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sábado, 19 de março de 2016

Monaco Parfums – Grace Kelly and the Heritage of Elegance

by: Miguel Matos

Today a new fragrance pair was finally introduced after almost a year and a half of teasing journalists. Monaco Parfums is a new brand which promises to convey the beauty and wealth of this principality. Monaco has a rich history dating back several centuries and this brand is a different way of communicating all the allure of this small territory by the Mediterranean sea. The Monaco fragrances were created in partnership with INCC, the same company who produces the Mercedes-Benz line and they are signed by Antoine Maisondieu (for the male fragrance) and Calice Becker (for the feminine fragrance).
Impressions of the Mediterranean. Eau de Parfum Monaco, a shimmering vision of crystal blue water under a summer sun. From its boudoir notes spring bouquets of irises, mimosas clinging to the gentle slopes of the foothills that wind down to the sea, lavender bushes and brightly-coloured citrus trees; a rich tapestry if blues, greens and pearly ochres, yellows richly brocated with orange and gold. Newly created, and yet already eternal. The woman that embodies it has a timeless beauty that transcends fashion. Like Princess Grace, she is forever etched in our minds (…).” Monaco Parfums Press Release
When we think of Monaco, we think of Monte-Carlo, the casino, the royal family, all the wealth, the stunning lanscape, the sea, the glitz and glamour.... All of these images were nourished across the decades and the symbol of this fantasy is Grace Kelly, the American actress who married the head of the Grimaldi family, Rainier III, back in 1956. At 26 years old, the Oscar-winning actress embraced the destiny of the Monaco princesses wearing a sumptuous yet elegant dress with absolutely no jewelry and an intrincate Juliet cap embroidered with lace and flower motifs.
“The public was now fascinated by this blonde-haired woman of pristine beauty, a butterfly that had settled on a Rock, which had become the centre of the world. Grace thrilled the fashion magazines of the time with her elegant suits, her twinsets attractively paired with straight skirts and her sober choice of colours (…)” says Isabelle Rivère, journalist and author specialist of royalty. “(...) she embodied an effortless style that transcended the latest fashions”.  
Worldwide attention was focused on Grace Kelly, her wedding and later on her charm and the parties she threw and attended in Monaco. The country soon reached a level of fame and glory never seen before. This fairy tale of love and beauty became appealing to businessmen; banks and billionaires wanted to be associated with this environment. The charm and modernity of the couple were transferred to the country itself and this was reflected in a major economic development. The birth of their three children – Princess Caroline in 1957, Prince Albert in 1958 and Princess Stéphanie in 1965 – consolidated the legendary romance.
“Although marriage is supposed to seal the romantic communion of a man and a woman, it is much more than that in the case of a royal or princely marriage: it is the intimate, ultimate union of two beings with the history of a country. The magical merging of a couple that lasts forever”, says Isabelle Rivère.
Grace Kelly was a perfume enthusiast and she had a preference for green floral chypres like Estée Lauder's Private Collection. This was her personal exclusive fragrance, which she later offered as a gift to some of her friends like the Princess and the Duchess of Windsor. This is also the starting point of the feminine version of Monaco Parfums. 
The Monaco Parfums line is divided into two fragrances but the masculine one I am taking the liberty of not analysing since I could not relate to it. It is a genre I cannot like, the traditional aromatic fougère with an ambroxan base. And the feminine edition is so great that it overshadows its male counterpart. I'm sorry dear reader if I chose to speak only about what catches my attention. Other writers may enjoy Monaco for men, but I do not.
Calice Becker talking to the audience during the launch party of Monaco Parfums held by INCC at the Hotel Majestic Barrière in Cannes, October 2015.
Back to the stunning creation by Calice Becker: Monaco is a nod to the famous Estée Lauder scent, and in fact it shares the same classic chypre mood, with strong green tones within the same family as Private Collection. Becker considers Private Collection as “the epitome of luxury, reserved for the supreme elite.”
The perfumer wanted this creation to represent Monaco at the start of the 1950's but she also wanted it to be timeless. I was at the Monaco Parfums cocktail at the Majestic Barrière Hotel in Cannes in October and I could be among the first ones to smell these perfumes. As usual, INCC, partner of the brand, knew how to organize a glamourous event. I remember the words of Calice Becker, perfumer from the house of Givaudan: “When you smell this fragrance, first it's all about the bigarade. Bigarade comes from the bitter orange tree which gives the perfumer at least four beautiful oils and this is the top note of the fragrance. You have the Portugal Oil, which gives it a sparkling beginning. There is orange blossom absolute and neroli as well as petitgrain, the amazing crunchy green part of the fragrance. All those top notes are lingering along with another iconic flower of the Riviera, Mimosa. In February, when all those little yellow puffs are blooming, there is this amazing smell of something very soft and it gives a feeling of the 'douceur de vie' we have in Monaco. All these elements are built on something that gives it a flirtation elegance, which is the patchouli with small touches of chypre accords. When you wear the fragrance on your neck I am sure that it will whisper to your ear 'I am a Monaco'. I am really sure that when you wear the fragrance you will feel like I do: absolutely 'serenissime'.”
The glamourous 1950's, the discreet elegance of Princess Grace, the Mediterranean surroundings of Monaco, the proximity to Grasse, the sun and the sea... everything is bottled in this beautiful flacon. In fact, when I smelled this fragrance for the first time I was stunned and surprised since it was not what I expected. I immediately saw the connection between this and Private Collection. They are not similar, but they could have been cousins. A citrusy-green-floral chypre is not something that comes often to the market nowadays. Long gone are the glorious times of such a trend. So, this is an anti-trend perfume and I suspect it ill be very alluring to a more mature audience. As for me, I am enchanted. It starts sparkling fresh, a burst of citrus, mainly petitgrain, which imparts an invigorating and energetic opening. The orange blossom is also very prominent, along with other bitter and zesty fruits like bergamot. A good chypre top! For a while, this is a happy and effervescent blend which is perfect for spring and brings energy. As the citruses calm down, I can feel mimosa emerging, bringing its soft, honeyed hue to the fragrance. Again, this feels very vintage, but there is a transparency that makes it modern. The other florals like rose and neroli balance the heart in a seamless construction. I can feel a galbanum effect, even though there is no such thing in the official notes list. The fruit softens it and gives a sweet element to enrich the greens. There is raspberry but my nose smells peach. Monaco is green, fresh and earthy, as a very strong patchouli note starts to dominate the composition – again a typical chypre ingredient. Heliotrope calms it down and adds a powdery sensation. My nose smells iris too.
The Monaco perfume manages to balance this oldfashioned (I would say timeless) blend with a very well dosed concentration. This keeps it from being too sharp and in fact the fragrance doesn't have a massive sillage, maintaining the discreet elegance it claims to have. It doesn't have strong longevity and it remains a skin scent after a couple of hours; I wish it was a bit more intense but that would keep it from being successful, I guess.  
The Monaco bottle is engraved with the princely seal and stresses the Monegasque heritage of the brand. The top is evocative of the famous casino, with golden chips. The line is comprised of eau de parfum 30, 50 and 90ml, shower gel (160ml), body lotion (160ml) and spray deodorant (100ml).
Top notes: bergamot, petitgrain, orange, mimosa and rose
Middle notes: mimosa, neroli and raspberry
Base notes: sandalwood, patchouli and heliotrope

Top notes: Citruses and bergamot
Middle notes: magnolia, allspice, sea notes and pine tree
Base notes: ambroxan, vetiver and leather.

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