Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete : Perfume Review

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Letemps

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

There is something exhilarating and uplifting about the green notes. A whiff of crushed leaves, mowed grass or of minced herbs—and suddenly the breath of spring itself envelops you, making you feel giddy. Yet, strong verdant accords in fragrances are notoriously difficult to weave in such a way that the perfume maintains its effervescent quality without being overly sharp and aggressive. Therefore, most fragrances interpret the idea of verdancy in a rather tame manner, using the green accords as mere accents. Le Temps d’une Fête by Parfums de Nicolaï comes as a pleasant surprise—a sophisticated fragrance that presents a vibrant green theme, yet retaining a plush, caressing quality on the skin. It has the bold character of Balmain Vent Vert, while it wears as elegantly as Guerlain Chamade.

The founder of Parfums de Nicolaï and the perfumer responsible for its entire line is Patricia de Nicolaï, whose lineage goes back to Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain, the founder of Guerlain. Nicolaï’s work has a very distinctive signature, which combines refinement and strength, a wonderful combination in perfume. Le Temps d’une Fête was originally created in 1989 and was presented as a fresh green floral with notes of bergamot, mandarin, blackcurrant buds, peach, iris, jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, vetiver, oakmoss, and musk. I used to enjoy it very much, and when I heard that in 2007 Le Temps d’une Fête got reochestrated, I was ready to mourn one of my favorites.

Revisiting Le Temps d’une Fête in its post-reformulation state, I realize that I need not have worried. The new fragrance is much more unique and memorable. It opens up on a vivid green accord of galbanum, aldehydes and hyacinth. When this bright, crystal clear accord begins to melt, a sweet note of incense becomes more obvious. It provides a dark accent, which makes the green notes appear even more vivid and sparkling. The floral heart of jasmine and narcissus continues the verdant leitmotif—the jasmine has a delicate springtime freshness, while narcissus possesses a heavy, dark green richness. The composition dries down on a sheer mossy note, with soft woods and musk rounding out the composition.

While Le Temps d’une Fête is built around some particularly assertive notes, it nevertheless has an exquisitely delicate beauty. Perhaps, it is even a tad too delicate, because I find that Le Temps d’une Fête has a moderate sillage, whereas I would have wished for something bigger. Unlike the aforementioned Chamade, its floral notes are more transparent, while the backdrop of moss and woods lends the composition a dry character. The effect overall is similar to champagne—irresistible sparkle, suave bouquet and an intoxicating finish.

Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête (2007) ncludes notes of galbanum, opopanax, hyacinth, narcissus, sandalwood, and oakmoss. Available as the Eau de Toilette from First in Fragrance, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, New London Pharmacy, The Perfume Shoppe and directly from Parfums de Nicolai website (30ml — $42, 100ml– $130.)

Update 1/29/2016: Le Temps d’une Fête has been removed from the regular line, but it’s still available on request. The current prices are 30mls GBP 32.00, 100mls GBP 92.00 – plus postage.

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25 Comments

  • Ann C: I’m glad you decided to review this, V. I never sniffed the earlier version and so have no basis for comparison, but I love the current version of Le Temps d’une Fete. It’s finally going to feel like spring today; I think it’s time to move my bottle to the front of my cabinet. April 12, 2011 at 6:30am Reply

  • Austenfan: I love Le Temps. But then I’m very fond of the whole Nicolaï line anyway. This one seems particularly suited to spring. It accompanies all the daffodils in my garden just beautifully. I am wearing First today, but will wear Le Temps tomorrow in honour of this review.

    I got my bottle in 2009, so I am thinking I must have the new version. The academic in me will want to sniff the old version at some point. April 12, 2011 at 7:28am Reply

  • Warum: Reformulated niche is something that I at first didn’t think I’ll have to deal with, but I quickly realized how wrong I was.

    I have a sample, but I am not sure whether it is old or new! How do you tell by smell or by the appearance of the bottle or by date? April 12, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • mals86: (somehow my first comment got eaten… if it shows up twice, please delete one!)

    I love Le Temps d’une Fete beyond all reason. Love love love it. Top Three, EVER. It never fails to make me happy.

    I bought my bottle in 2008 or 2009, so I know I haven’t smelled the original, but this may be the one case where I don’t really need to! I honestly cannot imagine a version that I’d enjoy more. I started out with it as a spring fragrance, but found myself picking it up even on hot summer days, and into the fall… and even wore it to bed a few times this past winter. I find that I notice the woody-mossy-patchouli base more in cooler weather, and that warm weather seems to bring out the florals. Either way, it is lovely.

    Certainly it is darker than Chamade, and I find it easier to wear. Chamade’s big morph from chilly green to languid creamy yellow is romantic, I think, but sometimes it tries my patience. I love the way LTdF stays a beautiful peridot green, top to bottom, while going through its galbanum->narcissus->woody-moss transitions. The only complaint I have about it is its silly name. True, it doesn’t boast big sillage, but it has enough to suit my taste.

    Incidentally, I just yesterday received a sample of Dior-Dior from TPC, and when I cracked open the vial to smell, something rather similar to LTdF floated out! This shouldn’t surprise me, as the notes for Dior-Dior are “green notes, narcissus, woods,” but instead of chasing the elusive and expensive Dior-Dior, I think I’ll just buy another bottle of Le Temps d’une Fete. April 12, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: It is definitely the ultimate springtime fragrance. When we were talking about it recently (in the thread on Top 5 favorites,) I realized that I associate this time of the year with this perfume. April 12, 2011 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am fond of this line too. The fragrances are really well-made, elegant, memorable. I can recall most of the line easily, even though I have not smelled some of these perfumes in some time. Yet, they just stay in my memory. Excellent line! April 12, 2011 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: The 1989 version is definitely on the fruity side. It is a nice fragrance, but it does not compare to the beauty of the new version. The bottles, I believe, look absolutely identical.

    This is one of those rare cases, where the reformulation is better than the original! 🙂 April 12, 2011 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love narcissus in general, but the way it is used here is so alluring. That crunchy stems, dark leather and jasmine petals fragrance is simply ravishing.

    I love your comparison with Chamade, which is spot on for me. I also find Le Temps much easier to wear, even though Chamade is among my top favorites. It is just a special mood kind of fragrance for me, not something I can put on absentmindedly and go about my day. It demands attention! April 12, 2011 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Carrie Meredith: This sounds so lovely. You had me at “Vent Vert”.;) April 12, 2011 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: I miss Vent Vert (the current version is nice, but too floral and too subtle.) So, this perfume comes close to capturing that vibrant green effect. April 12, 2011 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Carla: My luckyscent order, which includes this, should arrive any day. I got a sample a few years back and was disappointed, I thought it was weak and not that unusual, just another green floral. I tried it again on paper at the shop in Paris, but still no effect on me. But since I keep hearing about it, I ordered another sample, and I don’t know, maybe the first sample I tried was the first version, and maybe my nose was tired in Paris, because I really liked it this time around! I felt like I smelled like the yellow dripping inside of a flower. Oh, that sounds silly, but I’m leaving it. I am still not good at notes, but I think it was the hyacinth combined with galbanum that got me. It is easier to wear than Chamade because it does not last forever and a day, which I actually don’t want, since I’m always changing perfume. (I found Knowing, Azuree and Chamade to be the longest lasting ever. Also, Sarrasins and La Myrrhe have lingered on clothes after dry cleaning and skin after bathing…but maybe I missed my chest in the bath, ha ha? ) Now I’m going to read your review and the comments again… April 12, 2011 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Uella: Le Temps d’une Fete is one of my all time spring favorites, I find it more timeless and easier to wear than Chamade. In this day and age of poor reformulations it’s not everyday you hear about improved new perfume versions 😉 April 12, 2011 at 1:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love your description of this perfume as smelling like the floral sap. It does! I keep thinking of apple blossoms–that sweet, green, bitter aroma. So spring like! April 12, 2011 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: So true! I also like the fact that it is quite reasonably priced for a niche line. I'm so tired of aspirational pricing in niche. April 12, 2011 at 3:08pm Reply

  • chayaruchama: How lovely to see this beauty celebrated !
    I never tire of its elegant yet wild freshness- a bit of the barn,a bit of the dew, floral but not overbearing.

    I would kill for extrait 😉 April 12, 2011 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Victoria: How I wish it came as extrait de parfum! I can just imagine what a beauty it would be.
    Love your description–“elegant yet wild freshness.” April 12, 2011 at 6:11pm Reply

  • rosarita: I read this post before work very early this morning and didn’t have time to comment, but I did wear Le Temps as my SOTD today. First time I’ve had it out this spring. It’s such a lovely and unique green floral; I’ve enjoyed it all day. Thank you! April 12, 2011 at 7:50pm Reply

  • Cymbaline: One of my co-workers wanted to try some perfumes in the hope of finding something new to wear. She’s been wearing one of the Burberry’s for many years. I made up a few decants of perfumes I thought she would like and Le Temps d’Une Fete was the winner! We ordered a bottle from Luckyscent-Love those smaller sized bottles : )She’s happy and I really like smelling one of my favorite perfumes on a friend.

    In case anyone is interested- the other decants were Diorella, Mandragore and Puredistance 1. April 12, 2011 at 8:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am so glad that it has so many fans! I find that in comparison to some other niche lines, PdN is an underrated gem. The fragrances are simply fantastic. April 12, 2011 at 9:33pm Reply

  • Natalia: after reading such a fantastic reviews (and very much excited about Fig tea, two of my favorite notes!) i wish i could try them — but their website doesnt seem to mention any sampling program… so sad, it’s a wonderful way to discover the whole line and i’d definitely do it. April 12, 2011 at 10:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: Natalia, you can order samples from luckyscent, quite reasonably priced too. That's how I revisited this line myself recently. April 12, 2011 at 10:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: You are a great friend! 🙂 I also love your selection of fragrances. I also love converting others to my favorite perfumes. A friend of mine who wore Pleasures for the past several years was turned by me to Guerlain Chant d’Aromes. April 12, 2011 at 11:01pm Reply

  • Mel: Would love a recommendation for scents that closely resemble Le Temps d’un Fete. Thanks! September 30, 2013 at 7:58pm Reply

  • Wilma: Thanks very much for your update, Victoria. I have only recently had the chance to smell Le temps and found it amazing
    Very disappointed to find out it wasn’t on the website anymore, but now I have new hope… February 6, 2016 at 9:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that it’s helpful! I don’t know why they wouldn’t leave it on their website with a note indicating that it’s available as a custom order. February 6, 2016 at 10:18am Reply

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