Mona di Orio, whose untimely passing last year robbed perfumery of a true pioneer of the erotic, was to perfume what some avant-garde musicians are to music: so far beyond mainstream tastes as to be almost indigestible. Though obviously made of rich, natural materials, many people find her creations simply bizarre. From the shocking orange blossomed animalia of Nuit Noire to the soiled and tainted bloomers of Carnation and Lux, I was convinced I could never wear anything by this house. Amyitis, however, continued the perfumer’s reputation for stubborn, curious originality while veering off into cooler, more poetic tangents with an iris/sage creation that is austere and otherworldly.
The perfume was inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon, and a sense of breathing, living greens across the spectrum of the plant world is captured with a fresh top note of new leaves plus an unusual herbarium of savoury, sage and caraway. The fresh, soil-grounded iris/violet flowers at the heart also contribute to the composition an intellectual, writerly quality, while touches of saffron and opoponax add flesh. On smelling Amyitis I was immediately reminded of the character played by Geraldine Page in Woody Allen’s ‘Interiors’ (1978), a depressive artist with a similarly waxen complexion and pallid melancholia. An aesthete, hair scraped into a bun, staring mournfully out onto a trailing, moss-covered courtyard.