Of the Big 3 Japanese design houses with perfume lines — Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake — it's Miyake's fragrances that have interested me the least (with one big exception, Feu d'Issey, and a smaller exception, a scent by issey miyake). Miyake's most famous perfumes, L'Eau d'Issey and L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme, spawned almost-countless imitators, and the two "origin" perfumes today smell like caricatures of "fresh" fragrances (plenty of cleaning products smell like them, cleaning products you can buy at Target). Still, I approached the new Nuit d'Issey1 with an open mind (and nostrils).
Nuit d'Issey starts with greenish citrus (I smell mostly grapefruit) with a sweet-spice accord. There's a momentary hint of what smells like cumin or perhaps the "sweaty" aspects of grapefruit and black pepper. Quickly, the sweat is covered up as Nuit d'Issey turns talc-y; the talc accord smells mostly of woody vetiver and incense (the scent of fresh incense in the box...not burning incense or incense reduced to ash). Near the end of its development, Nuit d'Issey becomes soapy, with aromas of sheer cedar, tonka bean, and more incense-tinged vetiver. The longer Nuit d'Issey wears, the more incense I smell (though the incense never approaches Comme des Garçons incense intensity). Nuit d'Issey's extreme dry-down is super-dull: fresh, synthetic woody musk presides.
Nuit d'Issey is squarely in the designer/department store fragrance category: it smells clean (the citrus, talc and soap), contemporary and middle-of-the-road — no ingredient is troublesome, weird or too powerful. That said, Nuit d'Issey smells O.K. and I wouldn't mind sitting next to someone wearing it. I might recommend Nuit d'Issey as a "starter-incense" cologne for Axe-reared teens; it's perhaps a good option for those who like their incense light.
I assume Nuit d'Issey's "nuit" aspect is represented by the incense (and maybe soapy-talc-y bath time?) If I had been consulted, I would have insisted on a "creamy" floral component, some white flower — lily of the valley, angel's trumpet, or night-blooming jasmine.
Issey Miyake Nuit d'Issey has good lasting power and sillage; it's available in 75 ($66) and 125 ($87) ml Eau de Toilette.