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Musc Monoï – After a day at the beach… - June 23, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Beach at Cannes, France, 1980, by Paul Stein

Whenever I tell people about this blog, say, at a dinner party, they don’t always get the niche perfume thing. That’s OK because I don’t get the golf thing. And, if they are intrigued and want to know more about niche fragrances, I get out one of my benchmark fragrances and give them a spritz. For people brought up with a religious background Incense: Avignon is my frag of choice for them. It always gets the “This doesn’t smell like flowers. It smells like mass at church!” response. It’s not what they think perfume should be and it takes them back to a place in their childhood. Suddenly, they ‘get’ the niche perfume thing.

Prompting memories is one of the things that fragrance can do, so when my husband sniffed Musc Monoï on my skin he was taken back to his childhood of family seaside summers spent in France. No surprise there since Musc Monoï, the latest frag from Nicolaï, Parfumeur-Créateur (formerly Parfums de Nicolaï) was inspired by Ambre Solaire, the 75 year-old French suntan oil produced by L’Oreal and worn by tout le monde, OK mostly the French, especially in the 60’s and 70’s.

The Scented Salamander quotes Patricia de Nicolaï, saying: " I have long been in love with the famous oil Ambre Solaire. I always wanted to create a perfume reprising this scent which evokes a day at the beach drenched in sun. "A deliciously sensual fragrance which would smell of hot skin at the end of a beautiful summer day - that was my goal!" I can’t honestly say what Ambre Solaire smelled like years ago, but I can tell you that Musc Monoï smells like I want wear it - a lot!

It opens fresh and fragrant with citrusy, floral neroli, juicy lemon and a green note from petitgrain. As these fade, the Monoï comes forward. Monoï is a fragrant Polynesian oil made from soaking Tiaré flowers (Tahitian gardenias) in coconut oil. Monoi oil is rich in methyl salicylate, a skin-soothing agent which penetrates the skin, re-hydrates it and protects it against damage from sun and wind damage. It’s a key ingredient in suntan oils like Ambre Solaire.

Musc Monoï isn’t about replicating the scent of Ambre Solaire, it’s about being inspired by it, so instead of gardenia, de Nicolaï uses rich, creamy, ylang-ylang combined with indolic, animalic jasmine to create the impression of sun-kissed skin. Ylang-ylang and jasmine are sensuous and erotic but they can also be sweet so lush, lemony-faceted magnolia is there to keep it fresh and floral. Ylang-ylang has a banana aspect to it that ushers a note of lush, tropical coconut oil creating a gorgeous tribute to Monoï. Calone adds an aquatic, marine note to Musc Monoï so that it smells of the sea. At the base, the sensuous mood is strengthened by ylang-ylang smoothed by velvety sandalwood while animalic musk adds sensuality and warmth.

The drydown is refined, sensuous and sophisticated. It smells like warm, sun kissed shoulders, arms and legs - tanned and sea-sprayed skin after a lazy, languorous day spent sunning at the beach.

Musc Monoï isn’t the only frag to be inspired by Ambre Solaire. Fire Island by Bond No. 9 was inspired by it as well. I own and love them both. To me Fire Island is bolder whereas Musc Monoï is subtler, which makes it more glamorous. If Fire Island is a day at the beach then Musc Monoï is the evening of that day.

I may not have childhood memories of days spent at the beach wearing Ambre Solaire like my husband does, but I expect I will have a few memories created by wearing Musc Monoï.

Musc Monoï is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.