A new era is dawning at Parfums de Nicolai, the venerable brand that was one of the pioneers of niche perfumery. Founded and led by the legendary Patricia de Nicolaï, the company recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, changed its name to NICOLAÏ: PARFUMEUR-CRÉATEUR (hereinafter simply referred to as “Nicolai“), and brought in Axel de Nicolaï, Patricia de Nicolaï’s son, as both the General Manager and her collaborator in the perfume-creation process.
It’s a significant step for a few reasons. Axel de Nicolaï was raised in the Nicolai perfume and family tradition, but he also brings a different perspective to the mix after working in the larger mainstream fragrance industry with the big perfume conglomerates of LVMH and InterParfums, and spending time in the Middle East. It was his idea that Nicolai should explore the oud genre, resulting in last year’s Rose Oud and Amber Oud, and his influence also helped to shape the direction of Nicolai’s newest release, Ambre Cashmere Intense. In his main role as the new General Manager, he’s made changes to the company’s marketing direction and sales strategy, but he’s equally determined that marketing should never impact or alter the Nicolai olfactory “DNA.”
A journey to the golden comforts of amber that travels through dessert and confectionary treats at afternoon tea — that is the essence of Ambre Cashmere Intense, the latest release from Parfums de Nicolaï. From lemon chiffon cakes layered with iris butter and served with lemony black tea to cupcakes and vanilla creme brulée laced with hints of spices, the scent unfurls in sweetness before ending with the golden strains of darkened labdanum and soft vanilla.
Axel de Nicolai via pnicolai.com
Ambre Cashmere Intense marks the start of a new direction and perhaps even a new era for the company. It is the first collaboration between Patricia de Nicolaï and her son, Axel de Nicolaï, who will undoubtedly be her successor down the line. (For the sake of speed and convenience, I’ll spell the family’s last name from this point as “Nicolai,” sans the dotted “i,” and simply call the fragrance “Ambre Cashmere.”) His voice played a large role in shaping the character of the scent, according to the press release that I was sent which says he sought to give a “feminine” quality to the classical pairing of labdanum and vanilla. Personally, I’d call it “gourmand” more than “feminine,” since I think the resulting creation could be worn by either gender if they loved a lot of sweetness in their perfumes.