Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
I cannot get away from Nina Ricci Nina, despite all my best efforts. It tops the charts of best-sellers, its pretty pink bottle shows up at every trend presentation, and its cotton candy and dry amber scent pervades the subway. Along with Marc Jacobs Daisy and Vera Wang Princess, it is a good example of how given the right configuration of brand name, marketing and packaging, one can easily create a top seller. Of course, the fragrance is important too—it has to be trendy, pretty and likeable. I like Daisy well enough, Princess is inoffensive, but Nina and I simply cannot find a compromise. …
On the face of it, I should like Nina just fine, since like Daisy, it traces its lineage directly to Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, one of the most interesting trendsetting fragrances of this decade—the same dry ambery notes, the effervescent citrus and apple top. For me, the beauty of Light Blue lies in its play upon the dry, almost masculine amber notes. In contrast, Nina is rendered as a more conventional feminine with the addition of a heavy doze of ethyl maltol (cotton candy) and other sweet, caramelized notes.
I have a good share of favorite fragrances incorporating gourmand notes—Thierry Mugler Angel, Lolita Lempicka, Missoni. What makes these fragrances appealing is the contrasted quality between their elements which frames the sweetness and creates the abstract, teasing vision of a dessert. However, the heavy gourmand accord of Nina verges on cloying, and even the crisp amber does not lighten the syrup laden base. Instead of sensing a whiff of vanilla from a pastry shop, this is rather like ending up with a cake in your face.
Nina’s main redeeming feature is its packaging. I love the modern take on the classical Fille d’Eve bottle, which was created by Lalique in the course of its fruitful collaboration with Ricci. I just wish that the scent made me feel like the princess in Olivier Theyskens’ dress from the marketing campaign—elegant, beautiful and ethereal, and not like a little girl eating cotton candy at a fair.
Nina Ricci Nina includes notes of Calabrese lemon, lime, red toffee apple, vanilla infusion, moonflower, peony petals, apple tree wood, cotton musk. It is available from Saks 5th Avenue, Sephora and Nordstrom.