Parfums Montale Est. 2001 is a discreet perfume house with a more visible prestigious street address located at 16, Place Vendôme in Paris, therefore a fully visible boutique and less necessarily so, a devoted following. There are veritable Montale addicts who are only too happy to discover the many new launches of the house although "launch" is perhaps not adequate a term to designate the simple putting-out-there of new fragrances. The brand did make an effort to set up a new, better organized website recently, but unlike many other fragrance houses which put a face or two on the image of the brand and maintain a calendar of releases, what you will most surely visualize when you think of Montale is a series of aluminium canister bottles poshed up by a dangling medallion, suddenly appearing from nowhere. Their scents nevertheless indubitably present a philosophical orientation and convey a consistent message of opulence and real olfactory pleasure repeated over and over again through their frequent new compositions creeping up in boutiques without fanfare. There seems to be an almost childlike uninhibited brand of creativity to the house.
Richness is one of the maîtres mots or key words to approach the house. Montale even offer the option of purchasing a more concentrated version of any scent by mixing it for
Mango Manga was first released in 2005, per the Montale press office. Its name is a doublet with the second term "manga" representing the original word having given us "mango" (after some detours). It comes from the Portuguese and Italian as the word is known to have been first recorded in an European language by Ludovico di Varthema in 1510. It is also happily a word familiar in Japan to mean something else entirely and was thus picked for the initial 2005 Japanese-market exclusive launch. Despite the fact that many Montales can be seen as variations on the thematic of the Oriental garden in which a nightingale sings at night, this is one which is as usual typically lush - stinginess must be considered a sin in this universe - but also more akin to the modern aesthetics of a hyperrealistic painting of a giant mango - like a more subtle Andy Warhol painting - than to a mango grove under a starry night.
Notes: Mangue, Néroli de Calabre, Jasmin Sambac, Orange douce, Cèdre, Vétiver, Mousse de Chêne (source: Montale)
The perfume opens on an ultra buttery - like an ideal vision of a fresh butter mound - then spicy and musky impression of mango followed by a felicitous nuance of foulness to evoke the idea of putridity, overripeness and perhaps poison. Mango skin contains Urushiol which is the same component found in poison ivy. It also takes on an unexpected green, fizzy, aldehydic cast like the scent of a green mango soda but made at an old-fashioned soda fountain spot with a funny mango syrup smelling a bit of angelica. The sulfurous nuances of mango were not forgotten either. Faint urine-y hints add dimension to this illusory yet completely convincing complex mango scent.
There is an interesting woody tonality which emerges which makes me think of the kernel, with always this undercurrent of mango ripeness. It is counterbalanced by unconventional tonalities of jungle green, fruity muskiness with - embedded withing it - a sharp, sweaty nuance, and then again this delightfully foul aspect of the mango, its sulfurous non-pretty side. It stinks, but in the most authentic and pleasant way possible.
The drydown is vegetal-y, softly green and fruity but without being very sweet. The composition leaves the realm of the complex figurative and interpretative - like choosing which facets and colors of the mango to render in a painting - ending up smelling of a veil of mango with fresh understated nuances, the color of pale green Celadon.
For me, Mango Manga is a wilder mango than Un Jardin sur Le Nil by Hermès which offers a more urban and urbane eau de cologne signature. The Montale mango seems to have been picked in the jungle next to a growling tiger, the Hermès mango seems to come from a well-tended garden. Mango fiends should check it out for its hyperrealistic facets which seem to have been observed under a magnifying glass and then transferred directly to canvas.