(almost) new line: Monotheme Black Label

Monotheme: Black Label is a sort of "niche" line launched in 2013 by Monotheme, an ultra-cheap Italian brand of perfumes produced by Mavive (which is the house behind popular supermarket scents like Pino Silvestre, Police, Zippo and so on). The line comprises four scents allegedly inspired by "Oriental" fragrances, while to me they look more like inspired to what's trendy at the moment - but it's fine. They are possibly among the most inexpensive fragrances on the market here in Italy. And guess what? They're almost all quite nice, taking the price into account.



This fragrance is apparently known for being one of the nicest and more faithful clones of Tuscan Leather, and if you want to skip my boring review, heres my opinion on that: it is. It's almost identical to Tuscan Leather, pretty much as Golden Boy by Dueto, but at a far cheaper price, which makes it more appealing to me. Monotheme Leather sells here in Italy for the quite unbelievable price tag of some 15-16 EUR for 100 ml. And the bottle & packaging are even quite nice to be honest. Well, anyway: the same exact suederal-safraleine polished and clean leather note you smell in so many contemporary leather scents, smoky and urban, well sweetened by fruity hints providing a pleasant, warm and velvety feel, on discreet woods and warm, sweet-dusty resins. Pretty much all, for hours. The fact that it smells undoubtedly similar to Tuscan Leather does not mean obviously that this is a masterpiece scent they stupidly sell off at ridicolously low prices; on the contrary, rather it's a (unnecessary, in my opinion) evidence of how Tuscan Leather is crazily overpriced. Monotheme Leather kindly shows you how something like Tuscan Leather can be produced and sold at a (literal) fraction of the price. Projection and persistence are totally compelling, it lasts for hours and projects just sharp and clear. On the drydown it gets drier and darker, more woody and austere, with just a bit less sweetness and warmth. Now, obviously there is some differences with Tuscan Leather if you are still interested int that comparison: I said they are almost identical, but Monotheme Leather smells just a bit more synthetic, less rich and less smoky than Ford's, and is also a bit more linear overall. But these details and differences wouldn't really justify the enormous price gap for me: unless you're really obsessed with Tom Ford, just take this Monotheme Leather and you'll be happy with a totally decent, classy, well-made and solid contemporary leather fragrance (or Dueto's Golden Boy if you feel ashamed in buying ultra-cheap scents). At this surreal price, totally worthy the blind buy for me, even just as an easy-going office scent. Kudos to Mavive for producing such a decent scent at a totally humble and honest price.



Rose Oud

As the name goes, Rose Oud is a more-than-decent rose & oud scent, soapy and dark, with a zesty-candied touch and a musky, slightly camphorous base. And oud, obviously, that type of woody-rubbery synthetic note we’ve been so used in the recent years. Overall a bit plastic and not that original (not to say mediocre), but honestly, in my opinion acceptably pleasant to wear, especially if you like that sort of “glamorous” dark refinement of rose-oud scents. The thing is, and I say that after having tested countless cheap (but costly) niche scents with the same accords, that Rose Oud is identical - and I mean it literally - to pretty much any “mid-level” niche rose-oud scent, so think of any Montale, or Mancera and similar products. Mostly Montale: I instantly thought of so many of their “Aoud Whatever Petals” fragrances. It smells exactly like that, to any extent: but (as for Leather by this same brand), this costs ten times less than them. And this to me “allows it” to be a bit mediocre and synthetic: at least you get what you pay for, quality-wise (no, actually here you even get more value than you pay for). I always criticized Montale and similar brands mostly because of the quality/price issue, while now, I’m giving this a higher rate just because I see something with, finally, a fair price. Actually even too low for the quality. Rose Oud is nothing extraordinary, but it’s well-made, smells nice (even quite classy), lasts long and is totally unpretentious: a perfectly compelling, more-than-affordable and valuable alternative to so many synthetic rose-oud scents currently cloying the market.



Black Oud

Among the four offerings in the Black Label range, this is by far the worst of them all. Total “no” for me: even for such a low price, it’s completely tragic in my opinion. Basically, I get neither “oud” (not even the most synthetic one), nor the “black”. Black Oud is on the contrary a sort of white-gray gourmand, quite soapy and heavily synthetic, which smells something halfway a cheap bath soap, glass cleaner liquid, and one of those “mixed flavours” bags for cakes in which there’s vanillin, cinnamon and so on. It’s a bit powdery, a bit resinous, a bit woody, a bit clumsily close to many “white” musky gourmands, with a horrifying plastic heliotrope note – never smelled such a bad one in my experience (the same for carnation, as soon as you get it). Plus, it’s much powerful, and cloyingly persistent for hours. On the (heavily linear) drydown it pops out at some point a sort of oudish whiff, but it’s barely perceivable and smells more just like a hint of rubber. Cheap to any extent and unworthy the price, even if it’s too low.



Amber Wood

Despite its name, Amber Wood is much more dark and dry than it may seem. I would have called it “Leather Wood”, or even “Leather Oud”: it opens with a really bitter and dark leather accord with smoky woods (birch, vetiver, and something even more nutty-rubbery, like synthetic oud), and almost nothing else except a faint, yet perceivably warm resinous base accord, and a note which reminds me of violet, with a dirty aftertaste of earthy patchouli. A salty (and quite “niche”, if you ask me) hint of ambroxan evokes the “ambergris” smell and “rounds” the blend with a musky-grey touch. On the drydown, vetiver takes a prominent place with leather, labdanum and other woody debris. Basically I would place this somewhere between some mainstream violet-leather-smoky scents (like Jil Sander Man), a couple of vintage dark fougères (like Arrogance pour Homme EdP, mostly for leather and patchouli), and finally, as for Rose Oud by this same brand, a lot of Montale scents – especially their “dark” range (Dark Oud, Black Oud and so on). It’s much, much similar to them in fact, overall syntheticness included. Don’t expect any masterpiece, but it’s fine, actually not bad at all: it’s bitter, dark, smoky, dirty and much “black”, perhaps a tad tacky and clumsily trendy, with surely an overall barely decent quality; but it works. For all lovers of dark leather/oud scents, an extremely cheap and affordable alternative (this cost me 12 euro for 100 ml, worth having just for fun). The same opinion I expressed for Rose Oud applies here too: if it was a niche scent (and believe me, it could totally be) with a niche price, I would have rated it with a 5 on 10, or even less, because for me the price and the market positioning are part of the product, and must be taken into account. While here, you can’t really argue on the price, which is more than honest – and that is enough for me to respect Amber Wood (but anyway, it smells nice too).


No comments:

Post a Comment