I may wear rose more often than any other floral note in my fragrances, but I'm also very fond of violet and carnation, and sometimes I really crave an orange blossom perfume. Parfums de Nicolaï recently launched Néroli Intense, Patricia de Nicolaï's tribute to her own "passion for the orange flower," and since this house is one I respect, I was looking forward to trying this new scent.
Néroli Intense's composition includes notes of mandarin, neroli, tarragon, pittosporum flower, petitgrain, beeswax, patchouli and white musk. It does indeed evoke the "different olfactory properties" of the bitter orange tree, while remaining coherent and tightly constructed. Its petitgrain note — evoking the oil distilled from the twigs of the bitter orange tree — is green and raspy, and takes the lead after Néroli Intense is applied to skin. The fragrance's heart is more flowery but feels gender-neutral rather than traditionally feminine, thanks to the citrus and herbal notes mixed with the orange blossom. Its floral quality is bright, never soapy or powdery.
And then there's the dry down, which pulls out the musky-sweet beeswax note — it really did remind me of hand-dipped beeswax candles, held in warm hands before being lit. It's comforting, in an unexpected way. Néroli Intense is an Eau de Parfum and it's indeed intense. It gives off ample sillage in its first hour and has excellent tenacity on my skin, lasting through a full workday and beyond.
If I'm really in the mood for all forms of orange blossom, I'll layer a fragrance like Néroli Intense with a matching lotion, like Thymes Neroli Sol. Neroli Sol's fragrance blend includes notes of neroli, orange blossom, sea air and teak wood. It has a fresher, yet creamier, effect than Néroli Intense, yet it somehow combines well with this fragrance. Thymes was one of the first brands of scented body products that I loved, way back in the 1990s, and I can still recommend it. Its scent blends (like Neroli Sol) are unpretentious and cheery (but not cheap-smelling), and the texture and weight of the body products, including the Body Lotion, are always just right.
Thinking about this category in general, L'Artisan Parfumeur Séville à l'Aube might still be my favorite orange flower perfume, but Néroli Intense is very appealing in a different way — and the Thymes lotion works well with both. I haven't tried Parfums de Nicolaï's Cap Néroli yet, but if you have, please feel free to share your impressions, or just mention your own favorite orange blossom fragrances.
Parfums de Nicolaï Néroli Intense is available in 30 ($62), 100 ($175) and 250 (€330) ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information see the listing for Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses. Thymes Neroli Sol Body Lotion is sold in 74 ($7) or 270 ($25) ml at the Thymes website.
Note: top image is L'Oranger by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, 1740 [with cropped detail at right] via Wikimedia Commons.