It's a magical experience to have a perfumer help you pick and choose the right fragrance, explain why a certain scent is right and another doesn't work for you. While my moment happened in the crowded Aedes de Venustas store with other bloggers and perfume lovers around, it was still very satisfying to meet Stephane Humbet Lucas of Nez a Nez, try several of his creations and have him tell me why Marron Chic was so perfect for me.
Never mind that the perfume I was actually curious about was Ambre a Sade, with its promise of caramel, patchouli, vanilla and leather. An ambery homage to the Marquis de Sade sounded so very promising, but in reality there was a sticky strawberry note there that swallowed up everything else and made me want to jump out of my skin. According to Stephane Humbet Lucas, Ambre de Sade would suit a woman who is an extrovert, exuberant, wears her heart on her sleeve and shares her soul easily. No, that sunny disposition is definitely not me. He smelled my bare wrist and looked at me carefully, telling me that I have secrets and keep things inside (did he know I'm a Scorpio?) and should try Marron Chic. So I did and promptly fell in love.
While my other love from the Nez à Nez line is Figues et Garcons, a green wood-fig that to me spells happiness, Marron Chic is, as promised a much more introspective scent. The light-hearted top notes of kumquat and orange blossom are completely lost on my skin, so unless I'm smelling a test strip they are just not there. For me, it opens up with a very powdery labdanum-iris. It's dusty and slightly bitter, a sensation that intensifies as the perfume warms and softens on skin. I love the combination of vetiver and cocoa- it feels like a grownup treat that never becomes foody but hints of the possibility. It dries down even earthier and never loses the slightly bitter edge.
I would have expected a powdery cocoa scent to be sweeter, warmer and comforting. Maybe I was even expecting a hint of marron glace. Instead, Marron Chic stays aloof and refuses to give up even as it blooms on skin. It's like taking off a crisp and perfectly cut belted trench coat to reveal an equally tailored dress that retains an air of mystery and doesn't reveal too much.
Several of the Nez à Nez scents tend towards the over-sweet with notes from the aforementioned disastrous strawberry to cherry and raspberry, and I can't deal with those. But Marron Chic doesn't have even a hint of artificial fruit and neither does Figues et Garcons. Also, my husband liked L'Hetre Reve which was very impressive on him- sandalwood, guaiac and vetiver with a spicy, leathery drydown.
Nez à Nez perfumes ($165, 100 ml) are available from Aedes in NYC and Fred Segal in Los Angeles. I received the bottle of Marron Chic as a gift from the company.
Photo by Norman Parkinson from myvintagevogue.com.