Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Among the ever growing niche area of the fragrance market, I would not hesitate to name Parfums de Nicolaï as one of the best. Created by talented perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï, the collection contains some of the most memorable fragrances available today. The dreamy darkness of Sacrebleu, the exquisite gracefulness of Le Temps d’une Fête, or the moody elegance of New York speak of its creator’s original vision and her ability to marry modern themes with classical forms. My favorite Nicolaï fragrance is Odalisque, which despite its name does not advertise its seductive nature. Rather, Odalisque beguiles with its striking combination of fragility and strength.
The drama of Odalisque is based on its arresting lily of the valley and chypre (mossy) accord. The top notes of bitter galbanum and bergamot set the refrain that repeats throughout—dark, intense and moody. As Odalisque dries down, the floral notes unfold like rolls of heavy silk. The heady richness of tuberose succeeds the dazzling brightness of lily of the valley, with sheer rose and jasmine lending further complexity. The dark green, inky undercurrent of moss and patchouli languidly frames the classical floral heart.
Even though Odalisque has been reformulated to comply with the IFRA standards for oakmoss, I still find the character of the original to be preserved. The dark layer under the luminous floral notes gives Odalisque a truly memorable and distinctive character. It does not smell like a garden on a summer day, nor does it evoke stables like some other heady white floral blends. Instead, it conjures a modern day Lady Godiva image—warm skin, horse mane and red lipstick.
Although it seems almost crude to mention money when discussing the artistic merit of Nicolaï fragrances; nevertheless, the subject should be raised. For the quality of the perfume, the price is not just reasonable, it is a true bargain!
Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, galbanum, jasmine, lily of the valley, tuberose, ylang ylang, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, and castoreum. Available from First in Fragrance, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, New London Pharmacy, The Perfume Shoppe and directly from the Parfums de Nicolai website. 30ml, $45, 100ml, $130
Sample: my own acquisition
Image credit: Dianna Argon via zetaboard