Summer ends the same way for me. It seems that only yesterday I made vacation plans, unearthed a swimming suit from a pile of winter clothes and bought an extra bottle of sunscreen. And then I wake up at the end of August and see that the local stationery store is advertising “start of school” sales and tall lindens lining the avenues in the city are slowly changing from green to gold. If I could hit a pause button for a moment, I would, if only to capture this languid, golden sensation of late summer days. But everything rushes forward inexorably, and the most I can do is reach for bottled summer fantasies, such as Parfums de Nicolaï Musc Monoi.
Monoi (also called tiare) is a tropical blossom that smells creamy and intensely sweet. It’s macerated in coconut oil to capture its heady perfume, and the scented oil is used on skin and hair. If you’ve ever seen a fragrance or body product advertised as having a tropical fragrance, then this monoi-coconut combination is something you’ve already encountered. In France, summer scent often means sweet orange blossom, such as L’Oreal’s classical Ambre Solaire sunscreen, and in Musc Monoi, perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï weaves both Mediterranean and tropical inspirations.
The result is a simple, charming perfume that is easy to wear and enjoy. Musc Monoi, despite the presence of white flowers (fruity orange blossom, ylang ylang, and of course, monoi), notes that are as subtle as the tropical sun, feels radiant and sparkling. It opens up on skin liberally laced with citrus and minty accents, and this shimmering sensation stays behind even when you’re wrapped in white petals and musk. To say that it lasts well is an understatement; you’ll smell it on your skin after a shower. On the other hand, Musc Monoi wears close to skin and won’t announce your presence a mile away.
After an hour or so, the musk takes center stage, and everything else, including monoi, becomes secondary. This means that if you’re lukewarm about musky perfumes, Musc Monoi isn’t for you. It’s all about soft, fluffy white musk that hides a few coconut scented flowers here and there.
Musc Monoi is not an unusual or particularly memorable perfume, and if you’re searching for something summery but with many twists and turns, look elsewhere (Chanel Beige, Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess, and Kai are good places to start). Simplicity is the very reason I like Musc Monoi. Simplicity paired with good quality makes it even better. It’s fun, bubbly and lighthearted enough that I would want to wear it on cold days for a bit of sunwarmed feeling. Or just whenever I feel like kicking back and putting the world on pause.
Parfums de Nicolaï Musc Monoi includes notes of neroli, lemon, petitgrain, ylang-ylang, jasmine, coconut, calone, magnolia, sandalwood and musk. 30ml/$50, 100ml/$120. Available at Luckyscent, Parfums de Nicolaï boutiques, New London Pharmacy.