January 25, 2012 by

Perfume Review: Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie


Categories: aldehydic floral, Perfume review, Sonoma Scent Studio, Tags: , , , ,


Image from Sonoma Scent Studio

I first tested a sample of this back in September, though nose Laurie Erickson has been working on this scent for about a year now. I tested another version in November, and Nostalgie has been tweaked slightly from that version, which I liked very much. The working name was “Classic,” and the idea was a vintage-inspired floral scent.

Seems that vintage-inspired is hot right now, at least among the independent perfumers – witness Andy Tauer’s beautiful Miriam, produced for Tableau de Parfums, and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ lovely-but-not-me Pandora, Vert pour Madame, and Mirabella. I couldn’t be happier with a trend in the perfume world: it means excellent raw materials, plenty of naturals, the use of aldehydes and oakmoss and hard-to-source real sandalwood. Above all, it means rich composition and quiet confidence, qualities I like in my perfumes and which are difficult to find in the current market, full of thin and skeletal iFrags, as Denyse of Grain de Musc calls them.

Laurie was so kind as to send me a sample of Nostalgie, and I’m very pleased to review it. In a word, it is gorgeous.

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of florals, particularly aldehydic woody ones, and this scent is right up my alley: the listed notes are “aldehydes, jasmine sambac, rose, and mimosa absolutes, Mysore sandalwood, violet leaf, orris, amber, oakmoss, musk.” Additional notes include peach, violet flower, tonka, beeswax, aged patchouli, leather, vanilla, myrrh, and vetiver. The description from the carded sample goes on to describe Nostalgie thus: “Precious ingredients and vintage style create something special.”  

Tsukesage with lively peacock and camellia, cropped. From Yamatoku.jp.

When I sniff from the vial, right away I smell labdanum and beeswax, rich and golden, followed by aldehydes and a luscious floral blend. On skin, the aldehydes swirl for a few seconds before the florals come to the front. I cannot tease out individual notes at all; the floral blend is more than the sum of its parts. There is a brief period during which I notice the fresh-green, astringent glint of violet leaf, and then we’re back to the florals again, with the sandalwood joining in. This floral-woody accord lasts for quite a long time, with hints of oakmoss and vetiver and a soft, worn leather glove note, decorated with the snowflake sparkle of aldehydes here and there, even when you think they’re long gone. It is somewhat sweet, with the florals, beeswax and sandalwood, but the vetiver and orris tone down the sweetness, and there is absolutely no trace of sugar anywhere.  Nostalgie smells like a bouquet of flowers in soft colors, tinted by a rich golden haze.

I cannot smell the patchouli, nor the moss or myrrh; they are probably present in small quantities serving as foils to the rich sandalwood. The sample I smelled in November was heavily vanillic in the drydown; the finished version is not and I find it more polished. 

I will point out that if you have had difficulties with other Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances, you may have trouble with this one.  According to Laurie, via this post at her blog, she doesn’t really have a base common to her perfumes, but she does tend to use some of her favorite materials in most of her fragrances. Nostalgie “smells like an SSS” to me, and I mean that in the best possible way.  It share some of the same golden cast of Champagne de Bois and Jour Ensoleille, both of which I enjoy, though it doesn’t actually smell like those two.

Nostalgie lasts for about five hours on me, even dabbed from a vial; sprayed, it would probably be even more persistent. However, it’s never an in-your-face fragrance. It has an intimate but not bedroom feel, and that quiet confidence I mentioned earlier, ladylike but not retiring.

It reminds me, to a degree, of vintage Chanel No. 5 parfum, with its beautiful golden glow highlighting the flowers, though it is less sensual than that musk-rich vintage scent.  It also reminds me of the gorgeous aldehyde-floral-sandalwood mix of Tableau de Parfums Miriam, though it does not have the wistful tenderness of Miriam. Other people have mentioned a relationship to Jean Patou Joy, less its jasmine-civet animalic character (I’m not a Joy fan, I can’t comment). This is high praise, a worthy description of a modern wearable fragrance that pays homage to the great florals of the past.

Nostalgie, like the other Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances, is parfum strength and available at extremely reasonable prices, either at the SSS website or at Indie Scents. I need a purse spray for myself, and one for my No. 5-wearing mother, too.

(Thanks for the sample, Laurie, and for the opportunity to participate in however small a way in bringing to fruition a lovely, lovely scent. Thanks even more for creating it. I send you big sloppy kisses. Mwah!)

Other reviews: Dee at Beauty on the Outside; Elena at Perfume Shrine. Laurie’s comments on the creation of Nostalgie can be found here.



23 Responses to Perfume Review: Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie

  1. Melissa

    I just got my first samples from Sonoma Scent Studio a couple of days ago and I actually loved each one.
    The Nostalgia struck me as vintage from the first spray. Beautiful, elegant and well done. I have on Champagne de Bois today and I agree with you. The drydown is similar to Chanel #5. I wore Winter Woods yesterday. I also got Incense Pure that I can’t wait to bathe in. All I know is with every one, I haven’t been able to stop sniffing my arm. The other wonderful, magical thing about these fragrances is that I can actually afford them without taking out a second mortgage. Not many of those out there! I’m ordering more samples this week and might throw in some body cream as well. I’m hooked!!

    • mals86 Post author

      Hi, Melissa! I’m so glad you loved your SSS samples – I don’t love every single thing Laurie has, but they’re all so carefully crafted and well done. Champagne de Bois reminded me more of Bois des Iles and Nostalgie of No. 5 – not that they’re dupes by any means, but similarly constructed.

      I didn’t get on with Winter Woods (a bit too smoky for me – good thing I didn’t attempt Fireside Intense, hey?), and Incense Pure is not my kind of scent, but I think they’re well done.

      All the SSS scents are so reasonably priced, especially for the parfum strength! (BTW, I once sprayed three spritzes of Tabac Aurea, which I love, and it nearly killed me. Be careful. 🙂 )

  2. Tamara J.*

    What a dazzling review dear! I’ve so missed catching up on you and my other fav. blogs. <3
    I was very excited before reading this but gaaah you sealed my fate with your reference to vtg. Chanel 5.
    I know nothing could be quite like that beauty but the fact that you find any similarity is promising and very high praise for Laurie's abilities as a perfumer herself.
    I shall be ordering the end of the week hopefully. 😉

    Hugs to you Mals and thanks for another wonderful post.

    xoxo!! ~T

    • mals86 Post author

      Thanks, sweetie! We’ve missed you around here.

      It doesn’t smell LIKE No. 5 but it made me think of the seamlessness of the vtg parfum, and the golden haze of it, and of course there are enough notes in common that Nostalgie seemed like a variation on the theme. I know you are a huge fangirl of Laurie’s (I am too), and I think you’ll love it. I think this one may be her most polished.

  3. annemariec

    I’m one of the ones that don’t get on too well with many SSS scents but Champagne de Bois and Jour Ensoleille are two that I’m okay with (although they are not loves). So I will give Nostalgie a try. I too love the ‘golden haze’ of vintage No 5. That’s a great way of putting it!

    • mals86 Post author

      Vtg No. 5 is so glowy!

      I like Velvet Rose, Jour Ensoleille, To Dream, Lieu de Reves, Voile de Violette, Sienna Musk, and really love CdBois, Tabac Aurea, and Nostalgie. Could barely smell Rose Musc (could be slightly anosmic to the musk). Winter Woods, Wood Violet, and Incense Pure are not my style, and I did not like Fig Tree at all, but then I don’t like fig leaf. Something about Vintage Rose made me queasy all eight times I tried it (it should have been me, it should have!!) I still haven’t tried them all… let’s see, I think I have yet to try Egyptian Musk, Ambre Noir, Cameo, and Fireside Intense. Since W Woods was so terribly smoky on me, I think I’ll leave Fireside Intense alone.

  4. Nat

    I’m so glad to read your review of this. You are, of course, the authority on aldehydic florals! Your review has made me even more interested to (eventually) test the final version of this.

  5. Zazie

    I adore chanel n.5 parfum. It is one of the fragrances I wear and love the most (together with Bois des iles, a couple of Guerlains, and a few white florals).
    I wish I could order samples from SSS’s website – apart from Nostalgia, I am also eyeing Champagne de Bois. SSS’s European stockinst doesn’t seem to sell samples, and I am not confident enough to go FB unsniffed… 🙁
    We’ll see….

    • mals86 Post author

      I was thinking that Laurie did offer int’l shipping, but I just went to check and it seems that she is not able to ship to Italy. That does make it very hard to sample, doesn’t it?

      I think you would like it, from what I remember of your preferences. I hope you can get your hands on it at some point.

  6. RusticDove

    This fragrance sounds so beautiful and I look forward to checking it out one of these days. I’m a fan of the SSS line in general, but the last offering, Fig Tree, didn’t work for me at all. I have a strong feeling that Nostalgie will be a very different story. Very nice review C!

    • mals86 Post author

      Thanks! Fig Tree was definitely not my thing (but then fig scents never seem to be). This is – well, not vintage, but I think Nostalgie would sit very comfortably on a shelf along with Joy or No. 5 or some of the other classic florals.

  7. dee

    Fan-girl checking in!

    When I read the notes for this scent, and after wearing the final mod, I thought to myself, “this thing is custom made for Mals!” It sounds like I wasn’t far off 😉

    Though I’m not an AldeHo by any stretch, I love Nostalgie too— it’s hard not to love something to beautiful!

    • mals86 Post author

      Oh, you’re so right! It had my name alllll over it.

      I thought the aldehydes were very gentle (I could have taken more of them, myself, though I don’t have much company), and it’s not terribly aldehydic.

  8. Tiara

    I love Laurie’s work and Femme Jolie (sadly discontinued) is one of my all-time favorite perfumes. I’ll have to order a sample of Nostalgie, although must admit I’m a bit hesitant. While Champagne de Bois and I do not get along well, I wear No. 5 quite often.

    • mals86 Post author

      (Femme Jolie, that was the other one that didn’t work for me! I’d forgotten because it is of course discontinued. I suspect that I’m either anosmic to something that’s supposed to be there, or hyperosmic – is that even a word?? – to something that’s supposed to be subtle, because it seemed… hm… blocky to me. Scattered and blocky and not a complete smell.)

      Oh, get a sample if you can. I think this one is more finely tuned than CdB, though I love that one too.

  9. Aparatchick

    Oh no! I feel a lemming coming on. Laurie is so talented; even the perfumes that don’t work for me I find admirable in their quality. I love Tabac Aurea and Champagne de Bois (and Tiara, I miss Femme Jolie, too). I thought Fig Tree was an excellent fig, and now I’m anxious to sample this.

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