Out on the Misty Moors: Montale Greyland
Okay, I will admit it, though it comes as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who knows me well; I am a truly incurable romantic. I have been this way as long as I can remember, and not even the most bitter disappointments in matters of the heart (and they are legion) can turn me from my steadfast belief in true love. I expect that when I am very old I will be swooning over the equally old men in the retirement home just as I did over boys as far back as kindergarten. I hope for romance for myself and eagerly live vicariously when others are so blessed (or afflicted, depending on your point of view).
Of course, this being my natural tendency, I read many a romance novel as a young girl, along with more serious and thoughtful books. As I grew older I gradually left these fantasy stories behind, formulaic and predictable as they are, though I cannot promise that I never indulge anymore; they are like sinking into a satin-and-chocolate cocoon of comfort where nothing ever really goes wrong that a grand passion cannot make right in the end. Regardless of how much my heart gets knocked around in life, I can always dream of finding someone who just can’t stand to live without me. A handsome and sensual man to be sure, but more to the point, the kind of man who is capable of the kind of unflagging devotion and loyalty most people can only dream about, who rides through the mist-shrouded night on his majestic steed to make everything all right in the life of the woman he loves, a man of principle and integrity and intelligence and yes, all these things, while looking simply fabulous in a poet’s shirt, a pair of English riding boots, and very little else. (I did say fantasy, after all, didn’t I?) In short, the kind of man who wears Montale Greyland.
I discovered this scent when my local perfume shop introduced the Montale line. The different scents arrived, on Montale’s quirky and immutable schedule, every two weeks, two at a time, and the shop was never told which ones they would be until they arrived. The process of stocking the whole line took several months. One day, I stopped in to check on the progress of this acquisition and there was Greyland.
I had read a lot about the Aoud series but had never seen them in a store, and I had tried only one of the non-Aoud scents, Powder Flowers, so I really had no idea what sort of quality I was going to experience. It only took one pass through the first few to convince me that they were the real deal. I adored the Aoud perfumes, every one, and the others in the line were also excellent. I knew vaguely that many if not most of the Montales are intended to be unisex, but when I tried Greyland it said Manly to me, with a capital M.
What struck me first about this fragrance is how deeply somber it is; it’s all seriousness and no play. This is not to say that it is dull or astringent or whatever, it’s not; it is just serious -and seriously, intensely sexy. Cool woods, subtle spices and musky notes paint a portrait of a man who means what he says and says what he means. Dashing and impressive, yet quietly contemplative, this is a scent for a man with hidden depths who knows exactly who he is. At first, it is more or less a classic “masculine” scent as the bracing opening of leather, spice and woods proclaims its intent, but as it simmers down there is a slightly watery (but not “marine”) feel to it from the vetiver, and the spices are never overpowering or too dominant. Cardamom lends a gently sweet note, the black pepper is just a tickle and the cumin is never intrusive; this is one of the most wearable cumin-infused scents I have ever tried. The leather does not get loud and hairy as in some masculine (and feminine!) scents; it is as smooth and refined as the finest chamois. As the drydown proceeds, sandalwood and musk transform Greyland into a true skin scent, and it lingers for hours. At least it does on me; some people find it too fleeting. I like the way it gradually becomes low-key on the skin and stays that way for a long time after the impressive opening. When I wear it, I keep getting fresh whiffs of vetiver and subtly sweet musk all day long as little reminders of what I am have on; when I first wore it all day I kept wondering what it was that smelled so divine –it was me!
Greyland reminds me of one of my very favorite romantic movies, 1995’s Sense And Sensibility, which I have watched more times than I can count. It enters the picture like the handsome rogue Mr. Willoughby, who proceeds to win and then break Marianne’s heart, and that of every woman who has ever seen the film, but as it plays out over time, it turns out to be a lot more like the steadfast and loyal Colonel Brandon, who stays by Marianne’s side with quiet devotion until she sees him for the true hero he really is. Now that’s my kind of romance.
Notes from Luckyscent: cedar, teak, sandalwood from Mysore, Sri Lankan pepper, elemi and cardamom, musk, rock rose and benzoin. Over at Fragrantica, the listed notes are cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, guaiac wood, ginger, pepper, leather, musk and rose. (I am not really getting any ginger from this, but the leather, oh yeah.)
Image credits: Photo of actor Greg Wise (swoon!) as John Willoughby in the film Sense and Sensibility from lifeunaccordingtoplan.blogspot.com. Photo of actor Alan Rickman (sigh!) as Colonel Christopher Brandon in the same film, from rickmanistareview.com.