When we first spoke with Jeroen Oude Sogtoen about his partnership with the late Mona di Orio, he opened up his heart to share stories from Mona's life, their meeting, and their fruitful collaboration as the leaders of Maison Mona di Orio. After Mona's untimely death in 2011, Jeroen vowed to forge ahead with their plans and continue to create perfumes in Mona's unique style. Now, he shares the story behind Violette Fumée, a perfume that Mona created for Jeroen and that he ultimately decided to share with the world, as well as news about upcoming releases.
Olfactif: In our previous interview, you mentioned that Violette Fumée is "a creation that holds echoes of my dreams, emotions, colors, sounds, favorite fabrics, favorite movies, and music.” Can you tell us the specifics and how they are represented in the perfume?
Jeroen Oude Sogtoen: For my personal fragrance, Mona and I took almost two years to complete it. I still remember so vividly the moment I smelled this finished version. I knew it was ready. Two years of talking about my childhood, my love for fashion, the emotion music can bring (“Vide cor Meum”), watching movies, trying to capture moments, trying to define my personal luxury and sensuality. The feeling of a big cashmere turleneck, Catherine Deneuve in the opening scene of Indochine. “More Than This” and “Slave to Love” from Bryan Ferry. Gauloise Bleu (aka Bugatti Blue), the smell of fresh pipe tobacco, the sensation of fresh lavender squeezed in your hands, the gesture of splashing cologne on the face after shaving (bergamot), contrasts of male and female, modern and classical. Mona entering a Greek orthodox church and the sensational smell we experienced, per fumare. My love for resinous notes like opoponax… many, many moments, emotions, and memories.
O: Violette Fumée was such a personal collaboration between the two of you. Did you ever feel like you wanted to keep it only to yourself? Or was it a natural decision to share it with the world?
JOS: When it was finished, I mentioned to Mona that one day I would share it because it’s too beautiful. I wouldn't have shared it yet when Mona would have been with us still, but after her passing I thought it was time. I prefer to share it instead of keeping it to myself. It was a long, intimate road of constructing this fragrance—a road Mona and I walked together.
O: There aren’t a lot of violet-focused perfumes that feature this deeper, richer aspect of violet. Was violet already a beloved note for you or did you learn to love it through this perfume?
JOS: Violet is my feeling of luxury. This happened when I stayed in a very luxurious hotel in London and they fragranced the room with violet. It became my smell of style and luxury.
O: What are you working on now? What’s next for Maison Mona di Orio?
JOS: I am working on the re-launch of The Signature Collection, the collection of fragrances that were the start of our Maison. This collection was understood and also, lots of times, misunderstood. We decided some years ago to pause, to be able to focus on the Les Nombres d'Or collection. Now it’s time to bring them back, gloriously and very exclusively. For the design of the bottle, I am working together with a wonderful Paris studio that created some iconic classics. More on this soon, but they will be available in in Fall 2014. We will start the introduction with the first three fragrances that we ever launched, 10 years ago this year, which are iconic fragrances full of emotions—loved and hated—but most of all, filled with Mona's boundless free-spirited inspirations.
The fragrances will be brought back in their original formula. I mention this because I heard that some people think I will bring them back in a different form. But these fragrances are the legacy of Mona di Orio and of course they will shine in their original form. This time they are there to stay.