Ramon Monegal Fragrances : Perfume Reviews

Ramón Monegal is both the name of a perfumer and a perfume house.  Monegal is a Spaniard with a strong background in perfumery.  His lineage is the House of Myrurgia, a preeminent Spanish house based in Barcelona—the family business—with which Monegal was associated until he decided to embark upon his own projects.  The perfume house has just entered the market in a big way with the release of 14 perfumes!

The most striking thing about the line overall is the stages of development each fragrance goes through. This came as a surprise to me, since many modern fragrances come at you in a rush of notes.  With the Monegal line, what you smell at first may be dramatically different from the various stages of the fragrance.

Take Mon Patchouly, for example.  This is a major new patchouli that presents the familiar accord first framed by vanillic sweetness and then by animalic elements.  So disaparate were these two experiences that I was at first not able to reconcile them as the same perfume.  It smelled at first of an old-school chypre without head notes, before descending through the ranks of mossy, earthy base elements.  It is the edgiest of the line and, despite its animalic tendency, an urban scent, the sort of uber-cool downtown thing that you know no one else is wearing—at least not yet.

The line is big on white musks:  Cherry Musk turns out to be a light, transparent rose musk with a fat red iced cherry on top; Cotton Musk is exactly as the name sounds, a clean and powdery white musk with a hint of gardenia; Agar Musk, which worried me since I do not care for the agarwood note, treated the trendy note lightly, as a smoky-medicinal base against which played a skin musk.

I approached both Cuirelle and Mon Cuir with trepidation, again owing to my dislike for tannic leather notes.  If there were to be a bold statement it is non-existent here:  Cuirelle, which is meant to smell like “the essence of leather,” wound up being first leathery and then a seductive honeyed frankincense drydown.  It shot straight to the top of my must-have list for fall. Mon Cuir teased with elegant, animalic leather, labdanum, and honey-powder sweetness.  A slight tannic sharpness disappeared within half an hour and was replaced by a hint of Play-Doh heliotrope and doughiness.  Mon Cuir thus became only the second leather fragrance I find wearable (the other is Chanel Cuir de Russie).  Devotees of sharp, birchtar leathers might find Mon Cuir’s leather note not tough enough.

Another note that I normally avoid is iris, so Impossible Iris is the sample I tried last.  This one, too, was a surprise. Absent were the aspects of iris that I avoid:  the cosmetic, the rooty, and the cloudy.  Monegal has sharpened up his iris through a prism of violet and it is violet that is more apparent to me, a sweet and clear violet with iris acting as a foundation note along with a fruity red-berry note that is a bit like a hard candy without candying up the perfume.  While this scent was largely violet on me, on Gaia of the Non-Blonde it was iris (here is her great review).

Entre Naranjos presents orange as both a color and as a smell.  It’s one of those “whole tree” orange blossom fragrances that take into account the twigs and the leaves as well as the flower, plus orange peel.  It’s zesty and dynamic and straddles both cologne and perfume.  The first hit of it is pure green orange, about as far away from orange juice as you can imagine.  Woody notes emerge in the midsection, to be followed by the powdery amber base that appears repeatedly in the line.  A must for orange lovers for its photorealistic opening notes and longevity.

Dry Wood contains a sharp and bracing white sandalwood note beneath a flurry of pine/turpentine “aftershave” notes. This is the most masculine and the least softly focused of the line.  It’s a bit sharp at the edges, but this is a quality I find stimulating.  I easily used up the sample; while I might not wear this with a gown, I found its stereotypical “male” aesthetic pleasing (I like sharp sandalwood).

A dark vegetal tangle of vetiver, moss, and lichen occurs in Umbra, a different take on vetiver that has bitterness of geranium leaf tossed with fir and dried out over a tonka bean fire. This has a spectacular smoky-sweet, mossy drydown and the interpretation is different enough to warrant trying by vetiver fans.

Ambra di Luna is a thick vanillic amber whose promised animalic notes didn’t appear on me, or else appeared so distantly that I, who am used to vintage Jicky, did not catch them. This one is like eating an amber cake that has been decorated with frosted jasmine.  It was too sweet for me ultimately.

Lovely Day and L’Eau de Rose are both centered around rose, with the former being an interesting oddball twisting licorice through rose and black currant and the latter being something I always want and never find until now:  a rosewater scent that is more than just a cologne, and one with a distinctive mossy drydown.

Kiss My Name showcases a glittering, Vegas-strip tuberose set in neroli and jasmine, with balsamic base.  The tuberose is clean, not buttery, and bright as a hot sun. Since I enjoy punched-up tuberose, I liked this.

Overall, this is an ambitious and exciting line that likely has something for everyone, and several strong selling points, not the least of which is variety. In addition, many scents using traditional core notes have unusual accents, like an inky twist of licorice in Lovely Day or the brightening lemon-violet of Impossible Iris. Mon Patchouly and Umbra are the edgiest of the line, smelling more like niche artisan than department store scents.  I would buy Cuirelle, and if I had unlimited perfume budget, Entre Naranjos, Mon Patchouly, and L’eau de Rose. As it stands, these are luxury items that run $185.00 for 50 ml, so they join the ranks of the ultra-exclusives!  At this rarefied level, sometimes I wonder if I can afford niche perfumes any longer.

Ramón Monegal fragrances are available from Neiman Marcus, Luckyscent, and directly from ramonmonegal.com.

Samples: Monegal

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35 Comments

  • marsi: Myrurgia Maja is what my grandmother wore. I bought it this summer in Spain, it was very cheap here, about 5 euros for a bottle. Ramón Monegal own line must be different, of course. I’m most interested in Entre Naranjos. September 7, 2012 at 9:06am Reply

    • Suzanna: marsi, Entre Naranjos is very lovely! A major new citrus/orange blossom/wood scent. I highly recommend it! September 7, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

  • Therese19: Thanks, Suzanna, for another interesting review. There are so many niche houses, I tend now to ignore most. Too many choices.
    However, your Mon Cuir description could have me making an exception.
    As for the price, Monegal seems to be priced at the sweet spot of niche and well known (Guerlain, Chanel etc.) perfumes. No biggy!

    Quality ingredients, packaging and marketing cost! Why not? Perfume is a luxury item.

    Good stuff. September 7, 2012 at 9:06am Reply

    • Suzanna: Therese, I agree that there are so many niche houses that one can become lost in trying to keep track.

      Mon Cuir is a soft leather with its feral edge smoothed and silkened. If you like the Lancome scent Cuir de Lancome, but with a little “bite,” you’d probably adore Mon Cuir.

      Perfume prices (and luxury cosmetics, too) are really on the rise lately. September 7, 2012 at 9:50am Reply

  • OperaFan: Excited by the ad copy I tried a handful of these recently with not very promising results:

    – The Ambre was lovely, sheer, and for me, not too sweet. Price tag was a bit heavy and I think I can do as well for a lot less.
    – Lovely Day which others have described as very floral, never revealed any for me. A big disappointment, it went from a greenish opening straight to woods. I kept thinking maybe Luckyscent mislabeled the sample.
    – The Rose was not memorable to me at all and the Entre Naranjos, while very well-done, was not something I can imagine paying that much money for.

    Impossible Iris was the only one among these that I would have a serious interest in acquiring, until I put it up against Delrae’s Mythique, which I find to be a very close cousin and I could go almost either way. Granted the packaging is not even close to the RM’s luxurious bottles, I think I’d rather pay $135 for Mythique than $185 for the RM.

    Think my nose is a bit tired, or the prices of niche has gotten so high that the quality would never match the kind of expectation that would prompt me to open my wallet that wide for a purchase. Kind of sad…. September 7, 2012 at 10:02am Reply

    • Suzanna: OperaFan, too bad nothing worked for you in the line. Glad you’ve mentioned the Mythique, since I am not really familiar with it and would not have been able to make a comparison (and iris is not a fave note of mine). We all have different vantage points and I think it makes for a great discussion! September 7, 2012 at 10:33am Reply

      • OperaFan: I really wish I had done better with these. Early reviews sounded so promising and the price tags made my expectations all the greater so that when they turned out not to be my cup of tea it was a big letdown.

        I wasn’t a big iris fan either because of the blur between iris and violet perfumes. Many fragrances that are heavy on the violet go sour on me. I have found many exceptions since, especially among the great Guerlains like L’Heure Bleue, Apres l’Ondee, and Attrape Coeur.

        Mythique has a magical effect in that it literally envelops the wearer. I call it an “aura” fragrance. You may not get much out of it when you sniff it up close, but you can smell it all around you. I think it’s worth trying, especially if you like the Impossible Iris.

        Cheers! September 7, 2012 at 2:51pm Reply

  • yomi: Lovely review, Suzanna. Mon patchouly sounds interesting. I love patchouli! And I love the line as you have described it. Well done. September 7, 2012 at 10:14am Reply

    • Suzanna: yomi, Mon Patchouly is really different. I will qualify that by saying “for me.” Anyone’s experience may vary. I do not know of any close cognate to it, and it went through several interesting stages of development involving both herbal and floral elements. It’s easily a unisex scent–I’d love to smell it on a man! September 7, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

    • Nicole: My Co-worker and I visited Neiman Marcus in Dallas TX, and tried Mon patchouly which she loved. She wears it at work and the fragrance lasts for 12hours. I’m more of a Cherry Musk, Cotton Musk, and Kiss My Name fragrance lover. I really like the line and appreciate his sense of quality and mastery of fine perfumes* November 23, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

  • Lucas: I tried Cuirelle and Impossible Iris so far, but we didn’t click after few tryings. September 7, 2012 at 11:03am Reply

    • Suzanna: Lucas, I loved the drydown of Cuirelle. A marvelous waft of honeyed frankincense–I’m a sucker for that type of note and this wow’ed me.

      I know, though, that sometimes things don’t click. Entire lines! I’ve had a few of those myself. September 7, 2012 at 11:17am Reply

      • Lucas: This one didn’t click but I had so many clicks for Parfum d’Empire that I could own almost every fragrance from their offer (and I will own these loved ones) September 7, 2012 at 12:21pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I need to revisit that line. Thanks for bringing it up! I had the amber and grew tired of it. I’ve always loved the columnar bottles. September 7, 2012 at 12:36pm Reply

          • Lucas: I love those bottles too. My favourites from the line are Iskander, Azemour, Eau de Gloire and Iskander. I want to have them all one day. September 7, 2012 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Daisy: I’ve been hearing about this and can’t wait to smell the line. It’s coming to New York soon, no? September 7, 2012 at 11:08am Reply

    • Suzanna: Daisy, I think Bergdorf and Neiman Marcus will have it in NYC. September 7, 2012 at 11:16am Reply

  • annemariec: I’m unlikely to get a chance to try these unless one of the decant services pick them up. But I have heard about the line and am very glad to read such a careful and comprehensive review, so many thanks.

    It seems to me that the issue for an expensive line like this is that experienced perfume-sniffers, who are the people most likely to appreciate the quality of materials and the craftsmanship of these fragrances and therefore perhaps be willing to pay for it, are also likely – obviously – to have smelled a lot of other perfume as well. So, like Operafan has done, they can say ‘oh but such-and-such is just as good and costs much less’. September 7, 2012 at 6:45pm Reply

    • Suzanna: annemariec, I agree with you completely about worth relative to cost. Sometimes a scent will pop out at me as similar to something else, but it’s rare to have that vast an experience that everyone will know the same experience. September 8, 2012 at 12:07am Reply

  • grain de musc: Thanks for diving in and reviewing all of these! I confess that when a new brand pops up with so many offerings, I just wimp out.
    In this case, the name “Monegal” did make me prick up my ears, since Estev Monegal, Ramon’s grand-father (I think) was such a visionary with Myrurgia in the early 20th century.
    I have an exhibition catalogue from the Barcelona museum of fine arts: the bottles and ads were often very striking. Sadly, there was very little about the scents. I don’t suppose many of them survived the Spanish Civil War which would explain why they don’t pop up much in auctions. September 7, 2012 at 6:48pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I know the sagging feeling of many offerings. It’s what stopped me from sampling scents from certain lines. There’s too much to wade through.

      Earlier today, searching out Corday in response to another comment in my drugstore post, I saw the most marvelous animal-shaped bottles from the early 20th century. Such amazing objets d’art are a thing of the past, sadly, and your comment about Myrurgia bottles reminded me of it. September 8, 2012 at 12:04am Reply

    • annemariec: Hi Denyse, after reading Suzanna’s review of these Monegals, I wandered around the internet and I read your lovely post about Myrugia. It always seems odd to me that bottle collectors and decorative arts historians seem uninterested in the fragrances that were in the bottles. To me you can’t fully understand the artistry of the bottle design without taking into consideration the intent of the perfumer who designed the juice. Oh well, just one of life’s mysteries I guess. September 8, 2012 at 6:13am Reply

      • grain de musc: There’s actually an article by Ramon Monegal in the catalogue of the exhibition, but very little about the scents. A few Myrurgia fragrances are still produced but I wasn’t able to verify whether they had any resemblance to the originals at all. I don’t know whether any one of them was part of the show. Myrurgia belongs to Puig, which produces Prada and Paco Rabanne, among other brands, and one day I hope to be able to find out from them, or Ramon Monegal, about hte olfactory history of the house. Good pretext to go to Barcelona! September 8, 2012 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Mark: I read the early reviews of this line before but the price really scared me. Your description of Cuirelle and Mon Cuir finally convinced me that I need to give it a chance. Usually this note doesn’t love me except for Cuir de Russie. I went to Neiman Marcus and spent a good hour smelling all 14 perfumes. The SA there was helpful enough and gave me some samples to take home. My favorites so far: Cuirelle and Umbra. I must be anosmic to something in Mon Cuir because it disappears on me but whatever I smell at first smells very good.

    (By the way I tried leaving a comment before but it didn’t appear. I’m not a frequent commenter maybe I did something wrong when posting it.) September 8, 2012 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Mark, it’s not you, it’s the blog! I had to do an urgent security upgrade yesterday, and your comment must have come in right as the upgrade was taking place. I’ve fixed it and removed the duplicate comment. My apologies! September 8, 2012 at 10:00am Reply

    • Suzanna: I’m glad you sought these out, Mark. I think you singled out a couple that would be gorgeous on a man. Umbra has “cult favorite” written all over it. September 8, 2012 at 12:04pm Reply

  • hajusuuri: I have the sample bag of all 14 from LuckyScent but I haven’t tried any yet…now I am looking forward to slowly getting to know them. Thanks for your reviews! September 8, 2012 at 8:16pm Reply

    • Suzanna: That’s quite the sample bag, hajusuuri! It will take you some time to work through them, I am sure! Enjoy! September 9, 2012 at 8:40am Reply

  • Little Red: Both Entre Naranjos and Kiss My Name sound right up my alley. I hope I run into them. September 11, 2012 at 12:19am Reply

    • Suzanna: Little Red, you can always contact the company to find out where you might run into them, or they into you :–) September 11, 2012 at 9:54am Reply

  • Carrie Meredith: Hi Victoria! I’m a bit late commenting here, but I only just found the post.

    I love this line. Cuirelle is my favorite too! I’m rather tickled that you found all of the goodness in it that I did. Mon Cuir and Impossible Iris (which is getting a new name soon, I hear) are my numbers two and three. I also really enjoy Umbra- I think it’s a really unique take on vetiver, and vetiver is one of those notes that when done cheaply or without enough thought, can really ruin a perfume for me. Umbra brings to mind the image of creating the drink of absinthe- pouring the green wormwood liquid over a sugar cube on a little spoon. I don’t smell absinthe, but that’s what I see. I totally agree with you– it’s one of the most unique in the line.

    I wear Cuirelle every day/night, and am hopelessly addicted to it. A word of caution: if you do end up buying a bottle, your craving for the scent will most likely not be quelled. My greed for it has increased ten-fold since I got mine. 🙂

    I hope you are doing well in Belgium– I do think of you sometimes, and hope we get the chance to meet (and shop together) someday! October 5, 2012 at 3:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Carrie, this was Suzanna’s review, I still haven’t smelled the line.

      And yes, I hope that we can meet when I come to visit my parents in Chicago. 🙂 October 5, 2012 at 3:40am Reply

  • lila: I just realized that Cuirelle reminds me a lot of Violet Blonde by Tom Ford. It’s VB with a bottle of spicy booze! I love the honeyed dry down of Cuirelle whereas VB stays green to the end. I love them both! October 23, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Ann Keyes: Hi! I’ve been ‘lingering’ here quite often. Fascinating place. Love it. I have a question and I hope it’s not too pedestrian: What are the notes in the old, opaque soap called, ‘Tallba’? The company, Victoria Soap, in Sweden, says it was pine, moss, amber, musk, and mint. The only soap they produce recently, under the Tallba name, is transparent and glycerin-based and smells quite different from the old, opaque type, even though they SAY it has the same notes, it does not! The new stuff is much sweeter. Can anyone point out to me what the difference is, scent-wise?
    Thank you! March 21, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

  • Ann Keyes: I’m sorry!!!!!!!!!! I think I posted in the wrong place. The contest sounds so wonderful- it’s a wonderful legacy to people who appreciate fine scents. Very thoughtful. March 21, 2014 at 8:00am Reply

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