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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Out on the Misty Moors: Montale Greyland

By Donna

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 Photo of actor Alan Rickman (sigh!) as Colonel Christopher Brandon in the same film, from

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Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

My god,this post was better than a snifter of calvados on a cold crisp evening:) I do lose my mind a bit over Alan RIckman. Greyland sounds wonderful and being married to the man you've just described.....well all that I can say is keep looking. It's worth getting your heart crunched around a bit by the rotten ones so that you know the real one when you finally can see him. (And I've really seen him in a poets shirt!)
He wears Creeds Royal English Leather, but I'm going to find a sample of this for backup.
By the have to have read all of the Diana Gabaldon series? Jamie Fraser? The ultimate fantasy that you're describing?

7:27 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Alan Rickman in riding togs? Woof!

I have to go re-sniff Greyland now. I know it was on my lists of nust-gets..

1:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Hi Beth, thank you! I was truly inspired by this fragrance. I am pretty sure you will love it too. And your own personal dream man will smell fabulous in it!

And no, I have not read those books, but now I will be looking for them now! Sounds like ideal winter night reading. Thanks for the hot tip. :-)

3:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Tom, it should be on every man's short list - and every woman's too, IMHO.

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Wonderful post! And I absolutely must go find my sample of Greyland. I'm wondering now if I ever even tried it or if it just got lost in a sample pile somewhere. Sounds divine!

8:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you, Elle -I am sure you would remember it if you had tried it. :-)

8:48 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Greyland. It's beautiful in a stark, unforgiving way. All the more so if you smell it in a Montale boutique, drunk on Aoud and Roses - SUCH a contrast. It's really a high mountain landscape: stone and snow and sky, and a cold, bracing wind. Utterly bare, utterly beautiful and about as non-opulent as you can get. Love it. Even though, as a rule, I'm an opulence lover. But who says you can't love both bare and lush?

5:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Dinazad, I had the exact same feeling when I first tried it, alongside Aoud Queen Rose and the others - it was quite startling! I love opulence too, but this one, as full of open space as it is, seems to fill up a space in me that I didn't even know needed filling until I smelled it.

1:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a great way with words - and this is a really wonderful blog.
It is also very good to hear that somebody is still a true romantic, which you do indeed seem to be.
Many Thanks for this blog, and indeed, all the posts on it.

4:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Bopnews, thank you for your very kind words! Marina graciously allows her guest writers to express themselves here, and of course she is also a very talented writer herself.

Yes, I am a romantic, even though it never got me very far in life, I can't help it! :-)

4:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review: you've made Greyland sound like a must-try. I find the quality of the Monatale Aouds I've tried to be superb, and I own a small bottle of Red Aoud. I really look forward to sampling this one.

1:30 PM EDT  

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