For a perfume lover, discovering a terrific scent that has flown under many people's radar is exciting. The thrill amplifies when the perfume only costs about $10 a bottle. Now that my backup bottle is safely on its way, I'm ready to share my latest discovery: Bill Blass Nude.
I first heard of Nude years ago when I read Laren Stover's The Bombshell Manual of Style's chapter on Bombshell perfumes. Most of the fragrances she lists are grand old perfumes, including the numbered Chanels, Guerlain Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue, Rochas Femme, and Lanvin My Sin. Among these heavyweights is Nude, which the manual describes as "a striking floral composition" and creating "a mental state of near undress".
Still, Bill Blass? Wrack my brain as I might, all I could call forth were images of conservatively dressed women of a certain age with small, groomed dogs. Not really the feel I'm going for. Then, foraging in a thrift shop a few weeks ago, I found a bottle of Nude natural Cologne spray without its cap. Buying it was an inexpensive gamble. By that evening, I was in love. I've worn Nude to bed most nights since.
Perfumer Sophia Grojsman created Nude, and it launched in 1990 with two other Bill Blass fragrances, Basic Black and Hot. According to Jan Moran's Fabulous Fragrances: How to Select Your Perfume Wardrobe, Nude is an aldehydic floral with top notes of aldehydes, rose, galbanum, and narcissus; heart notes of jasmine, ylang ylang, and mosses; and a base of musk, sandalwood, vetiver, and orris. Like so many lists of notes, this one barely touches on how Nude smells on skin.
Nude is sheer, quiet, and sensual in a modern way, but has the manners of a classic perfume. Nude opens with fruity, buzzing aldehydes. Rather than summoning the smell of a dry vintage fragrance, like Rochas Madame Rochas, Nude's first burst is like opening a bottle of a demi-sec sparkling Vouvray. Nude's aldehydes transition seamlessly to loads of tingling, fresh jasmine, bolstered by pear. The pear isn't the sticky smell of canned pears, but the green, almost underripe smell of a pear's skin.
Sound good? Now it starts to get even better as moss balances the pear with its fuzzy, dry, earthy aroma, flashing back to some of the great vintage perfumes. Still, Nude stays ethereally light, and the persistent, green scent of pear reminds you this is a contemporary fragrance. Jan Moran notes "a trace of violet" in Nude's dry down, but I don't smell it. Instead, sticking to my sheets and the cashmere of today's sweater I smell the warm and slightly chewy scent of benzoin. Nude stays close to the body and lasts as a murmur on skin for at least five hours. It has warmth, but probably not the pulchritude to stand up to blustery weather.
Bill Blass Nude does pose a problem, though, and it's a big one. It's discontinued. However, lots of discounters online offer bottles for around $10. Lovers of sheer fragrances, jasmine, pear, moss, and a bargain, skip the deli for the next two days and bring a sandwich to work instead. Spend your savings on a bottle of Nude. I don't think you'll be sorry.
Please comment if you've tried another formulation of Nude. Also, if you've stumbled on any terrific and inexpensive fragrances that haven't been getting much attention, let us know!