Parfums de Nicolaï's new Kiss Me Tender was advertised as a fragrance that "takes you from vanilla to aniseed, via almonds and freshly-cut hay" — hard to resist, at least for me. That it was centered around heliotrope is something I kept in the back of my head as a warning, heliotrope not being a favorite note of mine, at least, not in heavy concentrations.
The opening is bright, sweet and spicy, and it's strong. If you find it hard going, hang on: Kiss Me Tender is as soft and bashfully romantic as its name within 20 minutes. The ad copy mentions Jordan almonds, and if you picture them in mixed pastels you'll get the idea, although the marshmallow hearts shown above are perhaps a better fit. This is a pale, fluffy gourmand-floral vanilla, very feminine, with mild green notes countering the sweetness in the early stages. The blast of spice at the outset fades to a mere hint by the time it's all settled. As promised, there is a bit of anise, and the hay, while subtle, is noticeable in the pale musky woods of the far dry down. It smells rich but quiet — quite different from the sheer and unfoody (and decidedly more unisex) Vanilla and Anise from Jo Malone.
Unlike Violette in Love, which I never did make up my mind about, I liked Kiss Me Tender right away. It's beautifully done, and while it doesn't fit me even slightly, I found it very enjoyable to wear, in fact, successive wearings convinced me that it wasn't ever going to fit me and wouldn't it be fun to have a small bottle anyway? All the same, I can't really argue with the commentator at MakeupAlley who called it "weird bubblegum" — yes, it's that too. Try before you buy, but do try.
Parfums de Nicolaï Kiss Me Tender features notes of orange blossom, jasmine, anise, ylang ylang, heliotrope, clove, cinnamon, woods and musk. It is available in 30 ($60) and 100 ($130) ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information see the listing for Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.