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, 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?

May Melange Marathon: Ellenisia

May Melange Marathon: Ellenisia

A brand whose fragrances I tend to enjoy is Penhaligon’s. As befits a venerable English brand, with warrants from the late Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, they have a very English sensibility and they make both lovely floral scents and elegant men’s fragrances. Ellenisia aligns with their other floral fragrances in being soft, pretty, feminine. The brand website says:

Full-bodied, feminine, and oh so seductive. Vanilla and violet show Ellenesia’s sweet side, but there’s more to discover in this eau de parfum. After all, tuberose only blooms at night…

Ellenisia‘s top notes are Violet Leaf and Mandarin Orange; middle notes are Gardenia, Tuberose, Jasmine and Rose; base notes are Plum and Vanilla. I love the opening — the combination of green violet leaf with juicy mandarin orange is lively and appealing. The white flowers at the heart of Ellenisia quickly step forward: to my nose, the strongest one are gardenia and tuberose, followed by jasmine. I can’t say that I smell any rose.

I’m not a huge lover of tuberose; I have to be in the mood for it, and even then, there are several other floral notes, classics in perfumery, that I prefer. But this is a soft, sweet-but-not-too-sweet tuberose, and it’s very appealing. Be warned, though — if you just don’t like white flower fragrances, you probably won’t like Ellenisia. It reminds me a bit of Dior’s 1985 blockbuster Poison, with a lighter touch. As it dries down, the tuberose and gardenia are still going strong, with an undertone of plums. Some commenters find it “soapy”, and I can understand that. It’s not very soapy to my nose, but there are certainly many soaps that smell of white flowers, and that creates a strong impression.

I think the opening few minutes of Ellenisia are different and special, but they fade quickly, in favor of the tuberose and gardenia. I have one 50 ml bottle of Ellenisia, and that’s plenty for me.

How do you get along with tuberose in fragrances? Do you have any favorites? Or any favorite Penhaligon’s fragrances?

May Muguet Marathon: I Love NY for Earth Day

May Muguet Marathon: I Love NY for Earth Day

I haven’t tried many Bond No. 9 fragrances, partly because of their prices, partly because they sometimes seem a bit gimmicky, and partly because their bottles don’t appeal to me. I don’t often think of myself being that affected by a fragrance’s bottle, although I really love some of the beautiful bottles one sees and can sometimes be swayed to buy a fragrance because of one (have you seen the adorable new Nina Ricci Bella? I’m hoping they will do a coffret of minis with the other “apple” bottles!). But I’ve rarely felt put off a fragrance because of the bottle. Daisy is another bottle that doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL, though I love the Daisy Dream bottles. I’ve successfully resisted buying any of them, though.

Bottles of different Bond No. 9 I Love NY fragrances

Bond No. 9 I Love NY fragrances; image from

Today’s fragrance with lily of the valley in it is Bond No. 9’s I Love NY for Earth Day. I found it at a great discount at a local store, with I Love NY for the Holidays, and thought, why not? So they both came home with me. I lived in New York for several years, and grew up outside The City, as we called it, and I do appreciate how Bond No. 9 has worked to create scents that capture various aspects of New York life and different New York neighborhoods. I really enjoyed For the Holidays and have been looking forward to trying Earth Day.

Here’s the thing: Earth Day is a lovely fragrance, very floral, but I get almost no lily of the valley from it! From reading other reviews, I know that my experience differs from others’, as a number of commenters and reviewers have said they found the lily of the valley to be very prominent. My experience of the fragrance was much more like the review by John Reasinger at CaFleureBon: all about the tuberose. And in fact, this seems more like what its creators intended, based on this excerpt from their promotional materials when Earth Day was launched in 2011, which I found on The Candy Perfume Boy blog:

“Like New York, this lush green tuberose is also sophisticated and assured. Its wakeup opening notes, sprightly tangerine and orange flower water, blended with more tropical orchid, segue into the heart of the scent: a stunning floral composed of intoxicating tuberose, lily of the valley, and orris. Base notes of durable musk, amber, oakmoss, and sandalwood sustain this heady bouquet.”

So now that we’ve put the muguet to bed, so to speak, what is Earth Day like? To me, it is very tuberose-forward, teetering on the brink of too much without tipping over the edge. If I applied more than a couple of modest sprays, though, I think it would overwhelm. Tuberose is such a complicated fragrance note: in real life, the flowers’ scent is intoxicating, so much so that an oft-repeated legend is that in some countries, young women were forbidden to walk among gardens of tuberose lest they be overcome by lust! Perfumer Pierre Benard spoke at length about the note with Fragrantica, and the interview is well worth reading, as it leaps from science and chemistry to perfume to history: Tuberose: Flower, Scent, History, and Perfume.

tuberose flower

Tuberose flower; image from

Earth Day is supposed to be a unisex fragrance, but to me it is very feminine, because of its strong floral nature and the voluptuousness of the tuberose. I don’t think of men as “voluptuous”, although that may be my own limitation more than anything else! And this is a somewhat voluptuous scent, though not languorous. The city of New York has an energy and liveliness that is captured in this fragrance. What comes to mind? Princess Giselle in Central Park, in the movie Enchanted:

Princess Giselle in Central Park, NY, from Disney movie Enchanted

GIselle in Central Park; image from

Not a muguet, but definitely a happy, lively, green floral scent, with, as another reviewer said, a “sprightly tangerine” opening. It is very appealing on the right day and in the right weather, which to me would be spring and summer. Try it! But not if you dislike tuberose. Have you tried any other I Love NY fragrances? Which do you like, and why?