Monday, August 31, 2009

Nina Ricci Farouche- The Lost Perfumes

I was well into adulthood the first time I visited Paris, so growing up, my idea of what is "French" was more than a little simplistic*. My parents favorite music: Yves Montand, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, subtitled movies with neverending dialogs (I didn't get it until being introduced to Eric Rohmer's films), fabulous desserts and Nina Ricci perfumes.

Why Nina Ricci? I'm not entirely sure. Chanel No. 5 was probably too global and universal and Miss Dior wasn't that far behind it. Nina Ricci was a more exotic name and embodied something I couldn't quite identify. White gloves? Hats? It doesn't make much sense considering I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and these images were already on the vintage side back then. My mother didn't wear any Nina Ricci perfume, though she received them as gifts a couple of times because her first name is Nina.

Farouche, an 1974 release is pretty much my childhood idea of a French perfume. An Aldehdyc floral with some spicy carnation and what I can now identify as an oakmoss base, but a relatively tame one. It's not a diva kind of chypre and it doesn't hang out in smoke-filled bars. Farouche keeps the pearls and gloves on from start to finish and doesn't let me in on its secrets, if it has any.

Farouche is pretty but aloof. It doesn't seem to belong in the 70s- consider other 1974 releases like Cristalle or Sisley Eau de Campagne. It would probably have done better a decade earlier, but then again, maybe its kind of tame prettiness was never meant to be a big hit. After all, if you compare it to Caleche (original formula), a quite iconic aldehydic floral chypre from the 60s, Farouche has absolutely no chance.

Nina Ricci perfumes are no longer what they used to be. The house changed hands and is currently in the business of churning out fruity-florals. Farouche has all but disappeared, though it can be occasionally found online. A few sellers still have the gorgeous Lalique bottle priced around $375, but I was lucky enough to find a sealed and still in paper gift wrap small (regular)bottle of the parfum sold for pennies, which is what I reviewed here.

*With endless apologies to my French readers.

Photo of Farouche in the Lalique bottle by Leora Long
Grace Coddington (
yes, that Grace Coddington) in a Nina Ricci suit by photographer John French, 1965
Nina Ricci coats and hats from 1961 by Mark Shaw


  1. Hi, Gaia. I am glad you like my perfume photo posted on

    When I photographed that first edition bottle of Farouche for its introduction at B. Altman's in the 70's, it was a full page ad in the Sunday New York Times. It was selling for $250 at that time and I know that because.....I broke it and luckily found another at Saks to replace it. They only had the one.

    I invite you to look at my blog. I have some fashion statements of my own.

    Pleased to meet you, Leora Long

  2. Loved reading about Farouch and seeing that fabulous photograph.....Hard to believe that it is a first photograph. Leora is quite talented. You can buy the perfume in the Nina Ricci, Paris Boutique, but they can't ship it to have to go get it in person. Smelling a fresh version is quite extraordinary. I can't figure out why they don't continue to produce it on a grand scale. It's the best perfume I ever smelled.

  3. Farouche is, and always has been, my favourite perfume. I loved it from the first time I smelled it back in 1974 and am delighted to have found it a long lost friend.

    To me, it is the perfect perfume, feminine in a very classy and elegant way. I feel "posh" the moment I put it on.

    I've always hoped Nina Ricci would bring it back but, alas, this seems increasingly unlikely. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep trawling the internet for as many bottles of it as I can get.....

  4. I started wearing Farouche in 1975 while in college and sadly discovered around 1982 that it was no longer available in the US. I found some in Brazil in 1990 but since then I get the occasional spray of it through Ebay. I love Farouche and share the puzzlement that it's no longer distributed in the US and even more frustrating that I can't order it from Paris. Gayle


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