get you sniffed and followed around. The vanilla is woven into every stage of the development and belongs there, be it as part of hot toddy, a treasured spice in a craved wooden box or a rare incense that sends you off on a fantasy journey. 

If I had experienced as much sandalwood and incense on my skin as she seems to have done, I may have been a little more bowled over by the fragrance. I am certain, however, that I would still have enormous difficulty with the opening two hours. I’ve got some more of the Vanille (yet again) on my arm as we speak, and I simply cannot handle the Bourbon butter.

How you feel about Mona di Orio Vanille will really depend on how you feel about the main note, and gourmand fragrances as a whole. Those who love truly sweet, fully dessert-like fragrances may find it not to be sweet enough. This is no simple, uncomplicated Bath & Body Works vanilla. Those who enjoy the note in conjunction with other things may really appreciate this non-traditional, smoky woods and orange version of things. And those who are like me — who love spiced Orientals or super-charged florals, who wouldn’t go out of their way to experience a vanilla scent, and who eschew sweetness in any significant degree — may enjoy parts of the Mona di Orio, but not the whole. I definitely can’t see them being wow’ed enough by the overall experience to want a full bottle of it, especially as it costs $230. There are, however, different sizes and pricing options that may make Mona di Orio Vanille more accessible for those who adore their vanilla.

As a side note, this fragrance is absolutely nothing like Guerlain‘s Spiritueuse Double Vanille. Two very different kettles of fish. It’s been a long time since I smelled Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise, but, going on my memory of it, I don’t think the Goutal is similar, either. Despite deploying an incense twist on vanilla, it’s not as rich as the Mona di Orio, has much less concentrated vanilla, and includes quite a bit of bitter angelica. I believe Montale has a woody, boozy vanilla fragrance amongst its vast line, but I haven’t tried it. Lastly, Mona di Orio Vanille has absolutely nothing in common with Tom Ford‘s Private Blend Tobacco Vanille. The latter has dried tobacco leaves that occasionally create an impression of Christmas plum pudding. No part of Mona di Orio’s notes replicate the predominantly tobacco-woods or the spices in the Tom Ford. Furthermore, the type of vanilla and the fundamental nature of the fragrances are very different, too.

All in all, if you adore rich, sophisticated, boozy, vanilla fragrances with a non-traditional twist, you may want to give Mona di Orio’s Vanille a sniff.

DETAILS:
Cost, Sizes, Sets & Availability: Les Nombres d`Or Vanille is an eau de parfum, and comes in a variety of different options and sizes. The full bottle is 3.4 oz/100 ml and costs $230. It is available world-wide on the Mona di Orio website. In the U.S., you can find it at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and MinNewYork (which also offers free shipping within the US). There is also a Discovery Set of 8 x 5ml roll-on bottles of the entire Nombres d’Or collection which Mona di Orio sells for €90, and Luckyscent/ Parfum1 for $145. MinNY discounts the set for $5 off, pricing it at $140. Mona di Orio also offers a Travel Set of just the Vanille perfume in 3 bottles of 10 ml each, with the whole set priced at €85 (or about $110 with today’s currency conversion rate). That set is not offered at Luckyscent or Parfum1. In Canada, The Perfume Shoppe carries its own sort of “Discovery Set” of 4 perfumes in the Nombres d’Or collection, one of which is Vanille. It retails for CAD$100. Oddly, I don’t see the full bottle on their website when searching by brand name, but I found it via a Google search listed here and marked as “available.” It’s also marked as selling for $170, which I don’t understand at all. So, you may want to drop them an email. In the UK, you can find Vanille at Les Senteurs which sells it for £135.00 and which also carries a sample vial for sale. The perfume is also carried on Roullier White in the UK. In Paris, I see Mona di Orio listed on the Marie Antoinette Paris website but can’t find prices or individual perfumes for the line. For the rest of Europe, you can turn to Germany’s First in Fragrance which carries the perfume for €160.00, along with a Travel Kit of 3 x 10 ml bottles for €85, and a smaller sample for purchase. For all other countries from Russia to Netherlands to the UAE/Dubai, you can use the Store Locator guide on the company website. Samples: I obtained mine from Surrender to Chance which sells them starting at $6.99 for a 1 ml vial. Of course, you can also find samples at Luckyscent, Parfum1, and many of the European retailers linked to above.
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47 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Vanille (Les Nombres d`Or Collection)

    • I agree that it was lovely, but I didn’t experience the same quantity, amount or richness that she seems to have done. I wouldn’t say that this is a heavily sandalwood-vanilla fragrance. Rather, it’s heavily vanilla with sandalwood that is subtly blended in. Does that make sense?

    • Well, that is how it translated to my nose. Perhaps you might interpret that undertone differently? I will say, I asked someone a little while ago to sniff my arm as I had the fragrance on for the 3rd time and asked them if they smelled a melted butter note. They did. “Rum butter” is how they put it. Something about the rum absolute combined with the raw vanilla just has a very rich, concentrated butter undertone. I cook extensively with butter, but this one felt much more like Movie Theatre Butter, if that makes sense. To my nose, at least. Others may interpret it differently, since we all filter smells through the experiences of our minds and perceptions. 🙂

    • Oh, that’s truly interesting. I’d love to hear why, especially as I’m not one for vanilla fragrances myself. Your perspective may help out some others who, like you, do normally love the note. 🙂

  1. I find Mona Di Orio Vanille quite an elegant scent. I’ve tried it couple of times last Christmas and I liked it. I also get buttery Burbon feel from this offering,mixed with vanilla and oranges. But for some reason it doesn’t make me love this scent enough to go get a bottle (unlike Mona di Orio Oud, which I love! ). But I’ll be testing it more to see how it develops in a warmer weather.
    P.S.The story about Vanille fumes haunting you from your fingers was quite entertaining 🙂

    • Thank GOD for you, Ross, and your comment that you also detected a buttery element to the perfume. I thought I was going quite mad when the note kept popping up on my skin! Now, I feel a little less crazy. It definitely has to be something in the Rhum Absolute ingredient that, when combined with the raw vanilla concentrate, turns partially buttery. I’ll be interested to see if the warm weather makes the perfume change on your skin. Especially as, over here, it already feels as though summer is just around the corner!
      As for the ladies in my book club thought I was quite mad. One commented, “Butter and vanilla? Do you mean brocolli from the dip?” I said, “no, no brocolli. Buttery Vanilla. Is it a plug-in air-freshener?” They just looked at me with confusion. Then one of them caught me trying to sniff her to see if the smell was coming from her, and she told me that maybe I needed a small break from perfume. LOL.

      • I have also sounded quite mad to those around me, when my nose locks onto a specific scent that NO one else around me can detect… I’ve asked to smell wrists, necks, (this just happened Christmas Eve- I’m out in CA visiting my son for the holiday, and we were in an antique shop in San Juan Capistrano. The SA was wearing a potent, unfamiliar scent, we struck up a conversation, and before I knew it I was smelling this woman’s neck!! Good thing my son was in another part of the shop, although I’m pretty sure that by now he already thinks I’m crazy!! ) and scarves. I’ve also performed surreptitious checks for plug-ins, candles, and the like. Like a dog with a bone, I must keep at it until I locate the source. And, on several occasions, I have also realized the scent was coming from my own hands, which had unknowingly picked up scent while capping/uncapping a sample vial.
        I do believe that perfumistas are NOT mad, indeed, I feel we are actually a bit more highly-developed than the average populace, many of whom do not care a fig about scent. Instead, we possess the ability to be swept up and away with scent- back into childhood, scents both naturally-occurring in our environment, and those we smelled on aunts, grandmothers, and our own mothers. I am now a woman in my mid-century decade, and I can recall so well what scents I wore while in high school, after graduating, while dating (I had vintage Shalimar, which my husband would go bonkers over!), then as my engagement, wedding day and honeymoon (EL’s Private Collection). When I began my life as a mom-to-be (newly pregnant and constantly nauseated), my husband had purchased me a large bottle of recently released Oscar De La Renta for Christmas- the smell can to this day make me feel queasy! Then, as a young mom, I wore nothing but White Linen. I loved how it made me feel clean, crisp, and grown-up. Now, 25 years later, I have a very modest collection, and am working at building my fragrance library, much of which is based upon your HONEST reviews. And yes, your reviews are YOUR opinions, but, I have great respect for those opinions, so I definitely refer to them when deciding what I’d like to sample next.
        Sorry this dragged on so long… See, this is what happens to my mind where perfume is involved-down I go into the rabbit-hole!!
        BTW, although not usually a fan of vanilla scents, as the majority of them are way too sweet, I DO like MdO’s Vanille for an occasional change. I did detect rum, and creamy butter, but thankfully did not get the fake-butter movie popcorn element. I did enjoy the Vanille, but wouldn’t go for anything but another sample. I DO, however, want to sample SL’s UBV, once it’s available. I couldn’t find any as it was all on back-order.

        • You’re so sweet, Lexi, and I’m glad you can relate to that madness when you know you can smell something, can’t figure out where it’s coming from, and go on a determined hunt to find it. I *LOVE* that you ended up sniffing that woman’s neck!! rofl. Only a serious perfume addict would do that, regardless of what others nearby may think. So, what *was* the SA in the store wearing in the end?

          Re. the Mona di Orio Vanille, I’m relieved to hear that you detected a rich buttered and rum nuance too! I’m glad you’re enjoying the sample, but I definitely prefer Un Bois Vanillé from Serge Lutens. BTW, I see the SL fragrance in stock on a number of discount fragrance sites with the cheapest perhaps being $69 from a place called Tamrik. http://www.tamrik.com/women-serge-lutens-un-bois-vanille-by-serge-lutens.htm.

          I’ve never bought from them, but I have from FragranceNet which is very reliable. It also sells Un BV for $69, and the perfume is in stock: http://www.fragrancenet.com/serge-lutens-un-bois-vanille-perfume/serge-lutens/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/21251

          I hope that helps. BTW, I’m sorry for the late response, but I’ve been under the weather a bit and am just coming out of it now. 🙂

  2. I do not like more vanilla-centric perfumes than I do but Mona d’Orio’s Vanille is one of a few vanilla perfumes that I like and wear (I have a small decant of it from a friend). And I agree with you that it’s nothing like Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille (love it!) or Annick Goutal’s one (almost hate it!), or Guerlain’s one (love/hate dependent on the day).

    • I’m glad you like it. It’s definitely not the usual sort of vanilla. I really enjoyed the interplay of the ylang-ylang and the sandalwood during that phase of the fragrance. As for the Tom Ford, I share your love of that one, as well as your dislike of the Goutal. But then, I’m not a fan of angelica, so I suppose that reaction is not very surprising. LOL.

  3. I was so ridiculously happy when I saw the title of your blog! I have been a vanilla hater forever, until I got my little sample of Mona di Orio’s Vanille from Luckyscent. It is just so lovely! I adore the Neroli/Bourbon opening. I love the way the vanilla peeks in and out through the boozy beginning. I need to get a larger spray decant so I can try more. Try as I might, I cannot find the popcorn butter…but now i really want to look harder!

    • LOL! Please let me know if you do end up detecting it. I’d love to know if you find it. I have to say, I really wondered if it was just me and some oddity about my skin until Ross commented that he smelled a Bourbon butter undertone too. Thank God, I’m not completely crazy. 😉

      What’s really interesting to me is how you — as a vanilla hater — love the perfume, while Debbie — a vanilla lover — hated it. I think that just goes to emphasize how this is NOT a usual, traditional vanilla by any means!

      • This morning I applied the Vanille copiously to both inner forearms. Then I threw the Frisbee with my dog for 20 minutes, and climbed the StairMaster for 30. Exercise is my surefire way of testing a perfume I am ambivalent about. If I still love it after all that, then it is a keeper. Well….After 10 minutes of Frisbee, the scent trail became pretty big. Something was bothering my nose in a stinging itchy kind of way. I vaguely could smell the butter reference, but the pain part was unexpected. Then I went to the gym,. By the end of my workout, I hated the smell. It became everything I hate about vanilla, and more. It took two exfoliative scrubbings to remove it. Then I doused my self with a recovery dose of Bruno Acampora Musc (my favorite scent of the moment). I feel much better.
        Thank you for your review, which prompted my scientific investigation, and thereby saving me a bunch of money!!!

        • Okay, now you’re screwing up my unscientific, unofficial polling on the vanilla issue. *grin* LOL. I’m a bit confused, I thought you had tried this a lot and loved it. I was using you as part of my “Vanilla Haters love this scent” conclusion/theory based on your comments yesterday. 😉 Do you think it was a quantity issue which made it seem so perfect and lovely on you before? Actually, you just wrote you were “ambivalent” on it before. Explain, woman, explain! 😉
          P.S.- Glad you could detect something buttery, even if only vaguely. It’s nice to know I’m not totally crazy. heh. xoxo

          • ARGH!!! So sorry for being confusing!! It certainly is not the first time I have contradicted myself. 🙂 Honestly, I think it was a matter of dosage. Previously, I had been so parsimonious with application. A teeny few drops on my wrist, and all was right with the world. This morning I put on Lots, maybe .5ml! And then I heated everything up. I know I used the word “ambivalent” where previously I was not questioning my love for Vanille. My faith in you as a reviewer had me questioning my initial impression. I should know better than to give my opinion on something before I test and retest. Again, not my first time for sticking my foot in my mouth. Lesson learned. I hope.

          • Well, dosages can definitely change everything. I know for a fact that it can fundamentally impact — for the worse — how one feels about certain Tom Ford Private Blend scents, as I’m often counselling people not to put on their usual amount of fragrance when they try Amber Absolute. And, they end up loving it if they use *very* little but, if not, then…..

            As for the Mona di Orio, first, you haven’t put your mouth in anything! Please don’t think that. And, you know, 0.5 of a scent as rich as the Vanille can certainly make a huge difference. I mean, look at me and how some miniscule, accidental, tiny smears of the scent on just two of my fingers led to a book club meeting where I was haunted by the scent! So, 0.5….!!! Still, 0.5 is really the equivalent of 1 and 1/2 sprays, which is a pretty normal application between two wrists, so if that amount led you to dislike the perfume, then a full bottle probably is out of the question for you.

            I feel absolutely terrible that I made your love for the perfume turn into dislike. Do you think if you stuck to extremely parsimonious application, you’d still enjoy it? You seemed so hugely happy yesterday! As for the experience today, I wonder if that “biting” feel was the sharpness of the bitter neroli, or something else? Did you feel the perfume was cloying at all?

          • I have no idea what was the biting part. And not to worry. I just gave my little bit that was left to my last client of the day and she was thrilled! By the way, what are you reading for Book Club? We just reviewed The Shoemaker’s Wife, which was very sweet and an easy read. Next month is Tina Fey’s Bossypants, then Anna Karenina. I am always looking for recommendations. Have you read Cutting for Stone? Bel Canto?The Dog Stars? Blindness? Behind the Beautiful Forevers? The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet? Some of my latest Faves!

          • What we read this time is truly not worth even mentioning. LOL. Next month will be “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” or something to that effect. We read the Shoemaker’s Wife and Cutting for Stone last year, and I really enjoyed the latter. The other titles you mentioned, esp. the Thousand Autumns title, intrigue me, so thank you for the tips! 🙂 If you’re looking for some suggestions, some of the books I’ve loved enough to choose (when it was my turn) for the book club were: A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. LOVED both passionately, and both make me laugh out loud to no end! A book that someone else choose and which really impressed me was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wallis. Very powerful, sometimes hard to read, and it definitely stays with one.

            Anna Karenina is a big book for a book club! I wish mine were as serious. I made them read my beloved Perfume: Story of a Serial Killer, and they all hated it. HATED IT with a passion! *sniffle* It’s a fantastic book, seriously beautiful literature, stunningly written and a must-read for a perfumista if you haven’t read it yet. I have a non-spoilerish blog post on it if you’re interested in the book and its impact on actual perfumers. 🙂

          • I loved Perfume also!! And I read it a long time ago, before falling down the rabbit hole. My husband loved it, too. But ya, I get how most book clubs would find it to dark. I have learned to avoid dark after everyone hated my recommendation of Swamplandia! I read a ton, so I would be glad to send you lists of good stuff. Send me your email, so we don’t bore the perfume lovers world…. mine is _______ [email removed for privacy reasons]

          • Thank you for the very kind offer, Tora! How wonderful to have another book lover here. 🙂 Alas, I rarely get time to read these days (unless it’s about perfume), but I’ll definitely try to send you an email as soon as things slow down a little. BTW, I have your email via the posting thing, so, for your own privacy, I’ll remove it from your post, if it’s okay. I don’t want you to be inundanted with spammers and believe me, I’m constantly emptying the spam filter on this blog! 😀

  4. Really nice review! It seems like an interesting perfume. I love vanilla, and have been looking for a dark, almost unsweetened vanilla, but the fact that the orange remains notable throughout the development and mixes with the vanilla makes me worried the perfume will smell like a creamsicle. Do you get this vibe from the fragrance?

    • Hi Ashley, thank you for stopping by. No, there is no orange creamsicle vibe at all. The orange is not like the fruit but much more like the orange blossom or neroli flower, with occasional aspects of bitter petitgrain which is the distillation of the twigs from the tree. So, the orange note is more floral than fruity. If you’ve ever smelled Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino, it’s like a milder version of that very concentrated note, as opposed to anything like a candy orange fruit smell. Plus, after that opening start, the orange blossom note lurks quietly in the background. It’s not a top-heavy aspect of the perfume at all, after the first 30 minutes. By the end, there are just hints of it underneath everything, flickering around every now and then. Does that help a little? 🙂

  5. Hm, I wonder if they used butter co2 in the perfume, it certainly has that distinct ghee smell, and could potentially amp up the sandalwood on some people’s skin…

    • It might be, or, more likely, it’s some aspect of the Rhum Absolute mixed with the oranges and the vanilla that creates that overall combination. It was not my cup of tea. Without it, I think I would have liked the perfume much more. But on every occasion when I wore it, whether inadvertent and accidental, or intentional, the note was there.

  6. Oh darn…from your description, it sounds like I may like this (but look what happened with Dries). I have 4 (5mLs? each) of the Mona Di Orio Les Nombres D’Or (Musc, Rose Etoile D’Hollande, Cuir and Oud) but alas no Vanille. Luckyscent had a gift with purchase over the 2012 holidays and I was one of the lucky recipients of a set of 4 Mona Di Orios. I will report back if I happen to come across Vanille. Nice Review!!!

    • Nice gift with purchase from Luckyscent!! As for this one, I don’t know if you’d like it. It’s not like Guerlain’s sort of vanilla or gourmand thing. Not at all. And if you’re expecting or like a more typical, traditional vanilla, you may end up hating this.

  7. Actually, Vanilla and UBV are somehow connected in my mind as well. Each time I spray one of them, I think, why would I consider them similar but there you have it.
    And I enjoy wearing them both. 🙂

    • Ines, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in thinking of the Lutens’ Bois Vanillé. 🙂 It must be the guaiac wood, combined with the sandalwood! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  8. The clarified butter note sounds interesting, because I love that smell! Not necessarily on me as a scent, but I wonder be eager to smell it in a perfume, even if I didn’t wear it for myself. Lovely review! I’ve only tried one Mona di Orio and liked it well enough, but wasn’t super enthused by it.

  9. i follow your blog now quite a while and am impressed about the passion you put in. i am male and dont like vanilla scents a lot, but monas creation is a masterpiece to me. its not that sweet for me, on the contrary i find it dark and a bit dirty just from the beginning. and butter? what the heck? i missed that totally. but i dont miss it. however: i would go so far to invite almost everybody who is intrested in perfume to try this one!

    • Hi Pipeculture, thanks for stopping by and sharing your love for the Mona di Orio. 🙂 It’s interesting how vanilla haters love this perfume, while those who love traditional vanilla scents don’t seem to. As for the butter, next time you try it, focus on the first 90 minutes and see if you can smell a buttery aspect to the rum/Bourbon. If you don’t find it, I’ll be very happy for you. 😉 LOL

      On a side note, thank you for your kind words on the blog.

  10. And I didn’t like it at all. Too sweet, slightly artificial on my skin and with a weird paper-like feeling to it.
    Haven’t tried anything else from Mona Di Orio apart from this and Musc. Want to try Amyitis though.

    • Would you consider yourself to be a lover of traditional vanilla scents, Lucas? I’m trying to make an unscientific, unofficial assessment of people’s reactions to this based on how they usually feel about vanilla as a whole. It seems that those who really enjoy vanilla scents as a whole don’t like this one, while those who normally hate vanilla really do.

      I don’t count in either category because I got that butter and I don’t wear sweet perfumes. Period. LOL. 😉

  11. I actually love this, but I love the whole line with maybe the exception of Rose Etoile de Hollande (which I didn’t hate, I just thought it was very nice and nothing more).

    I also love stinking up a whole room with Kenzo Jungle 🙂

  12. Pingback: Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Ambre (Les Nombres d`Or Collection) | Kafkaesque

  13. Score another lemming for Kafka. At the most recent STC sale, I decided to purchase the 5mL mini and I made the right decision. I just ordered a 20 mL decant!

    • Hurrah!! I’m so glad you found something you liked! And yay for lemming desires that are not only acted upon, but that lead to even more! Where did you get your decant from? Basenotes?

      • Basenotes Fragrance Split Boards — PalmBeach usually has a bunch going on and he is top notch — I highly recommend him.

        Also….I agree with you that Mona di Orio Vanille doesn’t smell anything like TF Tobacco Vanille nor of Guerlain SDV. Would you believe that it actually reminds me of…ready for this???? Trayee! Yes, Trayee! except minus the heat that I got instantly from Trayee. I think if Trayee had less of the spicy heat and just a tad more of vanilla, they could be perfume twins.

        • I could see that, in a way. It’s the smokiness of the vanilla, along with the dryness. MdO’s Vanille is missing the sandalwood, but I can see what you mean. As for Basenotes, I’ve never posted there and I get the (perhaps unjustified) impression that you need to be an active poster/member to really be trusted with regard to splits. Even if that’s mistaken, it still seems very intimidating to me. That’s probably why I haven’t signed up for decants in the groups that I actually am in already. Then again, there aren’t a lot of perfumes that I’d be tempted to want decants of to begin with. Only De Profundis and the Profumum Ambra Aurea come to mind. Perhaps Amouage’s Lyric, too. 🙂

          • I joined Basenotes specifically to participate in splits and I just private messaged the splitters to say that’s the only reason I joined and mentioned the other blogs where I comment. Splitters run the risk with both old and new members, IMHO.

            P.S. I LOL’d when you went from “not a lot of perfumes” to naming 3 specific ones in the next breath.

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