Le Temps D'Une Fête by Parfums de Nicolaï {Perfume Review & Musings} {New Perfume}




Le Temps d'Une Fête (The Time of a Celebration) smells like a spring perfume that would have been composed in the depth of winter. It combines the effervescence of green sappy notes with a deeper base composed of the stillness of a snowy landscape, the warmth of a burning fire in the hearth, and heavy velvet curtains hanging under very tall cold ceilings in an anciently built stone manor.

The result is unusual on a certain level, making one think of a green fur scent. It could be the scent of a woman naked under a mink fur coat taking a stroll barefoot in the early dewy morning of a spring day in her park. She walks towards the edge of a small wood and decides to rest and then falls into contemplation as the green incense-y notes of the perfume call her mind to mirror their tranquility.

Unfortunately, the more poetic, vital, and contemplative aspects of this perfume slowly fade into the less colorful region of, dare we say so, intellectual boredom.......




If you are a perfumer, you may want to offer your own interpretation of springtime or you may just want to issue a timely spring perfume. Patricia de Nicolaï derived her inspiration from both impulses. She opted for a less trendy rendition of the season of nature's renewal. Where we have come these days to expect effects of youth, freshness, and transparency, she proposes to use the much more original fresh and warm facets of green and warm resins (mastic, styrax, and opoponax) surrounding an indolic floral narcissus heart on a muted heavier sweet amber-y oriental base. The initial accents are interesting and all this strong green underbrush impression at the forefront of the perfume is unusually characteristic and profuse as the top notes include galbanum, lentisc, opoponax, and oakmoss. The heart has narcissus, hyacinth, daffodil, and styrax. The base rests on oakmoss, sandalwood, and animalic notes.

That last segment, that is the base notes, breaks, for us at least, somewhat the charm of the perfume, not because it is contrasted and heavier, but because it smells too much like a recognizable base used in other Parfums de Nicolaï compositions. It feels somehow that a shortcut was taken and a recipe applied to a greater degree than is good for a perfume to still stand as a work of imagination. Perhaps, if the base had been re-used in a more subtle manner this would have been less of a hindrance. But as it is, it takes over the more creative aspects of the perfume. The promising free brouhaha of green in the beginning, the subtle green resinous facets, the light dry green chypre accents, the strong showcasing of the leek-like nuances of mastic or lentisc (pistacia lentiscus) are, alas, soon drowned in an all-too familiar smell. Pity.

As 2007 appears as a historical turning point in the number of perfumes that have already been created and are still to come - we were told to expect around 800, but it could be significantly more than that at the rate at which fragrances seem to appear suddenly out of the blue this year - it seems that working faster and offering a plurality of perfumes all at once will create fragrances that needed to live more in the minds of their creators before seeing the light of day. The uneasy impressions derived from the perception of all-too similar bases in Les Exclusifs by Chanel and Private Blend by Tom Ford (see our Index of Perfume Reviews for more on Les Exclusifs) is made somewhat more acute in this case. Yes, sometimes perfumery is like fairly palatable home-cooking and one may love a certain basic bouillon to be re-used in several soups because it is tasty and the cook has to be practical-minded and the children love her/him anyway, but would we want to eat those soups all the time if we had the choice? If we have real choice, we want variety and even better, a surprise, the surprise of the chef. Of course, some people like to eat the same thing all the time, but even in this context, it is the chef's duty to surprise them from time to time, otherwise who else? This especially said in the context of niche perfumery where the perfumer is, theoretically at least, more independent from the cruel laws of the market.

You can purchase the perfume on the Parfums de Nicolaï website


This Le Temps D'une Fête perfume is a new creation bearing an older fragrance's name that was already issued by the house. They have kept the old name because it is already registered. As far as I can tell, the older perfume bottle has a blue cap and the new one, a golden one.


Photo of Alpine meadow by SWQ 

Related Posts

12 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Dear M.-H.,
    I've yet to make it to Nicolaï, which sound interesting despite what you say about the generic Nicolaï base. Concerning your following remarks: yes, there seems to be a trend towards "series" and composition shortcuts. However, this may not be an unprecendented phenomenon: a lot of the perfumes that didn't survive the test of time seem to have been composed on common bases. I remember reading about all the Patous reissued some time ago as "Ma collection": the reason why there were so many was precisely that they were variations on a generic Patou base. This might have been the case for many of the defunct Guerlains. But I'm not enough of a perfume historian to elaborate. Hope Octavian will pop in to comment.

  2. Dear Denyse,

    I have the Patou "Ma Collection". I will have to re-sniff them together again as it did not strike me as much. There were commonalities but not to the point of feeling generic, as if there were an obvious base line running throughout the scents. But I will need to re-test. There are of course the famous guerlinade and mousse de saxe base for Caron....I think that it's a question of proportion, construction, and ways of making the base be forgotten rather than appear too prominent, which seemed to me to be the case with Le Temps D'une Fête, even sniffing it out of the bottle.
    I would like indeed to concentrate on the role of bases in perfumery. Wanted to research that and write about it.

  3. I agree on your point about balance in composition. I feel much this way about Ormonde Jayne: though I dearly love Ormonde Woman, after wearing Champaca and Orris Noir I found the "ormonade" a bit overpowering. On my skin at least, it ate through the different top and heart notes and all three compositions ended up smelling the same. This isn't so obvious in the "Ma Collection" I own. Your remarks about the Tom Fords (which I haven't tested, not being a fan of the man) struck me and I'd be very interested to read more of your explorations on that theme.

  4. I agree on your point about balance in composition. I feel much this way about Ormonde Jayne: though I dearly love Ormonde Woman, after wearing Champaca and Orris Noir I found the "ormonade" a bit overpowering. On my skin at least, it ate through the different top and heart notes and all three compositions ended up smelling the same. This isn't so obvious in the "Ma Collection" I own. Your remarks about the Tom Fords (which I haven't tested, not being a fan of the man) struck me and I'd be very interested to read more of your explorations on that theme.

  5. I too almost abandonned the idea of testing the Ford line. The context was tiresome - right after Les Exclusifs - as well as the hype. They certainly did not come to fill any vacuum in the market.

    I still experience a feeling of indigestion and lack of refinement at the thought of having to go through the whole big production project in detail, but I will see if the spirit moves me to do so.

    This year is just too crowded. I really hope people understand that quality is more important than quantity.

  6. Thanks for reviewing this, Marie-Helene. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by all that's out there that is worth trying. While I hardly ever rule a fragrance out based on reviews, I do use them to try to set priorities on what I need to try first. It seems like the only way to keep my brain and bank account in order is to give priority to certain perfume houses whose styles I love. Comme des Garcons seems to be an example for me of a house that puts out quite a variety of scents but that has a sensibility I like. Parfums de Nicolai is one that keeps putting out things I feel I ought to like but don't especially.

    pitbull friend
  7. Ellen,

    Yes, it is becoming quite overwhelming with all these new releases. But, you don't have to follow the movement if you don't want to.

  8. Marie-Helene,
    I am struck at reading this how your reviews and musings are head and shoulders above the professional and amateur writings on perfume out there. This article really gave me a sense of how this scent smells and was devoid of any fuzzy balderdash. You should compile and publish your reviews.

  9. Cait,

    I am touched by your kind words, especially coming from you. Thank you.

  10. To my mind, your description of "le temps d'une fête" match to the ancient version : more green, appearing oakmoss since beginning, and wich loose its floral loveliness quite fast (hyacinth&narcissus), then what remains of the perfume is boring.

    The new one is different, it greets you with a luscious floral accord of narcissus vanilla and hyacinth, and all lifelong it remains very lovely and elegant in a demure way. Most of all, in the new version, the floral accord remains very long, and the pleasure as well.

    In comparission, the new one seems more flat (linearly floral) and less intectually daring, but the new one lasts and give you time to appreciate its lovelyness and how well-balanced it is, with the material quality any neophyte can smell in "parfums de nicolai".
    Wich make of "parfums de Nicolaï" a more charming than daring creation.

    • Ah, ha, now you are casting doubt in my mind! What I can say is that I got the bottle from one of their stores in Paris at the time that the launch had been already advertised. So I assumed that it would be the new version but there is always the theoretical possibility that there was old stock.

      I think that at the time I reviewed Le Temps d'une Fête I was a bit overwhelmed by the familiar base and wished it had been hidden away better, so as to renew sensations. I think that perfumes in particular have the privilege of being able to appear convincing if they are subtle, even if they are not original or new. So this is one way of being "charming" without being "daring", certainly to me.

      I noticed that this perfume smells better in the summer.

      More generally, I think that it is not a wholly reasonable position to expect each new perfume from a house to be an artistic manifesto. There are lower-key pleasures than that. Being in tune with the mood of a season is one of them. I suppose that a perfume nevertheless ought not to cross that threshold where you start thinking, "Man, they really took it easy this time!" Or, you know, "they are pretending this is a new perfume!" Or when you get that feeling that a perfume owes its existence to the fact that it was thought of mainly as a "vache à lait", a cash cow.

      Chant Wagner
  11. Very interesting reading; I am using this, bought last year from the London store, & was assured by the assistant that it was a new fragrance after I had commented that I had worn it many years ago. Now I take issue with her remarks haveing read this. I was much younger when I used it the first time, & I remember getting lovely comments, as indeed I have been this time around. I think I prefer the current incarnation.


Leave a Comment