digging (into) vintage: Guerlain Nahema, 1979


Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain

Nahema smells like rose the way Paco Rabanne’s Metal smells like green flowers, which is to say scarcely at all. I know it’s hardly a secret that Nahema is a virtual rose, an implied rose. I see the parts, but I don’t see the rose. Not a complaint, mind you. I love Nahema. I see it as the spiritual predecessor to Gucci Rush. It’s Rush’s disco auntie.

I know that Nahema took advantage of new-at-the-time aromachemicals that were used elsewhere to amplify and extend actual rose Here these chemicals are used to create a perfume of crystalline flowery fruit with balsams and wood. Actually this smells like a peachy iris on a base of Guerlain’s earlier stunner Chamade.  The heartnotes are like Chamade’s, but stoned and giggling.

In the long run, the rather chemical nature of Nahema allows the fragrance to be focused on abstract qualities. Nahema isn’t floral. It’s glassy and shimmering, and its upper register is about an inch from shrill. These qualities give it it excitement and vibrance. Does it simulate a rose? Not to me. Is it a blast to wear Every single time.

leave a comment