Dandified Violet – Review: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Violette Fumée

By Tara

Before her tragic, untimely death in 2011, Mona created Violette Fumée for her business partner Jeroen Oude Sogtoen. She sought to embody within it his favourite raw materials, passions and memories.

In 2013 he decided to share this personal creation with the rest of us and it joined Les Nombres d’Or.

mdo violette fumée

The new flacon

Notes listed for Violette Fumée are lavender, bergamot, oakmoss, violet flowers, violet leaves, rose, vetiver, clary sage, opoponax, myrrh and cashmeran.

On application the lavender rushes up to greet me, but I don’t want to recoil the way I usually do with this tricky note. It is a little medicinal and rather cold but the spiky edges have been planed off. Bergamot sits just behind the lavender, brightening it up and adding a nice contrast.

Over the course of maybe half an hour, the lavender gradually turns to a rich shade of violet.

The rapidly blooming violet flowers are fresh and leafy at first, then turning smooth to the point of being almost creamy.

The violet sweetness is kept in check by the herbaceous border of violet leaves and oakmoss. To start with, this dark green edging is vegetal and earthy, but it dries out over time.

Who can resist the combination of violet and rose? These two complement each other so well it’s as if they were made for one another. So when a tender pink rose joins the violet, they create a remarkably pretty haze which means Violette Fumée feels far from “Men Only”.

Despite its name, I don’t get any acrid tobacco or noticeable waft of smoke. The overall impression is of a cool and gently powdery profusion of violets with a scattering of rose petals, on a soft carpet of moss and dry leaves.

At around the three hour mark it gets a lot quieter and becomes more of a skin scent. Some may balk at this lack of prolonged sillage but I like the intimacy of it and longevity is very good (it is labelled Eau de Parfum Intense).

I stop short of falling for Violette Fumée because of its chilly nature and the fact that I seem to be sensitive to the kind of musk used. However, I love its sophisticated take on violet and the fantastic mossy base.

Needless to say it would work well on a guy, but any woman who likes the sound of a grown-up (not matronly) violet should definitely check it out.

This chic fragrance feels like a good match with Katharine Hepburn, movie star of the golden-age of Hollywood. With her masculine style and feminine beauty, she appeared self-possessed and self-assured.


Violette Fumée has the aura of a well constructed classical perfume that still feels modern. It manages to pull off the not insignificant feat of straddling both the masculine and the feminine, the old world and the new.

Have you tried Violette Fumée? Do you like violet fragrances?


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42 Responses to Dandified Violet – Review: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Violette Fumée

  1. Tina G says:

    Hi Tara – I am honestly sitting here in a train on my way home with an unopened box from Mona di Orio in my bag… Which includes two 5ml roll ons of Violette Fumee. To be opened as soon as I’m home! So thanks for the review, I look forward to trying this one. I do enjoy violet fragrances, one of those ‘memory lane’ scents. x Tina

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Sadly, this one didn’t work on me at all, it was a real meh 😦

  3. Sandra says:

    Lovely review Tara! I enjoyed it the one time I wore it. Will pull out my sample again and reread your review. I love violet perfumes.

  4. Ines says:

    I haven’t tried Violette Fumee but I do want to. I heard great things about it and love that you likened it Katherine Hepburn. 🙂

  5. Asali says:

    I think i feel about the same as you Tara; it’s such a sophisticated and beautiful fragrance, albeit a little (too) cold? I’m not sure though, if it wasn’t actually the price point that scared me off… I do love a good violet note; guet apens, Aimez moi, insolence edp and of course après l’ondee…
    Katherine Hepburn is a good match 🙂

    • Tara says:

      The price point doesn’t help! I think you have to love all aspects to pay that kind of money.

      You know, your comment and the fragrances mentioned has really cemented my suspicion that I actually prefer perfumes with a good violet note rather than violet perfumes, if you know what I mean!

      • Asali says:

        Ah, yes you’re probably right. Isn’t that somehow always the case, a perfume that is more than the sum of its parts? Perhaps Iris being the only exception for me 🙂

  6. Michael says:

    I haven’t tried this yet but will do. A chilli violet sounds perfect for the office 🙂

    • Tara says:

      I really do think it would be perfect on a guy for the office. I hope it works for you.

      • Mahesh says:

        Right said Tara. I couldn’t resist buying it a few months ago especially that I found a bargain on eBay just when I was going to buy it. It is amazing but cold as you say and not much sillage.

  7. Hey there pretty lady,
    So glad that VF is about its name, it manages the expectations better. I have been in the same room as a bottle of this a few times and it never gets the spritz, maybe next time….
    As always you deftly parse and create story, lovely work.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      Thank you, Portia! You’re always so kind.

      I wonder if VF is too subdued and chilly for your vivacious and warm personality but it’s worth a spritz sometime.

  8. Sabine says:

    VF didn’t work for me, I think I expected it to be warmer and more sultry. I can take lavender and like oakmoss, so it’s not the individual notes that put me off, just the combination isn’t right for me.

    • Tara says:

      I think my expectations were the same as yours, Sabine. I tend to struggle with cold fragrances generally and I would have liked some sultry smoke.

  9. Suzanne says:

    Although I’m not a fan of Violet Fumee because it’s simply too quiet in every regard on my skin, I think you described it accurately, Tara. Some people can pull of its delicacy well, though (Asali is one – it bloomed quietly but distinctly on her skin, whereas it was “meh” on me). Even though you said it’s a little chilly on you, it seems it goes in the kind of direction you like. Would you say it’s your favorite MdO?

    • Tara says:

      It does seem to depend on your skin, Suzanne. Lady Jane Grey has very “robust” skin (as she puts it) and she said it was “meh” on her too.

      Eau Absolue is my favourite from the line but after that come Musc and Violette Fumee. What about you? Do you like the Vetyver?

      • Suzanne says:

        Tara, as it won’t surprise you, her animalic Nuit Noire was my favorite. I also love MdO Oud and MdO Vanille, the latter of which I own a bottle.

        • Tara says:

          Thanks for letting me know, Suzanne. I really want to try Nuit Noire after hearing so much about it.

          I really thought Vanille would be the vanilla for me but sadly it just too grassy on my skin.

  10. anitathepianist says:

    I look forward to trying this one. The idea of a female who likes masculine style clothes sounds just right for me. Violet fragrances usually put me off because of too much sweetness, but this one
    sounds perfect..Ah, the world of fragrance holds so many pleasures not yet experienced!

    • Tara says:

      Oh it does! I love how the world of fragrance is continually giving us new stuff to try, even though it’s often overwhelming.

      It does sound like Violette Fumee would really suit you. It definitely doesn’t have a lot of sweetness. I hope you like it when you get to try it.

  11. Vanessa says:

    I do enjoy rose and violet perfumes as a rule, but like you found this a little austere and dry. It didn’t seem to mesh together somehow and reel me in. But then I am not mad about lavender and clary sage, so maybe between that and the oakmoss it just tipped it into masculine territory, I can’t rightly recall. There again, it has myrrh in it, a note I am currently exploring, so it may deserve a retrial. 😉

    • Tara says:

      I know what you mean. There was a lot I really liked about it, especially the rose/violet combo and the moss, but it didn’t quite reel me in either. It took me a while to work out why. I do tend to go for warmer perfumes generally which is probably why I’m so drawn to Eau Absolue.

      Perfumes with myrrh are very appealing for you for at the moment, I know!

  12. ‘Chilly’ is a really good way to describe VF. There is most definitely something aloof about it. I’m a big fan 😀

  13. lucasai says:

    What a coincidence! I just reviewed Myrrhe Casati from Mona di Orio

    • Tara says:

      That is a coincidence! Looking forward to trying that one.

    • Undina says:

      Lucas, and that was all you had to say about Tara’s review?! ;-P

      • lucasai says:

        No sweetie, I just wanted to read it in peace on Saturday morning.

        Well written review Tara. I loved reading your impressions, and the “dandified” in a title sounds just right. Violette Fumee is my favorite MdO scent and I would buy it if smaller size was available (even new 75ml is too much for me)
        This is a grown up scent with a twist. You say you didn’t smell much smoke – I did, but in a transparent way.

        • Tara says:

          Thanks, Lucas. The large bottle size of Eau Absolue (100ml) is also making me hesitate to purchase. I shall have to look into the travel sets, if they still do them.

          Good to hear you got some transparent smoke. I know some people do get that from VF.

  14. Undina says:

    I tried Violette Fumee just once: it was fine – not too interesting, not annoying, just fine. I wasn’t surprised since most MdO’s perfumes do not work for me but I’ll re-test it tonight to check if I can “see” what you described (“chilly”, “chic” and “sophisticated”).
    I do not mind violet perfumes but do not actively seek them out.

    • Tara says:

      The Nombres d’Or line has quite a distinctive house style (aside from Eau Absolue) so I’m also not surprised Violette Fumee didn’t work for you.

      I still have a hankering to own a violet perfume but, like I saying to Asali, I think maybe I’d be better off with a perfume that has violet in a less prominent role.

  15. Enname says:

    I really love cold, dry scents as my nose always reads them as warm and snuggly for some reason, although I struggle with iris. VF goes quite smokey-esque on me, after starting almost like damp, oily wool (the oakmoss and lavender). Then a perpetual smokey, soft scent that is a bit bitter and a bit rosey/violette-y. Pretty and something I associate with humidity (wet wool!) and the damp.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience of Violette Fumee, Enname. It’s nice to hear from someone who has a different take on it and gets the smoke. I must have worn it 5 times or so at least but never got any, which was a shame. It does sound really intriguing on you.

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