Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey : Fragrance Review

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Many like to knock contemporary masculine perfumery. It’s boring. It’s bland. It’s all fake citrus and sharp lavender, fly the accusations. I have often been the accuser, but today I’m going to defend the valiant attempts to make a sensible masculine fragrance. Folks, making a good masculine is just so darn hard. As far as the audience goes, many men, especially in North America and Germany, are a conservative bunch. The consumer data tell the story: they are more hesitant to try something different. They prefer to wear fragrances similar to what their fathers wore. Many don’t want to admit they even wear scent. “I don’t wear perfume,” says my cousin as he walks around in a huge cloud of Axe body spray.

nuitissey

If perfume companies assume that men will wear anything under a familiar label, they make a mistake. Even if your average guy doesn’t want to push his boundaries with new scents, he still wants quality and classical good taste. When my cousin’s beloved Axe Apollo got reformulated and lost in diffusion and finesse, he instantly noticed it. What resulted was a soliloquy worthy of a Greek tragic hero.

Nuit d’Issey is what I’d call a safe scent, but it’s done so well that it’s worth trying on that basis alone. It has all the hallmarks of a classical masculine fragrance (or the Western masculine, since the other half of the world doesn’t find the gender division in perfumery so compelling). Its dry woody accord is folded into soft leather and sweetened enough with cooked apple notes to make the fragrance approachable and easy-going. If the idea is to find a new daytime fragrance, Nuit d’Issey will fit the bill. It’s thoroughly boardroom acceptable, but it’s far from dull.

That being said, the Nuit part of the name is a stretch. So is the marketing story of dark woods and leather. Nuit d’Issey is fairly bright, with a juicy grapefruit and black pepper opening. Musk and dry amber run throughout the composition, rising up from the bottom like the blobs in a lava lamp. The finish is suave, with an earthy accent of patchouli.

The fruity notes paired with desiccated woods remind me of Paco Rabanne’s One Million (and of Amouage Journey Man). Trendy inflection aside, Nuit d’Issey is an old school masculine. It’s wholesome and handsome. The familiar sharp citrus of most conventional masculines is here too, so if you’re looking for a quirky fragrance, this number isn’t for you.

On the other hand, it’s no Axe body spray either. A good solid masculine fragrance.

Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey includes notes of bergamot, leather, black pepper, woods, vetiver, patchouli, incense, tonka bean. Available as 75 and 125 ml Eau de Toilette.

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53 Comments

  • Jesus Bermudez Romero: I’ve tried it and, despite its longevity issues, it reminded me of some 90’s fruity/metallic masculine fragrances. I see more similarities with Paco XS or Himalaya, but fruitier than these 2, maybe this is the reason to get a 1 million vibe. May 11, 2015 at 7:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it was a deliberate effect, but it works, and it doesn’t make Nuit d’Issey smell like a bland copycat. But yes, it’s a classical fragrance. May 11, 2015 at 10:11am Reply

  • The Scented Salon: Blobs in a lava lamp–genius! You have a way with words.

    Recently, I gifted my stepfather a bottle of Duc de Vervins. He said he is always getting compliments on it and people asking what he is wearing. That usually never happens when he is wearing his traditional Eternity. Though DV is an old cologne, it has a certain edge and sophistication that is hard to find in new modern colognes unless you go for niche.

    My husband goes through bottles and bottles of Heritage. Thinking of trying something different, I bought him a niche to see how he would respond: Les Jeux Sont Faits. It is such a lovely scent that I ended up wearing it more than him. Oh well.

    Issey has so many fresh and clean scents (my least favorite kind of scent) that I normally don’t even sample this brand but this particular one sounds intriguing. May 11, 2015 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: The musk and amber notes are rich enough, and they come up slowly through the crisp, clear citrus, so the effect made me think of lava lamps. I used to find those things fascinating as a kid. 🙂

      My husband has gotten more adventurous over the years, but I admit that I’m the one who keeps pushing him in the safe direction. My favorite scent on him is Bulgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert. May 11, 2015 at 10:16am Reply

      • The Scented Salon: Oldies like Minotaur and Aramis 900 are still my favorites. I am not sure if they are safe or adventurous. All I know is that they smell good on my husband.

        I have loved some new Burberry scents on him recently. I wish I had gotten him Givenchy’s Very Irrisistible Man when it was available: it has a coffee note and is very unusual. Pi was totally addictive too but I don’t know that he would wear something like that. May 11, 2015 at 10:46am Reply

        • Victoria: Oldies but goodies. I like those too, especially Minotaur.

          My husband found Pi too rich, although usually he does like oriental scents. May 12, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

          • Katy McReynolds: Pi was my first serious perfume investment. I paid full price at Macy’s! I just could not find anything I liked as much as Pi at the time. I still love it and wear it, perhaps it is more appealing to women…. May 13, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

            • Victoria: I also remember being struck by it, and I was mostly a white floral lover at the time. It’s really gorgeous. May 13, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Great review! And yet another reminder not to get too snobby.
    I used to love L’Eau d’Issey in the nineties and must have used up at least five bottles. I remember liking the men’s version of that as well. I never bought any of that though. At the time I was probably still convinced that I would develop a beard wearing it.
    I also remember trying Le Feu d’Issey. I didn’t like it one bit. I’m still sorry it was discontinued as I would love to try it again, just to see what I would make of it these days. May 11, 2015 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I used to wear L’Eau d’Issey too, and it came with many great products, including body creams and scented powder. Smelling it now next to many launches is instructive; it still smells like a quality perfume (with lots of rose essence).

      Le Feu d’Issey was quirky, but I’m not sure I can wear it. May 11, 2015 at 10:14am Reply

      • Austenfan: I think part of my problem was that I was expecting something in the same line as their L’Eau.

        I find L’Eau just a tad harsh these days. Has it been changed much since it first came out? May 11, 2015 at 10:55am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it has been changed, much like everything else. I also find it more abrasive, mostly because the floral absolutes and the musk in the drydown have been changed. May 12, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

          • Austenfan: That makes sense then. Thanks for explaining 🙂 May 13, 2015 at 3:52am Reply

    • Michaela: ‘At the time I was probably still convinced that I would develop a beard wearing it’

      Love this comment! Absolutely love it! Me, too, I wouldn’t have sampled a man’s fragrance for years, no way! What a loss. May 12, 2015 at 8:36am Reply

      • Victoria: I went through that stage too, but it’s more fun to disregard the marketing. 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 4:45pm Reply

        • Austenfan: It so is, and years (now) of wearing Caron’s Pour un Homme haven’t had any impact on a possible beard. May 13, 2015 at 3:51am Reply

          • Michaela: Thank you for telling me that! I just started an intense love affair with this Caron 🙂 May 13, 2015 at 4:07am Reply

  • limegreen: LOL at your cousin’s denial! 🙂 A Tom Ford SA told me that they came out with the body spray in Neroli Portofino to be an alternative to Axe. (I had no idea what Axe was then.)

    It’s true that most men are slow to accept new body products — my husband only recently mentioned to me how much he likes the lavender soap that I’ve put in the shower (for me) but he did not care for the “twigs” in it. 🙂 So I’ve put out a separate supply without twigs for him. May 11, 2015 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: He was extremely adamant that it’s not a perfume, so it was funny when my grandmother came out and said, “goodness, who sprayed this much perfume?” 🙂

      Love your story about “twigs”! May 12, 2015 at 4:22pm Reply

      • limegreen: So Axe has great silliage, huh? 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 9:30pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for having the good idea to review this. I’ll have to try and sample it, you make it sound very tempting, I love old school men’s fragrances and am addicted to Dior Homme Intense at the moment. May 11, 2015 at 3:43pm Reply

    • Courant Masque: Now that’s true love May 11, 2015 at 7:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t really wear it myself, because it’s a bit too old school for my tastes, but I would like it to smell it on my husband. I think he would enjoy it too. May 12, 2015 at 4:24pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I am with you, Aurora. I love Dior Homme Intense and wear it a lot. May 12, 2015 at 4:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also wanted to mention that Dior Homme (the original and its flankers) is one of my favorite “lui pour elle” fragrances. May 12, 2015 at 4:44pm Reply

          • Aurora: “lui pour elle” perfumes indeed, I love this category , you coined it perfectly, Victoria. May 13, 2015 at 7:03am Reply

            • Victoria: The term is not mine but Luca Turin’s. I like it more than the sterile “unisex” or androgynous. May 13, 2015 at 7:06am Reply

        • Aurora: So glad you agree Cornelia. The drydown is wonderful isn’t it and it lasts and lasts. May 13, 2015 at 7:00am Reply

  • Chilloften: A man wearing a nice scent….I adore. It means so much to me. : ))) May 11, 2015 at 4:11pm Reply

  • Courant: My husband has quite a collection but there are favourites. Habit Rouge and Terre D’Hermes fall into that category but so does Quasar and for a fraction of the price, well, to paraphrase Henry Higgins I’ve grown accustomed to his voice, accustomed to his face, accustomed to his scent May 11, 2015 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your husband has great taste! 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 4:25pm Reply

  • Hannah: My friend gave me a timeline of his fragrances: Cool Water, followed by L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme and Joop! (not sure the order of these two but it’s not important), then Fahrenheit, and then Egoiste until his mom bought him Egoiste Platinum for Christmas on accident and now he wears that. He said he was tired of it and wanted a new fragrance, so I asked here for recommendations for him and passed them onto him but he suddenly got really defensive of Egoiste Platinum and said he didn’t want any changes! I do think he’d like the Blue CDG series, though. May 11, 2015 at 7:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Did he try Bleu de Chanel? He might like it, although it’s not too much of a stretch from his current favorites. May 12, 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

      • Hannah: I’m pretty sure he only tries what his mom gets him for Christmas. He isn’t the kind of person who relies on his mom for everything, but she’s like his perfume fairy or something.
        But he’s curious about CDG because he’s liked what I’ve worn. May 13, 2015 at 1:55am Reply

  • annemarie: Hi Victoria, when you say masuclines are hard to make, do you mean the typical raw materials are hard to work with, or that it is hard to tempt men away from their ‘safe’ choices? If the latter, isn’t that a problem more for the marketing team than the perfumer?

    Certainly the marketing and packaging is very repetitious, and I pity the poor man who actually DOES decide that he wants a change because how do you navigate between all the noirs and intesenses and sports etc? In any case, it seems that a lot of the fragrances that men wear are bought for them by women, so that complicates the marketing challenge quite a bit I suppose. It has to catch a woman’s attention but please the man. But still be a scent that he trusts that the woman will like to smell on him …. May 11, 2015 at 9:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s the marketing part, and more specifically, the market testing part. It essentially ensures that all launches are in the same theme and don’t deviate too much.

      On the other hand, in the US the percentage of men wearing scent has been steadily increasing. May 12, 2015 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Henry: When Axe first came out I was curious. They were inexpensive and had newer fragrances other than the generic musk or leather scents that were all too ubiquitous. Also, I never cared for the selection of colognes at Macy’s — I always associated them with shallow, club-going types. Travelling to other countries and continents exposed me to a kaleidoscope of fragrances/scents that I never thought could exist, rather, fragrances/scents I never thought could exist AND smell so clean. Suddenly Axe and Old Spice were dirty and cheap — an insult to the senses of a first world nation. Oh! and the Macy’s counter selling Drakkar Noir: that’s for the guy who borrows his mom’s BMW and wears dragon-emblazoned silk shirts! Most American males are just not exposed to quality fragrances. Somehow quality scents are thought of as girly or gay, or worse: Euro-trash. If it isn’t cheap, or if there isn’t a ‘clever’, oftentimes exploitative commercial for it, then it isn’t ‘manly’ enough (i.e., it’s not socially acceptable). We live in sad times… 🙁 May 11, 2015 at 9:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like Old Spice, and I’m all for inexpensive, easily available fragrances. Axe perfumes aren’t bad. The main problem is that they crowd out the more interesting scents, especially in other countries. For instance, the Indian perfume makers have been pushing out of the market by Axe. Not sure what the solution should be, but it’s kind of sad to see people move from exquisite, artisanal perfumes in favor of mass-produced scents. May 12, 2015 at 4:31pm Reply

  • Zunni: As a perfume novice, I often find perfume reviews bewildering. They use terms I’m not familiar with, and make comparisons I can’t relate to. Your reviews stand out as beautiful AND comprehensible. I read your reviews and immediately know whether I want to try the perfume or not. Thank you! May 12, 2015 at 12:00am Reply

    • Michaela: Me, too! I even successfully blind bought perfumes following her reviews (shhh… please… don’t tell Victoria!) May 12, 2015 at 8:49am Reply

      • Patricia: So have I! Most notably L’Eau a la Folie. 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 11:34am Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 One of my favorites for the summer. I don’t have a decant with me, and I have been craving it lately. The days are getting warmer. May 12, 2015 at 4:37pm Reply

      • Victoria: Phew! At least, they worked out. 🙂 But usually, I’m the first to warn about buying blindly. May 12, 2015 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear it, Zunni, and I’m glad that you’re finding the reviews here helpful. 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 4:31pm Reply

  • MaureenC: I’m lucky enough to live with a man whose fragrance collection rivals my own, conveniently providing me with a second scent wardrobe. It tends to be me who suggests that Lonestar Memories or Knize Ten might not be the best option for a meetings in confined spaces! My current favourites on him are Vetiver Extraordinaire and Encre Noire but we are slowly heading into more summery territory with Chanel Pour Monsieur. May 12, 2015 at 3:11am Reply

    • Michaela: Oh, that’s quite rare! Lucky you! 🙂 May 12, 2015 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: How wonderful! It’s so nice to be able to share a passion.

      I love Encre Noire on my husband, but he doesn’t care for vetiver scents at all. May 12, 2015 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Michaela: I adore your cousins story! Funny but suggestive. Almost every man I know thinks this way. Theoretically against perfume, perceived as a feminine feature, or just conservative. And, yes, they have a good nose. They know exactly the smell they want, you cannot fool them with reformulations. Some of them are passionate wine tasters, trained in smell and taste. They just don’t like to branch, not a bit. May 12, 2015 at 8:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Whenever I encounter this attitude, I realize how far we still have to go with perfume being accepted as an artistic/artisanal form on its own terms, rather than some “feminine frivolity.” May 12, 2015 at 4:36pm Reply

  • Raquel: I love and wear Habit Rouge, Kouros, Antaeus and vintage Lagerfeld cologne. May 12, 2015 at 11:26pm Reply

    • Katy McReynolds: There are quite a few of us loving the lui pour elle out here. I am currently obsessed with Pino and Quorum. There is just something so satisfying about these right now. They clear my head and my nose! May 13, 2015 at 9:24am Reply

  • NN: Nuit d’Issey Parfum Issey Miyake for men is the big improvement here…more dark, refined , with higher class ingredients.
    One Night , full with mystery … October 8, 2017 at 3:35am Reply

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