Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie ~ fragrance review

Flowery Words

What does nostalgia mean for perfume? The vintage perfume I love doesn’t smell like it did when it was made. Top notes aren't as sharp, and sometimes a certain “pruniness” has crept in. Like yellowed letters and recordings full of snaps and hisses, an old perfume can be hard to appreciate simply as a fragrance. Instead, it is changed by time and weighted with the aura of another age. I still cherish vintage perfume for its unfashionable composition and beautiful materials, but it’s not the same as opening a box of, say, Christian Dior Diorama in 1951 and inhaling its lively splendor then. Smell as I might, I’ll never know exactly what those fragrances meant in their time.

Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie attempts to recapture the beauty of a vintage fragrance. But Nostalgie is brighter and fresher than the bottles vintage perfume I’ve smelled. It also speaks to modern perfume lovers by being a little softer and less “growly” than many old bombshell fragrances. Maybe this is what it would have been like to crack open a perfume bottle fifty years ago.

Laurie Erickson created Nostalgie and released it in January of this year. Nostalgie has notes of aldehydes, Indian jasmine sambac absolute, Bulgarian rose absolute, mimosa absolute, peach, violet flower, violet leaf absolute, tonka, French beeswax absolute, natural oakmoss absolute, aged patchouli, Mysore sandalwood, leather, vanilla, orris, myrrh, vetiver and musk. It’s a grand perfume, trilling with classical notes, but full of a certain full-bodied lustiness, too.

Nostalgie opens with a Champagne tingle soft enough to let your nose take in the fragrance’s rose and jasmine underpinnings at the same time. This timeless combination is dirtied a bit with mimosa, earthy violet leaf, and an airy musk.

Instead of staying in the “ladies who lunch” crisp floral aldehyde category, Nostalgie morphs darker, warmer, and more animalic. The violet leaf and patchouli hint at Jean Patou 1000’s sophistication, but the jasmine and rose keep Nostalgie from feeling as world-weary as 1000 sometimes can. As the fragrance wears, a touch of cola pops in. Nostalgie sits at the nexus of the pretty, crisp aldehydic floral, the cigarette smoke-laden chypre, and the warm, sexy oriental. Somehow it all comes out as elegant.

When I first dabbed on Nostalgie, I had a nagging feeling I’d smelled something very like it before. On day two of wearing Nostalgie, it came to me: Guerlain Vega. I sprayed Vega on my forearm and dabbed Nostalgie on my wrist. Bingo! Vega is more sharply aldehydic and has a definite cold cream ylang ylang note while Nostalgie plays a little more heavily on rose and jasmine, but otherwise they’re sisters. I immediately pulled my Vega decant and set in on my dresser. Now I can use up those last three milliliters with confidence, because as soon as they run out I’m ordering some Nostalgie.

Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie

Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie comes in 5 ml travel spray ($21), 17 ml ($54), and 32 ml ($105). For information on where to buy Nostalgie, see Sonoma Scent Studio under Perfume Houses.

Note: top image is Flowery Words by Playingwithbrushes at flickr; some rights reserved.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. egabbert says:

    If you like Vega, you should try Miriam by Andy Tauer. It’s sweeter and more aldehydic than Nostalgie, with tons of sandalwood.

    Nostalgie reminds me of my vintage Eau de Joy, but I think it’s much more wearable.

    • Angela says:

      Anything that reminds a person of vintage Eau de Joy is surely worth smelling! I have a sample of Miriam and like it just fine, but it’s a little sweet to me to substitute for Vega.

      • Ayala says:

        Can you tell me more about Eau de Joy? A customer just contacted me about it. Used to be their favourite perfume. I haven’t smelled it and it seems like a very fresh citrusy type of Chypre from the notes.
        How would you describe it?

        • Angela says:

          From what I can tell, Eau de Joy is the EdT version of Patou Joy (in later years simply called Joy EdT), and to me it smells mostly like a green rose and jasmine with a little dusky wood and not much in the way of civet. I’d be happy to send you a sample, if you’d like.

  2. Rappleyea says:

    I get very proprietorial about fragrances that I’ve been a tester on for Laurie. So I love it when reviewers love those fragrances – especially when I’ve fallen in love with them too!

    You did a marvelous job of describing the difference in truly older vintage fragrances and what Laurie was trying to accomplish with Nostalgie. Sort of the best of both worlds, I think.

    • Angela says:

      I think part of what attracts me to Nostalgie is how it bridges a couple of my favorite perfume genres, too. The myrrh, patchouli, violet leaf, and moss give it lots of warmth and sophistication, but some of the other notes lighten it and make it more playful.

    • OperaFan says:

      Sort of makes you feel like an adopted mother, doesn’t it?
      Nostalgie is a beauty and I’ve received plenty of compliments from wearing it! :)

      • Angela says:

        I’m amazed at how many people refer to Laurie Erickson by her first name! Not many perfume houses have engendered that level of love.

  3. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Angela, I had to run and test Vega and Nostalgie together after you mentioned their similarity and I do see it. Personally, I’m very fond of Vega though I wear No. 5 far more than I wear Vega simply because I have more of it. ;) Nostalgie definitely fills that eventual Vega-shaped hole in my wardrobe, however, and while I like Miriam, the basenotes of Nostalgie worked better on my skin than did those of Miriam, sadly.

    But Nostalgie is really beautiful and I love how it smells of not just the flowers themselves but the carnality I often associate with them as well. And the woody drydown is so soothing and makes me want to wear it with silk. Sonoma Scent Studio is quickly becoming one of my favorite perfume lines and I have many bottles on my “to buy” list featuring Lori’s unique touch and depth.

    • Angela says:

      It’s good to know it’s not just me who sees the Vega-Nostalgie link! I love Vega, but it’s ridiculously expensive. Nostalgie is a more than worthy substitute, in my opinion.

  4. mals86 says:

    Nostalgie is just simply lovely.

    It does seem more closely related, to me, to Miriam than to Vega, but I love all three of them. They’re in my wheelhouse, as it were. Agreed, Miriam is quite a bit sweeter (that sandalwood, that vanilla). Nostalgie is gorgeous stuff.

    • Angela says:

      I’d love to know what you think after a 3-way side by side test!

      I see a bottle of Nostalgie in my future before too long.

  5. JolieFleurs says:

    Oh, oh oh. OH.

    It sounds perfect for me, everything that I adore.

    I want so desperately to try this, but her musk just hasn’t worked for me so far. Could this be the one?? Is the musk prominent? Her fragrances are sooo lovely but that musk just blows up on me.

    • Angela says:

      To me, the musk isn’t the Coty-type musk or the laundry-type musk or the Body Shop white musk type, but it’s more of an airy, slightly animalic feeling. It might be worth a sample someday–maybe from a swap?

    • Rappleyea says:

      Joliefleurs –

      I canNOT do musk, and Laurie knows this. Her fragrances that really feature it, i.e. Sienna Musk, Rose Musc, etc. just don’t work for me at all. Nor do her older ones that have more musks. She used quite a bit less musk in this, and indeed in most of her new scents, so I would definitely tell you to try it.

      Hope this helps.

      • Angela says:

        This is great info. Thanks!

  6. Annikky says:

    I am always glad to see a Sonoma Scent Studio review, especially when it is so well written – thank you, Angela! Often, people talk about perfume as stories: Laurie is not just a storyteller, but a worldbuilder. All her stories make perfect sense in that world and add to it beautifully. I love Tabac Aurea, Forest Walk and Champagne du Bois and like almost everything else from the line.

    I have a big sample of Nostalgie and while I admire it, I think we need to spend more time together before I am able to fully appreciate it. Not that I need another one to fall in love with… I was wearing Jour Ensoleille to a Mozart concert on Saturday and felt like a Queen. Or  a Duchess, at least.

    • Angela says:

      I didn’t “get” Nostalgie on my first couple of wearings, either. It smelled good, but I didn’t smell much beyond an aldehydic jasmine-rose with a drydown that hinted at Tabu (just barely a hint, mind you!). After a few days of steady reapplication, it opened up to me.

  7. Annikky says:

    I will definitely try again. By the way, I owe you for the Geo F Trumper shaving cream review – it solved several of my Christmas gift issues.

    • Angela says:

      Oh good! I hope the giftees like it.

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        Angela, seconded for the Geo F. Trumper review. Mr. Ab. Scent is getting the Sandalwood shave cream and skin food this year for the holidays. I might have to test out the shave cream once or twice as well. ;)

        It was very difficult choosing a scent as all of them look lovely, but (not affiliated) has good prices on all the Trumper line–75ml shave creams for around $15–so I’m sure I’ll be picking up more for Father’s Day if this one goes over well.

        • Angela says:

          I do recommend stealing the tiniest little bit to try on your legs. It makes for a luxurious shave. I hope it goes over well for Christmas!

  8. I need to try this. I’ve cut myself off on perfume-shopping for myself for the rest of the year… Come January, I’m ordering a SSS sample set.

    Miriam has probably become my favorite perfume… can I say that? Can I have a favorite? Anyway, Miriam is my current favorite, at least, and for that reason I really must try Nostalgie and Vega…

    • Angela says:

      It’s good to do a perfume moratorium sometimes–and sample sets are such a great way to scratch a perfume itch without committing to a full bottle.

  9. littlemoron says:

    Oh, I am wearing Nostalgie today! It is one of my very favourite fragrances, and I think it’s because it does hearken back to the olden days – so ladylike! – but is much more wearable (for me, anyways.) I wore it liberally in the summer (there’s something sunny about it, no?), but am also finding that it suits the winter. I love it.

    I’ve always wanted to try Vega – now I have a very good reason to get my hands on some…

    Thanks for the review, Angela! I read it with my wrist to my nose :-)

    • Angela says:

      Vega is beautiful! But if you have Nostalgie, you already have something wonderful to fill that gap.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I love Nostalgie! It has become my favorite of the Sonoma Scent Studio line. I wear it when I want to reassure myself that capital-P Perfume is still being made somewhere.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad to see this fragrance getting so much love!

  11. annemarie says:

    I could have gone from sample to sample with Nostalgie but I bought a FB because I just could not miss owning something as beautiful as this.

    Nostalgie is one of a special group in my collection which have received the ‘mmm … you smell nice’ tick of approval from my 10 y.o. daughter. Nobody’s opinion, no book, no fancy-pants critic, no ‘olfactory art’ exhibition, is more valuable than this. :)

    That group also includes EL’s Beautiful (similar to in some ways to Nostalgie); Guerlain’s AA Flora Nymphea; and – oddly enough perhaps – Le Labo’s Rose 31.

    • Angela says:

      Your daughter has great taste! Very advanced for her age, too. Maybe she takes after her mama…

  12. Marjorie Rose says:

    This one was instant LOVE for me! I went from sampling to ordering in very quick time, and I have not regretted it. I think I wore it every day for a few weeks this summer, which is not something I’m accustomed to doing! It’s the spicy, dark rose that I think gets me every time. And as you say, Angela, the dry down is quite lovely and still quite a presence. It’s one of my longer-lasting scents for sure.

    I have not tried either Vega nor Miriam, so I suspect they could be happily added to a sample list down the road.

    • Angela says:

      Wearing everyday for a couple of weeks–that’s a high compliment!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I know! I don’t usually even wear the same scent from morning to afternoon! :)

  13. 50_Roses says:

    Once again, it is funny how our noses can perceive things so differently. Right now, I have on Vega, Nostalgie, and Miriam for comparison. Honestly, they seem like three very different perfumes to me, although if I had to commit, I would say Nostalgie is closer to Miriam than to Vega. Vega, to me, is a wonderful , warm aldehylic floral that is not dissimilar to vintage Arpege. As the initial aldehyde note wears off, it gets a little sweeter and more powdery, but not too much. Nostalgie, on the other hand, starts out very green, and then within a few minutes takes on a strong bitter note that makes it unwearable for me. Miriam has a strong dose of that smoky burnt smell that so many of the Tauers have, and that is the reason I haven’t really liked any of the Tauers except Zeta. It comes off as a strange, and off-putting, combination of sweet and bitter. I am wondering if something in my skin just has an odd effect on some ingredient in these perfumes? I have tested both of them several times, over several months, with the same result each time, so it is not just a fluke. The SSS scents seem to be hit or miss for me. Those that work for me really work well, and those that don’t are just awful on me. There really is no in-between.

    • Absolute Scentualist says:

      Sometimes the Tauer base can be challenging for me as well, but I find it worked really well in Orange Star and Dark Passage, the latter I hope will be added to the Tauer line someday as it is a gorgeous patchouli perfume. But that base was why I struggled so with Miriam. The first hour or so is heaven, but then the aldehydes and base notes begin to war on my skin and it is just heartbreaking as the top is so gorgeous while the base just doesn’t work on my skin.

      • Angela says:

        I’m sometimes challenged by that base, too.

    • Angela says:

      I am so fascinated at how these fragrances play on different skin. I wonder what it is in Nostalgie that goes bad on you? You’d be a fun (although maybe not so fun for you) experiment.

    • annemarie says:

      Yes, Nostalgie is the only SSS I really love (apart from Femme Jolie, now d/c). I seem to have contrary reactions to many of them: Fig Tree smelled like swamp; Jour Ensoleille is very sharp and piney; and Champagne du Bois reminds me of coconut and chocolate. (Which is nice enough, but bland, and not what was intended, I’m sure.)

      In Nostalgie I get a very faint ‘bitter’ (and yet bitter is not quite the word) note from what I think may be the beeswax. Maybe you are detecting it too? I notice it much more strongly in Seville a l’Aube, so much so that Seville is pretty much a scrubber for me.

      • Angela says:

        Seville a l’aube definitely has beeswax, so maybe you’re right about that.

    • Rappleyea says:

      I’m pretty sure that the note in Nostalgie is one of the aldehydes – there are several. I sniffed the mods for this from the beginning, and the older ones didn’t have that particular aldehyde. It got much sharper when she added it. Hope this helps.

    • annina says:

      I agree with you! In Nostalgie I smell some parallels to Vega, but definitely closer to Miriam in my nose. I think it’s the “fizziness,” or “green-ness.” Miriam seems to sort of fit between Nostalgie and Vega. Nostalgie is the sharpest and green, Miriam is a little more powdery, and Vega is the most powdery of the three – and aldehydic. I’m not sure about the “Tauer Base,” as Miriam is the first and only Tauer I have and have tested, incidentally. But there is something about the intensity lasting into the dry down that is relentless. It doesn’t seem to fade.

      • Angela says:

        Thanks for the analysis! I can see I’ll need to dig out that sample of Miriam.

  14. Abyss says:

    Oh, you guys, are seriously not helping! *shakes head* And just after I said in the Lazy Weekend Poll that I was feeling content. Now I’m back to contemplating whether I should order some more SSS samples. I liked Champagne de Bois but found Tabac Aurea a little much.

    This sounds like it could be right up my alley. So, just out of pure academic curiosity – what else is worth trying for someone who likes leathers, abstract florals (aldehydes are fine but roses are usually not very exiting), chypres and vetivers?

    • Angela says:

      Oh boy–this sounds like a job for the Monday column on suggesting fragrances!

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Not in any of those categories, but the next SSS I’m considering purchasing is Fig Tree. It is a wonderful mix of creamy fig and vegetal green notes. I also like Lieu de Reves, Voile de Violette, Sienna Musk and To Dream (but not enough for FBs probably).

      • Angela says:

        I adore the names “lieu de reves” and “jour ensoillée.”

    • Abyss says:

      Oh, yes, I like fig too and I think I’ve read some good things (from Rappleyea?) about Fig Tree. I might have asked for recommendations before but I can’t remember what was suggested as fitting the bill… could have been Lieu de Reves, Jour Ensoleillé or Cameo.

      • 50_Roses says:

        FYI, Laurie has said in her blog that she is going to be discontinuing Cameo after the first of the year, so if you want it, you should probably order it now.

        • Abyss says:

          Thanks! I’ve now read the descriptions on her site and it looks like this one is a rose scent so probably not my cup of tea, anyway.

      • Annikky says:

        If you like chypres, I definitely recommend trying Jour Ensoleille – white florals on a mossy base. I find it a great mix of beauty and intelligence.

        My second-favourite thing about SSS (after the scents themselves) is the travel-spray option. So practical and affordable.

        • Abyss says:

          Thank you, yes, I does look interesting and might be worth trying. And I agree about the smaller sizes (as well as the affordable prices), those are always welcome!

      • Rappleyea says:

        I do love Fig Tree, and also CdB (and like you, Tabac Aurea really didn’t work for me), Incense Pure (love), Forest Walk (another love), Amber Noir. You might try To Dream and/or Lieu de Reves – both of which are beautiful, but had just enough musk in the drydown to stop me from purchasing. Same with Winter Woods.

        • Abyss says:

          Thanks, that’s really helpful. I’m not much of an incense fan but musks don’t tend to bother me so looks like there are quite a few choices that might work for me.

    • annina says:

      LOVE SSS perfumes! Yes, definitely try the Nostalgie. My favorites, other than Nostalgie: Jour Ensolielle (my top fave), Lieu de Reves, Sienna Musk (a bit like DK’s legendary Chaos), and Forest Walk. I wish I would have tried Forest Walk before Champagne de Bois, CdB is reaaaly deep and vanillic/sandalwoody, which is lovely, but Forest Walk has an added incense smoky note that makes it a little more complex. Truly, I have yet to sample any of Laurie Erickson’s creations and dislike one!

  15. annina says:

    I’m a little late in the posting here, but great review! Nostalgie is one of my favorites from my favorite perfumer, Laurie Erickson! I love your parallels/comparisons to Vega – also one of my favorites! Nostalgie is a gorgeous work of art, and a glimmer of hope in the candy-cupcake-fruit world of most dept store perfumes.

    • Angela says:

      So many people love SSS! I can see I need to order up some samples, and soon.

  16. annunziata says:

    I’ve been wearing Nostalgie this week, it seemed a perfect counterpoint to the chill, harsh winter weather that’s blown in to my part of the world. After the burst of aldehydes, it’s very hard for me to identify what I’m smelling in this one. That was why I came back to look at your review for some assistance :) .

    I love her roses, Velvet Rose being my favorite. When I want the feeling of a June morning and roses warming in the sun, that’s what I reach for. I also loved Femme Jolie and I hope it comes back at some point.

    • Angela says:

      Nostalgie would be a great counterpoint to winter–you can close your eyes and pretend you’re somewhere else. I haven’t tried enough of the SSS perfumes. I’ll have to try Velvet Rose next.

Leave a reply