Mona Kattan On Turning Her Childhood Memories Into A Global Fragrance Empire — & Her Scent Predictions For 2025

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Mona Kattan's journey to becoming the "Perfume Princess" is a tale of passion for perfumery, deeply rooted in her Middle Eastern heritage and over 20 years in Dubai. From a young age, Kattan was enchanted by the power of fragrance, viewing scent as "bookmarks to your life and a powerful path into memories and emotions."
This profound love of perfume and the rich, aromatic experiences of her surroundings blossomed into KAYALI, a brand that encapsulates Kattan's desire to share her passion with the world. “I fell in love with the ritual and art of layering along with all of the rich scents you constantly come into contact with [in the Middle East]: vibrant spices, bakhoor, oud, Arabic sweets,” she tells Refinery29 Australia.
The viral success of many of KAYALI's perfumes is a testament to the brand's resonance with a global fanbase. Kattan credits her engaged and supportive community for the brand’s success, saying, "It's an incredible feeling to connect with millions of people who share our passion. Without them, we wouldn't have been where we are today, and we're forever grateful for their support."
Kattan's own obsession with fragrances began in her teenage years. She fondly recalls using her first paycheque to buy two perfumes, a decision that marked the beginning of an extensive collection that now exceeds 4,500 bottles housed in her cherished fragrance library, her "happy place". For Kattan, fragrance is an intimate form of expression, capable of conveying a mood, memory, or feeling in a deeply personal way.

I love to layer as there are infinite possibilities when it comes to wearing more than one scent.

mona kattan
Over the last year, KAYALI has launched eight new fragrances, and for Kattan, the creative process behind each perfume is as diverse as it is personal. For instance, Vanilla|28 was inspired by childhood birthday celebrations, while The Wedding Silk Santal|36 draws from the memory of her wedding day, which she shares was the best day of her life. Sweet Diamond, featuring pink pepper as its hero note, was crafted to evoke the sensation of falling in love. "I am a hopeless romantic, so I really wanted to bottle that emotion!" she shares. Each fragrance begins with a concept and a moodboard that captures the essence of the desired scent before moving into development.
Reflecting on the moments that fuelled her passion for fragrance, Kattan often returns to childhood memories filled with the scent of her mother’s jasmine perfume. "Looking back, there have been many inspiring moments and memories — but the ones that consistently bring me comfort and nostalgia are birthday celebrations as a child and the smell of my mom’s jasmine perfume," she says. This nostalgic connection is evident in many KAYALI fragrances, where vanilla and jasmine often play a prominent role. "I love how these notes, depending on formulation, can make you feel cosy, sexy, or just plain happy."
But Kattan’s ultimate goal is to help others find or create their own scent moods, crafting personal fragrance journeys that evoke unique emotions and memories. “What smells good to me might not be the same for you, which I find fascinating," she says. "That's why I started KAYALI — to help everyone find or create a scent mood that feels right for them."
Over the last few years, the Western fragrance industry has witnessed a growing appreciation for Middle Eastern notes such as rose, saffron, and oud. These ingredients, which boast centuries of history and cultural significance in the Middle East, are now captivating the senses of Western consumers and reshaping the olfactory landscape. Kattan shares that she often draws inspiration from Middle Eastern notes, particularly recently with KAYALI's Oudgasm collection. "We really wanted to find the right way to honour oud and have it be the focus of the collection, but have a modern twist and a fresh perspective," she shares. Blended with less obvious notes like coffee, the scents perfectly toe the line between tradition and innovation.

I do have a fragrance within the KAYALI family that I would say is me in a bottle and that is Sweet Diamond Pink Pepper | 25. I love that it’s both soft and strong at the same time.

mona kattan
With so many thousands of options to choose from in her extensive library, we were curious about how Kattan picks a fragrance to wear on any given day — as well as the scent she reaches for when she wants to feel powerful. "The trick is to not choose only one fragrance!" she laughs. "I love to layer as there are infinite possibilities when it comes to wearing more than one scent. I’m usually testing a lot of different samples every day, so I never really have only one scent on."
Having said that, she does have a favourite among all the perfumes in the KAYALI family. "I do have a fragrance within the KAYALI family that I would say is me in a bottle and that is Sweet Diamond Pink Pepper|25. I love that it’s both soft and strong at the same time," she shares. "I’ve also been obsessed with our latest addition to the Oudgasm Collection, Smoky Oud|07. It has notes of geranium, saffron, patchouli and oud that make it super intense, sexy and mysterious — I think that’s the scent that makes me feel powerful right now as it makes such a bold scent statement!"
If Kattan is the Perfume Princess, she might as well also be the Queen of Layering, as she loves experimenting with different combinations. Her technique for layering perfumes involves starting with a hydrated base, using scented shower gels, shampoos, and body creams — and drinking lots of water. "For more diffusion, I like to spritz my perfumes on my pulse points such as inside my wrists, elbows and behind my neck as these spots generate heat throughout the day," Kattan shares. "As body chemistry can change, don't forget to lightly spray your clothes, as scent tends to linger longer on fabric. For hair, I prefer using alcohol-free hair mists or infusing the scent of perfumed wood chips, known as bakhoor, into my hair with the smoke. The key to layering fragrances is to experiment and have fun!"
Looking ahead, Kattan predicts that Middle Eastern fragrances and ingredients like oud will dominate the perfume industry over the coming year, noting the success of the brand's Oudgasm collection. She also anticipates a rise in the popularity of perfumed oils, bakhoor, dessert-inspired gourmand scents, and fruity-floral fragrances, particularly those with banana notes.
Fans of Netflix's Dubai Bling will recall that in Season 2, when Mona Kattan makes her entrance, she is determined to become more independent and step out of her older sister Huda Kattan's shadow. When asked for her advice to other young women aiming to do the same, she emphasises that persistence and authenticity are key to achieving success. "When you start a business, you'll learn a lot along the way, so embrace every experience as a chance to grow," she says. "If you're considering business partners, do your homework before deciding — it's a big commitment. And lastly, always stay true to yourself and your passions. Don't give up — keep being you!"
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