I’d never met heliotropes in person until a wander round the Champ de Mars – the park that rolls from the Eiffel Tower to the École Militaire – found me suddenly daydreaming about biscotti… I traced the mouth-watering aroma to a bed of small star-shaped purple blossoms. Nature is a genius pastry chef.
Though the essence of heliotrope cannot be extracted, the note was tremendously popular throughout the 19th century: it was one of the few deemed demure enough for well-bred ladies. It was conjured with essences of almond, vanilla and orange blossom until heliotropine was synthesized in 1869. From the 1880s to the 1930s with, predictably, a peak during the Mauve Decade, well over a hundred heliotrope fragrances were produced, not counting dozens of lilacs and a handful of wisteria, heliotrope’s sisters in the anisic floral family. Its wistful, tender scent, wed to mimosa and violet, yielded the Impressionistic masterpiece Après l’Ondée. Is it surprising then that Patricia de Nicolaï, upholding her heritage, would turn one day to such a quintessentially gourmand, Guerlain flower?
With its candied lemon peel top note, Kiss Me Tender, to be launched later in September, is also quintessentially Nicolaï: the perfumer has always had an elegant hand with confectionery effects. Patricia de Nicolaï herself compares her newest scent to the pastel-coloured candied almonds called dragées that are traditionally handed out to guests in tulle pouches at weddings and christenings.
Though it is simple, to call Kiss Me Tender a soliflore would be selling it short: the smell of heliotrope is a perfume in itself. Patricia de Nicolaï has bolstered the almond and vanilla facets of the heliotropine core with natural essences, warmed with a sprinkle of clove. As the fragrance develops, the naturalistic heliotrope reconstitution gives way to a robust floral heart of ylang-ylang, orange blossom and jasmine – at this point, Kiss Me Tender is dominated by a jasmine and almond accord.
There is something innately well-bred, demure and a tad nostalgic about Kiss Me Tender – in it, Patricia de Nicolaï pursues the exploration of retro, romantic floral notes she started with her two previous feminines, Violette in Love and Weekend à Deauville, as well as her Un Coeur en Mai for MDCI. The scent also fully deserves its “tender” epithet – but between the floral and candied facets, you’ll never quite decide whether it calls for either a kiss or a lick.
Patricia de Nicolaï’s press office has kindly offered a draw for three samples: drop a comment if you’d like to preview tryout.
For much, much more on Kiss Me Tender and the mauve charms of heliotrope, read Octavian Coifan's review on 1000fragrances.
Illustration: Mother and Child by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I love your previews! Kiss Me Tender- the name sounds bit cliche, yet it is still romantic. Have little experience with PdN fragrances myself- remember that I loved Patchouli Homme, but I can not find it on the official website anymoreRépondreSupprimer
Ela, you'll find Patchouli pour Homme under the "Les Magnifiques" range.RépondreSupprimer
Have not tried this section as thought it is just reserved for Intense creations. Looks like Patchouli Pour Homme is an exception then- thank you, Denyse!RépondreSupprimer
I would love to try a sample! Thank you, Denyse.RépondreSupprimer
Your review intrigues me-- I don't often like gourmand fragrances, but this could be one of the exceptions. Please enter me in the drawing,RépondreSupprimer
Hi Denyse, oh the name of this fragrance is adorable.RépondreSupprimer
However, if we're talking romance surely nothing beats Frederic Malle's/Editions de Parfums Le Parfum de Thérèse.
If there are any samples left of this fragrance I would love to try one. Thanks a lot, Sue.
Oh my gosh!RépondreSupprimer
Weekend a Deauville and Un Coeur en Mai were my two wedding perfumes (one for the day we went and received our license, and then the other on the actual day). WaD was the first "back up bottle" I ever bought! They are *fantastic* perfumes! And I love VIL, too. Though all of Patricia Nicolai's fragrances are great, these are my top 3. I cannot wait to try this!
I would love to try this. I adore teh beautiful and opulent candied almonds. I gave them to guests at my wedding. They are very special. Please enter me in the drawingRépondreSupprimer
Thank you again Denyse for such wonderful reviews!!!
How sweet! I am quite fond of several PdN fragrances, particularly the more girly ones, and I'd love to have a sniff. Thanks!RépondreSupprimer
What a pleasure it would be to try this!RépondreSupprimer
Funny that I never realized the connection between Apres L'Ondee and heliotrope! My potted plant didn't bloom for me this year due to the fickle summer in the US Northeast. Apres L'Ondee is firmly in my top 10 all-time favorites, so I would love to try a sample of this!RépondreSupprimer
Denyse, the post strikes a desired balance between erudition and credibility of affect. The picture you chose and your words make the fragrance sound so close to an ideal of tenderness that the name seems to be right for it. In Argentine, when I was a girl, dragees made by Suchard came in the most soothing and charming pastel colours...and, indeed, all those fragrances that conjure to bring back that sense of protection and discreet joy. L.T. Piver used to have a wonderful Heliotrope, and somewhere along Farnesiana's E.d.P. I feel the soothing waft of heliotrope. I wonder if that is also true of Je Reviens.But if you say that de Nicolai's is so good, with the interesting accent of ylang-ylang ...then we must try it, we must.RépondreSupprimer
I'd love to try this, please enter me in the drawing. Heliotrope was very popular during the same period in the American Deep South- it was considered appropriate for the most genteel young ladies. With the jasmine and ylang, does PdN's have a tropical vibe?RépondreSupprimer
Ela, glad to have been of service!RépondreSupprimer
Gretchen, it's quite marzipan-y but the jasmine balances that out.RépondreSupprimer
Violet, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
Sue, Le Parfum de Thérèse is one of my all-time favorites but it's an entirely different type of scent to this one!RépondreSupprimer
Gator Grad, how lovely! The next time I come across Mme de Nicolaï I hope I'll remember to tell her... I'm sure she'll be touched.RépondreSupprimer
Tara, I don't think I ever went to a French wedding without dragées...RépondreSupprimer
Mals, they're really quite wonderful, aren't they? You're in.RépondreSupprimer
Lilybug, you're in.RépondreSupprimer
Anything that shares a link with Apres l'Ondee is a must try for me, so please enter me in the draw, and thanks very much for the review.RépondreSupprimer
OperaFan, Après l'Ondée is a lot more complex than the smell of heliotropes but I'm sure you'll pick it out next time.RépondreSupprimer
KMT is a little heftier and gourmand, but related.
EEM, I briefly wore Heliotrope Blanc by LT Piver about 12 years ago: I'd forgotten all about it, but you're right, there is a relation to Farnesiana, which I wore for my wedding... I find this type of scent somehow maternal and protective, though it can also be romantic.RépondreSupprimer
Marla, there's this slight salicylic effect from vanilla and ylang, but it never tips the balance into tropical.RépondreSupprimer
Persolaise, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
Thank you for a lovely review (and some history - I loved learning more about the heliotrope).RépondreSupprimer
Please enter me in the draw - I would very much like to try it.
I am probably mistaken, but your description of helitrope conjured the smell of perfume I am loving lately: L'heure bleue.RépondreSupprimer
So I would love to be entered in the draw!
Ines, you're welcome and you're in...RépondreSupprimer
Zazie, there *is* heliotropin, anise and orange blossom in L'Heure Bleue so KMT is definitely in that area of the scent-map, though closer to Après l'Ondée.RépondreSupprimer
I would love to try it. Thanks to both of you for the drawing!RépondreSupprimer
I love the smell of sweet almonds as much as I hate the smell of bitter almonds (and unfortunately sometimes heliotrope smells like that to me).
According to your review (gourmand jasmine!), I think I'd like Kiss me Tender a lot :)
Yes, of course I would love to smell it!RépondreSupprimer
Thanks for the review. I really miss reading your regular writings, but I understand you are focused on your book, so this is not a complaint, just stating a fact :)
Isa, the essence used is that of bitter almond. But the effect is sweet.RépondreSupprimer
Kata, it's really hard to have time and energy for both, but the fact is my summer writing marathon exhausted, so I'm only now finding the energy to resume feeding that hungry monster: the blog.RépondreSupprimer
Very interesting review. Being a fan of Apres l'Ondee I'd like to get to know this Kiss Me Tender.RépondreSupprimer
Stéphan, you're in.RépondreSupprimer
So. Excited. About this. I've only recently really discovered the Nicolais (I don't know how that happened) and I really love her style. Her fragrances seem to cuddle up with you and I love the way she uses gourmand-y notes (which I so often find heavy-handed in other perfumers' work).RépondreSupprimer
Thanks Denyse - I know mainly about the vanilla in AL'O, but as you say - I'll probably be able to make the connection now that I'm aware of it!RépondreSupprimer
Also - since you mentioned nostalgia - PdN does have that special touch and I hold Odalisque close to my heart for that very reason. Whether real or imagined, it evokes happy childhood times and memories for me, and I'm so grateful for that!
This fragrance sounds charming - I love the way heliotrope as a scent almost invites one to cuddle up to the wearer! Such an inviting and warm, comforting and supremely feminine scent, to me.RépondreSupprimer
If the draw would extend to UK readers of your blog, I'd love to try this.
regards, Anna in Edinburgh
I would love to try it if the draw is still open. I have liked everything I've tried from Parfum de Nicolai, and bought 2 already.RépondreSupprimer
I wear New York by Parfums de Nicolaï on a regular basis. She really knows what she is doing. And jasmine has always been my Holy Grail... a quick look at my collection of over-the-top jasmines or not-enoughs will give you an idea... but I'll continue to search. I'd love to be considered for a tryout.
Amy, she does have a particularly deft hand with yummy notes. Must be the Guerlain DNA speaking.RépondreSupprimer
Anna, you're absolutely right, there *is* something cuddly and tender about heliotrope. And, yes, UK readers are in the draw.RépondreSupprimer
Krista, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
OperaFan, heliotrope *is* a lot about the vanilla, but there's almond, hay and anise in there too...RépondreSupprimer
Normand, this isn't hugely jasmine but the note does express itself quite clearly.RépondreSupprimer
I had to write this down to remember when it is launched. The intertwining of the scents, esp the almonds is heavenly. Please enter me in the draw to have the chance to preview it. Thank you.RépondreSupprimer
Nancy, it's coming out on Sept. 27th in France, I don't know about the other countries...RépondreSupprimer
Oh, I love that cherry almond smell of heliotropes, but have always struggled with the dollop of sugar in Apres l'Ondee and some of the other classics. It would be great to try a modern Nicolai version, and not just stick to the plant!RépondreSupprimer
Would love to try this. I've been loving the heliotropin note in Belle en Rykiel lately.RépondreSupprimer
is it elegant? does it have character? is it a "minor" fragrance? Where and with what would one wear it? the more I read (including Octavian C.'s post dated yesterday) the more interesting it becomes...RépondreSupprimer
Kate, the Nicolaï is pretty sweet and sugary, mind you, just like the flower...RépondreSupprimer
Elisa, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
EEM, I find it elegant... I associate the smell with cuddly moments rather than anything overtly romantic or seductive. It's certainly easy to love.RépondreSupprimer
This does not sound like a scent for me, but I enjoyed your perfume history lesson!RépondreSupprimer
Intriguing, isn't it, that heliotrope was considered a "safe" note in perfumes!RépondreSupprimer
In my world view, there's no such thing. But I don't know that I've ever smelled heliotrope. However, you had me at the mention of an anisic-floral relative - wisteria - and if heliotrope is anything similar, I'd be smitten!
Thank you so much for a beautiful review - and I'd lvoe to be entered in the draw!
Can't wait to see who is the winner and as excited as I will/would be :-)RépondreSupprimer
Thanks Carla. Check out Octavian's blog, there's a lot more!RépondreSupprimer
Ce commentaire a été supprimé par l'auteur.RépondreSupprimer
Tarleisio, heliotropes are related to wisteria but wisteria are spicier and less vanillic. Jean-Claude Ellena groups them with lilac in the anisic flowers category.RépondreSupprimer
This type of note was deemed "decent" by moralists, as opposed, for instance, to heady white flowers (one can understand why).
I'd like to be in the sample drawing. Thank you. I don't know heliotrope, but when I found out what tuberose was- wow. Getting to know these individual notes is like meeting new friends.RépondreSupprimer
You'd need to identify yourself, though...RépondreSupprimer
I just wrote- meeting new perfume notes is like meeting new friends.RépondreSupprimer
Wow, D, how interesting. I can't say that I'm dying for a heliotrope fragrance, but you make it sound rather enticing.RépondreSupprimer
... do you think heliotrope could be deployed as a main note in a fragrance without it smelling retro? It seems so old fashioned to me.
March, I think it's pretty retro whatever you do, but Kenzo Flower has a heliotrope effect (anisic-vanilla) to me and it's really modern. I'm not usually very big on the note but I really enjoyed wearing KMT...RépondreSupprimer
You are absolutely right about the Flower! I couldn't think of one.RépondreSupprimer
Sounds lovely! Look forward to trying this one, after reading both your reviews and Octavian's.RépondreSupprimer
Patricia de Nicolai is going to be speaking at a perfume lecture in the US at the Embassy of France in Washington DC, along with Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez in a few weeks. I can't wait to hear her ;)
I would also love to try this curious heliotrope creation~RépondreSupprimer
March, you could add Lolita Lempicka to the list too.RépondreSupprimer
Gail, I've spoken a couple of times with her but never heard her speak in public, I'm sure it will be fascinating.RépondreSupprimer
Womo, you're in.RépondreSupprimer
Thank you for an interesting review! I don't know the Nicolaïs at all, but have been in a Guerlain-mood lately, and finally got to try Après l'Ondée. Would be nice to try these scents together, and perhaps learning the heliotrope better to know. (Normally I think I like perfumes with higher density, but this rainy day makes the scent as you describes it tempting!)RépondreSupprimer
Please enter me in the draw!
Thank you for the review. I dislike anisic flavours so I was surprised to realise that I don't abject to them in fragrances. I pick up a fair bit of anise in AG Mandragore Pourpre which is a summer favourite of mine and find the anisic tarragon in the opening of Jubilation 25 both prominent and pleasant.RépondreSupprimer
I'd love to be in with a chance to try this too.
Stella, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
Abyss, the first time I got soused was on ouzo so I'm always been a bit wary of anisic, whether on my skin or down my gullet, but I've been enjoying KMT quite a lot, so perhaps, after a couple of decades, I'm over my trauma!RépondreSupprimer
Denyse thanks again for such a fine review, Kiss me tender sounds sweet and feminine, I have not tried any PdN fragrances please enter me in the drawing. Have a great time at Grasse.RépondreSupprimer
The notes don't sound like something I would ordinarily approach in a perfume but PdN always intrigues and surprises me - I have several of hers, including my fave Maharanih. would love to be entered in the draw!
Esther, you're in!RépondreSupprimer
Musette, you're in too!RépondreSupprimer
I'd never smelled heliotrope until this past summer. I was driving home and decided to make a stop at a nursery that I would pass on the way. I asked the sales clerk if they carried fragrant flowers, thinking along the lines of tuberose or jasmine. She said no but they carried heliotrope. After giving one a whiff I bought four plants lol. A lovely scent.RépondreSupprimer
Lisa, isn't it just?RépondreSupprimer
I'm behind in my reading this week - RL has interfered! Coincidentally, I'm wearing L'Heure Bleue today, and this new one from PdN sounds gorgeous - or at least YOU make it sound gorgeous! Adding to sample list... (I never win draws).RépondreSupprimer
Thanks for the review, and have a good trip!
I would love to try some heliotrope :)I am quite fond of Nicolaïs Un Coer en Mai.RépondreSupprimer
Please enter me in the drawing, thank you.
Rappleyea, it's lovely indeed, and you're in!RépondreSupprimer
Jorid, you're in too!RépondreSupprimer