Monk starts out with dusty frankincense, bitter green notes, and very dry woods, in an austere, musty, old cloister accord redolent at once of weathered stone, parchment, and snuffed out candles. I detect nothing sweet, nothing warm, nothing citric, and nothing floral amidst all this ashen monochromaticism. After about an hour of unrelieved gray, and just when I’m ready to write it off as “nice, dry frankincense, nothing special” and shelve it next to Heeley’s Cardinal, Bond's Silver Factory, and Durbano’s Rock Crystal, Monk pulls its massive sucker punch. The friar shimmies off his robes, pops a curly blond wig over his tonsure, and sashays out of his cell in fishnet stockings, pumps, leather skirt and a biker’s jacket he’s been hiding under the ecclesiastic trappings all along.
In olfactory terms, Monk abruptly softens and sweetens, draping its stark incense in mild florals and its bitter greens in sweet tobacco, soft leather, powder, and tonka bean - in short, Habit Rouge with incense! I’ll take Storer’s word for it that there’s civet in the formula as well, though it does not register as a distinct note. Instead it contributes to the warm mantle that embraces Monk during its more comfortable second phase.
Scent that transform as quickly and radically as Monk often do so to collapse from sublime to ordinary (Aziyadé, Fire Island), if not decompose, fast-forward, into a smoking heap of refuse on the skin. (Aoud Ambre, Serge Noire.) Once in a great while though, a scent will undergo a metamorphosis from grub to winged adult. Monk is just such a scent. Neat trick!
I Love monk awesome smell ever even the other one smell as good as this one.
I did not like this one when I first sampled it. A few months later I decided to give it another try and low and behold I actually really enjoy it now. I do get quite a bit of the citrus in the opening, but not a "bright, cheery" citrus but more of a "dark, foreboding" citrus (if such a thing exists). As the fragrance developes I start to notice the cocoa and incense coming to the forefront and on my skin these two notes remain dominant for the duration of the ride. I absolutely love the cocoa note that Michael uses in Monk. It is not the nasty synthetic chocolate note that has been popular in men's designer fragrances lately. It is a smooth, creamy cocoa powder smell that is very natural and works very well in this fragrance to temper the other notes. Try this one before you buy as it may note suit everyone out there, but I find it to be a wonderful scent.
11th May, 2011 (last edited: 21st February, 2013)
Smells like the New Orleans French Quarter at Halloween. Without the booze and garbage/sewage.
MS lists the notes as: Top: Acacia flower, bergamot orange, bitter orange, galbanum.
Middle: Linden blossom absolute, blond tobacco absolute, frankincense resin, beeswax absolute cysts oil, ambrette seed, cocoa absolute, Bulgarian rose absolute.
Base: Aged Indonesian vanilla, tonka bean absolute, civet, sandalwood, Texas cedarwood, benzoin tincture, jasmine absolute, birch tar.
Hmm. Imagine a cocoa-butter-laden tourist in a cathedral with the incense burning full-on. That's the top notes (and this was the first perfume that has caused me to sneeze, although just once) ... Within minutes there is a different character to this scent.
The cocoa fades to ...a jasmine-tea-like frankincense and tobacco, as if the tourist left the building and a pipe smoker came in that tourist's place. I am getting the civet shimmering at the borders now, a little animality to the above combo. Airy and sharp animality? Yeah. Just at the edges. Nothing bergamot though, which is odd... perhaps it's covered up with the cocoa and frankincense and tobacco.
There is indeed a leathery (bookbinding leather, which conjures up yet another cathedralesque image for me) undertone to the early middle notes... a kind of wild dance between the "sacred and profane" seems to be going on here. Dry onionskin paper and leather laced with incense.
... and still a hint of cocoa butter but more cocoa than butter... seem to come to the front as the drydown progresses. Warm and soft, still with the leatheriness beneath, and the touch of tobacco as well.
It is dark, and I can understand why it's been called a Gothic scent. But sweet and warm and dark Gothic, like a New Orleans courtyard. With a little whiff of a good Nag Champa incense floating in from time to time. Must be the tobacco, sandalwood, and tonka.
The drydown has a lovely sweet/acrid woody/civet edge to it. Just before that stage, there is a wonderful slightly sweet leather that rises to the top, before settling to the musk/civet (still slightly sweet but definitely animalic, in that good way Basenoters love).
I am liking this, as it is such a complex scent... a "long-term commitment" of a full, long day of discoveries!
The initial review was based on a sample... edited to reflect further contemplation of a partial bottle later. Sometimes there is a "musty funk" to it at the top that for some might seem offputting... when the Civet seems much more apparent in the top, but other times it is for the first few hours "all about the cocoa." The scent settles down nicely and the Bergamot shows up better in the FB spray. (it showed up not at all in the sample).
This is a scent I love more, the more I wear it. With generous application I am certain it would turn heads on a night out, as its sillage on "normal" (5 sprays) application it leaves a formidable (and gorgeous) wake. It is a favorite of mine for bedtime. And even on days I forget to apply it sparingly, it gets favorable comments at the office.
07th March, 2010 (last edited: 06th January, 2011)
I am mystified by the other reviews of Monk. I don't smell tobacco and birch tar or incense in this fragrance at first. I get the party floral notes up front, then some softness and the darkness comes afterward. Its opposite of what most of the other reviewers smell in Monk. It is possible that there is a newer formula - my bottle is a different shape and the juice is light orange, not clear like photos I've seen so there's a clue that there may have been a formula change.
The list of notes from Michael Storer is formidable. There are florals listed of linden blossom,acacia flower and a very noticeable bulgarian rose absolute - all florals that waft out first followed by warm sweet soft notes of vanilla, tonka, benzoin, ambrette seed, sandalwood and cocoa. These softening elements quieten the florals into a soft warm musk that really does project - bam! Following these floral and vanilla notes are big masculine notes of: frankincense, tobacco, cedar and birch tar. These give it a wooded depth that moves it more masculine. There is natural tartness from the beeswax that adds a sour/sweet connection to darker notes of civet and birch tar.
I see the "partying Monk" that Vibert mentions, right from the beginning of the fragrance with its hypnotic floral musk at the top. The floral musk blended with civet and frankincense is softened by vanilla, tonka and cocoa and it reminds me greatly of Musc Ravegeur by Frederic Malle. The base transitions to dark stoney frankincense with a bit of tobacco and birch tar which slowly ebbs up from the depths. After a few hours this fragrance has a monkish darkness about it but inside this monks hood his eyes are still glowing and he is "dancing in the dark".
Monk is a hard fragrance for me to wear. It is very bold and an aggressive mixture. An occasional light spritz though adds some sun and mystery. I think of this as a night out on the town fragrance similar to Musc Ravegeur or Neil Morris's Prowl.
20th January, 2010 (last edited: 25th January, 2010)