Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mona Lisa by fragrance review

If Mona Lisa were Parisian and one hell of a sexy lady she would have worn Mona Lisa, the all natural perfume by Abdes Salaam/ Dominique Dubrana. Mona Lisa is a bespoke fragrance composed for a certain lady in the all too real life of Aspen, Colorado and Dubrana interacted with Laura Donna on mapping out the preferences of the lady in question.

She settled on a trio of natural civet, tuberose absolute and mandarin which Dubrana garlanded with other precious essences. The client, an entrepreneur and owner of Main Street Reprographics, a digital graphics company, named Mona, had asked for something "subtle but killer" - because for her, wearing fragrance is a social act as well as a personal pleasure.

The result? An Ava Gardner of a scent with the feel of Sarah-Moon-does-Seurat, laden with mystery and mock innocence. The real Mona was elated! "“I got it!! I just got my perfume. It is like nothing I have ever smelled before. It is a little bit musky, powdery. It is very light, like a feather. It is not an old scent, it is not a young scent, it seems very natural. As soon as I can I would like to create another. What fun having my own scent. I feel sooo special.” (through the Laura Donna blog)

Mona Lisa by La Via del Profumo doesn't really segregate into billows and notes, but has an amalgamated feel about it, very smooth, very soft, very feminine; the civet-animalic feel is so powdery velvet it gives a soft-focus effect to all the other notes and the florals especially. You can't pinpoint it as a tuberose scent for sure and that's a plus sometimes as too often tuberose scents are so focused on the glorious tuberose they become like a stage performance where only the central diva is noteworthy and all the others are in attendance. Here one has trouble seeing it predominate and it blends seamlessly and delicately. I would think that there was actually a tinctured alcohol with tuberose and civet in use for the composition and the rest of the ingredients are married to it through osmosis. Hardly recognisable as the intense floral of other compositions, it emits a slight hint of coconut. The animalic civet is giving such a powdery, plush feel, I am immediately seduced by my own arm! Mandarin remains succulent and juicy, especially lingering on clothes, a surprising effect given that after the initial outlay Mona Lisa stays very close to the skin. The background has an almondy, tonka bean ambience about it with the individual muskiness of ambrette seeds.

Mona Lisa smells enticing, like a proper French perfume of old instead of a random mix of natural essences and yet retains a vibrancy that instantly makes you feel good, reassuring, leaning to smell the scent on your arms again and again and again in all stages...
How does Dubrana do it? He doesn't say. It should remain thus: the enigmatic, sphinx-like smile of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

You can buy a batch of Mona Lisa on the del Profumo site. (The incensy Persona and the heavenly neroli-ladden Morning Blossom are also highly recommended while you're at it!)

Photo Metro by Kees Terberg via, Photo by Sarah Moon via


  1. Starscent04:47

    This perfume house is wonderful. They did a very wearable-at-all-times, beautiful and interesting jasmine with a little mint and ginger (and a few other things, I think) for me. I love its simple elegance.

  2. You're seriously tempting me again with your beautiful review!!

    Do you know if there is a sampling set for the line? I can't seem to find the info. :-(

  3. E,
    Blast've tempted me with your description. I am enchanted by your description of it as a whole and of its evolution. Is it possible the civet-like element is castoreum? I recently became familiar with that note, and notice on the Perfume of Life board folks were discussing sampling that from Profumo. I am finding I really like it as a silky civet like note...

    Sue, there is a sampling set...more an opportunity to purchase "minis" of the Profumo line...if you go to the website, you'll see that they offer a set of 6 "you pick" of the "regular" line, or 3 of the "bespoke/new" perfumes. Mona Lisa is under the second grouping.

  4. Starscent,

    indeed I have been surprised by many of their offerings, there is a clear, translucent quality about them: the fragrance is like a crystal ornament, not crude faience!
    "jasmine with a little mint and ginger": o la la! Which one is this? Have I missed it?? Do tell!

  5. S,

    not that I am enabling or anything!! :-))
    It seems that the ever perceptible Scentself below your question has already answered your question.
    Good luck sampling!

  6. S,

    thank you honey for stopping by and your interesting question!
    The civet in this is powdery soft and very velvety. If you have sampled OJ's Tolu you will pick it up, it has the same warmth.
    I know of the castoreum you're talking about but I believe it's a completely different scent (have my sample in a drawer), based on castoreum (duh...obviously; I am so anal) giving it a harsher, pungent tone, leathery and more butch. Great stuff but different. Mona Lisa is a purring pedigree cat ;-) I think you'd like it!!

  7. Now I wonder how I knew the details about the ordering options at Profumo????

    ...which means I look forward to comparing Tolu against Mona Lisa. Further intrigue, mon enabler. ;)

  8. LOL!!!

    Send me a mail dear S with your address and I will send you some Tolu gratis to try it out! :-))

  9. Elena -

    You are a brilliant, brilliant writer and exquisitely articulate on the subject of scent. It was a pleasure to read your review of Mona Lisa. I so enjoy connecting people with their perfect scent; what a bonus that others appreciate the result!

    It is lovely working with Abdus Salaam, isn't it?


  10. Laura,

    thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, it gives me great pleasure to have you here. And I am especially pleased you liked the review and an honour.

    Indeed your efforts on working with Salaam and with Mona have born fruits of amazing pleasure. I was reading through Mona's favourite fragrances on your blog and I realised we share several similar tastes, so it was natural that I would be drawn to the scent. And what a match it has been for her, eh?

    I am hoping we can keep up the amicable rapport!

  11. Yes, that will be just wonderful!

    Thank you so much!


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