A Big Hug From A Good Friend – Review: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Musc

Musks can be a tricky business. They can be too clean, evoking room spray, dryer sheets and fresh laundry. They can be too dirty, evoking sweaty armpits and Mongolian leaders including their horses. Or they can be too big (molecular size-wise) resulting in anosmia among a certain percentage of people, me included.

Therefore I tend to be only very cautiously optimistic, when I hear about a musc perfume. There is Musc Ravageur that have grown to really like, there is Annick Goutal Musc Nomade, that plays tricks on me, there is L’Artisan Mure et Musc, which is quite nice, and there is the infamous Serge Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan, that smells truly horrific to me.

Musc by Mona di Orio includes notes of neroli, angelica, rose, heliotrope, tonka bean and precious musks.

Mona wanted to find the ideally balanced musk and I salute her for that effort, since it was always my problem finding a musk that has the exact right ratio of clean versus dirty. Turns out you need a golden ratio to succeed…

If you combine Mona di Orio’s reputation for loving to work with animalic notes and the idea of musk, you might be afraid to try Musc. No reason to be though. Musc is a very soft, quiet and delicate scent.

Opening with cool angelica and a little bit of green neroli, the musky base settles in quickly and in and out waft rose and heliotrope and the sweetness of tonka bean.

Musc is comforting and as soft as a kitten’s fur or a baby’s cheek. But underneath all the innocence and tender sweetness, lies bare skin. Bare skin you long to touch, soft and warm and a little salty. Musc is not only delicate beauty, there is the idea of a human body as well. Not too clean, not too rank. A perfect balance.

Musc makes you want to come close and bury your nose deeply. Still, Musc has nothing sexual for me, it is rather chaste, but exudes a warmth that makes you long for an embrace.

A hug from a close friend, a mother’s loving touch, a child’s caress, they all smell like Musc.

Who doesn’t need a hug now and again?

Image source: fragrantica.com, pino-artist.com

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65 Responses to A Big Hug From A Good Friend – Review: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Musc

  1. andrea says:

    I am torn, I have just bought samples of Oud and Vanilla as I feel I should own a bottle of her perfume, I love, love, love the Oud, which was a shocker as I normlly intensely dislike Oud, the price however is a bit off putting, the Vanilla is also a truly gorgeous perfume that I keep getting wafts of as I wear it today, I did not look at the Musc as I normally also don’t like Musc so discounted it straight away (I must learn to stop doing that) but when I read the notes in it I kicked myself as it has everything I would normally be drawn to. I had also saved up enough money to possibly buy Frain 1697 so am totally in a quandry over which one to buy. Help and advice please. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Well, maybe get a sample of Musc as well? But maybe it is a good solution to buy decants (or go in on a split) of more than one MdO perfume, instead of a whole bottle of only one of them?

      • andrea says:

        Hmmm, food for thought, I have found a decant of the Oud so may go for that one, call me a snob but I like owning the full bottles (and MdO does gorgeous bottles and packaging), I may go for the Vanilla and get a sample of the Musc and Amber sent at the same time. I usually sell a couple of decants of each of my perfumes, thus enabling me to justify buying another perfume. Frapin may have to wait but at least it is now part of their main line. 🙂

        • Olfactoria says:

          I totally understand the wish for a full bottle! I prefer that too. That is why I hosted splits of Oud, Vanille and Tubereuse. 😉 Are you on FB, Andrea? There is a group I could add you to, where splits are hosted regularly. And tere is lots of perfume talk of course…

          • andrea says:

            Yes I am on FB, Please add me to the group as I would be most interested in seeing what splits are available. Plus more perfume talk would make me very happy. I have your blog post shown on my stream, I will send you a message through FB so you know who I am. Thanks, as ever your help is very much appreciated. 🙂

          • Olfactoria says:

            I can only add you, if we are friends, and for some reason I can’t add you as a friend or even just message you. Can you add me and once we are friends on FB, I’ll add you to the group. 🙂

  2. Tara says:

    “Mongolian leaders including their horses” LOL!

    You really sum up my feelings about musks, I’d just add the stabby headachy reaction I sometimes get too, as in the case of Jicky sadly. Now Musc sounds like the musk I have been hoping for but never found; soft, fuzzy and warm. (I too like Musc Ravageur but it’s a little bold for me to wear much and Mure et Musc is very nice but need to test more).

    I like the sound of Musc’s perfect balance between dirty and clean too. Lovely review.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh no, you get a Jicky-headache? A good thing that I didn’t include any in your Christmas package then, I almost did… 🙂 I’m sure you’d like the musk in here, but maybe the heliotropin would be a problem, seeing that you don’t like almond-y notes…

  3. IsabelleMi says:

    Thank you, Birgit, for writing about Mona’s perfume today. I love this one, too. I never met Mona di Orio but if you love her fragrances – her babies, as she called them – you may feel as if you knew her in a way – in your heart. I’m sure you know what I mean. And I miss her, too. Hugs.

  4. masha7 says:

    I was worried about the heliotropin in this one, as it can go Play-Doh or baby diaper wipes if it isn’t used delicately. But you’ve convinced me this one is worth a go, and I’m going to try a sample. Thanks, B!

  5. Lucy says:

    I love my sample of this.

  6. GeM says:

    Oh MY!… beautiful review, so evocative of tenderness …!
    As for the note list is an absolute must try for me…. there’s nothing inside that I don’t enjoy in a scent. Well, let’s say that I’m not a ‘Pure Musk’ (solely-alone) fan, I’m not in the mood for wearing very often.
    But I’m ok with that as long as it smells blended with oher ingredients I like, which is the case: neroli, angelica, rose, heliotrope and tonka bean… Sounds wonderful…! I wonder where I could find Mona di Orio line, I’m afraid only through Internet. I don’t know very much of her work. Some years ago I had opportunity to try Lux and Oiro in a foreign country… But so vaguely that I just can’t feel or remember the smell…
    oh so sad she passed away… I still have no words concerning that terrible news.

  7. GeM says:

    PS: wait a minute… it’s amazing I just have found the two vials I get from Lux and Oiro on that holiday travel! I never thought it could be possible to find them!
    They are approx. 6 years… I think they possibly aren’t right. For a vial is too much time…

    • GeM says:

      wooooooooooooow… they are both outstanding creations ……. I think they’ve been well preserved, because they seem to smell perfect! :D… Lux isn’t as original as Oiro, it is amazing, but reminds me of something done…
      but Oiro is OOOhhh… I’m muted… I swoooon….

    • Olfactoria says:

      That’s great! Never throw away perfume… 🙂 I hope they are still fine!

      • GeM says:

        oh yes absolutely, I adore my father 😀 he passed away some years ago so I’m happy moved by the smell.

        • Olfactoria says:

          That is lovely to hear, GeM!

          • GeM says:

            You are the lovely one and I would thank you once more, because with this review you made possible the unexpecting rediscover of ‘Mona di Orio’s hidden treasures I got’ that they brought some nice memories back. And also we are trying for our first baby and meanwhile your writing says me a lot, so I think this Les Nombres d’Or Musc could appeal to me very very specially in a close future (I hope!).

          • Olfactoria says:

            Thank you, GeM! All the best to you, enjoy that special time! I look back with fondness at that time of anticipation. There is a lot of uncertainty too of course, but try to concentrate on the positive side: you are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime…

  8. Sandra says:

    You summed up my experience with her perfume so well. I have two of her perfumes in full bottle and would love to add this one but I would prefer a decant. Silly question but where can I buy into splits or decants here in Europe?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Not a silly question at all! There is a Facebook group where I get into splits, there is ScentSplits.wikidot.com…

      But I can help you with Musc! I would happily provide you with a decant up to 30ml. Email me for details, Sandra!

  9. deeHowe says:

    Birgit, your words are like a perfectly tailored suit on the body of a perfume–here, you have captured Musc perfectly for me! I love the combination of tenderness, with the feel of a warm body beneath, like, as you say, a warm hug from a loved one.

    This is the first musk-centric scent to really wow me, and win me over. There have been a few musks I’ve loved (like the sweet musk in SSS Tabac Aurea), but mostly they smell like plastic, vomit, or “stabby”! MdO Musc is a revelation of how beautifully a musk can wear.

    I wore it out to meet a friend, and she asked what smelled like baby-powder, and I laughed, being the guilty party (only one tiny spritz!). 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Wow, that is a beautiful compliment, thank you! xoxo

      Did the friend like the “baby powder” vibe she got?

      • deeHowe says:

        Hmmm, well, I don’t think it was negative, but with no association for a powdery smell other than baby powder, I’m thinking that she found it a little odd (because she knows I’m into perfumes).

        However (for others reference), I don’t find that it smells like baby powder—it is powdery, with the heliotropin, but I don’t think it’s nearly as powdery as, say, Love, Chloe. Musc has that distinctly animal element to it— whether kitten or clean skin—that pulls it out of the Johnson & Johnson zone! 🙂

  10. GeM says:

    really? like baby powder?… I’m not sure if I would like smell like that but, who knows… it depends on the perfume

    How much in resemblance between Oiro and Musc? (I think at least they have musks and the heliotrope note in common…)

    • Olfactoria says:

      There is a certain signature I smell in all of Mona’s perfumes. A sort of “mini-musc” is in the base of all of them, imho. It is also in Oiro, although the golden light of jasmine gives the perfume an entirely different character.

      • GeM says:

        sure, that’s what I suspected. but, you know…? To me (or at least On me -and I hope it isn’t due to corrupted product sample!-) Oiro it’s far more about the golden light of tuberose than the jasmine! When I sniff my wrists a few time after application, Fracas by Piguet and Olène by Dyptique comes to mind for a very short lapse of time… I see Oiro like the musky version of them. It’s so funny… I love both of them and I love tuberose even more than jasmine, so it’s hard not to love Oiro. My only complaint is that probably I’m a bit ‘anosmic’ to this concrete musk…? because I’m only noticing the smell of the fragrance as I sometimes rub my wrist up and down over my skin, but if not, it’s like there’s no trail after a while… Maybe the fragrance lingers on my skin very well… or maybe my skin eats it! The fact is that I have the chance to get a full 100ml bottle of Oiro from the shop where I get the vials, at quite a very good price (145 €, shipping included) and now I’m in a dilemma.

        • Olfactoria says:

          It may be due to a specific anosmia… Oiro lasts quite well on me. Maybe it would be a good idea to sample it a bit longer before you commit to a FB.

          • GeM says:

            Yes. My husband and me we’re going out this weekend with some friends of us, so I’ll take my vial of Oiro and I’ll test it properly, not only on the wrists… well, let’s see how long I can make this (half sized!) sample last!

            How funny the “mini-musc” reference….!! I’m still laughing even when the joke is over… XD

    • deeHowe says:

      GeM, I don’t find that Musc smells like baby powder, and i think that if your olfactory palette is accustomed to other types of “powdery” notes (cosmetics powder, iris, heliotrope), you won’t find it specifically skewed in that direction. 🙂

      • GeM says:

        Thank you, Dee! Yes, I’m quite accustomed to that different kinds of powder so I’m not thinking in my own impression of the fragrance, but in my husband’s impression…! haha! 😉 But I better ask for a sample and let’s see what happens!!

  11. Suzanne says:

    Darn, when I ordered samples from LuckyScent of the MdO’s, this was not one I included. Another time, I guess. In the meantime, I remain a member of the unclean sinners of the world who will go on loving MKK no matter what! 😉

  12. Vanessa says:

    This sounds like a perfectly balanced musk scent, and it is a category I like generally. The added hug bit also appeals!

  13. I love this review. You and I seem to have similar tastes in musk, at least to an extent, Birgit. I love Musc Ravageur but found Muscs Koublai Khan too much. This one is definitely going on the sample list.

    • Olfactoria says:

      This is a musc that strikes a perfect balance – no sweaty dirt, no squeaky clean soapiness.

      • GeM says:

        oh I wish I had my sample here! Meanwhile … Is Musc Ravageur a close match to imagine this Mona di Orio? I’m afraid I’m not familiarized with MR because the FM line is not handy to me … Anyway, for instance: The Body Shop musk = soapiness-laundry / Kiehl’s musk = sweaty dirt,
        Now I only need the ‘perfect balanced’ reference one! …mmmmh, any suggestion?

  14. civava says:

    I have same problems with musk than you. Usually I tend to go around it. But if I have an opportunity to try this one I definitely will.

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  17. GeM says:

    Now I understand!
    Remember when we recently commented about ‘baby’ products in our respective countries …? so when you told me that in yours they’re not around the neroli note, but they’re mostly powdery and rather sweet —> what your words suggested me, that is how MdO’s Musk smells like to me. Definitely, Oh Yes!

    I suspect that I have to familiarize myself more and more on this scent…
    This is just a first impression.
    By the way… I really find it could be the perfect scent for nursing and early motherhood!

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  20. raab says:

    Dear B, once more, you’re right, one more, we reach each other……so amazing, while I had not liked at all Musc when I sampled it the first time, I read beautiful reviews about this cloud of perfume…..I received an advice from Renata at Sens Unique, she’s a seller,she knows stories about all perfumes, and is a so nice and kind people…She didn’t understand why I didn’t want to test it again while I love almond heliotrope…..So I did and…………..I LOVE it.
    It’s amazing, my only love in MdO’s line was and remains Vanille but whereas I didn’t like Ambre and Musc, now, slowly, very slowly, they became a “must”.
    I bought, as you know, a FB of Ambre and love it more and more and received new samples by Renata of Musc so delicious, the skin of an angel as she’s used to say. So comforting, light but strong at the same time, powdery, aldehydic but not too much, me who hate musk, it’s not musk for me, it’s a cloud of softness around me…..
    So, 1st lesson, your advices are still so good and close to my tastes
    2nd lesson, love is not always at first sniff, it’s been like this for Vanille but Ambre and Musc became gorgeous after knowing them better.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love it when I’m right! 😉

      Seriously though, Mona’s perfumes are wonderful, and I also ended up loving the ones I dismissed at first the most.
      I’m glad you have such a wonderful SA who seems to know you well.
      Enjoy Musc! (And Ambre, and Vanille… 🙂 )

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