Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Patricia de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender: fragrance review

Heliotrope is at once deep, soft and mysterious, a note traversing the rainbow from the yellow of vanilla pods and almond, to the light blue and green of anise right to newly mown hay. Kiss Me Tender by Parisian niche brand Patricia de Nicolaï feels like being submerged in a warm bathtub on a cool evening, the translucence of water clouded by the full range of the delicate, powdered notes of heliotrope.

The simplicity of structure in Kiss Me Tender shouldn't fool us into believing there is no skill involved. Heliotrope might be a full perfume in itself, but De Nicolaï weaves it both subtly and deliciously, a hint of retro without ever falling into the pit of dated. If you always liked the powdered aniseed core of the classic L'Heure Bleue perfume but found it too mature, rejoice: the main components ~anise, orange blossom and synthetic heliotropin (for heliotrope notes, as the flower cannot be extracted)~ are present in both the classic Guerlain and the newer Patricia de Nicolaï; it might all be in the genes, the woman derives from Guerlain stock after all! (For those who don't know, she's the grand-daughter of Pierre Guerlain). But it's more than that just modernising and streamlining a beloved structure and one of the quintessentially Guerlain notes. It's underscoring it with a freshness and tenderness like never before.

The almondy facets in Kiss Me Tender bolstered by vanilla overlap into the gourmand oriental fragrance group; tempered, good-mannered sweet, a touch of white pastry confectionary like marzipan accented with spicy bites that are just this side of edgy. The hay facet is clearly discernible, over abstract solar notes (salicylates) of ylang ylang and non-indolic jasmine, floating on a watery pong, the two woven in the ethereal way of Hermès Vanille Galante.

More delicate and subtle with skin-soft musky notes than livilier interpretations of the note (such as the latest versions of Guerlain's Apres L'Ondée which are eclipsing the violet in lieu of heliotropin) Kiss Me Tender comes closer to the feel of being wrapped by goose down in L'Eau d'Hiver (F.Malle) or the lighter interpetations of Shalimar and Habit Rouge; after all it shares the flou, hazy base of opoponax resin with the latter two. The deviant, fresh and slightly green, minty-anisic top note takes Kiss Me Tender on a different track than the usually opressive routes of other gourmand or floriental fragrances built on almond and gives it a unisex aspect that men might enjoy too. (The trick of coupling anise with vanilla for lightening the latter is working for Jo Malone in Vanilla & Anise as well.)
For its elegance and versatility, Kiss Me Tender is a must-try for those who always sought for a discreet daytime heliotrope fragrance but probably a bit too pastel for those who like their floral orientals hard-core and khol-eyed.

Notes for Patricia de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender:
vanilla, aniseed, almond, heliotrope, fresh cut hay

Kiss Me Tender is available in 30ml/1oz for 39 euros or 100ml/3.4oz for 99 euros of Eau de Parfum available on the official Patricia de Nicolaï site and select stockists.


  1. Thank you for this great review: I smelled this a few months ago in the Marais shop and remember being rather impressed. I must get myself a bottle forthwith: this will be perfect for Spring! ^_^

  2. You're very welcome and thanks for the kind words.
    I'm at the end of my decant and decided it was high time I reviewed it; a full bottle wouldn't be amiss for spring, maybe we should both spring upon one!

  3. Spring for it ladies!!! I got a bottle of this last summer and have been enjoying it ever since. Although I can see it being a great fragrance for Spring, it has served me well in ALL seasons - I LOVE it in the Winter (it really does have a cosy-ness to it) but it works really well on my skin in the heat of Summer, too.

    The review was spot on - kudos!

  4. M,

    thanks for the corroboration on the scent's versatility (a concern for full bottles!) and for your kind words on the review.
    Much appreciated, both ways.
    Hope you're well!

  5. Sounds like something I could like.... but I should probably go through my hundreds of bottles first. Some are unsniffed, even. (bad bad me)

  6. You most definitely could! But do go sniff the uncorked ones! I'm curious too! ;-)


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