Suzanne's Perfume Journal

June 19, 2008:

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ALL KINDS OF NAUGHTY: Mona di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire is one very naughty perfume: so deliciously dirty that I tend to wear it only on those days when I’m not going out anywhere in public.  It’s a beautiful perfume, too, so I probably could wear it in public: unless someone was standing very close to me, they might not even detect the naughty bits, but since I’m never quite sure, I don’t.  And in truth, Nuit Noire is not really a perfume I wear to enhance my own personage so much as it is a gateway fragrance to my past and to remembering a guy I tangled with on an off-and-on basis for years.  Somehow this fragrance, created in 2006, transports me back to summer 1979, when I was sixteen, about to turn seventeen, and met a guy who looked a lot like Kevin Bacon, only blonder.  He had blue-green eyes, a tall, sinewy frame, a devil-may-care grin and a love for the open road.  Like me, he grew up on a farm and was involved in cattle shows (similar to horse or dog shows, a professional way of showing off one’s pedigreed animals).  I’m sure it's this latter association which is the reason why Nuit Noire reminds me of this guy, and not of other lovers; there is the smell of a ripe stable  within Nuit Noire, swirling around with the scent of its flowers, its light leather and woods. 

Nuit Noire starts off with a burst of sweet, indolic orange flower, tangy cardamom and warm ginger—and the way that these three notes combine actually produces a wee bit of a lemon furniture-polish effect, an effect that doesn’t last long, however.  Although civet is not listed among the notes the perfumer mentions on her website for this fragrance, I believe that civet must be in there, and along with leather, musk, and indolic orange flower, it produces the dirty, pungent smell of animal hide and animal dung that makes this perfume smell warm-blooded and sexy—as if it has a warm, beating pulse.  This description, as well as the name of the fragrance, might lead you to think it is a dark perfume—and yet, I find it isn’t.  The sweetness of the tuberose and orange flower and the tanginess of the cardamom have a golden, soprano-like lifting effect that contrasts nicely with the animalic notes, so that the perfume seems to shimmer, to radiate back and forth between lightness and dark.  To me, there is a steady vibration to this fragrance—a sexy push-pull between its animalic notes and its ethereal flowers—and maybe that’s another reason why it reminds me of sex and of my first lover.  “Love me to exhaustion,” this fragrance seems to say.  And if you do, if you wear it through its risqué business phase straight through to its end, you will be rewarded with a drydown of lightly spiced woods and amber that awaits you like a perfect bed for your impending slumber. 

Mona di Orio Nuit Noire has top notes of orange flower, cardamom, ginger and orange guinee; heart notes of olibanum, cinnamon, tuberose, sandalwood, clove, and cedarwood; and base notes of amber, leather, musk, and tonka. It can be purchased at, where a 75-ml bottle is currently priced at $195.

[Note: the current bottle looks different from the one pictured in my post. This is because the fragrance was discontinued for awhile, and then re-relaunched after the perfumer's untimely death, and in the re-launch the bottles changed. The new bottles are equally stylish.]

Photo credit: bottle image is from