Monday, April 21, 2008

Forget me Not: Nina (Original) by Nina Ricci

Maria ‘Nina’ Nielli was born to an Italian family from Turin. The family relocated to France in 1895 when Nina was just 12 and by the age of 13, the young girl was already an apprentice to a dressmaker. Her considerable talent did not go unnoticed: by 18 she was already the head of the salon and at 22 she became its chief designer. Her marriage to jeweler Luigi Ricci bore an only son, Robert Ricci (pictured left, with mother Nina), with whom she shared an exceptional bond. Despite her great talent and capabilities, it wasn’t until 1932 that Madame Ricci started her own couture house at the age of 50, with Robert’s encouragement. With Robert, a keen businessman, as director and Nina as designer, the newly found House of Ricci saw immediate success, growing rapidly year after year throughout the ‘30s. This success however, was never due to groundbreaking designs that shook the foundations of the fashion world; the appeal of Ricci’s designs was never due to notoriety. Rather, the house became as successful as it did because it expertly catered to the needs of elegant women, often of a certain age and - one likes to muse - possibly possessing cracking figures at the same time, considering Ricci’s creations during the height of her carrier were rather body conscious. Nina’s primary goal was never to impress the fashion world, but rather, to make each individual client fall in love with the dress they were buying. The attention to detail, the supreme elegance, the excellent cut and structure of the garments as well as the fact that they brought magic and romance back into the lives of the women that wore them, meant profound success for the House of Ricci. Even after Nina Ricci’s retirement in the 50’s, and even after her death in 1970, the style she established was kept alive by Robert’s wise choices of designers that matched the house’s vision. Sadly, after Robert’s own death in 1988, and especially after the house’s acquisition by Puig, things have not been as stable, but thankfully, the future is looking much brighter after the very successful collections of the last few years - especially now, with Theyskens at the helm. One thing’s for sure, the direction of the house has certainly changed towards a younger audience and unfortunately, this is also reflected on the perfumes. There is however a redeeming trait - both in the collections and the perfumes themselves we can trace a constant throughout the years: romance. And keeping at least one constant alive is essential to brand recognition and customer loyalty. When reaching for a Ricci fragrance, a taste of romance is inevitable.

But let’s go back to Robert, the loving, visionary son, the cunning businessman, the creative idealist. He not only was responsible for convincing Nina to finally starting her own couture house, but being passionate about fragrances himself, he was also responsible for starting Nina Ricci’s first subdivision by venturing into the world of perfumery. Coeur Joie, the first fragrance by the house, comes in what has to be the most beautiful bottle in the world. L’Air du Temps, the third fragrance is one of the most well known perfumes in the world. But today’s post has nothing to do with either of these exceptional perfumes. Today we take a look at one of the most beautiful fragrances the House of Ricci has ever produced, yet somehow let go. The fragrance in question is the astounding Nina, created by Robert Ricci in 1987 as homage to his beloved mother. Different sources attribute a different nose behind Nina: others cite Christian Vacchiano as the nose and others Francis Fabron. I personally tend to lean towards Francis Fabron (L’Air du Temps, Capricci, Baghari, L’Interdit, Le Dix) as the correct answer to this dilemma, because his other perfumes –especially L’Air du Temps- match Nina’s sensibilities so well. The aldehydes, the almost fragile femininity, the softness... to my senses, almost all of them bear his signature, which I also perceive in Nina. Smelling L’Air du Temps and Nina together, it feels like they are part of the same story, with Nina picking up where L’Air du Temps had left off. Nina’s aldehydic opening is so astoundingly beautiful that it begs you to come closer and breathe in deeply even as it is applied. Beautifully aromatic peach, surprisingly without a single trace of sweetness gives the opening a fruity flavor, while the effervescent fizz of the aldehydes is studded with citrusy gems that sparkle as bright as diamonds. The combination of tagetes and bay leaf, give the composition an herbal twist and a spicy bite. The floral heart of the fragrance is blended into seamless perfection, bringing to mind images of vibrant femininity instead of lush gardens. The longer Nina stays on the skin, the more it bursts with greenness, as though the goddess of spring herself is rejoicing in her beauty. Nina’s drydown is an apotheosis of oakmoss and civet, glorious and unforgettable.

This is an utterly romantic and feminine fragrance of unsurpassed elegance. Its bottle that has always grabbed my attention, is a truly beautiful work of art, which still has me wondering about its meaning. Perhaps I am biased, for I have loved this fragrance since childhood, but to me, the scent of Nina is extraordinarily addictive. It is a scent that speaks of gladsomeness, but also of fragility. It is romantic and feminine, but at the same time betrays a strong will. The generous doses of oakmoss mean that Nina too, like many gloriously green fragrances, has a certain aloofness. Commitment, loyalty, femininity, romance, sophistication are all words that describe Nina, but the one I always invariably return to for its true definition, is elegance. This classic has now been discontinued, and is getting increasingly hard to find. Its place is taken by the tooth-achingly sweet and as far removed from the original as possible, new Nina. Not many people remember the original, a fact that truly pains me. Today’s Forget me Not has a very special place in my heart. I’ll never forget Nina.

Lastly, this fragrance is both hard to find and I own it, so you know what this means, right? Yep, this combo always qualifies for a draw here on Fragrance Bouquet. When you post a comment you’ll be automatically entered in a draw for a sample of this. The winner will be announced in a week’s time.

To see most of the fragrances ever released by the house of Ricci, visit the official website, choose english, and click on perfume and lastly fragrances throughout the years. And of course, don’t forget to visit For the Love of Perfume to find out which classic Tamara chose to review for this month’s feature!

Images: www.toutenparfum.com, www.ninaricci.fr, author's own


15 comments:

TMH256 said...

Oh, that bottle is gorgeous Divina!! Would it be too much to ask to be added to this draw? I don't ever see getting my hands on this in the near future and it sounds too beautiful to pass up! :-)

Anita said...

That bottle is gorgeous, indeed! Thanks for the history behind Nina Ricci. My mother wore L'Air du Temps for years, it was her signature scent for a long time. I would love to smell Nina.

italian girl said...

Ciao...Beautiful review as always.. Please add me to the list to win the sample of Nina. My mother wore Capricci which was one of the perfumes you mentioned that was created by Francis Fabron.. I adore that scent-I am sure for the memories than anything else.
Thanks for tugging at my heart sleeve again.:)
btw, I am reading a vampire/paranormal romance book set partly in Amsterdam and cannot help but wonder if you wander down some of the same streets as mentioned in the story...sogni d'oro..

Divina said...

Dearest T, of course you're in the draw! You are right, it is really difficult to get hold of. I have the edp and I wanted the edt too, but I can no longer find it with a sprayer. I am still looking from time to time, but it doesn't crop up...

Divina said...

Anita, I looooove the bottle. Lalique made bottles with meaning for Ricci.. for example the L'air du Temps flacon is meant to be an oval sun, which is not immediately obvious. Nina's bottle reminds me of a chic bobbed haircut, and I have often wondered if it is meant to be Madame Ricci's own bob... So far, I haven't managed to find information on it.

Divina said...

Italian Girl dearest, your mom had excellent taste! I love Capricci :) (and isn't the bottle just amazing? So lovely to have on your dresser... I would love to have all of them, Fille d'Eve, Coeur Joie, Capricci...)

Linda said...

Dearest Divina,
A wonderful review of a lovely fragrance which I know you love! Everything about it is just perfect, and I also love the way you describe Ricci's dress design: elegance is always of prime concern, speaking personally, and if I see a dress I love, I simply have to try it on, and somehow I know if it's really "me" or if it looks wrong. Like you, I also love L'Air du Temps, and (remembering some years ago) Capricci too.
Utterly gorgeous: thank you!
Hugs,
Linda

maitreyi1978 said...

Isn't L'Air du Temps bottle the one with the birds on top? I've always loved that bottle. I'd like to try Nina. Please enter me in the drawing.

tmp00 said...

fascinating- I didn't know the history of that brand at all!

Shelleybean said...

Divina,

I love the way you describe fragrance on your blog. I guess describe is the wrong word it's more like telling a story, and I happen to love stories. I feel like i'm transported somewhere else from my own office chair whenever I read your blog. I look forward to reading it every week.

Claudia said...

Divina,

Your lovely description of Nina has convinced me that I need to do whatever I can to at least get a sniff of it! Thank you for a fascinating post, and please enter me in the drawing. :-)

Jenavira13 said...

Divina what a lovely sounding fragrance. I have always been a lover of the combination of aldehydes and peach (actually i think it is a perfect match of notes). Well actually I love aldehydes in general. Please enter me in the draw.

stacy said...

This was a fascinating post. I just came across this blog and glad that I read it.
Like Anita, my Mom wears L'Air du Temps (to this day..I've tried to open her eyes to new scents, but she is seriously faithful!).
I would really like to smell Nina too!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE these posts Divina! (But I've told you that before) I love reading about the history of the house and the designers. And of course I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks for the chance to smell this :o)

Christine

Anonymous said...

I have been searching the web to find anywhere that I can find the original Nina which I wore for many years and always found it totally wonderful. I cannot understand why Ricci would drop this treasure and replace it with the appalling sweet new scent. Can we form a committee to have it brought back? I have dozens of the old empty bottles in my drawers to remind me that I have lost my very favorite perfume of a lifetime.