Fourplay: Montale

For today’s group experience we’re reviewing two scents from Montale, a company with a pretty extensive inventory — Basenotes lists 36 fragrances, a lot for a company that’s been in business since 2001. Montale’s fragrances are considered unisex by the company. How did your Posse pals feel about Montale Aoud Roses Petals and the opposite end of the spectrum, Aoud Cuir D’Arabie?

Aoud Roses Petals has notes of rose, geranium, amber, cedarwood, teakwood, oud.

Bryan: I have only come across a couple fragrances that (or is it which?) send me screaming to the sink to scrub skin away from bone. MPG Fleur d’Iris is the first…blech! Aoud Roses Petals is now the second. I have dissed some fragrances in the past, only to return to the blog, head held down in shame, to eat the words I spewed all over the laptop. Ether de Lilas by PG comes to mind…Ahem…This will NOT happen here. I gave it all night….cringing the entire time. From start to miserable finish, it was like a bleach/ammonia/rose nightmare! I enjoy Roses…I love Frederic Malle’s Une Rose. I love the Parfums de Rosine line. Well, most of them. This I just don’t get. I crave Tubereuse Criminelle, so I don’t shy away from the odd blasts of cool notes….This however is completely unforgiveable. Just unforgiveable.

Lee: I thought we were doing Aoud Flowers? Oh well…. (runs off to test this one. Waits four hours. Returns). More than virtually any other scents, these Montale Aouds are entirely different from start to finish. You can’t get an real impression of them in the first ten minutes, and if I did take that impression, I’d hate them. I was a very healthy pre-teen, but a very sickly teen, affected inexplicably by ENT disasters. These aouds are unpleasantly medicinal memory trips for me, enough to make me back away and feel a creeping sense of light-headedness and wan fever. But this scent changes. I don’t do roses very comfortably, but there’s nothing mosquito-pitched about this one – it’s a heady and dark tea rose scent of a very high quality. I can appreciate it, but not want to wear it.

Patty: You guys are wimps! It’s oud, for cry-yi-yi! Anyway… it is a little strong, but I like the contrast of the strong, strong medicine and those delicate little rose petals fighting for their lives in a vat of pitch. I can’t wear many of the ouds for very long, they are fierce and overpowering sometimes, but I still like them for what they are.

March: Lee, yeah, I know — she sent us this one instead. How strong is Aoud Roses Petals? Without opening the package, I could smell a 1ml, unleaking vial sealed in bubblewrap inside a plastic shipping pouch. Just to give you an idea. It’s not the sort of thing you’d want to spill on your upholstery. I applied four drops to my inner arm; two or three healthy sprays of this would likely kill me. It’s pretty much roses, geranium and oud, and you know how much I love rose in fragrance (not much). So I am surprised to report that I kind of like this. The geranium and oud do a great job of cutting the migraine-inducing plastic sweetness I dislike in rose. It’s spicy and deep and a little smoky, moving in the general direction of, say, OJ Ta’if — rose is only part of the story. After half an hour, the rose falls back even further and I’m left with an oud-amber-rose-geranium, in that order. I’d never buy this, but I might wear it again, the way I wear really strong fragrances — I apply a drop or two in the general vicinity of my navel, and enjoy catching hints of it as I go through the day.

Aoud Cuir D’Arabie has notes of tobacco, leather, oud and burnt wood.

Lee: In my early twenties, one of my best friends was friends with a 50something stoner biker. He had a grey whiskery beard, a receding hairline, and a permanently nicotine stained pony tail. He wore shirts with small dope burns all over them – these allowed his wiry chest hair to perform curlicues on the cotton. On his lower half, he always seemed to wear the same leather trousers. If I could imagine inhaling the buttock section of these pantaloons, that would be the first few minutes of Cuir d’Arabie. It really is that powerful. I don’t get oud here, just the entire process of leather manufacture, with all the smells of flesh, decay and render that entails. It’s the most accurate depiction of leather-in-action I’ve ever sniffed. It makes me feel like animal hide, which I guess in one way or another, I am. I just don’t want to be flailed quite yet, thank you very much.

Patty: Lee’s description is pretty spot on for the open, though I never smelled his best friend’s butt-end of his leather pants – not asking to, either. This thing is just rank on the open, but in a very pungent, interesting way. I do get a little oud in there, it’s slightly medicinal behind all that leather. But in a few minutes, it’s Saddle me Up, Cowboy! I adore this… just hand me my hairshirt and start flailing.

Bryan: Thank you Lee for the mental. If I’m ever feeling a bit “randy” at an awkward place, I’ll recall that image and go immediately from flushed to ice cold. I do however agree with the description. (Damn, I wish I could write like that). I don’t really hate this as much as the other Montale. I just wouldn’t ever, ever reach for it. I am knocked over the head with dirty leather…and not dirty in the skank, delicious way. I mean the Pleather wearin’ in the summertime trashy way. I really wanted to enjoy the Montales, but I am like 0 for 6…though that does leave 30 more, right? (Crystal Flowers is a joke and the Tiare is ok, but it’s better elsewhere). Here I just get ripe leather and some smoke (maybe that’s the oud). Missed again Montale…(stolen from Will and Grace…)

March: I thought what Lee was writing was complimentary, even up to and through the buttock/animal hide parts, so I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake. I also thought Cuir D’Arabie was sort of yummy. It comes right up to the skank line for me but doesn’t cross it the way, say, Miller Harris’ L’Air de Rien does. (Actually, Rien doesn’t cross the line so much as stomp it into the dust with its hobnail boots and sprint away.) Then the buttcrack accord backs off a bit and it’s a rich, deep, dirty (as in dirt) leather, like Tauer’s Lonestar Memories only with more motor oil and possibly some roadkill, like an armadillo or something, waaaaay off there in the distance. Now I’m off to assume another identity, since I used “dirt,” “buttcrack accord” and “roadkill” in a review of something I called “yummy.” I wouldn’t buy a bottle of this either, but I’d wear it to … something. Not sure what. Mucking stalls? Bridge night at a leather bar?

March: (later) hey, why not go for it? Roses Petals layers nicely with Cuir, which smothers the rose element pretty decisively, and you get the leather without so much of Cuir’s animal skin dirtiness. Either that or my nose broke. Also … Cuir and CB Musk Reinvention together are a smell to behold. The musky sweetness of Reinvention on top of the peat-y leather of Cuir morphs them both into a sultry thing that you hardcore skank lovers might appreciate.

Patty: You are right! I wonder what Rien and Musk and Arabie would do to each other after all the nekkid mechanic wrasslin in the horse corral? Maybe we should do that next Fourplay.

Lee: steady on, you freaks!

  • sweetlife says:

    I adore the medicinal hit of oudh in Roses Petals followed by (on me) delicate rose floating about rich wood. I start to crave that medicinal hit, actually. But the Montales are so tenacious…I want them, I want them, and then one morning everything smells like them and I want them–to go away. No full bottles yet…

    Oh, and March — this honey lover took you up on your dare: my samps of Miel de Bois and Acqua di Cuba arrived today. 😉 I don’t have much time or concentration right now (leaving town to get married in a few days) but as soon as I get back in town I’ll send you a report.

  • Marina says:

    Bryan, but I thought we were fragrance twins! How can you not love Aoud Roses Petals?! :((

  • violetnoir says:

    I don’t know y’all. All I can think to type right now is “Yuck!!!”


    • Blog Management says:

      Thank you for your feedback. We’ve removed the regularly scheduled posters and replaced them with people of more tact and less vulgarity. Tune in the first week of September for our new feature: Celebrity Scents — We Love ‘Em!!$-)

  • Judith says:

    I’m not offended–I just have a broken computer,so I can’t get in much (though I just got a call aying that it’s fixed):)

    These are, as I told Lee, my two favorite Montales–and sheesh–what you guys did to them. 🙂 When I’m in the right mood, I find Rose Petals really beautiful–and I love Cuir on DH (he does,too). I recently took Karl-of-Aedes’ suggestion and layered it wih Tubereuse Crim (double threat)–and I loved it! The TC femmes up the cuir-butt smell, and the leather melds nicely with the camphor. I also tried it with Daim Blond with good results! So I’ll just go on happily stinking here!!!! :d

    • March says:

      We have missed you!!! I am glad to hear you’re okay. Did you spill something fragrant on the laptop? Hey, did the data recovery work out? I hope so. Our guy got ours back by putting it in the fridge, he swears he’s not joking. The hard drive, that is, not the entire desktop unit.

      Ack — Tubey Crim and Cuir!!!:-ss You are a braver woman than I am. And I think Cuir would smell delicious on a man. And Daim Blond would class the joint up a little, wouldn’t it?

      • Judith says:

        It’s a 2-year-old desktop, and I spilled nothing on it. The hard drive just—–died!!!
        –a) it was still under warranty
        –b) the brilliant guy at school said he recovered everything (which is good, b/c I have a book on there!):( Don’t know how he did it. . .

        The Cuir on DH smells like a very luxurious black leather jacket (not really butt-y). Yum!:x And you should try the tubey thing–it’s much nicer than it sounds.:-“

        • Lee says:

          Lovely to see you J!

          *sneaks off, feeling a little sheepish*


          • Judith says:

            Hey Lee! Don’t worry about it!! It’s hardly your fault if you have rotten chemistry and/or a wimpy nose!:d8-|

            But now I’m really curious which 3 you liked!:-? I assume all will be revealed in time. . .

        • March the Wimpy says:

          I have bought, and gotten rid of, I think three (four?) samps of TC. Everyone else seems to mention that hint of camphor that fades away slowly, allowing you to enjoy the full tumescence of the tuberose etc. etc. On me it is, essentially, mothballs with a hint of flowers. I loathe the smell of camphor. I won’t even walk down that aisle in the hardware store. I’m thinking: bad fit for me.8-x:-ss

  • Robin says:

    You guys crack me up!

  • Teri says:

    My credit card thanks you effusively for giving it a break today. Neither of these sound even remotely to my taste. Interesting, by all means, and I’d happily sniff them. But nothing I’d ever want to wear. :((

    • March says:

      They’re pretty distinctive. But as you can see up there, clearly they have their fans! I really appreciated Catherine’s comment about people who have fond memories of oud, and thus have associations with the fragrances.

  • Twibbet says:

    I’m so relieved I’m not alone in my feelings about the Montales. Scrubbers on me, every one of them. Aoud Rose Petals? Gack, get it off me! I believe I tried Aoud Queen Rose and it was less revolting but went rapidly downhill. Jasmin Full seemed promising but stayed and stayed and stayed and I got tired. Wood & Spice was unbelievably sweet and boozy and just got unbearable after a while. I’m scared to try any more of them. And if Cuir d’Arabie is like Lonestar Memories with more motor oil, I am not trying it. Nope. May as well pour straight motor oil on my wrists.

    • March says:

      I’m going to stick up for Jasmin Full if you like jasmine. If you like indolic jasmine. If you like really strong, indolic jasmine.

      :d Which I do.

      Also, Louise let me smell Ginger Musk and it’s … ginger and musk. It was really pretty. I also like Sandalsliver (which I always spell Sandalsilver), a lovely sandalwood that doesn’t make me sneeze.

      • Divalano says:

        I love jasmine. Adore it. Swoon for it. Hate Montale. Tried Jasmine Full on general jasmine loving principal. I honestly could not smell the jasmine. It was there, sort of, but overwhelmed by usual heavy sweet Montale full body knockout punch. And Ginger Musk was terrifying on me. Most Montales are.

        • March says:

          I’m thinking Montale just isn’t your line.:-&

        • Twibbet says:

          Yeah, Jasmin Full just wasn’t very jasminey on me, it was more of a full-body perfume tackle.

          Oh yeah, sandalsliver. I have a huge sample of that, but anytime I put on even a drop it goes bonkers on me. One part sandalwood, ten parts Good God, What Am I Wearing! Ginger Musk sounds lovely, but I bet it does the same thing on me as on Divalano.

  • Catherine says:

    I’ll jump in–not only to ease Lee’s worry but also Cathy’s. With all the reviews of the Montales this summer–and the realization that I adore rose in perfume (thank you, all you reviewers, for opening my eyes to this world of scent)–I ordered samples of various Aouds and brought them out for my friends over a series of conversations (none of us perfumistas). One woman immediately made Rose Petals the fragrance for her wedding that week. Another, during a conversation on the Subcontinent, began waxing on the beauty of aoud, and how much she missed its scent from her time in Pakistan. Aoud Attar made her so happy–that it smelled real and rich, with all the harsh edges and meditative interior. (Tuberose Criminelle is the other perfume that made her head spin with nostalgia and peace–things you’d never expect from TC, huh?) As for myself, when I dabbed White Aoud on one morning, my husband’s response was: you smell beautiful. I may be going to Paris next spring. If so, I can’t wait to visit the Montale shop and purchase several of the small bottles, with many of them being presents. I find myself constantly sitting on my hands to not buy a couple of the big bottles, because my samples are dry. Thank god the glass smells that good. I have a feeling, I’m going to break down. 🙂

    • cathy says:

      Thanks for the encouragement – I’m not truly worried. My comments were really more about the near-lethal effect of humidity on fragrance. Imprinted forever on my nose-memory is a 2005 incident in which I, a fragrance noob, applied a generous spray of newly purchased Mitsouko on a 100 degree day with 80% humidity…the cats were afraid of me for a week and my family made me eat dinner in another room.:d

    • March says:

      Catherine — thanks for your comment! I can totally see Roses as a wedding scent. Also, Louise says if you buy from the Montale shop in Paris, they’re cheaper, and they’ll add extra amounts of the oil (?) into the bottle for you so you can make individual scents stronger. She had a great time there, she said they were lovely and she came home with several things.

  • Cathy says:

    Egads! I have a big ol’ decant of ARP from the Perfumed Court arriving any day now, and I’d like to thank y’all for the heads up — Northern Virginia’s August humidity and spritz of ARP would likely bring Homeland Security a’knocking at my door…..

    • March says:

      Homeland security will be following your mailman to your door.b-) Hope you’re not too close to the CIA headquarters.

      Also (have we had this conversation before?) if you’re anywhere near Tysons Corner, visit the top floor of Tysons II — Art With Flowers carries some decent niche stuff.

      • cathy says:

        I *am* close to McLean….. I’ll keep my eyes open for big black SUVs with dark windows. I’m also 2 lights from Tysons, but I never go to Tyson’s II. I’m going to have to visit Art With Flowers. Thanks for the tip.

  • Lee says:

    Btw, what I was writing could have been complimentary if you’re in to that kind of thing!

    It’s quiet in here today – I hope we haven’t offended anyone! I’d’ve said much nicer things about Aoud Flowers, and I still love Judith and you other Montale stinkers immeasuably!:x

    • Patty says:

      What do you mean, hope we haven’t offended anyone? This blog prides itself on being semi-offensive!

      Sheesh, I need to go rewrite the Mission Statement. 🙂

    • parisa says:

      My heart sank when I read the negative feelings toward my favourite line…I love all the scents for what they are and I especially adore Crystal Flowers. I can’t explain how people have this love/hate relationship with Montale but to me, it’s truly a magical line and the notes, reminiscent of my youth in the Middle East.

      • Lee says:

        Parisa – all this perfume stuff is ENTIRELY subjective – don’t let silly old us go putting you off your favourites! You spritz away with abandon and we’ll love you all the more for it. And there are at least three Montales I’ve sniffed that I really like – just wasn’t so keen on these two.


        • parisa says:

          I know that it’s all subjective, but I still felt a little wee sad. Maybe a generous spritz of Black Aoud will cheer me up:)

      • March says:

        Parisa — hon, the Cuir d’Arabie was a thumbs up from me, hon! :)>- I just don’t feel the need for any more rough scents, so to speak. And the Roses isn’t my thing, but that’s not Montale’s fault. Really, I think they’re well done. And I am Montale Jasmin Full’s love slave, if that makes you feel any better.:x

  • Divalano says:

    Montale anything strikes fear in my heart. The Aedes boys (one of them is a BIG Montale pusher) have dropped at least a dz samples on me & I willingly tried them all. Just a drop. Each one in turn made me gasp for air as I ran for the sink, eyes tearing. I can’t do Montale. On me they’re heavy choking sweetness w an edge of putrid sour. And roses? No, no roses & no Montale rose at ALL, thank you.
    HowEVER. Cuir d’Arabie. Well, then. I will sniff almost any good leather scent just because. And I do like it. I don’t really get the skank & dirt note. On me it’s a very nice leather shirt, right off the rack at Purple Passion. And there it stays, (My boyfriend thinks it smells like soap. I have no clue why) except for once on a hot summer night when I got leather shirt & then WHAM Montale choke sweet sour rank SCRUB. But usually, leather shirt. I’m thinking it would be nice layered with something but I’m not sure what.

    • March says:

      Lookit that!! It isn’t automatically nasty on everyone! I’d wear a leather shirt … layer it with incense? Or a floral? Do you do white florals? Stuff like jasmine, gardenia, etc. smell great against a leathery backdrop. Those are my suggestions. And, if you like roses more than I do, you could try a rose. In any case I’d probably stick to a fairly linear scent, Cuir d’Arabie has enough going on already — for me, anyway.:-?

      • Divalano says:

        I once did try layering it, can’t remember w what, but it immediately brought out all the Montale notes I despise. Ick. But I’d try again. Perhaps once the weather cools I’ll try a soliflore like the Goutal Jasmine. Incense is a good idea too but the only incense scents I like are pretty complex. Maybe a CB smoke accord or Burning Leaves? Also wondering about leather+wood. Sandalwood? Or Nelli Rodi Bois??

        • March says:

          I can’t decide whether more smoke would be a good thing or a bad thing. Let me know!:-?

  • chayaruchama says:

    I’m having a great time….
    ARP is ‘interesting’ to sniff, but I don’t much care for it on me.
    C D’A is just that, Lee.
    A lot of fun, but dries down to ABSOLUTELY nothin’ on me.
    FEH !

    [Love you madnesses !]

    • March says:

      “Dries down to nothing”


      Wow. I want to get you, Maria and Louise together and pour stuff on you. The things you three manage to kill off…

  • Maria says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever before been in the position of fighting uncontrollable laughter and nausea at the same time. A =)) :-& combination. But Lee’s description of his friend did it. Thank you. I think.

    My DH likes Roses Petals on me, but it’s a loud rose on my skin the last several hours and it bothers me. I don’t think I can ever bring myself to try Oud Cuir d’Arabie now.

    Hey, hands off SL Arabie!

    • March says:

      Maria — Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure that’s Cuir d’Arabie that Patty’s referring to!

      Well, anything that’s “loud” on you is pretty durn strong. All the Montales I’ve tried so far (which is not that many) are extremely strong, love them or hate them. Is that your general experience?

      • Maria says:

        I’ve only tried two, March: Roses Petals and Black Aoud. They’re both pretty darn strong, even on me.