The first time I tried Parfums de Nicolaï’s Eau Soleil I was surprised. I expected a walk in a Sicilian orange grove perfumed with the zesty freshness of orange flowers and crushed green leaves, but instead of a gauzy, sunlit vision, the fragrance opened on my skin with a peppery, bitter tang. My orange blossom garden fantasy was nowhere to be found.
The mark of a good perfume is its ability to hold your attention. However different Eau Soleil was from my expectations, it followed me throughout the day. I would catch myself stealing little sniffs from my wrist or else enjoying the herbal and green scent that hovered around me. The next morning, I reached for the same scarf I wore the day before and for a few minutes I stood with my face buried in the silk scented with white flowers and soft musk. Eau Soleil courted me successfully.
Part of the Eaux Fraîches Collection (L’Eau à la Folie, L’Eau d’Ete, L’Eau Mixte, and L’Eau Chic), Eau Soleil reminds me more of the mossy and musky L’Eau à la Folie than the romantic and sparkling Annick Goutal Néroli. It’s also a touch retro thanks to its fizz of unsweetned citrus and Provencal herbs. The bitterness that so shocked me in the beginning now seems like a perfect counterpoint to the lush sweetness of ylang ylang and jasmine. It smells like sun-dried grasses and leaves, with an occasional glimmer of soft white petals.
The longer you wear Eau Soleil, the more pronounced the white floral notes become. Eau Soleil is based on neroli, steam-distilled orange blossom that smells green and tart, more like unopened buds rather than nectar filled flowers. You will also be showered with plenty of ylang-ylang. It’s a tropical flower that blends a wintergreen-flavored gum with apricot jam and green bananas, and it fills Eau Soleil with a languid sweetness. The earthy, damp patchouli comes next, but after all is said and done, musk and cedarwood linger the longest. The cloud of musk mutes the floral notes until the fragrance becomes abstract and mellow; it just smells like clean, sunwarmed skin. (The tenacity is very good).
Though not my top favorite from the collection, Eau Soleil is well-crafted and polished. For a perfect fresh cologne, I still remain partial to Nicolaï’s Cologne Sologne, and compared to other floral gems like Number One and Odalisque, Eau Soleil is timid and simple. But it’s not meant to be a grand parfum; rather it’s a little number that you put on like a white t-shirt. It also has a fair price. These days when you can’t approach a niche perfume boutique without being prepared to spend at least $125-150 per bottle, this is especially refreshing.
Parfums de Nicolaï Eau Soleil Eau de Toilette includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, lemon, petitgrain, thyme, artemisia, neroli, ylang-ylang, jasmine from Egypt, patchouli, and musk. It’s available in 30ml ($45) and 100ml ($115) spray bottles from New London Pharmacy, Luckyscent, Beautyhabit or Parfum1 in the US; Parfums de Nicolaï boutiques in Europe.
Photography (top image) by Bois de Jasmin.
Sample source: PR