Founded by John and Clara Molloy (the couple also behind the Floraïku and Hermetica companies) in 2007, Memo must be one of the most coveted niche brands around.
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On a purely superficial level, part of that appeal is due to the beautifully designed bottles. Definitely among the best in the biz. Fortunately, there’s so much more to Memo than great style and aesthetics.
Travel is always a popular source of inspiration and storytelling in perfumery. Memo does it better than most with evocative scents that go beyond mere olfactory passport stamping.
The releases of the Paris-based company are given focus through various collections such as Graines Vagabondes, Fleurs Bohèmes, Escales Extraordinaires, Art Land and Cuirs Nomades.
Alienor Massenet created many of the house’s perfumes, including the best-selling Memo African Leather EDP, and must be given credit for her imaginative interpretations of the founders’ travel memories.
We present the best of the brand.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist For Best Memo Fragrances
Memo Inlé EDP (Alienor Massenet)
One of the brand’s launch releases (along with the just-as-good EDPs Lalibela, Siwa and Sundance), this 2007 release from the Fleurs Bohèmes Collection certainly set the tone for future releases with its luxurious beauty and exotic inspiration.
Taking its cue from the second largest lake in Myanmar, with its stunning floating villages (do yourself a favour and Google it for some travel inspo), it opens with the freshness of notes of bergamot oil and neroli. Cardamom and mint add a spicy aspect.
The combo of three absolutes – osmanthus (fruity and milky), jasmine (fresh and green) and mate tea (herbal) – is multi-faceted and completely captivating.
The powderiness of violet is complemented by the softness of musk and cedar in the drydown.
We also recommend the 2016 release Memo Inlé Iris EDP for its floral powderiness.
Memo Jannat EDP (Alienor Massenet)
With its name which means “paradise” in the Urdu language (spoken in Pakistan and India), Memo Jannat sounds beautifully lyrical. Its aroma is transportive too.
The opening of this 2008 release from the Graines Vagabondes Collection bursts with citrus notes, in particular grapefruit, lemon, and neroli. It’s sharp and quite bitter. The way we love it.
Notes of orange blossom and frangipani bring a floral dimension to the crisp composition, while ginger adds evocative spiciness.
After all that zing, the drydown of sandalwood and musk is a mellower affair.
Memo Moon Fever EDP (Alienor Massenet)
Originally released under the name Moon Safari in 2009 and then renamed in 2012, Moon Fever might not have the immediacy of most of the brand’s leather scents from the Cuirs Nomades Collection but more than compensates with its invigorating brightness.
There’s a pleasing citric sharpness to the opening, thanks to notes of bitter orange, Primofiore lemon and grapefruit.
More freshness follows in the form of an overdose of lemon verbena, with its clean floral-citrus, almost grassy characteristics, and support from clary sage and neroli.
The leather accord comes through ever so subtly in the drydown and is given an earthy edge with vetiver.
With the prominence of the lemon verbena, this one won’t be to everyone’s liking, so please do try it before you buy it.
This 2013 release from the Escales Extraordinaires Collection dials down the rose of the 2007 original, Lalibela EDP, in favour of pure natural oud that’s immediately recognisable from the first spray.
Rich without being overpowering, it’s complemented by the tropical tones of coconut orchid and fresh jasmine absolute.
There’s depth aplenty from tobacco, patchouli, labdanum and frankincense in the drydown, with lashings of vanilla completing the composition.
It’s kinda sweet, but in a thoroughly grown-up way. Oh, and did we mention the price? Expensive, even by Memo standards, probably due to the inclusion of natural oud oil.
Want more oud à la Memo? Then we recommend Shams Oud EDP (2011) and Argentina EDP (2021).
Memo Kedu EDP (Alienor Massenet)
At first glance / whiff, this 2014 release from the Graines Vagabondes Collection seems quite ordinary. Spend more time with it and it will reveal its charms, albeit in an understated way.
Grapefruit takes the lead in the opening, with notes of neroli and mandarin orange adding to the freshness.
Maté absolute builds on the sharpness of the intro with its herbal qualities, while floral notes of freesia and rose soften it slightly.
As it dries down, the sesame absolute comes through. It’s softly spicy, almost bread-y. For those used to more overt gourmand notes, its subtle warmth and cosiness is something to learn to savour.
The 2017 release Memo Kedu Sesame EDP is also worth checking out.
Memo Ilha Do Mel EDP (Alienor Massenet)
Ilha do Mel. A small island off the coast of Brazil with beautiful beaches and Atlantic forests.
The name alone of this 2015 release from the Fleurs Bohèmes Collection sounds exotic and far, far away from reality. We don’t need any persuasion to take a trip with this EDP created by Alienor Massenet.
Memo fragrances are layered and maximalist, and this one is no different. Juniper oil and hyacinth provide brief green freshness in the opening.
And then a floral bouquet of broom, orange blossom, gardenia, and especially jasmine are given a luxurious honey treatment. Which makes perfect sense seeing that Ilha do Mel means “honey island”.
Musk and vanilla prolong the experience in the drydown.
It’s heady and sweet, but not ickily so.
Memo Marfa EDP (Alienor Massenet)
A 2016 release from the Fleurs Bohèmes Collection, this EDP is quite a streamlined affair by Memo standards and captures the nocturnal heat of its desert city inspiration with creative flair.
Notes of orange blossom and mandarin orange create a suitably warm ambience.
Luxuriously creamy tuberose absolute is given more sensual heat with oil of ylang-ylang and its fruity characteristics. An agave accord adds a touch of earthy greenery.
The drydown keeps the creaminess going with sandalwood oil, vanilla and musk.
The bottle with its all-seeing eye design is gorgeous too.
Memo Russian Leather EDP (Alienor Massenet)
The 2015 release Memo African Leather EDP is probably the house’s most popular perfume.
While we love it too and can’t recommend it enough, we feel the need to point you in the direction of their other superb leather scents, such as this 2016 release from the Cuirs Nomades Collection.
The intriguing Russian Leather takes its cue from a Siberian forest. It starts its journey in fougère mode with a fern note. Oil of Siberian pine needle focuses the olfactory illusion, with notes of lavender, rosemary and mint providing herbal and green facets.
When the leather comes through its gentle and soothing and surrounded by woody notes of aromatic cypress and earthy patchouli.
This EDP has a fresh, clean, peppery vibe with appealing contrasts.
Memo Eau de Memo EDP (Alienor Massenet)
Created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand, this 2017 release from the Cuirs Nomades Collection is gorgeous stuff from the get-go.
That’s mostly due to the generous green tea accord. Its herbal greenery is beautifully blended with fresh citrus notes of bergamot, lemon and orange.
Jasmine absolute, fruity and fresh, boosts the uplifting ambience, while iris concrete adds a touch of powdery earthiness.
The leather accord has all the sophistication we’ve come to expect from the brand. Its clean elegance is partnered with white musk and the woody earthiness of moss.
Prefer your tea with more fire, spice and complexity? Then get your nose onto the 2019 release, Memo Winter Palace EDP, featuring a rooibos (red tea) accord.
Pfft! Pfft! That’s the sound of us spraying this 2018 release from the Art Land Collection. Mmm… magnificent, that’s the sound of us loving every precious drop of it.
It opens with the dense spiciness of saffron and a hint of fresh lime in the background.
And then onto the herbaceous aromatics of oil of absinthe without going in an obviously boozy direction. Floral notes of osmanthus, rose and ylang-ylang add to the rich ambience.
But what really makes this scent special is the smokiness of incense absolute and papyrus coupled with a warm amber accord. The resinous, musky spice of tolu balsam is prominent in the latter.
It all adds up to create an olfactory experience we wish would never end.
Memo Tamarindo EDP (Sophie Labbé)
If this 2018 release from the Graines Vagabondes Collection doesn’t put you in a tropical vacay mood, nothing will.
While many of the brand’s releases were created by Alienor Massenet, Memo Tamarindo has Sophie Labbé’s expertise with fruity and floral notes, as displayed in Versace Dylan Turquoise EDT, Bvlgari Splendida Tubereuse Mystique EDP and Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne EDP, all over it.
Taking its name from the Costa Rican coastal town, it opens with the spicy freshness of bergamot and cardamom.
Festive fruitiness is channelled via notes of pineapple and jasmine absolute.
With a drydown cocktail of patchouli, vanilla absolute and benzoin, we have a feeling this beach party vibe could last till dawn. And we’re not complaining.
A leather accord immediately makes its presence felt in this 2018 release from the Cuirs Nomades Collection.
Rich, animalic and full of depth, it’s noticeable throughout its progression, so no half-measures here, which is often the case in leather lites.
A strong shot of woody vetiver adds to the feel of initial dryness, while ginger brings fresh spiciness to the mix.
There’s no missing the contribution of galbanum (bitter and green), iris butter (earthy and powdery) and cypress (earthy and aromatic) to the overall evocation of Morocco’s Chefchaouen, the city famous for its blue buildings and streets.
The musky drydown (featuring Ambrofix, a type of Ambroxan) prolongs the alluring sensuality and warmth of this eau de parfum.
Memo Ocean Leather EDP (Alienor Massenet)
As the beautifully designed bottle will tell you, Memo Ocean Leather, a 2020 release from the Cuirs Nomades Collection, takes its inspiration from the sperm whale. But just to clarify matters, it’s not an ambergris fragrance.
There’s a burst of mandarin orange at first. It’s contrasted with the fresh aromatics of basil and the powder of violet.
The aromatics continue in the form of clary sage absolute, but it’s the elemi that really stands out, with its terpenic qualities.
The drydown features a leather accord that’s given earthy depth with notes of nutmeg and vetiver.
It’s not a literal aquatic fragrance and is all the better for it.
Memo Sintra EDP (Philippe Paparella-Paris)
Portugal has been having a moment for some time and there’s even a fragrance inspired by it (more specifically, the hilly town of Sintra) just in case you needed another reminder.
This 2021 release from the Fleurs Bohèmes Collection begins with the sunny freshness of citrus notes and a sliver of red fruits.
The fresh sweetness of orange blossom is paired with milk and cinnamon notes. Are we going in a gourmand direction?
Oh yes! There’s notes of marshmallow, caramel and vanilla – enhanced by fluffy musk – to indulge in here.
Of course, it’s a sweet treat but so skilfully put together, we’re back for more. Deliciosa!
Just when we were starting to think the brand could be running out of travel-inspired ideas, this 2021 release from the Graines Vagabondes Collection sets us straight.
Its appeal is immediate, thanks to an impressively rendered rhubarb note. Sweet, sour, vegetal and spicy, it’s supported by sparkling citrus notes, the tart greenery of blackcurrant and cassis, and the soapiness of lily-of-the-valley.
The fruitiness of rose and jasmine is played up (we can also detect notes of peach and raspberry in the olfactory fruit-bowl). A note of spike (also known as jatamansi), aromatic and earthy, keeps it on the right side of sweetness.
The drydown is big on musky warmth, with the synthetic Cashmeran and patchouli featuring prominently.
It’s one of those fragrances where there’s a lot happening and we won’t make any bold claims about being able to pick up all the officially listed notes.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.