Odalisque by Parfums de Nicolai

odalisque parfums de nicolaiNotes: bergamot, tangerine, citruses, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, orris root, oak moss, musk.

Let’s address this bit of business right away: Odalisque is a floral chypre fragrance that has been reformulated from its original version due to IFRA restrictions on oakmoss. My sample is quite recent, so I’ve sadly never had the opportunity to smell the original Odalisque. However, I can still sense an earthy, almost inky aspect that I would attribute to oakmoss. And this version of Odalisque has retained a retro character — a kind of rich powdery feel — that makes it stand out.

Odalisque opens with bergamot and other assorted citrus notes to lend a lightness to what will soon be a bouquet of blooming white flowers. The bergamot is quite aromatic and seems to play off of the moss, which means this opening can come off as a little harsh. I personally don’t find it overbearing since it only lasts for about ten minutes on me.

The jasmine takes over soon after the initial opening. As the jasmine develops it becomes extremely rich in texture, almost like soft butter. The floral heart is anchored by orris root, which adds a powdery touch to the composition. Odalisque quiets down after a couple of hours of wear time. Though, I would posit that this is another stage of the heart, not necessarily the dry down yet. This is the point at which I really get a sense of the lily-of-the-valley note. It lends a gentleness to the white floral/oakmoss accord, which can otherwise read a bit dark or melancholic.

As for the dry down itself, the musk mostly comes across as salty to me. I don’t find Odalisque overly animalic or dirty/sexy. I’d characterize Odalisque as more sensual than outright sexy. The orris root and oakmoss ensure that the composition is rich and earthy even as it dries down to a skin scent. It fades away around the six hour mark on me.

Let me reiterate, Odalisque has a melancholy undercurrent running throughout the composition. From the inky oakmoss, to the buttery jasmine, to the powdery orris, this is a fragrance alive with texture. All of these sensations take Odalisque from a pretty, dreamy fragrance to a haunting one. It’s a Romantic fragrance, capital R intended. Odalisque is Coleridge’s Christabel or Keats’ La Belle Dame sans Merci. Not because it’s a major femme fatale fragrance, but the element of darkness here has to be acknowledged. Moreover, I think the vintage character of the fragrance lends a serious-minded feel, ultimately making Odalisque both elegant and intelligent.

The official Parfums de Nicolai website can be a bit confusing to figure out but they do ship worldwide. Parfums de Nicolai fragrances are also available from Luckyscent, which is where I got my sample.

Both the image and info on notes* are from Fragrantica.

*as a note: Luckyscent lists lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, and iris root as the only notes in Odalisque. However, the notes listed over at Fragrantica reflect the pyramid found on the Parfums de Nicolai website. It seems more accurate to my nose as well, so that’s what I went with.

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2 thoughts on “Odalisque by Parfums de Nicolai

  1. I’m not sure which version of Odalisque I’ve tried: I got it about 4 years ago. I wanted to like it (I liked the name) but there was something unpleasant in the opening. If I happen to come across this new version, I’ll try it: who knows, maybe it’ll be one of those rare cases when reformulation makes perfume better (subjectively, of course)?

    1. I love the name of the perfume too! It was one of the first reasons I wanted a sample of this. While browsing through comments on Fragrantica I noticed that quite a few people disliked the opening, and some mentioned cat pee! I actually spent last week cat-sitting and I can say that Odalisque smells a lot more appealing than cat pee to me, haha. You’re definitely not alone in finding the opening unpleasant, but maybe the reformulation has toned it down.

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