Scent Sample Sunday: Monbloom

Scent Sample Sunday: Monbloom

I recently had a birthday (yes, I’m a Virgo) and treated myself to some fragrances — surprise, surprise. One of them was a tester of Ramon Monegal’s Monbloom. I had been curious about it because I like several of his other fragrances very much; I discovered them several years in Barcelona, home of the brand and perfumer, where my husband was kind enough to buy me a bottle of Lovely Day. When I saw a tester for a good price, I pounced.

It’s odd that I was intrigued by Monbloom, because normally I’m not a huge fan of big white florals, and Monbloom is definitely tuberose-forward. The brand’s own romantic description:

Olfactory inspiration, resplendent and magic. Bewitching floral filter. Exuberant and voluptuous tuberose and jasmine with exotic Osmanthus. Magic and power dressed in incense and labdanum are linked to the incandescent strength that emanates from cedarwood.

This is my festive tale of a magical celebration of a starry night in Dubai.

The notes are listed as: Comoros Ylang-Ylang, Sevillan neroli, orange blossom, wild strawberry, Karnataka tuberose, Moroccan jasmine, Chinese osmanthus, Indonesian patchouli, Spanish cistus, Indian oud, American cedarwood. Quite a few white flowers in there! Elena Prokofeva wrote a wonderful piece for Fragrantica about the many haunting legends associated with white flowers: “Dark Legends of White Flowers” and referred to tuberose and jasmine as “flowers of seduction and death.” I don’t experience them that way, but most white flowers do become most fragrant at night, to attract insects which are active after sundown, so they have a strong association with darkness. A “starry night” in Dubai — what might that resemble? A stroll through fragrant palace gardens like those in the Alhambra of Granada, or in the Royal Alcazar of Seville?

Tuberose

Tuberose, native to South America and noted by Spanish missionaries as early as the 16th century, is among the most fragrant of all white flowers; it has been written that the Victorians warned young girls against inhaling its fragrance lest it inspire wild passions and carnal desires. To my nose, tuberose often smells a bit soapy — more clean than seductive. Monbloom is neither sweet nor very soapy. It was initially launched in 2015 as an exclusive for Bloomingdale’s and the city of Dubai, and it is clearly intended to appeal to a Middle Eastern customer, with its hints of oud, resin, and incense. Those notes create an interesting counterpoint to the sweetness of tuberose, jasmine, orange blossoms and neroli. I tend to like green, almost bitter, chypres, and sweetness is not something I seek out in fragrance, so I appreciate the difficult balance achieved in Monbloom. Although it starts out with a gust of classic white flower notes, it becomes more complex over its development as the cistus, oud, and cedarwood emerge, creating a subtle breath of incense, resins, and wood. I will have to study it further, though, as I was very cautious in my initial applications — no more than a small spritz on each wrist.

It does not surprise me that such a well-crafted perfume comes from Ramon Monegal, who is the fourth generation of perfumers in the Monegal family, founders of Myrurgia, which has been creating fragrances for over a century; he began training in perfumery in the 1970s and worked for several firms before returning to the family company, which was acquired by Puig in 2000. After working for the combined company for several years, M. Monegal left to launch his own artisan brand. He takes inspiration from his birthplace and city of residence, Barcelona, the Mediterranean, and his homeland of Spain.

When we took a family trip to Spain some years ago, mostly through Andalusia, it was brought home to us just how close Spain is to the Middle East, especially where it faces Morocco across the water. It was, of course, partially occupied for much of its history by the Moors, who left Spain with a remarkable legacy of architecture and gardens. So it isn’t much of a stretch for a Spanish perfumer to feel affinity with Dubai, home of remarkable Middle Eastern attars and perfumes.

If you are a lover of white flower fragrances, Monbloom is absolutely worth trying. Unless you do truly love the narcotic white flowers, though, I wouldn’t make it a blind buy. I did buy it blind, because I have enjoyed several other Monegal fragrances and felt comfortable taking that chance.

Have you tried Monbloom? Do you have other “Big White Flower” fragrances you enjoy?

Fragrance Friday: Carner Barcelona

Fragrance Friday: Carner Barcelona

My lovely husband has returned from another business trip to Barcelona; and I am now the happy recipient of several samples of fragrance from the niche perfumery Carner Barcelona, as well as the “travel set” of its fragrances Tardes and Rima XI. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, so this week’s “Fragrance Friday” will be about the perfume house instead.

Carner Barcelona was founded by Sara Carner in 2009. According to the company website, Continue reading

Fragrance Friday: Custo Barcelona L’Eau

Fragrance Friday: Custo Barcelona L’Eau

It was a long week. My husband had to be out of the country all week on business and I had to resolve a very challenging situation at work with lots of ramifications. But now it’s Friday! My work challenge appears to be successfully resolved; and my nice husband is home, bearing gifts from Barcelona. For me: a large bottle of Custo Barcelona L’Eau. Lovely!

Custo Barcelona is a fashion firm that was born in Barcelona. Its style is young, funky, colorful and cheerful. So is its fragrance. According to various websites, CB L’Eau is supposed to be a lighter version of the original Custo Barcelona fragrance that came out in 2008. The same “nose”, Alberto Morillas, developed both. For L’Eau, the top notes are bergamot, grapefruit and galbanum. Heart notes are peony, jasmine and “exotic fruits.” Base notes are musk, tonka bean, woody notes. It smells very European to me but not French.   Catalan, perhaps! Definitely a citrusy floral with woody undertones: bright, cheerful, feminine, warm.

Custo Barcelona fashions, from Photoquivir 2015.

Custo Barcelona fashions, from Photoquivir 2015.

I love Barcelona, especially the Barri Gotic and the Eixample neighborhood. I love the food, especially the fresh seafood, the tapas and the different kinds of sangria.I love Antonio Gaudi’s architecture there, including the stunning Sagrada Familia cathedral, still unfinished; his signature curves, bright colors and fanciful patterns have clearly influenced later Barcelona designers like Custo Barcelona and Desigual. And Custo Barcelona L’Eau definitely evokes the city, with its playful vibe layered over complexities. It reminds me of the Parc Guell, a Gaudi masterpiece and fantastical park with gardens, mosaics and fanciful structures. The gardens contain fragrant herbs, trees, and flowers. Some of its trees are tropical; some bear fruit. The blog In Search of a Thousand Cafes describes it well, with many lovely photos, including the one above.

CB L’Eau starts off bright and juicy, but the galbanum top note gives it a green, herbal astringency that cuts the sweetness of the citrus notes. It slowly blossoms into a light, fruity floral — more flowers than fruits, which I like. This part of its progression matches the bright pink of the peony notes and the pretty bottle.

Custo Barcelona L'Eau

I love how the shape of the bottle matches the typography of the design house’s logo. The bottle is really unique, with its textured metallic inset of silver, asymmetrical cap and ombre tinted pink glass. The last phase of CB L’Eau is lightly musky, with sweetness from the tonka bean and dryness from the woody notes. I can still smell the base notes on my wrist ten hours after first spraying myself. All in all, a delightful gift from a delightful man! I’m grateful to have both.

Parc Guell benches: photo by TileMosaicGirl.com

Parc Guell benches: photo by TileMosaicGirl.com