Nicolaï : New York

Created by : Patricia de Nicolaï

Date : 1989

Genre : Orange amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

Do you remember Genetics 101?  All that talk about dominant and recessive genes?  The details I’ve forgotten, but I remember the basics and how it was that my siblings and I have brown eyes while my mother has the most beautiful blue eyes.  Turns out the gene responsible for blue eyes is a recessive gene and easily dominated by the gene responsible for brown eyes.  Damn!

I’m starting to think that in perfume genetics, bad taste is the dominant gene.  Let’s face it, there is alot of crap out there.  So if my theory is correct, Patricia de Nicolaï must have inherited the two recessive genes that would account for her good taste.  Certainly being the granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain (yes, THAT dynasty), it would at least explain where she got one of the two “good taste” genes from.

Patricia de Nicolaï’s french roots are obvious.  Her masculine, New York, is strong, unapolagetic and gorgeous.  It doesn’t try to be “clean” or fresh, which is everywhere in masculine perfumes.  What it does is marry a deep orange resin with a quality amber.  Forget what you know about citrus-based colognes… think more of orange oil that has been distilled repeatedly to the consistency of pine tree sap.  Then add it to a warm amber that is as soothing as a cashmere sweater in your favourite colour that still has the faint perfume of your mother on it.  That’s how comforting New York is.

And if a beautiful orange amber wasn’t enough, four or five hours into the perfume you’ll get a discreet hint of pepper oil that made me wonder if that was still New York or somebody else had walked by.  This is what I LOVE about well-constructed perfumes… the intelligent evolution of excellent raw materials that is as exciting and satisfying as a conversation with a best friend over a bottle of red wine.  Cedar is listed in the middle notes but don’t worry… you won’t smell like pencil shavings.  The cedar is transparent lending a discreet woody subtext.  This is fine French perfume at its best… no gimmicks.

When I started writing this post, I was preoccupied by the image of Manhattan that I could use because I erroneously thought of hectic, vulgar and sophisticated New York City.  This fragrance is not New York City… it’s New York State.  Think of a walk among the reds and dark oranges of the Adirondacks in mid-October and you’ll have a good idea what New York, the fragrance, smells like.

New York is easily one of my favourite ambers.

Image : Deer in Autumn Landscape by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919)

Leave a comment


  1. Richard Townson

     /  October 18, 2010

    Lovely imagery at the end.


  2. This sounds fantastic! I must try it. I love her Temps de Fete and Marharanih.

    • It’s really nice. I want to try her other stuff. I smelled Vie de Chateau… and I loved it as well. Unfortunately, they’re not easy to find in Montreal. What about Toronto?

      • Nowhere that I know of in Toronto, but I order samples online. You can buy from the Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver.

      • I’ve bought perfume from the Perfume Shoppe but I didn’t know that you could buy samples! Just checked out their website for their sample program… I thank you and so does my accountant… 😉

        I found a small interior design boutique in Westmount that carries a few Parfums de Nicolaï… but that’s the only place, I believe.

  3. Dane

     /  October 19, 2010

    I need to revisit this…I had always found it a bit…predictable? Nice, but not me…of course, I’ve been all about ambers lately (Theorema, Ambre Soie, etc.), so this might be exactly what I’ve been looking for…sitting right under my nose the whole time!

    • It’s the dark orange heart that might put people off. But I find it easy to wear and the pepper scent that weaves in and out during the day is enough to keep me interested. I’m going to try the ones you mentioned… I’m always interested in knowing what you consider beautiful.


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