Patricia de Nicolai: 16 posts

Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender : Perfume Review

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Gourmand is a fragrance family I love for its instant mood booster potential. At the same, many contemporary high-calorie blends can test the limits of one’s tolerance for sweetness, and if you’re looking for a luscious, but not cloying, treat, the options can seem limited. One of the good lines to explore for abstract gourmands is Parfums de Nicolaï. Its founder, Patricia Nicolaï, is an heir to Guerlain’s tradition (a house famous for its trademark accord of vanilla, tonka bean and other delicious notes), both as a granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain, Jacques Guerlain‘s brother, and an innovative perfumer in her own right.

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Kiss Me Tender, her take on the candy-smelling plant, heliotrope, could have been inspired by Guerlain’s Héliotrope Blanc (1870). It’s a dessert of vanilla and almonds, but the pastry illusion is kept in check by the realistic jasmine, orange blossom and ylang-ylang.

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Parfums de Nicolai Musc Monoi : Perfume Review

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Summer ends the same way for me. It seems that only yesterday I made vacation plans, unearthed a swimming suit from a pile of winter clothes and bought an extra bottle of sunscreen. And then I wake up at the end of August and see that the local stationery store is advertising “start of school” sales and tall lindens lining the avenues in the city are slowly changing from green to gold. If I could hit a pause button for a moment, I would, if only to capture this languid, golden sensation of late summer days. But everything rushes forward inexorably, and the most I can do is reach for bottled summer fantasies, such as Parfums de Nicolaï Musc Monoi.

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Monoi (also called tiare) is a tropical blossom that smells creamy and intensely sweet. It’s macerated in coconut oil to capture its heady perfume, and the scented oil is used on skin and hair. If you’ve ever seen a fragrance or body product advertised as having a tropical fragrance, then this monoi-coconut combination is something you’ve already encountered. In France, summer scent often means sweet orange blossom, such as L’Oreal’s classical Ambre Solaire sunscreen, and in Musc Monoi, perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï weaves both Mediterranean and tropical inspirations.

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Parfums de Nicolai Eau d’Ete : Perfume Review

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“I don’t like colognes. They scream hygiene and wholesome, boring cleanliness to me,” said a friend the other day, explaining that she wants a perfume that feels fresh but still sensual.  Classical citrus colognes are very much about zest and refreshment, but it’s not hard to find options that do much more than this. For instance, Parfums de Nicolaï Eau d’Été.

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Eau d’Été has been around since 1997, but wearing it today I discover that it hasn’t lost any of its appeal. Yes, its blend of orange, lime and bergamot is as refreshing as a sip of iced lemonade, but the sprinkling of cinnamon and jasmine adds a sultry touch. There is nothing boring about it.

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Parfums de Nicolai L’eau Mixte : Fragrance Review

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Not just another simple cologne. Elisa on Parfums de Nicolaï’s L’eau Mixte.

If there’s one perfume category I’ve heard people call “boring” the most, it’s citrus. Perhaps it’s because there is less variation among citrus scents than, say, orientals or florals—a rose perfume, a tuberose perfume, and an iris perfume smell nothing alike, but lemon, orange, and grapefruit have a fair amount of olfactory overlap. Or maybe it’s because citrus scents don’t—can’t—evolve much on skin because they don’t last long enough to evolve; they are fleeting, volatile molecules by nature, destined to be top notes.

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I must admit I have some of the same reservations about citrus-centric perfumes. I’ve got a few in my collection, and on a hot day, a few spritzes of a crisp citrus chypre like Clarins Eau Dynamisante or Monsieur Balmain hits the spot. But I don’t reach for them often, and I almost always end up putting something else on later. So to make me sit up and take notice, a citrus scent has to be pretty unusual.

L’eau Mixte, Parfums de Nicolaï’s eau de cologne release for summer 2010, was the first citrus to take me by surprise in years. Primarily a grapefruit perfume, it manages to be both refreshing and rich, hitting so many pleasurable notes at once—sweet, tangy, green, herbal—that it feels like getting out of a car to breathe in a big lungful of cool mountain air. Most citrus scents have a bracing quality, but L’eau Mixte is exceptionally bracing.

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Parfums de Nicolai Eau Soleil : Perfume Review

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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.

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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.

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