Tuesday, April 07, 2009

YSL Nu (EDP)- The Lost Perfumes Series

This is shaping up to be an Yves Saint Laurent week. Not planned, but nice.

The opening blast of YSL Nu is so similar to Donna Karan's Black Cashmere (and to a degree also to Idole de Lubin) it makes one wonder if they aren't redundant. It's a strong, dark and spicy incense, not particularly feminine and decidedly challenging. It's no wonder neither Black Cashmere nor Nu have ever been a Sephora best seller and are more of a cult fragrances.

The difference from Black Cashmere begins once Nu starts developing on skin. While BC has all that gothic rose-saffron excitement that keeps it very bold and dominant like a pair of black patent leather stiletto boots, Nu is more of an introvert. Nu means "nude", and while I'd never call it a skin scent, it does hover much more closely to the body and is a lot softer. The floral notes (supposedly white orchid) are beautiful and just a step away from powdery, leading the way to drydown that alternates between a sweet fruity musk that's even more sensual and skin-caressing, and a faint, almost smoky vetiver that keeps things surprisingly cool.

I see Nu as a sophisticated, urban perfume. There's nothing cozy about it despite its softer side. Nu is easier to wear than Black Cashmere because it's not as aggressive and the somewhat more feminine turn it takes (I still consider it quite unisex, though), but it requires dressing up and taking it someplace fabulous.

Nu was created in 2001 and discontinued about two years ago. For a while it was available criminally cheap from most online discounters. Lately it's become a little harder to find, though the price is still under $50. This review is for the EDP in the round compact-like bottle in the black plastic box. There's also an EDT in a blue bottle that was marketed for men and is supposedly closely-related but different enough to be considered a separate entity.

Image: Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead from screenrush.co.uk


  1. I've not seen Black Cashmere and Nu compared before, but they are two of my very favorite scents and I appreciate your take on both.

  2. I discovered Nu based on a completely irrational desire to own at least ONE YSL perfume. After realizing I hated most of them, except for my mother's lovely Rive Gauche (which of course I can't wear - it's her signature), I gambled on Nu, buying it unsniffed from an online retailer. It has been my most reliable "night out" perfume since -- sensual but not overt, soft but still spicy. Glad to see it get a nod here!

  3. I'm going to have to see if I can find Nu...

    Love the still from "The Fountainhead", my all-time favorite over-the-top architecture movie.

  4. I used to own this and loved it! As with many other perfumes that I tired of and gave away to make room for new ones, this ended up in the throw away pile. All I can say is I was young and naive, and...foolish!!!

  5. I love Nu and it has many fans, so why is it discontinued..... What a beautiful scent.

  6. Anon, the similarity is mostly in the opening and in the very dark incense note. They develop in different directions, but it makes perfect sense that someone who loves one would also love the other.

  7. Genevieve, Nu is the only YSL fragrance I own. Try as I might, I couldn't like anything else, except for Rive Gauche, of course, but the reformulated version smells wrong to me.

  8. Tom, Nu is still around. Even some of those discount stores in some malls have it. Just make sure you get the EDP.

  9. Karin, I did the same thing years ago, and now that almost everything has been horrible reformulated I could kick myself.

  10. Lavinia, my guess would be that it was too sophisticated and unconventional to sell. Just look at YSL Elle (I think they also released a flanker)- that's what people buy.

  11. I've been using ONLY NU un the last 6 years ... I fell in love with it after one of my ex's gave it to me for my birthday ... since then I haven't used anything else ... I pretty much can not feel it's smell as Im so used to it, but it drives all men around me crazy! And they can never foret my smell! LOVE YOU, NU!!!


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