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Sniff Fest - House of Nicolaï

Sniff Fest - House of Nicolaï 8 years ago

28, rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris

In 2008, Patricia de Nicolaï was awarded the rank of Chevalier (knight) in the Legion of Honor, the highest award for merit France bestows. That same year she became president of the famous perfume archive, the Osmothèque. Even as the great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain and niece of Jean-Paul Guerlain, she had been passed over for promotion because of gender discrimination so these were great victories. With husband Jean-Louis Michau, she launched her own perfume company in 1989. From their catalog: “Patricia wished to be free in her creative choices and free to use the best quality ingredients available. Jean-Louis was the production man. He wanted to establish a family company with a strong and substantial concept which was to emphasize the primary role of the perfumer.”

We are the beneficiaries.

Having discovered two wonderful scents from this house (Odalisque and Rose Intense) during two different sniff tests, I wrote and asked if they made samples available. Today, a few strips soaked in scent arrived. Sniffing through. OS=ordering sample.

Will order others as well and update when they arrive.

Lavender, Thyme, Mugwort, Cinnamon, Saffron, Oud, Cedar, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Tonka bean, Storax, Musk, Castoreum, Amber, Labdanum

Oh, fabulous! A masterwork of notes that blend perfectly! May just skip the sample and go for an FB.

Grapefruit, Mint, Spices, Black currant, Rose, Jasmine, Oakmoss, Musk

Lovely florals, oak moss and musk, distinguished by the interesting rest. OS

Galbanum, Pear, Rose, Violet, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Musk

Addicted on first beautiful sniff. OS, maybe an FB.

Neroli, Lemon, Paraguayan petitgrain, Ylang-ylang, Magnolia, Jasmine, Coconut, Calone, Ylang-ylang absolute, Mysore sandalwood, Musk

The petigrain is strong but as a musk, sandalwood and jasmine lover, I’ve got to try it. OS

Lemon, Lemon petitgrain, Bergamot, Lavender, Mugwort, Pepper, Pimento, Patchouli, Cedar, Vanilla, Leather notes

Probably not my thing, but hubby may like it. It’s a clean, distinctive scent, long on lemon and lavendar.

Lavender, Geranium, Orange, Ceylon cinnamon, Rose, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Amber, Vanilla

Interesting. I like Patchouli and this is definitely an intense one. OS

Animalic notes, Davana, Osmanthus, Oud, Patchouli, Rose absolute, Turkish rose

A distinctive oud though, for me, something too pungent in the top note, perhaps the Davana combined with Patchouli creates a too-sharp note.

Red fruits, Roman chamomile, Rose absolute, Rose essence, Geranium, Woods, Musk

This could be gorgeous and it is. It’s a realistic rose which reminds me of The Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose line. OS

Bergamot, Mandarin, Blackberry, Raspberry, Carnation, Jasmine, Tuberose, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Benzoin, Tonka bean

This is probably going to be gorgeous, too. Love the strong carnation note, the citrus and berries, etc. OS

Basil, Mandarin, Lemon, Orange blossom, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Frankincense, Vanilla absolute, Tonka bean

Not sure what to expect. Ah, the citrus and spice are strong. Very vanilla. Nice, but not for me.
Last edited by ScentFan on 27.06.2015, 20:12; edited 1 time in total
8 years ago
I only have one from this house "Le Temps d'Une Fete" - a beautiful green floral. The listed notes suggest it should be classified as a chypre but it doesn't wear like a chypre to me - it's a dewy, spring-like green floral.
There are no stockists in Australia for PdN so I opted for a blind buy (based on notes and reviews) when Mr Triffid went to Paris.
They are well-priced for a niche brand and I'd like to try more. A few reviewers have been disappointed at the reformulations, pawrticularly "New York" and "Odalisque" but Im not in a position to comment on that aspect.
8 years ago
I own ( 250 ml ) of NEW YORK, NICOLAÏ POUR HOMME,EAU MIXTE, ODALISQUE, PATCHOULI HOMME, all vintage. They have increased the prices almost 100%.
8 years ago
Robertob, when did the prices go up? My perfume was bought in Dec 2013 but I can't remember what price was paid.
8 years ago
I've bought mine from luckyscent where 30 ml can be had for $50-$78 (the latter for the new ones). Is that a price increase? 100 ml goes for from $130 to $235.
8 years ago
Robertob, when did the prices go up? My perfume was bought in Dec 2013 but I can't remember what price was paid.

Now the price for 100 ml are almost the same when i bought a bottle of 250 ml, about more or less 3 years ago.
8 years ago
I've bought mine from luckyscent where 30 ml can be had for $50-$78 (the latter for the new ones). Is that a price increase? 100 ml goes for from $130 to $235.

When i bought the first NEW YORK ( 100 ml )the price for 100 ml was € 85,00
House of Nicolaï - 2 8 years ago
Ordered in a bunch of samples, which arrived today. Here are the new ones.

Opoponax, Galbanum, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Oakmoss

Had to try it because of the notes, but this doesn’t work for me. It smells like decaying flowers. Not sure whether it’s the Hyacinth of the Narcissus.

Orange, Galbanum, Rose, Pelargonium, Carnation. Patchouli, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Labdanum

I expected this is lovely. It almost is. This is a perfumer who takes risks, that’s for sure. Leaving it on for a while before I decide. Later: for me, something doesn’t work here. Maybe the Perlargonium is overdone.

Galbanum, Black currant, Tagetes, Cassia, Jasmine, Orange blossom, Rose, Tuberose, Ylang-ylang, Ambergris, Oakmoss, Sandalwood

Good grief! Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Hard to believe what I’m smelling. Every note contributes and the whole is amazing! FB immediately. It’s modern and traditionally luxurious at the same time.

Orange blossom, Cinnamon, Vanilla absolute, Immortelle, Patchouli, Amber, Musk

Too much vanilla for me. Smells like a dreamsicle.

Raspberry, Coriander, Pink pepper, Black currant, Lemon, Floral notes, Black pepper, Turkish rose, Violet, Musk

Beautiful violet. The fruit and spice make it magical. Violet’s not one of my favorites, but if it were, I’d buy this.

Italian bergamot, petit grain, galbanum, lily of the valley, rose, mimosa, pepper, pink pepper, clove, oakmoss absolute and styrax balm.

Not sure which this is in our database. The notes are from lucky scent, the source of my sample. What an unusual fragrance, though. It’s certainly fresh, green and floral like the lucky scent info says. It’s not for me, but it’s well done.

What I’m left with is an impression of genius at work. What a bold, creative perfumer Patricia NicolaÏ is. I plan to test her entire line and anything new she produces.
8 years ago
Your impression of "Le Temps d'une Fete" is interesting. Whilst it's not a 'fresh' floral in the manner of many modern laundry-clean compositions, I don't get decaying flowers either. Having said that, I can totally see where you're coming from; I find that hyacinth often has a vegetal, fleshy (as in succulent) almost meaty note that can waver between green, floral purity and something close to the smell at the bottom of the vegetable crisper.
8 years ago
Smelling my Hyacinth oil. Yep, that's the one. Great description. It does border on ravishing and revolting. I've often liked it in perfumes so this was a surprise. I always like Narcissus. This morning the fragrance smells better to me. I think all her fragrances are accomplished. It's just a matter of personal preference.

Your impression of "Le Temps d'une Fete" is interesting. Whilst it's not a 'fresh' floral in the manner of many modern laundry-clean compositions, I don't get decaying flowers either. Having said that, I can totally see where you're coming from; I find that hyacinth often has a vegetal, fleshy (as in succulent) almost meaty note that can waver between green, floral purity and something close to the smell at the bottom of the vegetable crisper.
8 years ago
Just discovered this brand very recently. Been familiar with the name before but never tried anything from Nicolai.
My first contact with the house is "Maharadjah". Gorgeous perfume, so impossible in its formulation but yet so possible to wear.
For me a 100ml bottle worthy.

Will definitely try some more of her fragrances, good to know where her boutique is in Paris. I have the feeling Parfums de Nicolai is a bit underestimated amongst renowned niche houses ? Quel dommage.
8 years ago
Haven't tried Maharadjah, but a new Nicolai sample arrived yesterday, Cuir Cuba Intense, as if to mark the normalization of relations between the USA and Cuba! I expect tobacco. Let's see... wow, it's magnificent! The top note is a refreshing mix of leather, licorice and citrus. Then the floral heart kicks in and it's just divine, lavendar, geranium and magnolia blending beautifully, but soon the magnolia stars. I smell delicious woods, hay, tobacco all delightfully rising, musk and civet supporting unobtrusively. I smell the Iris and sage, but what in the world is liatrix odoratissima? Looking it up ... a flowering plant whose oleo resin is used to create oriental notes. Good gracious, this fragrance is tremendous -- and potent. It is a kind of seductively dusky leather, cigar, herbal, surrounded by gorgeous flowers, not sweet or cloying, mind you. The perfume world is going to need more awards for Patricia de Nicolai! Dare I put this beauty on my wish list? Hubby just cleared it, making me feel pampered to the max. Don't want to seem ungrateful. Better wait until next year. Hopefully, I'll survive not having this until then. Still trying to find words to describe this perfume's depth and intricacy, it's allure. Suffice it to say it's been a long time since my nose and the back of my hand hung out this long. If the notes appeal, I strongly recommend sampling Cuir Cuba Intense. I can tell longevity's going to be great. Guess this has turned into a review, so I'll polish it and add it to the database.
The Other Guerlain 7 years ago
Patricia de Nicolaï is the great granddaughter of the Guerlain founder, Pierre-Francois. When the last family nose, Jean-Paul, was asked why Patricia, though eminently qualified, was overlooked in the family business he, "waved his hand dismissively and muttered something about de Nicolaï being a woman who made scented salts and candles." Sexism is a long-standing tradition at Guerlain. I suppose there's a certain poetic justice that its counterpart, racism (and an infamous trial about it) cost Jean-Paul his own spot at LVMH. Such are the foibles of aristocrats. Meanwhile, Patricia set up her own company and took the world of French perfume by storm.

Today I'm sniffing through a few more of her fragrances.

Amber Cashmere Intense

A strongly vanilla base--made luxurious by amber and labdanum, musk and wood--predominates in this fragrance. Contrast is provided by the pepper-citrus top. Dreamy beauty arises from the iris and violet (with clove) heart. I love smelling this. On my skin it becomes hypnotic--a near gourmand I can actually wear. Sillage and longevity are great.
Carré d'As

It means four aces and I do love the fresh scent of this near-Fougere. Lavender, Rose, Thyme, and Caraway are successfully blended in the heart atop a mild woody-tobacco base. Melon, citrus and mint are in the top. To me the result is more appealing than many a crisper, starker Fougere, but on my skin it almost vanishes, in comparison to Amber Cashmere Intense.
Cédrat Intense

I'm sniffing these on paper first and this one's beauty didn't reveal itself until I applied it to my skin, then ... sheer loveliness. By that a mean mostly oakmoss and sandalwood, pepper and lemon with, yes, a dash of cedar. Yum in every respect except, again, strength. Beautiful it is. Intense? Not really. I can hardly find it on my arm after a short while.
Cologne Sologne

From the notes, this one's got to be gorgeous (actually, all are so far) and it is. The Sologne is an area of France devoted to sometimes impenetrable forests, ponds, fields of grain, chateaus, and animals, both game and stock. It's where the French kings used to hunt and it's still full of wildlife. One fall I hope to go there for the food festivals. I don't know if there are fields of lavender, the dominant note in this fragrance. It has an accomplished multi-citrus top, neroli in the heart with lavendar, and musk in the base with patchouli. What I like about de Nicolaï s fragrances is that none of the notes screech. They are blended by a master hand. What's lacking in some are projection, longevity, sillage. No complaints about the smell.

As I take a break, I resniff the papers and all remain splendid except now lackluster Carré d'As. On skin, however, Amber Cashmere Intense remains the strongest. Carré d'As is very muted. Cédrat Intense has vanished for all intents as has the beautiful Cologne Sologne.

More to come...
7 years ago
By the way, the FBs I purchased from previous sniffs are: "Odalisque" (1989), "Rose Intense" (2008), "Sacrebleu Intense" (2008), Amber Oud (2013), "Cuir Cuba Intense" (2014), "Number One Intense" (?after 1989). All are magnificent. I'm guessing the intense versions represent a learning curve in how to get longevity and sillage from high quality, mostly natural ingredients.
7 years ago

Wow, if this scent holds up you're going to have to excuse me so I can make a purchase! Patricia de Nicolai continues to amaze me with her talent at combining notes in non-obvious ways to create beauty. My nose wants to drink in her creations, but some don't last long enough to indulge. I'm beginning to fear that's the case with Fig-Tea. Will report.*

"Kiss Me Intense"

Couldn't delay to write any words. I had to first put this in my online perfume cart! " Kiss Me Intense" manages to have the same effect on me as my current all-time-fave "Kiss My Name" by Monegal, but it does so with completely different notes. I find the almond/aniseed/lemon top here instantly involving, beckoning me into the indolic floral/sweet spice heart. The base utterly works: oppoponax, musk, vanilla. I've dreamed of having a great house make a scent just for me (in exchange for great sums, of course, assuming I'm ever willing to part with same). If this keeps up, I just may ask Patricia. On a paper strip, this fragrance disappears, for some reason. On my skin, it blooms. Bravo, House of Nicolai!

"L'Eau cHic"

So chic, this L'Eau cHic. I keep moving between it and the previous ones to gauge what's going on, or if my nose is losing its mind over this house. L'Eau cHic is an inoffensively pretty fragrance. It doesn't simper about like some floral lovelies do. The Germanium/mint/lavender top distinguishes it, as does chamomile and pimento in the heart with iris. Sandalwood and musk in the base are reliably themselves. The projection's not tremendous, but on days when I want to feel floral pretty, I'd be willing to apply a lot of this. A possible buy.

"Balle de Match / L'Eau de Sport"

As good a grapefruit as you'll ever smell. If I were into this citrus, I'd buy L'Eau de Sport. The base is diVINE! Juniper works in the heart. I might get it for hubby since he just cleared my wish list. Projection is great so I imagine longevity is, too.

*Fig-Tea's in the cart, too. Thank goodness I've only got 4 decants left.

More to come ...
7 years ago
"Eau d'Été"

Another fragrance from the relatively early days of de Nicolaï. On paper, it vanishes fairly quickly but does better on skin. The smell is pleasant, like all of Patricia's creations I've encountered so far, but not arresting. It has a triple-citrus top, Jasmine and Cinnamon in the base, but also there are miscellaneous "Floral notes" and in the base "Fruity notes" which imply synthetics. To my nose, they don't succeed, but in fact deter the urge to sniff -- unlike her other fragrances.

"New York Intense"

By rights, a splendid fragrance for men in which it's easy to smell each of the listed notes, implying higher quality ingredients than the above. But something holds me back from adoring it as much as I expected to. It has a dusty quality, something that stands between my nose and the products of nature within. I compare it unfavorably to Pour Monsieur. When the decanters were unloading Chanels, I bought a vintage partial bottle for hubby . It absolutely blows my mind. This ought to, but it doesn't. Will return to it later in the dry down for more clues. Later: It improved substantially as it dried.


This smells almost edibly delicious. Besides the lovely Galbanum-Lemon Petigrain top and vetiver in the heart, this fragrance contains "woody notes" and an "ambratic note" which come across as . . . a distinct and meatier note that's right on the tip of my tongue . . . what is it? Shoe polish and salami? Very Happy This one will take some sniffing to identify, but it's not an unpleasant smell in the least. Later: Becomes even more seductive as it dries. Shoe polish and salami morph into cedar and incense.

"Vie de Chateau"

A hypnotic rendition of a chateau in the country, surrounded by lawns, herb gardens, forests and fields of hay. A tinge of grapefruit in the top keeps it from being too heavy, as does vetiver in the heart. Tobacco lends a bit of smokiness and oak moss makes is mossy, though this is not an actual chypre [which is bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum]. Another admirable perfume from this house.

"Vanille Tonka"

Not being much of a vanilla fan, I didn't expect to be thrilled and I'm not, but no question this scent is well done. It has citrus, herbs and spices, orange blossom in the heart and frankincense in the base, but the vanilla and tonka predominate. Vanilla lovers take note.


Well, this was fun. Sniffing through all the test strips from this phase, Fig-Tea and Kiss Me Intense remain standouts for me, with New York Intense, Vie de Chateau and Vetyver very close. I'm so impressed by the House of Nicolaï. Must get samples of the rest.
7 years ago
Turns out most of the remaining perfumes from the House of Nicolai are discontinued. I have two new decants in, and four more on the way.

"Patchouli Intense / Patchouli Homme"

From the notes, I expected this to be close to a fougère and it does have a familiar lavender/citrus/vanilla accord, modified by geranium. Very nicely done, too. It smells in the category of hubby's others in this genre: Paco Rabanne pour Homme, being my favorite. This may equal it, though Paco's oakmoss may give it the edge. No decant at hand to compare.

"Cologne Cédrat / Eau de Cologne Cédrat"

The powerful multi-citrus top dominates throughout, supported by the interesting heart of Ylang-ylang, Chamomile and Black pepper. The base of Patchouli and Musk does eventually mellow things somewhat, making this an agreeable peppery citrus.

These two fragrances are very wearable, with longevity better on the first than the second.
7 years ago
The final four arrived. Hubby sniffed them first and liked them all, then ranked as follows when I asked him: Maharini, Maharajah, Baladin, Just un Reve (he says it's for a woman). My turn:


Ah, entrancing. Easy to recognize Baladin's typically male citrus/herb notes: the wood is Birch and there's Vanilla and Leathery notes in the base. Another agreeable scent that would smell good on lots of men. Something in the leather accord smells a bit funky which is actually nice, but it dies down and become civilized. No huge projection here, but longevity of a couple of hours at least.

"Juste un Rêve"

To me, the Coconut blends less than beautifully with the Tuberose and Apricot, making this scent smell too much like the kitchen rather than a woman's fragrance. If you love coconut, this one could be for you though. The woody-vanilla base is warm and the floral center is detectably present, if overpowered a bit.


Each note smelling authentically like itself, this scent is initially a beauty. Bitter orange peel in the top adds interest to the orange and lemon. The balanced carnation/rose heart is deftly spiced by cinnamon. The base contains my favorite base notes--two animalics, two woods--enhancing, rather than crowding, the top and middle. It's not a 10 for me, but a solid 8. The projection could be better and probably is in Maharanih Intense.

This bold feast for the nose is my favorite in this group. The lavender is strong, but so is everything else: carnation, coriander, cinnamon, mint and the "aromatic notes." I'm guessing thyme or sage. With vanilla and my two favorite woods in the base, this becomes a treasure. No longevity problems here and it projects quite nicely. It's the kind of thrilling scent I have to force my nose to stop inhaling. It's definitely unisex. Love, love it.

Leaving resolved to test each new fragrance from this admirable house.
7 years ago
Delving into my decant collection and what should appear?

"Vanille Intense"

It's a charmer. Smells like orange dreamsicle sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon then accidentally dropped onto Mom's dressing table where it mixed with powder and a sultry perfume. This is a couple of hours later. The mess actually smells good. Vanilla lovers take note.

"Rose Intense"

This is a green rose, I'd say a Turkish rose, rather than the mellow Bulgarian. Pelargonium (aka geranium) in the heart with violet and black pepper make for a more sophisticated rose--not pretty, pretty but interestingly seductive. The base rocks like a base should. I happily own an FB.

I chanced upon these while searching for my three missing Guerlain decants. Surely they're here somewhere.
7 years ago
I'd Love to hear your take on Juste Un Reve.
7 years ago
Briarthorn see my Mar 9 post. How do you like Just Un Reve?
7 years ago
Wearing Fig Tea today and in rapture from its beauty. It reminds me that Patricia isn't going to be the only Guerlain who struck out on their own. Jean-Paul is, apparently, going to produce scents for a startup called My Exclusive Collection. Samples available in September, making that month and that day more anticipated by me than Christmas. Of course, he won't be able to call them Guerlains, but we'll all know. Waiting...waiting.
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