Monday, April 13, 2009

Shaken not stirred: Niki de Saint Phalle

I've had a bottle of Niki de Saint Phalle's eponymous perfume (edt) for several months, but didn't really know what to make of it. I've finally figured out what it reminds me of: a dirty gin martini, straight up, three olives, shaken not stirred. Now I love gin, but with NdSP I understand why some people don't. As soon as I put it on, and continuing through the drydown, it feels too moonshine-ish, too heady-flowery, too high-test. No matter how much I like a good dirty martini, I don't particularly like feeling as if I've bathed in one. That's what NdSP feels like. I guess this all could be summed up as: it wears me, not the other way around.

I hoped it would turn me into the immortal, smart-mouthed Myrna Loy in The Thin Man, martini in hand, but alas. I've heard much about the oddity, the bitter tagetes (marigold), the vetiver. However, it's not bitter in the sense I expected, from my love of leathery chypres like vintage Cabochard and Diorling. Now with those perfumes I feel like I could make an attempt at pretending to be the witty, irresistible Nora Charles. But with NdSP I get only an overwhelming, sharp, woody-flowery spike through my head, which after a while feels not like the buzz, but like the morning after a few too many martinis. Oh well, I'll give it another twirl another time. With my often-changing perfume tastes lately, I may well fall in love with it next time I try it.

Notes: Jasmin, Rose, Marigold, Ylang-Ylang, Vetyver, Sandalwood, Patchouly, Amber, Musk

8 comments:

brian said...

A year ago, an SA at Portland's Perfume House suggested I try Nikki. I remembered the bottle instantly. I don't think anyone I knew as a child owned or wore this, so I must have seen the memorable snake iconography in advertisements. I passed on it at first then bought it locally several months later, when I realized I love green chypres. You're right, there's definitely something more intense about Nikki; more so than cabochard, jean-louis scherrer, Givenchy III, and Y, some of my favorites, though it seems practically toothless next to Bandit (what doesn't?). I do love Nikki but it's one of those fragrances that ends up at the back of my cabinet. I actually took it out the other day and smelled it again and thought, Very nice; why don't I wear this? I didn't realize there's marigold in it. What does marigold actually smell like?

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Hey Brian, thanks for writing!
Gosh, I have always thought of marigolds as having a very sharp, almost urinous quality. You plant them with your veggies because their scent helps keep pests away. I know that doesn't sound very appealing, but artemisia, which I like, has a similar raspy herbal quality.

Perfumeshrine said...

It's very unique and very potent, isn't it? You wrote it like it is "it wears me"....
It's like a forest of pine needles to me when the air is bracing and very dry. (I do like it though!)

Aimée L'Ondée said...

I like your description, Perfumeshrine! That is right on the money. It does wear me, indeed! Thanks for commenting!

chayaruchama said...

I'm sorry Nikki wears you...

I often forget to wear her-
But when I do, she's a seductively cougar-y vixen of herbal allure.

Very feminine and determined- 'Tetue ' would be a good word- [if I possessed the right stuff to
correct- like circumflexes and umlauts, LOL]

She's a tough, competent broad.
Not an easy wear for many...

Alyssa said...

See, this is one of those perfumes that makes me feel like I am crazy. I hear this from you -- you! who wear all those bitch-slap greens!--and from others I respect I hear "too weird" and other respectfully negative descriptions.

But when I put darling Nikki on, she is so warm. A warm green. Like sun coming through to the forest floor. And yes, like piles of rusty marigolds and chrysanthemums growing right next to the fall kale. I prefer her in the parfum, to be sure, but the EDT is great in the heat.

But you know, it's occurred to me just this minute what the problem is (for you). In spite of all her green, I think Nikki is an Oriental of the Coco school. I'm not sure what I mean by this yet, but it rings true. What say you?

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Thanks for commenting, chaya! I am sorry I don't get along with Niki too. I was so sure we would. :^)

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Hi Alyssa-- Niki smells great on you -- you're why I *had* to try it!
I like your theory about why I like so many bitch-slap greens (great description, btw) and not this. Maybe it's the oriental dry spiciness that feels like dust up my nose. What's weird is that it doesn't seem bitter enough to me, for some reason -- it's as if the attempt to be bitter was made by combining a hella lotta spiciness and flowers, but it comes off chokey-perfumey instead. So yeah, it's probably that Coco kitchen-sink oriental thing that's getting me. Anyway, I'm rambling on and on. Suffice it to say: I'm a weenie when it comes to Niki!