Top notes : artemisia, mint, green notes, peach and bergamot; Middle notes: carnation, patchouli, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar and rose; Base notes: leather, sandalwood, amber, musk and oakmoss.
The inimitable Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies brought this 1982 release to my attention and kindly sent me a sample when I expressed interest. I’m always on the lookout for interesting green fragrances which are more than simply light and fresh: Niki de Saint Phalle fits the bill.
It’s funny, I can have trouble with powdery perfumes but the thin veil of green powder here feels just right. Truthfully, it doesn’t smell high-end but it does have an old-school vibe about it which I find appealing.
There is a tension between the tart greenness and the spring florals which works. It may have come out in the early 80s but it really belongs to the 70s – the era of the green chypre. This genre seems to be a thing of the past, though if the aquatic trend can make a comeback, anything is possible.
Niki de Saint Phalle does smell of another age and not as classy as No 19 say, but it does have an individual charm. There’s an uncompromising sour note in there that is refreshing and wakes up the senses. For someone so tired of the relentless sweetness in perfumery these days, I find it a welcome palate cleanser.
It will please those who are fond of galbanum; that chlorophyll-packed note found in Jacomo’s Silences, with which NdSP shares a kinship. The base is oakmoss-style chypre heaven and feels like a carpet of smooth moss under your bare feet. There’s also a very nice touch of ambery warmth. During this final stage, I inhale almost to the point of dizziness.
I found it really interesting and inspiring to read about the woman herself, while trying her fragrance. Niki de Saint Phalle was an artist who worked in a number of media. After suffering a nervous breakdown, she was encouraged to pursue her love of painting as a form of therapy. Her “Shooting Paintings” of the early 1960s were bags of paint in human form covered in white plaster which she shot to create the image. She went on to make work which explored the female archetypes and women’s place in society.
In part inspired by Gaudi, she purchased some land in Tuscany to create a monumental sculpture park. This was 20 years in the making and The Tarot Park eventually opened in 1998. It looks like a surreal wonderland with her huge colourful works interspersed amongst the greenery of the trees and shrubs.
It seems fitting that her fragrances is intense, uncompromising and striking, like de Saint Phalle and her art.
Do you have any interesting green fragrances to recommend? Have you tried Niki de Saint Phalle?