Sunday, September 24, 2023

Montale’s Starry Nights: a perfume nightmare

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My relationship with Montale has been a rollercoaster. I stepped into their Paris boutique in 2016 as a young fraghead with virtually no experience with niche and stepped out with a collection of travel sprays. I would go on to realize I’d tricked myself into thinking I’d liked them, and wore them basically zero times over the course of the next three years. Finally, after rediscovering the lovely Attar last year, I found myself absolutely loving nearly everything I sampled from the house. I was instantly smitten with the simple tropical joy of Aoud Lagoon, the animalic leather-oud beast of Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, and the intoxicatingly delicious Intense Café as well as its Ristretto flanker.

It wasn’t long before I ordered a host of affordably priced Montale samples from the website. I should have known something was off when they arrived in a dented paper box instead of the luxe fitted packaging displayed on their website. That omen was the beginning of my journey through Disappointment Alley. But nothing could prepare me for the horror of Montale’s Starry Nights.

Starry Nights Notes

Top Notes: Apple, Bergamot, Lemon

Heart Notes: Rose, Patchouli, Jasmine

Base Notes: White Musk, Powdery Notes, Amber

After a number of near-traumatic run-ins with green apple in perfume, Zoologist’s gorgeous Panda convinced me that the note can be used in an elegant fashion. It was with this ill-fated hope I added Starry Nights to my sample order. I spied the ‘powdery notes’ and filled my head with comparisons to powdery masterpieces like the star of last week’s Scent Saturday, Fate Woman. Then came the moment to actually test the little bottle, and I sprayed it, thankfully, onto a tester strip.

My nose immediately went into revolt. This was the horrific green apple I’d feared, except with Montale strength loaded behind it. Montale’s signature rose note, whose simplicity is rather gorgeous when framed effectively, added a blunt floral foundation for the screechy tartness of the apple. Generic synthetic notes filled in the rest of the space. Sickening fruity tart-sweetness abounded. I hoped dearly for some sort of redemption in the drydown.

I didn’t get it. The musky, ambery foundation to this fragrance is less offensive than the sharp citric blast of the opening, but it isn’t any less cloying or interesting. Starry Nights is so far from the elegant expanse of its namesake that I’m seriously suspicious of whoever named this creation. Frankly, when I smell this fragrance, I envision an annoying person at a club who’s oversprayed an obnoxious sweet scent that should have been abandoned in middle school. Axe has more restraint and appeal than whatever this is.

Montale can craft great sweet fragrances. They can clearly nail some tropical fruity offerings as well. However, I am uncertain that they have a solid approach to the more floral-fruity genre, where nuance and restraint usually lead to success. I still love Montale for their many successes, but this is a showcase of what can happen when big and bold is your M.O. Their triumphs are massive. So are their failures.

If you truly dare, treat your inner contrarian to a sample or a full bottle here. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.

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  • Jade

    Jade is the Lifestyle Editor at the Fandomentals, where they obsess over perfume and underground music. Their wacky poetry is floating around the internet - beware! Follow them for fragrance and poetry content @johndarrextreme on Instagram.

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