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March 11, 2011



In 1984 I was introduced to Nikki through a fellow ballet dancer who was married to a wealthy elderly gentleman at the time. We were on the topic of perfume one day (whenever am I not??)and she told me that her husband's all time favorite was Nikki de Sainte Phalle which he purchased for her in the largest size pure perfume bottle that was available at the time. I, on the other hand, could only afford the smallest size EDT on my meager artist's salary. Believe it or not I bought it on her recommendation alone! Surprisingly it was love at first sight for I have never had that immediate gravitation towards all chypre scents (they need to grow on me). It was one of my all time favorites because I always perceived it as something extraordinarily different (really, spearmint? I would never have guessed!) and out of all the fragrances I have worn over the years this one (along with Calyx) had been the most commented on by men. I purchased it several years ago (2006) from an online discount fragrance company and it smelled awful, not as I had remembered the original to be (which was purchased in 1984). Was it reformulated or had this new one just gone bad in storage? Funny, but the images of the creator are not at all what I imagined her to look like! She was stunning! So nice of Barbara to create a complete picture for us all!


Darling what a wonderful review!
I just love the way you have with words and your thoughtful writing.
I want you to know I always read you even when I don't comment, it's so pleasurable!
Please continue to do so, nobody talks vintage like you do doll. :)

Anywho on to the perfume-I consider myself a chypre chick and this is always enjoyable to wear. It is one of my "running scents"~
What I wear when I trail run in the forest.
I'm telling you wearing a chypre to work out is the ticket, as it's green leaves unfold and the flowers unfurl,you get even more intensity as the heat from your body makes it meld with your hot skin. I love the marigold in it.
I get almost no sweetness until the very end and it's musky and muted but still very much a green scent.
I love it and would adore trying the parfum someday.



Hi breathe31, it's still sold, and I bet it's been reformulated since it came out. It seems to me that the Niki that comes in the nondescript blue atomizer bottle with the gold cap is new; can't say I know what it smells like. Definitely the bottles with the entwined snakes are vintage, but not so sure about the ones with individual zodiac signs. Does anyone know? Also, I find it funny men would like this one. Seems like it's the opposite of what I've heard most men like (the smell of cinnamon and vanilla).


Awww, you're sweet Tamara J. It's great when you comment! I love your insights.

It seems very decadent (and the height of chic!) to hike/jog with green chypre perfumes on, but I totally see what you mean. Exercising almost separates the notes so you can pick them out better, and how wonderful to smell all that green while you're in the woods "as green leaves unfold and the flowers unfurl" in the perfume, as you put it so poetically.

Have a great weekend!


I loooove this fragrance. I bought a one ounce vintage bottle of the EDT blind on eBay for $20--it bore the price tag of a Toronto retailer that had gone out of business in 1987-ish, so I presume it's of that era. You're right about it being an unexpected edgy scent, but it also just shouts confidence to me--fresh, I can take on the world confidence. Just love love love it. Thanks for a lovely review--and a reminder to wear this one more often, especially since spring is finally in the air!


I used to own this and wear it by the bucketful. and even today, it holds so many memories! Like you wrote in your review - it's like nothing else out there, and I dearly wish I knew where to get my hands on a bottle to add to my Green Fiend collection! Thank you so much for reminding me - of a time when Niki de Saint Phalle made me walk taller, and prouder...and louder, too! ;)


Tamara J- I second your opinion: the marriage of chemical facts, brilliant graphics and interesting historical notes all enveloped in poetic prose makes this website the best one to read. Barbara needs to do her fans a big favor and publish a book or two (besides yesterday's perfumes, how about today's perfumes or niche perfumes?). I love that you exercise with fragrance! I thought I was the only crazy one to do that! I just love the way the heat of my body releases the scent and I might as well feel good when engaging in arduous activity! I never thought of myself as a "green" person but looking over my "huffer" list maybe deep down I really am a "chypre chick" as well!


Barbara- I was also surprised that Nikki was always so well received by men as I always assume that orientals are more favored on women by the male population. The fact is my female friends met this scent with indifference or disdain but I wore it nonetheless because I loved it. Once men started commenting favorable it became my "date" scent. On the subject of reformulation: Why, why, why?!!! I could understand the older vintage for usage of unfavorable/expensive/harmful ingredients but Nikki and some other fragrances that have been reformulated came out in the 80s. Is it the desire to use cheaper materials or the attempt to entice the younger generation with what might be considered more palatable scents? My 13 year old wears the new Chloe and although it is pleasant, compared to the original Chloe it is, in my opinion, it's insipid "younger sister".


Tarleisio: Niki de Saint Phalle is definitely a scent I'd wear if I wanted to boost my mood, so it doesn't surprise me it would make you walk taller and prouder. So many of the green notes (galbanum?), peach and spearmint have aromatherapy mood-boosting effects, especially spearmint. Thanks for stopping by! Also, I emailed you a link...


Thanks for the compliments, breathe31! I'm a Leo cusp, so I never tire of them. :-)

As for reformulation, there are a number of reasons. As you said, cheaper ingredients, some become unavailable, some are deemed photosensitive or deemed toxic in certain quantities. In the case of chypres, I believe IFRA has banned oakmoss in certain levels and in combination with other ingredients. Well, oakmoss is in the base of all chypres. So stock up on your beloveds!

Heres a good link on reformulation: http://www.nstperfume.com/2009/09/29/perfumista-tip-on-reformulations-or-why-your-favorite-perfume-doesnt-smell-like-it-used-to/

On endangered scents: http://1000fragrances.blogspot.com/2009/04/endangered-fragrances.html

On oakmoss and tree moss: http://perfumeshrine.fortunecity.com/blog/entry63.html

On fighting IFRA: http://graindemusc.blogspot.com/2010/01/ifra-perfumers-speak-up-in-le-monde.html


Hi SniffingAround. Niki de Saint Phalle makes both you and Tarleisio feel like you can take on the world! (She said it made her feel tall and proud.) Maybe psychologists should experiment with this scent for their clients who are suffering from low self-esteem! I'm glad you had a good eBay experience. I almost always do, but lots of people are scared of eBay....


Thanks for the education and the links. It figures, just as I'm getting really interested in chypres they are becoming extinct !


Wonderful, intriguing review, thanks. Love the 'kissed with fruit'. You are right about mint being a rare note in perfumery. I seem to remember a remark by Luca Turin that it is hard to deal with the menthol aspect of it.


So glad to have found you! I've looked around for a perfume writer who can make me imagine the scents vividly, and I have found one here. Niki, not for me, but I'm glad to know it.

You've been blogrolled; I'll be back regularly


Thanks, Nance. Glad you found Yesterday's Perfume and that you're enjoying it! "Vivid" is what I'm going for. ;-)


Wow...I was here when you first posted, came back to comment...what a great conversation going on here! :)

As usual, wonderful review. The discussion of wearing scent for exercise of course brings me to Estee Lauder's Aliage--as we know, a "sport fragrance." There are a few scents I'd consider wearing on purpose while exerting myself, and a few I've accidentally discovered open up in surprising good ways. For example, vintage Violette Precieuse. No kidding. :)

And that, despite the fact in general I'd rather work out "commando," as it were. ;)

Niki has surprised me in how variable it can be, depending on things like season, not just concentration. It's heart is the same, but how strongly different elements of the tune resound...whether the upper register sings more, and it is therefore a more optimistic something, or whether the depths of green and beyond take over, and you feel more ominous shadows...I've experienced a range. Some days I even wonder why I thought I loved it so...but then I refind my center with it. Thanks so much for giving us your take on it.


Hi ScentScelf. Niki is a variable scent, as you put it: "whether the upper register sings more, and it is therefore a more optimistic something, or whether the depths of green and beyond take over, and you feel more ominous shadows." It's a pretty intense scent, and

I think the choice of snakes to symbolize the perfume is brilliant. They're colorful. They're sexy. They're beautiful. And they're poisonous. I wonder if I would have that association as strongly as I do without the snakes, but I hear hissing in the top notes and I really do visualize snakes tussling and slithering around each other for prominence when I think about the different notes competing for attention. Perfume really does evoke synaesthesia...Thanks for stopping by, and also for reminding me of Aliage. Yum...


Just traipsing around the discount/discontinued fragrance websites and I came across Nikki de Sainte Phalle in different bottles-one for each zodiac sign. Does anyone know if these are different scents from the original and/or each unto its own? They were relatively inexpensive ($25 for 2oz) and I was almost tempted!


Hi breathe31, I've seen those, too. I would stay away from the discounted sites, though, and stick to eBay or known purveyors of vintage, like MPS: http://miniatureperfumeshoppe.com/NNahema-Nuit-C9151.aspx?sid=268?s=Name%20ASCp=1

She's got several Nikis and they're certain to be vintage. Good luck!


I had forgotten how glorious vintage Nikki was until I revisited it today, after 26 years. This was my go-to date perfume in the 80s, as many a young man loved the way it smelled on me. Now I want to go out and buy a full size bottle!

Elizabeth Brossy

I still have the perfumed cream and it is still lovely after many years. It's held up well. (I can't say the same for the spray bottles in the 1 and 2 ounces.) If I want to feel especially desirable to my husband, I just slather a bit on my wrists and on my cleavage and down my neck. Takes me to another place entirely! And he LOVES it too. What could be better?!


Hi Elizabeth. I bet this smells amazing as a cream! Interesting that it's held up. There's not a lot around like Niki de Saint Phalle. I like to think of it as a poisonous green floral. Thanks for stopping by!


Niki is the only perfume I ever wear...I started wearing it in the 80's then ran out and they stopped selling it here in the states, happened to see it in London at Harrod's and knew there was hope to find it, so I bought some at Harrod's and was happy happy happy! Now you can find it on the internet - several perfume outlets sell it.
It's the most wonderful combination of scents - and is wonderfully sexy! I thank goodness for being able to find it on the internet, it makes me incredibly happy!


Hi Anita, This one is really special. I know many people who consider it their favorite vintage. Its definitely got a kick to it! Glad to hear theres a vintage that is relatively easy to still get. Stock up!

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