Hello perfume lovers today I’m going to give you a glimpse of the interior of the Parfums de Nicolaï head office, laboratory and main store as well as their gorgeous smelling wares. Perfume lovers are probably well acquainted with the Parfums de Nicolaï perfumes and founder Patricia de Nicolaï. Patricia is a rare female force in French perfumery and has created a perfume house that now has seven stores in Paris, one in London and is reputedly the only independent French brand to own its entire production from end to end. They own their laboratory, factory, stores and have the same perfumer designing the fragrances, creating consistency. Patricia is also the chairwoman of the Osmotheque in Versaille, the best kind of perfume museum, where fragrances are preserved and regular lectures and presentations are held that folk like you and myself can attend. Of course Patricia is also a member of the illustrious Guerlain family, so perfume runs through her veins. Axel de Nicolaï, Patricia’s son is now in charge of the brand and is being groomed to take over the business.
When I visited Paris in September I made a trip to the head office in Rue de Grenelle, situated close to the Louvre and the Serge Lutens flagship store, so is fairly easy to locate. Parfums de Nicolaï is also right next door to the superb Maison Margiela boutique. A friend has a penchant for the shoes, so I also had a tour of this marvellous store from the lovely Francesco. Anyway back to all things perfume.
If you come to the store via the Palais Royal you will be able to see the laboratory from street level (if you’re nosy enough to look down into the building that is). I love how everything is open to view and that the traditional veil of secrecy over the perfume industry is nowhere in sight at Parfums de Nicolaï.
I met Damien Flynn who is in charge of PR, communications and sales for the brand and he showed me around the mother ship so to speak. I met Patricia briefly too (but unfortunately no photos as I ruined them with my blinking eyes) and then went into the laboratory where Xavier Amon and Sophie Leplâtre were working with Patricia. The laboratory was a feast for the eyes and I smelt various substances they were working with which was fascinating. I also spied other brand perfumes in one of the refrigerators that I assume they smell to test as references. I had imagined a huge space but in fact it wasn’t that large at all and as I said earlier, visible from the street.
Now the Parfums de Nicolaï collection is what I would describe as classic French perfumery and when you see the fragrances grouped together in store, there is a vast wall of scent so to speak. Damien revealed that the best seller in the range is Patchouli Intense. There are some extremely dedicated fans of this perfume who will order in vast quantities. I smelt many of the fragrances and really enjoyed Musc Intense, a lovely floral musk which was a surprise, as perfumes that have Musc or Musk in the their title are not usually something I reach for. I also have a penchant for Ambre Oud and Rose Oud that like many ouds oriented towards Western tastes don’t actually utilise real oud in their formulas. The new perfume Incense Oud however contains the real deal, as does earlier release Oud Sublime.
Parfums de Nicolaï now work with a supplier in Cambodia to source their oud and the material is an eye watering 20000 Euro per kilo. Parfums de Nicolaï are particular about sourcing their naturals from the same supplier as the quality can vary across providers and consistency is key. This is crucial in ensuring that when you buy your next bottle of your favourite fragrance the formula stays as close as possible to what you have previously smelt.
Damien also told me an interesting tale when I was sampling Eau d’Été, one of their lighter styled cologne perfumes. One of the components of this scent is natural lime essence. Some clients are reminded of Coca Cola when they wear the perfume. He revealed that the link is that Coca Cola purchases 80% of the world’s lime essence for the fizzy drink so they’re recognising the refreshing taste of lime which is also a component of Eau d’Été.
We talked about customer preferences and some perfumista fragrance favourites namely the sunny, narcissus laden Le Temps d’une Fête. Damien explained that although this was a perfumista favourite, it didn’t sell well enough to justify continued production. It’s one of those signs that perfumistas do not necessarily buy what they say they love and / or that they are a small slice of the people who buy perfume. I do find the perfumista vs perfume purchaser dynamic interesting. I remember reading that Francis Kurkdjian said similar things about Absolue Pour Le Soir. Yes perfumistas love it and write and vlog about the perfume but don’t actually buy this gorgeous scent. I wonder if LVMH will keep this one going with their recent purchase of the Maison Francis Kurkdjian. It’s probably best to buy this one now if you’re a fan.
One thing you may not be aware of is that Parfums de Nicolaï has a great selection of home fragrances with diffusers, candles and oils in a range of sizes. Their biggest seller is the Maharadjah candle and apparently Carla Bruni is a huge fan as it not only smells great but masks the smell of cigarette smoke. The blend of patchouli, cinnamon and lavender make for a devastating combination. I can attest that this candle also has a good throw and scents a room when the cover is removed.
Damien informed me that Parfums de Nicolaï would be launching discovery kits and they are now available on their website. There are also a number of tempting Christmas promotions. Myrrh, Or and Incense candles sound divine and if they’re as good as Maharadjah they are are a great buy.
Megan In Sainte Maxime favourites : Rose Oud, Ambre Oud, Ambre Cashmere Intense, Musc Intense, Mahardjah candle, Miel-encens oil.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the Rue de Richelieu store and a huge thank you to Damien for taking the time to host me at Parfums de Nicolaï.
Great post, Megan. Interesting what you say about Absolue pour le Soir (I don’t like it or wear it or write about it) Maharadjah has been my favorite home fragrance for several years. I have tried the candles, diffuser and roomspray. Love all of them but candle is my favorite. Did you buy the new Christmas candles? They sound amazing and the Nicolai website has a nice offer now.
Hi Esperessence. Nice to have you pop by. Isn’t Maharadjah beautiful. I only discovered it on this visit and was totally blown away by it. Apparently some buy the room spray and use it as a perfume. I’m thinking about doing this myself. I haven’t bought the Xmas candles yet, but I’m very tempted and the offer is good at the moment.
I’m always uplifted by your writing Megan. A treat to have a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes in the perfume world…or in this case…in full view. Quite a different approach to most houses. We don’t have the opportunity to experience a great range of products here in New Zealand which makes reading about them such a pleasure.
Hi Greekflower. Thank you for your kind words. Nicolai is definitely worth a visit and I think traditionally perfume houses were very closed, but times are changing. I hope you get to try some Nicolai.
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