Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Parfums de Nicolai- New York (Vintage Perfume)

My list of Ten Masculine Perfumes Women Should Borrow has one almost unforgivable omission: Parfums de Nicolai New York. I think I chose not to include it for the same reason I skipped Patou Pour Homme: New York no longer smells the way that it used to, and since my bottle is of the original version I decided to move on. But even in its current state, Patricia de Nicolai's New York is still a terrific perfume. Tonight, though, I'm talking about the older (pre-2008) version.

The Husband says that if this is New York, it has to be the gritty, seedy city of the 1980s, which I guess is right, as Nicolai launched New York in 1989. To me, though, this is an even older NYC, a truly vintage one. New York of black & white movies, classic cars, and men who looked like Don Draper. New York also smells very classic, almost French, like a descendant of Jicky. Or what Jicky would have been like if instead of its suave continental ways it'd crossed the ocean and started hustling.

New York is an aromatic fragrance with a dirty woody base that dries down to a wonderful leather. The opening is beautifully lemony (this is what reminds me of some classic and newer Guerlain perfumes), but the spices quickly gather around to make things more interesting. There's lots of pepper there, and a very earthy vetiver that brings in the dirt, though not exactly NYC dirt (and that's a good thing). The fragrance has an interesting contrast between what is obviously fresh and outdoorsy and those murky leathery notes. The old version of New York is also nicely laced with oakmoss, giving the fragrance the familiar kick of a chypre.

New York smells very classic, as it should. Is it really a masculine? Maybe a little. Aromatic herbs and leathers are often classified as such, but women who are leather fiends and chypre hounds have every chance of adoring it. Personally, I can't get enough.

Notes: bergamot, Sicilian lemon, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, black pepper, pimento, oakmoss, vetiver, amber.

Parfums de Nicolai New York is available (in a new, lighter and fresher formula) at Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, and MiN NY, $50 for the 30ml EDT.

Image: NYC in 1933, photo by Samuel H. Gottscho.


  1. New York (I never smelled the "vintage", so I am referring to a rather recent version) is one of my favorite perfumes of all times.
    Whenever I wear it, I feel like I'm wafting some deliciously rare Guerlain from decades past, I feel like keeping my nose glued to my wrist, I feel happy and sexy and confident.
    Now, should I tell you how I feel when my husband wears it?
    Let me just say that my heart skips a beat and my knees get wobbly.
    New york to me is unisex genius, and so, so romantic.

  2. Lovely to see New York mentioned here! I haven't got around to trying the IFRA'ed version but agree with everything you're saying, Gaia. The original is a wonderful, classical 'city' thing that really speaks of an era we seem to have lost - the warmth of it and the very chyprish kick qualify it as 'one of the few' alongside Patou Pour Homme, Tiffany for Men (!) and, perhaps, Derby as effortlessly cool masculines that really go beyond that designation into 'just plain class for anyone who is interested' territory.

  3. One of my biggest all-time favourites and best never-fail scents. New York works on any season, any weather, any mood, any occasion. It's elegant and classy but not boring. Love the citrusy opening, spicy heart and the woody-animalic drydown. Good to know my bottle is from the old stock! I got it in 2007, when I happened to be in London and happened to walk past Parfums de Nicolaï boutique. There was a 50% off sale going on. New York had by then been for years on my wishlist so I was very happy to grab it for a nice price.

  4. Changed?? Oh, no! Somehow I completely missed that that had happened. Thank heavens I still have two and a half bottles left from those that I bought when I first discovered it, which I think was around 2003 or 2004. Loved it enough to immediately want to get at least a small stockpile - was more concerned at the time with it possibly being discontinued, wasn't thinking about reformulation (in the end, though, essentially the same thing). This isn't exactly helping to deter me from my firm belief that, if I love a scent enough, stockpiling is a good thing.


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