Nicolai Cap Neroli (2018) {Perfume Review & Musings}


Thanks to French grammarian Gilles Ménage (1613-1692), who devoted an article to the topic in his Observations de Monsieur Ménage sur la langue françoise (1672), we know that neroli, the floral essence of the bitter orange tree (Citrus Aurantium L.), was named after the principessa di Nerola born Anne-Marie de La Trémoille (1642-1722), who used to perfume her gloves and bath water with it, her favorite scent...

The fragrance of neroli is reputed to be nuanced, soft, multifaceted and very feminine, with tonalities of spices, fruits and flowers. It is thought to be impossible to replicate the natural scent faithfully and so the raw ingredient is used.

Perfumer Patricia de Nicolaï calls our attention to it anew with Cap Néroli a unisex eau de toilette in which she sought to bring out the "majestic" aspect of the flower calling it "small in size but powerful for its scent." The result is a blend which mixes intensity and softness, while offering richness and natural complexity.

Cap Néroli smells of an animalic neroli with spices and an overdose of citruses. It feels very old-world, very European i.e., traversed by the sum of the contradictions and tensions of history. Far from the angelic neroli which, as tradition has it, lulls babies to sleep in France, this is its womanly version, or its manly one, being versatile enough to be worn indifferently by all sexes.

You thus feel that it has lived, that it is full of internal intricacies, and then it makes you think that it's Italian - maybe it's even Sicilian - that it is passionate and that it is deeply at the confluence of civilizations. Let's call it - why not?- a "civilizational neroli": you not only smell the Mediterranean in it, as a cultural entity, but also as a crossroad of religions. There is a form of intensity in this perfume which makes you think of churches, temples, synagogues and mosques and lets your imagination run free enough to make you think you're inhaling voluptuous swirls of incense, wherever they might form sacredly.

The composition seems to be built like a tapestry in which you feel then distinguish initially invisible details, some sooner, others later on. Now a green-brown nuance emerges, softly inflected nevertheless. You start getting the delicate, mandarin nuances of orange groves. The brown is the color that spices have. The perfumer wanted to underline the green-white contrast of neroli and you do get a sense of juxtaposition and layering of colors.

This rich eau de toilette is animalic thanks to a pre-WWII styling of the base of the fragrance. There is this breath of Halitosis which you find in old oakmoss-y perfumes, the ones with non-expurgated patchouli, dirty, unwashed - and to me it is an addictive note. It is one of those humoral human scents which have been left rather unsung, but are nevertheless part and parcel of the complexity of the perfumer's palette and of our likes and dislikes of body odors. The perfume is vintagey too because it evokes a way of life in which you wear fur in the summer and nude stockings in the heat, notwithstanding the temperatures, style being of the essence.

You can also tell that Cap Néroli has a touch of L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) in it. in its core, there is a discreet homage to the classic created by a member of Patricia de Nicolaï's family on her maternal side, Jacques Guerlain. She has already provided such an homage with her Sacrebleu. Here, it is more indirect, more minuscule, but present. It reminds you of that other homage to the Impressionistic scent, Gucci eau de parfum, the one which was created under the tutelage of Tom Ford, who turned it into a spicy affair with cumin as a high note.

In our opinion and as far as your perfume purchases go, this is certainly one of the best options you have to smell exquisite, relaxed and relaxing - neroli relieves tension. You will be doing good just by wearing perfume - and then also adding beauty to the world, which certainly needs it.

Fragrance Notes

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