Parfums de Nicolai L’Eau a la Folie : Fragrance Review

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I have a love and hate relationship with summer. I wilt in the heat, my hair becomes unmanageable thanks to the humidity and my skin burns within seconds. The bronzed summer look with glistening lips that heralds the July editions of fashion magazines all over the world is unachievable for me. On the other hand, I love the balmy feel of warm summer evenings, when the soft breeze caresses your face and plays with your hair. A good matte finish sunscreen, Wella mousse and Mineral Veil powder is what I rely on to go from morning to evening without looking overly disheveled, but I also like to keep a small atomizer of perfume that can likewise bridge the heat of the summer day and the languor of the evening.

It’s hard to go wrong with a great citrus cologne, but sometimes you want a perfume that lingers longer, while retaining a pleasant freshness to cool you down. That’s the category of perfumes in which Parfums de Nicolaï L’Eau à la Folie fits perfectly–a blend of citrus and tropical fruits with a drydown of jasmine and moss.

 The perfume has bright sparkling top notes of citrus and mint that feel cool and crisp, a perfect start in the morning, but by the time you’re ready to take your lunch break, the creamy jasmine and mango take over the show. As the day slowly dips into evening, your skin perfumed with L’Eau à la Folie begins to smell of moss, musk and peach skin.

The mossy fruity vibe of L’Eau à la Folie reminds me of Hermes Amazone and Chanel Cristalle, with the main difference in the type of fruit these fragrances use. Amazone mixes blackcurrants and strawberries, while Cristalle is a citrus salad sweetened with peach. L’Eau à la Folie is a luscious tropical cocktail of mango and papaya. The peach flashes by as well, smelling more of its fuzzy skin, rather than the sugary flesh. In any case, for all of its lighthearted and smiling personality, L’Eau à la Folie is elegant and restrained. You will not smell as if you took a bath in fruit juice.

As much as I enjoy L’Eau à la Folie, I don’t think that it’s a crowd pleaser of a perfume. The mango, like all tropical fruits, has a sweet, overripe note that can seem pungent, especially when paired with the animalic jasmine. It’s not overly strong, but I know that some of you avoid these “ripe to the point of decay” notes. For a light Eau de Toilette (and a great bargain for a niche perfume), L’Eau à la Folie has great tenacity, and even when I get ready to pack up my belongings at the office and head home, its mossy sweetness is still present. It smells of a pleasant day spent sitting at an outdoor cafe, minus the shiny nose and sunburn.

Parfums de Nicolaï L’Eau à la Folie Eau de Toilette includes notes of mint, mango, orange, lime, Egyptian jasmine absolute, mint, juniper and pink pepper. 30 ($45) and 100ml ($115), available from New London Pharmacy, LuckyscentBeautyhabit or Parfum1 in the US; Parfums de Nicolaï boutiques in Europe.

Photography (top image) by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved.

Sample source: PR

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28 Comments

  • Austenfan: This was another of my Paris buys. I love it. Her Eau d’Eté is still my favourite of her summer eaux, but this one is very lovely and wearable as well.
    My hair actually does better in humid weather, it becomes softer and more curly.
    I just feel awful when it is really hot. Fortunately it doesn’t often do so in the Netherlands. July 9, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: How I envy you to have good hair days in the summer! My hair is fine, so a hint of humidity and I already look disheveled. I usually wear it in a ponytail or a bun for this reason. But even that doesn’t do much as small fly aways get frizzy. In other words, every day in Belgium is a bad hair day for me, since it rains here so much. Wella and hairspray are my friends. 🙂

      Eau d’Ete is one of my other summer favorites, and if I would compare, I prefer it to L’Eau a la Folie as it’s even more charming and happy. July 9, 2012 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Jillie: This sounds rather good to me – especially if it is a little like Cristalle and Amazone. Do you think it has a hint of Calyx too? The over-ripe/decaying fruit note is what puts a lot of people of that, but I ldon’t get that, luckily. Like Austenfan, I am quite fond of Eau d’Ete, but always like to try something new from PdeN.

    I also like your hint about Mineral Veil Powder -I am a bit of a twin with you as I have very pale, sun-sensitive skin and my hair goes frizzy in the heat; I am always seeking makeup that won’t melt or irritate me. Sadly they discontinued the Revlon Age-Defying Powder which worked perfectly, especially in the heat, and which made me look cool even if I wasn’t. July 9, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Jillie, I think that you will like it then. Yes, it has a hint of grapefruit-passion fruit like notes from Calyx, but it’s less sweet and more mossy. The mossy peach drydown is very good.

      I highly recommend Bare Escentuals makeup line. I originally bought it, because I was looking for the wedding makeup that wouldn’t run in the heat. I even wore it to the dance class to test how well it might hold up, and I was impressed enough to return and buy the makeup and the powder. The powder (Mineral Veil) is what I end up wearing daily, whether to remove the shine from my sunscreen, or to create an even tone for the evening makeup. I love it. My skin is sensitive, but Mineral Veil works perfectly and never irritates it. July 9, 2012 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Lucas: L’Eau a la Folie sounds nice! I can’t remember if I ever had a chance to try a perfume with some mango in it, but I’m open to a new discovery. Wearing perfume in a heat can’t be “lethal” if you know what to wear. And I must admit I’ve never tried anything from Parfums de Nicolai. Will have to check out their website. Maybe they offer samples… July 9, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Lucas, I’ll happily push you in the direction of PdN, because the quality for the price never fails to amaze me. The line is large (and at this point maybe a bit too large!), and while I can’t say that I like everything, the fragrances like New York, SacreBleu, Number One, Le Temps d’Une Fete are among my top favorites. As Austenfan and Jillie mentioned above, Eau d’Ete is another summer perfume to try. July 9, 2012 at 2:13pm Reply

      • Lucas: Thanks Victoria! I checked their website today but I couldn’t find “order a sample” option. Do you maybe know where can I purchase a sample online, preferably from a european site? July 9, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: Hmm, Lucas, I don’t know. Ausliebezumduft is, of course, a great site where you can order samples, but I don’t think that they carry PdN. Otherwise, you have Luckyscent, Surrendertochance, but those are based in the US (although they ship overseas). July 9, 2012 at 3:36pm Reply

        • Austenfan: You can’t order samples directly from De Nicolaï, but I think you can from Ausliebezumduft. They carry the line and will pretty much send samples of everything they have. I have found them very reliable and friendly. July 10, 2012 at 9:03am Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you, that’s good for me to know as well, since I would rather not order samples from the US (and pay the higher shipping fees). July 10, 2012 at 11:35am Reply

  • OperaFan: I was born in the “tropics” zone and although my skin tans if I were to but “look at the sun” – as my husband says – I can’t ever imagine myself living in one, especially the humid kind.

    This one sounds lovely and I must go and pick out a PdN Eau – or 2. Trying to decide is the problem…

    Enjoy the warm weather of summer, now that it has fully arrived! July 9, 2012 at 1:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: After suffering failed attempts at tanning, which for me translates into being red, peeling and then looking freckled, I’ve decided that I might as well embrace the pale look. Out of desperation and necessity! 🙂

      Our summer is strange. We had a nice week, but the temperature changes so much within a day that I usually leave my house in the morning wearing a sweater and jacket and return home around 5pm in just a t-shirt! Saturday when I took the photo above was a rare full day of sunshine. I was so happy. July 9, 2012 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Amer: I had almost forgotten about Patricia de Nicolai. I have been meaning to try Eau Chic forever but something always comes up that diverts my cash flow elsewhere (this time it was l’Artisan’s summer sale. Bought Dzongkha unsniffed. Huge risk I know). As Lucas suggested, the fact that the site doesn’t offer samples doesn’t help. Victoria if you were to put the three eaux in an order of preference from most to least desirable for you, what would that be? (if you prefer you can name the most and least favorite and I will guess the middle).
    Besides that, how does one construct a mango note? To me mango smells like a mix of peach, orange and parsley.
    You are right about the prices, they are not what one would expect. I think it is a pleasant surprise and especially the eaux are quite enticing with the season and all July 9, 2012 at 6:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Amer, I haven’t tried the other two, only L’Eau a la Folie so far. I was so happy with Eau d’Ete that for a while I didn’t feel like branching out, but since I’ve been wearing Amazone and Cristalle more often, I decided to sample L’Eau a la Folie since I read that it was a fruity chypre. So, if you sample the other two, please let me know what you think.

      I haven’t tried making one, so off the top of my head, I can’t really say. Bay leaf oil smells of green mango to me, especially the top notes. July 10, 2012 at 8:43am Reply

      • Amer: Bay leaf huh? Never thought of it this way. I’ll have to check it out. Btw, is the mango note here any similar to Jardin sur le Nil? I have been looking for something similar to JSLN with more tanacity for summer. July 10, 2012 at 6:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s less green, that’s for sure. To me, the mango here smells ripe and juicy. It has plenty of tenacity, but it’s sweeter than Jardin sur le Nil.

          If you open your bottle of bay leaf oil and move it quickly under your nose, the green mango note is very obvious. I suppose it depends on what type/quality of bay leaf oil you have, but I notice this facets in most of them. July 10, 2012 at 6:20pm Reply

          • Amer: Sadly I don’t have bay leaf oil at hand. I use laurel instead. I’ll tell you this however: last night I had a fragrant dream! I dreamt I rubbed a bay leaf on my wrist, sniffed and then said “Oh my god. She is right!”. Funny, I don’t remember having smells from dreams before. This time I could smell a mango! July 12, 2012 at 3:37am Reply

            • Victoria: Ha ha ha! Amer, all of that talk of mango! The other day I was slicing green mangoes for a curry, and I thought, “hey, some bay leaf would be great with that.” It actually worked really nice.
              On a related note, not sure if you have an Indian stores where you live, but there is a type of leaf used in Indian cooking that has a wonderful scent. It’s called tej patta (mislabeled as bay leaf) and it comes from the cassia tree. It’s sold in a dry form and it looks like large oval bay leaves, lined with thick veins. So, imagine the scent of cassia (thick cinnamon sticks) and a hint of hay. Nice! July 12, 2012 at 3:53am Reply

  • Kaori: L’Eau a la Folie is calling my name! I would love to get it. Finding a nice “L’Eau” is difficult these days, at least for me. Citrus at the top induce a headache and unplesant notes linger. I don’t know the reason:(

    Very uplifting picture! My ideal place.

    Kaori July 9, 2012 at 9:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe, it has something to do with heat and humidity? I notice that some of my favorite perfumes don’t do the trick when it’s too humid and hot. But do try a sample of L’Eau a la Folie first, because it does have that sweet tropical note that can be unpleasant to some people. July 10, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

  • Nelly: Вика, привет!
    Привезла себе из Франции l’Eau Mixte. Чудесный, тонкий аромат! July 10, 2012 at 8:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Privet, Nelly! Zdorovo, u tebja zamechatel’nyj vkus. Parfums de Nicolai–jeto ochen’ xoroshaja, kachestvennaja marka. A za $45, tak jeto voobsche pesnja.
      Enjoy your L’Eau Mixte! July 10, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

  • Ariadne: What a FABULOUS photo! I LOVE it. Strong primary colors translate for me in my summer perfume as a very sultry scent choice. Da@% the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! I wa I use Argan oil to keep my hair svelte in the humidity. My skin is as pale as a vampire but when in Antigua for race week one year I was literally reached out and touched on my glow-in-the-dark arms & shoulders by perfect strangers! July 11, 2012 at 6:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Ariadne! It was such a sunny day and the colors simply glowed.

      I’ve used argan oil in cooking, but never on my hair. Must try it. July 12, 2012 at 3:58am Reply

  • Catherine Fraser: I have had it for a few weeks now and it is a firm summer favorite. I do get more of a tropical fruit than peach note. It isn’t too sweet here but we are very high and dry in Calgary. July 12, 2012 at 12:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Catherine! Glad to hear that you also like it. At first, I was on the fence about it, but as I kept wearing it, I got more and more addicted to it. I finished my sample in the end, which means that a full bottle is definitely on my to-purchase list. July 12, 2012 at 3:55am Reply

  • Maureen Bradley: Victoria–After reading this review, I decided to look into the PdN fragrances. I had a bit of a challenge finding a sample of a la folie, but did eventually locate one. In search I stumbled upon L’eau Chic. I love it! Here in the dry cornfields of Iowa, L’eau Chic is like a spray of geranium scented ice water. It cools me on impact and I find it lovely.

    I’m enjoying my sample of a la folie as well, but I don’t know that I’ll develop the same love affair that I’ve found with L’eau Chic.

    Thank you for this lovely review and for leading me there. August 4, 2012 at 8:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear that you’ve discovered something new to enjoy. I still haven’t tried L’eau Chic, but your description is just irresistible. Thank you, Maureen, for inspiring me in turn. 🙂 August 4, 2012 at 4:47pm Reply

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