Earlier this year, Basenotes had the good fortune to meet with Mona di Orio while she was in London.
Mona di Orio has had an interest in perfume since she was very young. Her family had many fragrances and as a child she would attempt to create her own using an empty wine bottle filled with rose petals and lemons. Di Orio's interest did not wane, and for her sixteenth birthday her father built her a simple perfumer's organ - a device which contains flacons of the many different raw materials used to create perfume.
Di Orio's ambition was to train in Grasse, but without any family in the business and no connections she was turned away. Undeterred she continued teaching herself with the aid of the books of Edmond Roudnitska - a world class perfumer, who created masterpieces such as Eau Sauvage and Diorissimo.
She decided to write to Roudnitska. Some of his books were now out of print and she wondered if he could help her complete her collection. Her friends told her she was naive to expect a reply as "he was getting old and was too busy".
Her friends were wrong. Not only did Roudnitska send Mona all of his books, but also an invite to meet him. This would be the start of their friendship.
Over the next three years they kept in contact by telephone and in 1986, Roudnitska invited Mona to continue her tuition in Roudnitska's laboratory where she was taught how to recognise the best raw materials. After Roudnitska's death in 1996 Mona continued to work at the laboratory at the request of his wife.
Fast forward about ten years and after meeting with Dutch fashion designer, Jeroen Oude Sogtoen - now her business partner - the house of Mona di Orio is born.
Mona's first range consists of three fragrances. Lux, Carnation and Nuit Noire (which I am wearing as I type). Each is housed in a chunky square bottle with the cap of a Champagne Muselet from the Champagne House of Jaquesson.
Lux is the Latin word for light, and the fragrance is in the citrus style, but is by no means light and fleeting. It contains notes of Lemon Sicilia, Sandalwood and Vanilla. Originally created as her own personal perfume, and dedicated to Roudnitska.
Carnation contians notes of Bergamot, Violet, Jasmin and Amber; and is a powdery-floral perfume.
Nuit Noire was inspired by Serge Lutens, who di Orio met several years ago. An oriental style fragrance with notes of Cardamom, Ginger, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Clove, Amber and Tonka.
The three fragrances are available from Les Senteurs [London], Aedes de Venustas [New York], The Perfume Shoppe [Canada], Cosmeticary [Brussels], Taizo [Cannes], Skins [Netherlands], Cow Parfymeri [Stockholm].