December 9, 2011
Acceptance of death is a peculiar thing. When it comes at the end of a long life we say, “They had a good life.” When it strikes without warning early in life we wonder what might have been as that person feels cruelly cut from life’s tapestry. What of the person who lives to see their dreams fulfilled; to create that which they desired to create? What do we say then? Today is a day with the announcement of the passing of perfumer Mona di Orio that I find I actually have something to say.
First the loss to her family and friends must be enormous. Through my connection with her perfume creations I sense Mona di Orio was a person full of a desire to create. I hope that she was able to do it on her terms made her happy. Certainly the pictures of her and her words, through interviews, seem to indicate a person who was happy with her life. It occurs to me that all too rarely do we have people around who are truly happy to be what they’re doing. Without knowing for sure I think Mona di Orio was happy making perfume.
The loss to the artistic perfume community is also large. In particular 2011 was, in my opinion, her best year. In point of fact Mona di Orio and her creation Les Nombres D’Or Oud are my Perfumer of the Year and Perfume of the Year respectively. It was an easy decision this year because each of the releases built upon the other. It reminded me of the Facebook icon as a pyramid of bottles. On top of that pyramid is Les Nombres D’Or Oud. This is a completely original construction full of bold architecture and subtle contours. I’ve worn it over a dozen times now and I still find something new to admire in it. I’m sure it is possible that she had even something greater still inside of her; but this particular fragrance is one that stands in a special place for me, and will for years to come. Now it will serve as a fitting reminder of the brilliant redheaded creator of fragrance who is lost to us.
I wish her family and friends the strength to get through the next few days. In my little part of the world I am going to spray myself with Oud tonight and meditate on the creativity on display.
If there is a perfume afterlife I think they are about to add a new creative viewpoint to their everlasting discussion. Have at ‘em Mona I think you have something to teach them.
Join us here at Cafleurebon in a moment of blog silence in memory of Mona di Orio. We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with our usual mix of stories but until then we will pay tribute with our silence.
–Mark Behnke, Managing Editor
Note: EIC Michelyn Camen’s art direction is always inspired but the Modigliani “Young Redhead In An Evening Dress” has always seemed as if Mona was his model and it seemed a fitting piece of art to memorialize her.