Sunday, September 19, 2010

Something Old, Something Nu...

Engrossing myself in the world of fragrance has brought about many different emotions ranging from sheer boredom to pure ecstasy. Falling into the latter category is one of the fragrances I am currently obsessing over, Yves Saint Laurent's now discontinued Nu Eau de Parfum. Blame it on ignorance, but while this feminine release was still on the shelves I paid it absolutely no attention. I'm not even sure why to be completely honest. I don't think it was because it was marketed as a women's scent and I was not yet in my "I don't give a f*** how it's categorized" phase. I distinctly remember sampling Alexander McQueen's Kingdom when it came out in 2003, despite the fact that it was also sold at the women's counter. Honestly I think I was just unaware of it, shocking given my well documented obsession with all things Tom Ford. Nu was his first contribution to YSL's fragrance division after all, and having now smelled it for close to six months I can say that it was a great first effort. What a shame that it was killed off, because it's absolutely gorgeous.

the ad campaign photographed by Mario Sorrenti

I've very quickly learned that I respond well to incense fragrances in general, and that's exactly what Nu is. Mixed in are bergamot, black pepper, white orchid, sandalwood, vetiver and some other notes that vary depending on whose word you take for it. It must be the fact that any bottle of Nu is about 5 years old by now, but I got absolutely no bergamot top notes from the sample I ordered, not that I'm complaining. When I popped the cap on that vial I knew I was a goner. It was love at first sniff as the 'fumies say. That first intoxicating whiff was like a drug. First off, it's quite genderless. I had read plenty of reviews that had said it was, but smelling it in person convinced me of it's possibilities as a unisex fragrance. The white orchid does make an appearance but it doesn't scream FLORAL, it just kind of hints at it and combined with the incense and pepper, which really balance it out, the overall effect is at the same time exotic and urbane. It's quite stark in that the composition is very simple and also very linear, at least on me. My one complaint, which I guess is relatively minor, is projection. Even though Nu goes on strong it mellows out considerably, and while it's probably got more projection than a "skin scent" it's still relatively quiet. I'm honestly not sure what breed of perfume Nu would be categorized as (neo-minimalist oriental?) but like a lot of incense fragrances I find it both sensual and serene, not a bad mix of qualities if you ask me.

Like I said I'm obsessing over Nu, constantly scouring the internet and any of my reputable shady fragrance discounters for a good deal on it. But there's a part of me that's afraid to commit. It's this fear I have that after buying it, wearing it and enjoying it I'll find another incense that I like even more. I'm exactly the same way with big clothing/shoe buys, like the time I happened to be outlet shopping and popped into John Varvatos only to find that the entire store was 75% off the marked price. That means that the $1,500-ish leather jacket that looked fantastic on me was in the $375 range, the only catch was that it was final sale. I'm still kicking myself for not adding that jacket to my closet for fear that I'd find one I liked better. I never did, and the jacket was lost forever. There's also this little voice in the back of my head wondering aloud if I only want Nu so badly because it's rare. I mean I doubt I'd spend any time hunting something down that I don't like at all, but would I want to own it so badly if it wasn't for the fact that it's not easy to get? This is just a taste of the thinking that goes on whenever I'm about to go in for the kill. At this point I think I just need to take the plunge, if for no other reason than keeping my sanity.

image from

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