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 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.