Today I’m Wearing: Santal Nabataea and Suède de Suède by Mona Di Orio

Who: Jeroen Oude Sogtoen (above right), creative director of perfume house Mona Di Orio, and Fredrik Dalman (above left), in-house perfumer for Mona Di Orio. Jeroen and Mona di Orio launched their perfume house in 2004, creating a collection of beautiful fragrances, thoughtfully created using Mona’s vast ingredients knowledge – she was taught by Edmond Roudnitska. Mona tragically passed away in 2011, but Jerome has continued with the brand, building on and strengthening Mona’s legacy and with Grasse-trained Fredrik as the in-house perfumer. 

The collection is full of beautiful, sophisticated fragrances, available at Les Senteurs in London if you are UK based, which deserve your attention, we caught up with Jeroen and Fredrik on a recent visit to the store.

JOS Today I’m wearing Santal Nabataea by Mona di Orio, one of our latest creations and formulated by Fredrik. it puts me in the moment and in my comfort zone. It makes me feel masculine and relaxed. I really like the mineral element of it, which manifests itself as a clean, fresh-air smell for me, that’s a feeling that I really like.

FD Today I’m wearing Suède de Suède by Mona di Orio, We used this fun play on how the names sounded, Suède de Suède, I’m a Swede and it’s a suede scent. It’s really my Swedish childhood memories in a bottle, it’s a wonderful, cosy fragrance which evokes nostalgic emotions for me, using notes of cloudberry, cedar wood, strawberries and the softness of suede.

JOS I never dreamt I’d ever have my own perfume house. I was in fashion for a long time, then the tempo of fashion started to move too quickly for me, I was completely fed up with it, all the mass consumption and the ‘quick, quick, quick’ mentality, where the new is old the next day. So I stopped working in fashion.

I moved into boutique hotels and helped to create The College Hotel in Amsterdam, which was a much slower but very interesting process. In The College Hotel I wanted to have our own really good home fragrances to use, so I was put in touch with Mona, and we got along really well. So well in fact that we decided we should work together and so suddenly, we had a perfume house! So, speaking honestly, it’s really because I met Mona that I’m into perfume and she opened a whole new world for me.

The moment we started Mona di Orio, I entered a world I didn’t think existed anymore, the world of Edmond Roudnitska, at Art et Parfum. I thought the whole industry was about mass market fragrances, but meeting Mona opened my brain to the possibilities of artistic intent, to the craft and art of fragrance construction and her passion for beautiful raw materials. Mona was taught by Edmond for 16 years and knew so much when I met her, so I said ‘Lets make those fragrances that you really want to create’. She was absolutely ready to fly. The perfumer being the brand was quite new in 2004, this was really at the beginning of the niche revolution, so we quietly and slowly started to grow.

FD Scent has been a humungous part of my life. As a kid I had this ability to remember everything I smelled, but it felt useless, all the other kids were good sports and maths, but I just remembered smells. Eventually I realised I had a huge passion for both focusing on my nose and for storytelling and ended up studying wine at university, which I loved. But I was missing something, the creative part, I couldn’t afford to buy a vineyard so what else to do? Become a perfumer!

I moved to London and started working in Harrods for Ormonde Jayne, after which I applied for the perfume school in Grasse and got in. After a year there, I assumed I’d immediately become the greatest perfumer of all times, but of course it doesn’t work like that and after applying and getting rejected from many perfumer jobs I moved back to Harrods, this time to work for L’Artisan Perfumer, where I met Bertrand Duchaufour. I became his apprentice and it was fantastic, just to get a glimpse of his mind was incredible. Then I went to Cadiz and met Mona, and then Jeroen, I made him cry over a fragrance that I made him, and now I’m in Amsterdam, so that’s my journey in scent.

JOS I’m definitely an over-sprayer when it comes to my own fragrance rituals. I spray when my hair’s done, before I get dressed, always on my neck and chest and I’m not afraid to overspray! Sometimes people do overspray and if the fragrance is wrong, or poor quality, then that’s not good, but with good fragrances like ours, you can’t overspray because they sit so beautifully on your skin,

FD I don’t wear much fragrance from day to day, it comes with the job because I’m testing fragrance all day long, so when I’m off work I take a break . But when I do wear fragrance, then I spray my neck, I’m definitely not an over-sprayer.

JOS I also scent my home with scents from our other company, Zenology, which makes home fragrance. Our iconic product is the Ambiance trigger home spray, large bottles, which we initially created for hotels, where the technical spray mechanism lets you spray the entire room with just one spritz. I am very practical so I really wanted something that worked well.

FD I also scent my home, but nearly always with what we are testing for Zenology, so sometimes its great, sometimes it’s a little…unusual! It’s worth saying that the Zenology trigger applicator is something we’re pretty proud of, it’s a great product.

JOS I’m a big sucker for pure oud, I sometimes even wear it on its own. We have access to the real stuff and when you wear it you begin to understand the real materials.

FD One of my favourite smells is cardamom, it makes me really excited to smell it and usually I overdo it, it’s one of the few materials that gives me butterflies when I inhale.

Mona di Orio is available at Les Senteurs

Images by Chloe WInstanley