I think all artists like to look back at the past of their art form and find inspiration. Lately some of our finest indie perfumers have been doing that and creating modern vintage perfumes. Each perfumer has their reason for doing this and there seems little common ground other than inspiration by the classics. This trend is a bit surprising to me because it is antithetical to the current trends one finds for cleaner, lighter and easier to wear fragrances. It occurred to me that this is exactly what has happened to our idea of “dressing up”. Back when the classic perfumes were the rage so was wearing a jacket on a night out, for men, and a nice dress and some jewelry along with high heels and stockings, for women. In short the way we dress tends to also match the way we wear fragrance. Today’s designer jeans and a nice shirt, for both sexes, seem to coincide with our fragrance trends. Nice and easy.
Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio steps up with her attempt to re-create a bygone past with a modern fragrance in Nostalgie. One of the things about Ms. Erickson is she always states where her inspiration comes from on her website and here is the thesis for Nostalgie in her words:
“I wanted to create a perfume based on notes from the classic scents I love, but updated with lighter animalic notes and softer aldehydes.”
It is the end of that sentence that I think is what contributes to Nostalgie’s success. It is the more intense animalic notes and the sharpness of the aldehydes of most of the classic perfumes that can be the most off-putting. For most of us who love vintage perfume it is that power that intrigues us but it sometimes makes it difficult to give them a full hug. Watch the hair darling it took hours. In Nostalgie by tempering both the animalic and the aldehydes Ms. Erickson has created something you want to hug and hold close, no worries about mussing up the hair.
For New Year’s Eve I wrote about another Sonoma Scent Studio fragrance, Champagne de Bois, and if you are familiar with the aldehydes in that scent then the beginning of Nostalgie is similar but, as Ms. Erickson wanted, also softer. In Champagne de Bois that aldehyde bouquet is nose tickling and vibrant. In Nostalgie the vibrancy is there but sotto voce. The aldehydes here tend to slither across my consciousness but they grab my attention for all that subtlety too. Peach is also present in the top notes and it is the usher down the aisle to the floral heart of Nostalgie. Jasmine, rose, and mimosa are the florals Ms. Erickson chose and these three notes make up the foundation of some of the inspirations that Ms. Erickson was using, I’m guessing. It is here where she makes the wise choice not to tinker too much with a classic combination as I don’t think there are too many perfumistas who complain about jasmine, rose, and mimosa. What Ms. Erickson does do is to make sure she keeps it at the same volume as the aldehydes on top and the animalic notes in the base. She wanted softer and so she uses violet to tone the floral triptych down just a bit. Now the base is where Ms. Erickson goes for the “lighter animalic”. Leather is present first and it is a surprisingly light accord for all of that and it accentuates the slightly sweet smell of refined leather by adding a bit of vanilla and myrrh to keep it towards the sweet. Then slowly and languorously like a long opera glove being removed one finger at a time a truly amazing Mysore sandalwood takes over. Ms. Erickson adds a bit of musk to rough up the edges of the sandalwood but this sandalwood and the quality it adds is the final drop of vintage class that zips up the back of Nostalgie before she heads out for the evening.
Nostalgie has overnight longevity and surprising sillage for an extrait. People will know you’re wearing this.
I am very curious to see what some of my younger perfumista friends will think about Nostalgie. Will they get the homage to the classics? Will they get that this is a fragrance to wear out in the way we used to mean when we were getting dressed to go out? Or more will they just say this smells like nothing I own and I need more. I hope so as Ms. Erickson has crafted something very memorable in Nostalgie.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Sonoma Scent Studio.
Editor's note: The pictures are all of Suzy Parker who was the "it" cover girl for much of the 50's and also the face of many of the classic cosmetic lines of that time like Revlon and Coty. She was reportedly the first fashion model to earn over $100K/year. For some reason she was my mental companion every time I wore Nostalgie. I have a feeling she would've loved it.
–Mark Behnke, Managing Editor