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.