This review of Parfums de Nicolaï Maharanih was supposed to start like this: Some fragrances are the life of the party. They’re attractive, engaging, and you can’t help but gravitate toward them, even if they’re not the sort of people you choose to have in your life all the time.
Then, surveying other reviews, I discovered that many people don’t see Maharanih as a charming diva at all, but as a grating boor. So I’ve changed the angle on this review. Let me start again:
Parfums de Nicolaï Maharanih is like Cher bedecked in Bob Mackie finery. Whether you admire her beauty and audacity, or think she looks like a Trojan drag queen at a disco, you’re sure to have an opinion.
Maharanih was released in 2006, and its notes include bitter orange, geranium, lavender, cinnamon, sandalwood and amber. Maharanih is a king-sized oriental with three major aspects, deftly balanced. First is a friendly, juicy aspect loaded with fresh orange, rose, sandalwood, and amber. The orange smells just like a slice of Valencia zest with all its mouthwatering burn. The rose, strangely, is easier to smell at a distance. (“Your waft smells different than you do up close. More like rose,” my boss said. I taught him the word “sillage.”)
The second aspect is bracing and resinous, full of lavender, geranium, bergamot, and cedar. I love this part of Maharanih. To me, it’s what separates Maharanih from a generic Christmas candle. But I suspect it’s what earns the fragrance its detractors, too.
Finally, Maharanih is spicy. It has prickly, dry, food spices that, thankfully, even with the orange don’t add up to the smell of muffins, although they do hint at a pomander in a cedar-lined closet. A touch of civet blends with cinnamon and wood for a subtly delicious skank.
Mix these three aspects, and you get a commanding fragrance with lots of presence. Maharanih is wonderful on its own, but hard to carry off well without exuberance or force of personality. If Maharanih were a wallpaper, it would be orange and red with large swirling paisley. You’d have to choose simple, modern furniture for the room, or go all out with velvet-upholstered, fringe-swagged craziness and mahogany heft. When I wear Maharanih, it’s often to top off an outfit of mixed prints and nubby textures in Bakelite colors. Even then, Maharanih probably wears me better than I wear it.
Maharanih Eau de Parfum lasts all day, too. Apply with caution, because from shower to bedtime your Maharanih force field will zap all who bridge it. Maharanih also comes in an Intense version (imagine!). Please comment if you can compare the regular and intense formulations.
Parfums de Nicolaï Maharanih Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml or 100 ml and as Maharanih Intense Eau de Parfum (30 ml). For information on where to buy it, see Parfum de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.