Hey Olfactoria’s Travelers,
Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse here, and because you are all bouncing through spring up in the Northern Hemisphere I wanted to take a moment and remind you of one of my all time favourite fragrances. A queer, kooky, extraordinary fragrance that is GREEN and so much more.
Niki de Saint Phalle was created by Niki de Saint Phalle in 1982.
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Artemisia, mint, green notes, peach, bergamot
Heart: Carnation, patchouli, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar, rose
Base: Leather, sandalwood, amber, musk, oakmoss
So, to the fragrance. Like everything else Niki de Saint Phalle has bequeathed to the world the juice is extraordinary. The opening is a fun green fizz that seems at once super sweet and also mouth puckeringly tart. You know those sour lollies that are all sugary sweetness but with a freaky sour bite? I love them. At the beginning Niki de Saint Phalle has almost that exact feeling/scent. It is joined by a salty bouquet, like picking flowers by the beach, or at the beach house, it’s sensual sweat and perfume. Lovers that are getting messy as soon as they meet, on the entryway floor or against the wall, freshly cleaned and fragranced for the encounter the hot breath and sweatiness is overshadowed but not masked.
The mint, spicy carnation and artemisia (wormwood) seem to make repeated appearances and then hide again and patchouli/leather play side by side creating a very lived in green fragrance and the musk is not so clean, more animal/human. The bouquet gets breathier too through the heart but remains sweet, zingy and lively. Dry down is a slow fade to warmth with an overlay of green; an interesting dichotomy of warm and cool, inviting and abrasive, calm and charged.
2012 was the 30th Anniversary of the launch of this magical fragrance by Niki de Saint Phalle. That is a long time for such an under the radar fragrance to be around. There must be a bunch of people still wearing it; buying and wafting Niki de Saint Phalle.
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
My mate Sheila Eggenberger from the Alembicated Genie writes it the best:
Niki de Saint Phalle (the perfume) like its creatrix has a few antecedents and hardly any followers. I don’t know why this doesn’t get the attention it clearly deserves. It has a few cousins – Chanel no. 19, Silences, those glorious green chypres of the 70s – and a definite Big Bad Bold Sister – Cellier & Piguet’s ground-breaking Bandit, which I suspect Niki wore and adored. In fact, when I left Bandit behind, I moved on to… Niki de Saint Phalle! They both have that… unsettling ashtray undertone a few hardcore perfumistas love! But Niki is softer and a tad sweeter, if no less great for that!
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
Born Catherine-Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle (29 October 1930 – 21 May 2002), Niki de Saint Phalle was a French painter, sculptor and film maker. She came from a titled French banking family that lost all their money and had to move to the USA to run the American arm of the family bank. It was Gaudi’s work in Spain that really opened de Saint Phalle’s eyes to the wondrous and breathtaking possibilities available for an inspired artist in all sorts of materials. Her inspirations would come to include objects of violence, women’s societal roles, size, architecture and the tarot, plus many more. Her work was ground breaking and inspirational in turn and is still copied, homaged and referenced today.
Further reading: Yesterday’s Perfume and The Non-Blonde
Beauty Encounter has $35/30ml
SurrenderToChance has samples starting at $3/ml
Thanks for wandering around in my fragrant thoughts,
I’m posting off an unwanted blind buy today and you, Portia, have me searching ebay again for another! Nothing on ebay UK so I’m safe, for now.
This is one of a handful of perfumes I’ve been curious about for years now. You make it sound better than ever. I love the sweet/sour lolly comparison. You’re so good at those relatable likenesses.
What an amazing artist too.
Tara, I think you may like this.
MMMMM check your email.
I love this stuff. The first time I tried it years ago the overdose of artemisia was almost too much for me but it didn’t take long to get over that! I have several bottle of the vintages in perfume, EDT and EDP (lots of snakes and a cool Capricorn) as well as a couple pieces of her crazy costume jewelry. She was able bring serious societal issues out into the open using larger than life, colorful and often humorous artwork. There is no mistaking her style. Both the perfume and the art are still timely. Thank you for this post.
Great to see you. We are twins on this one. I don’t have a snake parfum bottle but I love them. There are EdP, EdT, Bath Oil and Shower Gel galore around here though.
I was given this bottle as a birthday gift in my twenties. I loved it, and have thought about
getting another bottle as years passed, but never did. I am going to seek it out now! Thanks
for the review and the memories!
Now is the time to grab it. Ridiculously reasonable prices abound on discount sites.
Glad to give you a happy memory.
Never heard of this perfume before! You make it sound wonderful and now I want to try it…
Ha Ha ha! Sandra. It’s really pretty, quirky, unusual and ridiculously affordable.
So cool! I just inherited a bottle of this from a friend who passed away. I have not had time to unpack it. Description does not sound like her, maybe that is why the family passed it on.
WOW! That will be a wonderful reminder for you. How great to grab, spritz and remember your friend. Even if it is not a scent you could associate with your friend still every time you spritz it will be a reminder.
If you do not have a bottle I will send it to yo!. I just smelled it and was floored!!! Very not me, had to leave the room. I do have issues/bad memories for greens of that type. Luckily she also left me a bottle of Chanel, predictable but very much the lovely, beautiful and conservative lady that she truly was.
OH NOOO! What a crying shame. I have oodles thanks ShellyW, enough to last me 3 lifetimes of daily use I think.
You should think about doing a Random Act Of Kindness (RAOK) on Facebook Fragrance Friends. They would be thrilled and your friends memory will become a gift.
OOOH sounds yummy, why have I never heard of this before? I like Bandit quite a fair bit, so Niki de Saint Phalle sounds great. And the price of it looks very reasonable indeed! Yep, I’m off to wear a green perfume now.
Hey there TheSmellyVagabond,
So nice to see you. are you well?
Which green did you choose?
Vintage No. 19 for me!
YUMMMMMMMM You smelled great buddy. What concentration do you wear your #19?
It’s the EDT.
It has such determined throw and sillage. How is the lasting power for you? I find the EdT particularly short lived with my hungry skin.
You know I love and adore Niki de Saint Phalle – in fact, it was you who reminded me of that long-ago gal who wore Niki… So naturally, I had to hunt it down and bought a friend’s unloved vintage bottle of the EdT – and we’ve been an item ever since! Thank you so much for the quote, too! 🙂
Quoting YOU Sheila is a given. When you write fireworks go off in my head. I am glad to have reunited you with a lost love too.
I’ve had a bottle of the EDT for a few years but I seldom wear it. It’s such a strange one. Well, today is the day!. It’s a sunny autumn day, brisk but not really cold. Your sour lolly comparison is spot on! Thanks for the review.
Aha! How did the wearing go AnneMarieC? Was it a good choice for Spring?
Autumn darling. I’m not thar far away from you, down the road in Canberra. Yes, Niki matched the day perfectly, green and bracing, but still warm. Lasted all day too.
YAY! In Canberra! I think i knew that. Next time we come down to the gallery will you have a cuppa with us?
Just let me know when and I’ll be there . I’d love to meet you both! You can find me on Aussie FN.
Yes, i’ve seen you there. we are off to Korea in a couple of weeks, so maybe early July?
I love meeting new frag buddies.
I have worn this one for decades off and on – big fan of crunchy green chypres and that ashtray undertone. Have you tried the perfume, Portia? How does it compare to the edt? Thanks for highlighting this gem!
I have not tried the extrait and am scared if I do that I’d have to find myself a bunch of it. Currently sticking to the affordable side of this beauty because I really enjoy the EdT and EdP. I don’t find these two incredibly different though.
I had a decant of this, but found it a bit too retro and tart and gave it away. Knowing my luck, I’ll miss it some day! It is just the sort of ‘grown up’ perfume I may yet grow into. Ah well, I have Chamade and Cristalle to plug that gap meanwhile.
I can totally understand that Niki de Saint Phalle isn’t going to ring everyones bells. Maybe that’s part of what makes me love it even more, it feels a bit like its my secret fragrance that no one else really wears. Though I know a very few perfumistas who adore it. With your perfect GREEN duo why look further.
I collected every one of the astrological bottles of NdSP, so I’ll never use up the perfume, as there’s more than a liter now in my collection, but what a gorgeous collection of bottle art. I love her artwork and her perfume!
Yep, I’m right with you princess. I don’t have a liter but I think there must be quite a bit in unopened cellophane here, plus all the bath & body stuff.