Parfums de Nicolai pour Homme, 2003

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nicolai pour homme

Perfumer Patricia de Nicolai

Masculine fragrances tend to have higher thresholds of propriety yet mystifyingly lower standards of quality.  It’s an odd function of male gender and self-regard. Most men would rather wear the cheapest smelling iteration of woody/aquatic/woody amber rubbish than a perfectly executed white floral. That is to say, they would rather smell bad, but like the herd, rather than stand out for beauty. This holds true even for the straight man, who in his secret heart just adores tuberose.

Every now and then there is a notable beauty that somehow still makes the cut of masculine acceptability. Past examples include Carthusia Numero Uno, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Caron le Troisiemme Homme, Tauer’s l’Air du Desert Marocain. Add to that list de Nicolai’s pour Homme. It is a lavender/tobacco/amber stunner that, likely due to its clean, cool lavender, easily passes masculine muster. The discerning nose, though, will spot its beauty and nuance. Lavender is identifiable and acceptable to the masculine nose. In this case, though, it is also the vehicle for introducing a range of qualities, from herbal to floral, that, because they are fellow travelers with the lavender, slide in under a masculine radar that might otherwise be censoring any notes but fresh, light and sport.

Nicolai pour Homme is one of the best essay on lavender I’ve ever smelled, and one of the most beautiful progressions over time of any men’s fragrance I can think of. To my mind this was Patricia de Nicolai’s Odalsique for men. Each took beautiful, recognizable notes and paired them with materials that enhanced the beauty, yet made the perfume feel just out of the reach of consciousness, giving them beauty and mystery.

This is one of the perfumes that make me fall in love with the perfumer.


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