MONOM: Perfume Oils & Palindromes


I was struck by the unusual name of a new Italian perfume house that reached out to me in late December: MONOM. A palindrome, to be sure. Not a complete word in and of itself (at least, not in English) but suggestive of several words that could possibly be related: monomial, monothematic, mio nome (Italian for “my name”). I searched the Internet for any information I could find on this new house while I waited for samples and more photographs. The house is brand new, debuting in Italy in late 2014. It appears Fragrantica is the first site in English to be writing about it. I found only some brief information about MONOM on several Italian websites and Facebook (in Italian). I’m pleased to share the story of this exciting new house and give an overview of the seven scents in their debut collection. MONOM began as something of a personal hobby for its founder, Renato Bongiorno. “This idea was born from the desire to combine history and innovation. It is research that always encouraged me and it succeeded in realizing MONOM.” This desire? To combine the oldest perfuming method (perfume oil) with modern perfume technology. “A couple of years ago till now, just for my personal will, I concentrated most of my free time to the research of something that could connect these needs. At the beginning of this year, the ideas started to have a shape.”


Like so many good ideas, it began with a name. “The fundamental point was the name MONOM, which was strongly inscribed in my mind at my awakening one morning. It doesn’t have any meaning—it is more a sound that refers to different representations,” he said. “At a later stage I found out that it is a palindrome name and composed by five letters,” continues Renato. “It is the best that can be used in the world of communication.” With the name in place, the other elements that came together in the creation of this line are a mix of hard work and happy accidents. A package arrived in early January containing a full-size product—Rosalia—and a beautiful sample packet of all seven scents in the line. The gorgeous dark violet bottle, laser-engraved with the name of the fragrance, is notable for the distinctive ‘R’ in the fragrance name and the unique “MN” logo on the Bakelite cap, not to mention the beautiful Plexiglass outer casing. “My second certainty has been the dark violet glass bottle, which protects perfectly the oils, completed by the Bakelite stopper and the unique glass roll-on,” says Renato. One of the happy accidents further steered the package design as well as the names of individual fragrances. “A beautiful metal tag, in reality never realized, had a decisive part for the fragrances’ name choices. In fact, during the first attempt, a print mistake gave to Oscuro, one of the fragrances, the ‘full-eye’ R.” Struck by the appearance of this unusual R, Renato began to search for fragrance names that contained the letter, now to be laser-carved on the stopper with the letter “intentionally realized with the ‘full-eye.'” (Indeed, all seven fragrance names contain at least one ‘R.’) After searching several months for a beautiful box to contain the lovely bottle, Renato’s attention was captured one day by a transparent box, which gave rise to the magnetic Plexiglas outer casing used for the final product. “It is realized by an artisan who, even if using state-of-the-art equipment, spends 29 minutes to produce each single package,” describes Renato.


“For this reason, he can realize only 200 pieces per month.” The packaging—even on the sample set, which extends the theme of the Plexiglas casing and dark glass bottles—is a pleasure to behold (and really fun to play with!), but the scents themselves are the most important part of the story. “Originally, my intent was to dedicate the attention to fundamental fragrances for the perfume world. My attention was captured especially by Amber, Vanilla, Patchouli and Musk,” says Renato. As work began, with nose Nicola Bianchi and some of the finest raw and natural materials, the planned mono-thematic fragrances gradually morphed to beautiful and more complex fragrance compositions that it would have been a shame not to share. “With the mix of excellent raw materials were born some blends so fascinating that they couldn’t be concealed,” Renato says. “So, music that I had imagined for singular instruments had been converted to a symphony for an orchestra.” The seven fragrances of the MONOM collection are variations on those popular themes that first drew Renato.


Amber, Vanilla, Patchouli and Musk are featured prominently throughout the collection. Each perfume oil is a rich, complex and thought-provoking blend that is unisex (even the sweeter scents and scents with floral notes), long-lasting (all seven fragrances last a remarkable 12+ hours on skin) and with an evolving scent trail. What starts as floral soon turns spicy. What opens as spicy-woody turns warm and sweet. I can smell the high-quality essential oils and absolutes used here, and the musks are soft and smooth as suede. Each perfume oil is highly concentrated and only a drop or two is needed for all-day or all-night wear with arm’s-length sillage. All seven fragrances are lovely and will appeal to fans of Oriental/Arabian scents, natural or “earthy” fragrances and dark/gothic scents.


My particular favorites were Rosalia, Nardo and Sacro. Rosalia starts out as a fresh, pure rose but evolves to a spicy oriental musk over its long life. Nardo is a wonderfully layered aromatic/spicy scent with masculine tobacco-y overtones. (Nardo was also Mr. NLS’s favorite.) Sacro is a gorgeous woody-incense that reminds me of India before it takes on a lovely sweet amber character. Oscuro was also particularly memorable for its beautiful musk scent which is one of the loveliest I can recall smelling. At this time, MONOM fragrances are available in Italy at al Sacro Cuore, in the beautiful 10 ml glass rollerball bottles, at a price of 130.00€ each. [I am hoping for news of more widespread availability soon and will update this article when I get it.] ( By Jodi Battershell from )