Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nicolaï Pour Homme

I first became interested in this one when Victoria of Bois De Jasmin compared it to No. 3 / Third Man / Le 3èmme Homme de Caron. The latter is probably my favourite scent from the surpassingly great Caron men's collection. Like my preference for the male Carons, I have found the men's fragrances I have tried from Patricia de Nicolaï more interesting than her beautifully composed but sweet female perfumes.

Nicolaï Pour Homme is the sort of striking, enigmatic scent that has you using up your sample and then mournfully sniffing the vial for days afterward. Released in 2003, it contains galbanum, orange, lentisc, China mint, Grasse lavender, geranium, jasmine, moss, amber, spruce, cedar, tobacco, benzoin and labdanum. It begins in a strange, chaotic fashion, which seems to be typical of de Nicolaï creations; like in New York, there is an opening moment when all the notes that will be highlighted later during the long, complex development sound at once. There is the bitter bite of galbanum, a freshness from the mint and lenstic/mastic, an airy, floral lavender, the smooth sweetness of amber, tobacco and benzoin, powdery moss, the orange's zest and a green transparency from the geranium and jasmine. But then, as in a B52 - Bailey's, Grand Marnier and Kahlua?! How is that ever going to work? - Nicolaï Pour Homme finds a surprising harmony, picking up and amplifying sides to notes you'd forgotten about: oh yes, mint is an herb!; You can compare apples and oranges!; woods can be both solemn and boozy etc.

Without smelling much like Third Man or sharing its confident, boutonniered spirit, Nicolaï Pour Homme has a similar development to the Caron scent. The Third Man is a dandy, a bit off-kilter, an independent thinker and devil-may-care cosmopolitan, like Orson Welles in the namesake film or our late, great pirouetting Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Nicolaï Pour Homme is a more subtle scent, sober, contemplative and almost melancholy. Some have accused it of being chilly, but I don't find it so; as in Third Man, the sweetness of the warm oriental base notes disrupts the shaded cool of the traditional fougère structure. It is perhaps even more unisex than New York. My extremely scientific survey of the data from MUA and Basenotes indicates that women are more enthusiastic about it than men, but it actually lacks the vaguely effeminate feel of Third Man. It is the scent of autumn orchards, of walks by yourself, of finding your favourite wool sweater perfumed with last year's woodsmoke, or an old love letter from your spouse.

I was going to review Dior's Midnight Charm tomorrow, but I'm having trouble working up any enthusiasm. It's not all that terrible, but these are the listed notes: "Green Holly Leaves, Frosted Bergamot, Lychee Pulp, Red Jasmine, Fresh Snow Drop, White Rose, Iced Chestnut, Cashmere Musk, Golden Amber." It's not even the icing and frosting... it's the gratuitous descriptors. The pulp of the lychee, you say? When I read "lychee" I thought it was going to be smoked, powdered lychee rind.


At 6:26 p.m., Anonymous AngelaS said...

Fabulous review! I especially love the comparison to woodsmoke on last year's sweater. I'm so glad you're doing men's scents--I'm way behind on getting to know them. In response to your comment on your last post, I haven't tried 3eme Homme. I know the Caron feminine line inside and out, but of the men's I only have Yatagan (love it).

At 6:40 p.m., Blogger Erin said...

Thanks! Yatagan gives Third Man a run for its money - I wear both a lot this time of year. (I'll send some No. 3 along in your package.) I'm trying to get caught up on the Caron female collection. Somewhere March is scoffing...

At 6:47 a.m., Blogger marchlion said...

Yeah, scoffing RIGHT HERE. The femmes all smell like poison. (not Poison). Or mildew.

L'Anarchiste smells pretty fabulous too. Yatagan is just a miracle of skank.

At 9:26 a.m., Blogger Erin said...

It seems to me that there is a little bit of mildew or maybe dust in Parfum Sacre, but I kind of like it in there *hangs head sheepishly*. The mace, perhaps? I haven't tried many of the others in EdT, though I've tried a few extraits.


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