The Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black eau de parfum (50 USD for 1oz) is a crazy sexy scent. I first picked it up in the rollerball size quite a while back because I’m finicky with scents and wanted to test it thoroughly first, and unfortunately I only realised how divine it is after I left the US. I’ve wanted the full size bottle ever since and have only got my hands on it recently because it’s not only a Sephora exclusive, but a USA Sephora exclusive. They don’t carry this in Singapore (where I deperately searched for it in October) or even in smaller Sephora branches in the US. Thank goodness my sweet cousin remembered me on her recent trip to Hawaii and brought this home for me as pasalubong. Just look at that piece of badassery! While you most certainly shouldn’t be picking your fragrances based on packaging, it doesn’t hurt when the bottle happens to be kick-ass too.
For those of you who are not familiar with the brand (as I was not), Elizabeth and James happens to be Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion brand. It was established in 2007, but the Nirvana perfumes (White and Black) were released in 2013. Before you write this off as one of those cheesy celebrity scent releases, please note that there is no tacky over-branding on the product. You don’t see the Olsen twins’ faces plastered all over the bottle and you don’t see their signatures splashed across the box. It’s a far cry from the tacky, money-making merch the girls sold in their tweens, and to be fair they haven’t done anything new of that sort in a long while. I’m not too much into fashion, but even their clothing line seems far from mainstream.When I picked up Nirvana Black and smelled it for the first time, I had no idea it was an Olsen product and –frankly — I don’t mind it even now. I kind of like their vibe of late anyway. I mean everyone wants to be a blonde waif of a girl dressed in black, yeah? No? But really, this is about the scent! The glorious scent! So let’s get into that without any more delay.
I can’t talk about Nirvana Black without acknowledging that there is a “counterpart” called Nirvana White (which comes in a pretty white version of the packaging). The whole idea behind the Nirvana launch was to represent two “dynamic, contradictory personalities merged into an outstanding balance –Elizabeth’s uptown sophistication and feminine detail is paired with James’ laidback, downtown edge and masculine tailoring.” Elizabeth and James are the Olsen twins’ two other siblings and the scents Nirvana Black and White represent them and that duality. They are described as sensual, edgy and mysterious scents.
The following descriptions are lifted from frangrantica.com (because I want to be as accurate as possible):
Nirvana White is a musky – floral fragrance composed of peony, lily of the valley and musk, signed by Honorine Blanc.
Nirvana Black is a woody fragrance, dark and somewhat masculine although intended for both genders. It is created by perfumer Pierre Negrin. The fragrance is built around accords of violet, sandalwood and vanilla.
Nirvana White isn’t my type, but a lot of people seem to like it as well. Let’s talk about my personal experience with Nirvana Black though, as it is the object of my affection of late.
Violet, sandalwood, and vanilla are the dominant fragrance notes in Nirvana Black. You might have noticed by now that I love the smell of vanilla (Diptyque’s Eau Duelle is heavy on the vanilla), but I don’t like it to be flat. In this fragrance it is probably the least dominant of the notes, but it comes through in the dry down. I think the sandalwood comes out strongest in Nirvana Black, with the punch of violet adding a sort of sharpness to the spice. Overall there’s a very woodsy vibe to the scent and it definitely could work on men too.
Other reviews online say that sillage and longevity are moderate for this scent and I would have to agree. I wish it would really stick and linger on my skin for longer, as it is definitely a sensual type of perfume. For this reason I do suggest that you purchase the rollerball of this scent if you ever plan on buying it so you can top up on the go. I pick this up mostly for nights out. If I leave the house early in the day, I will still tend to reach for Eau Duelle or a light body spray instead. Nirvana Black just works at night–it just clicks with all things mysterious, sexy, and sensual, I think. It also surprisingly works great in both cold and hot weather. I first wore this in Seattle and the cold air brought out the violet notes. In the Philippines, the vanilla comes forward more (but with time).
I hardly have the vocabulary to properly describe fragrance, but I can tell you that any scent you wear should enhance your personality (any side of it) and not clash with your body chemistry. Apparently for a “dark woody fragrance” Nirvana Black is rather simple (gathered this from reading pro reviews haha) and there are similar scents of higher quality already on the market, but I personally really love how this mixes with my body and my personality. In the realm of fragrance, I think that’s all that really matters.
And that packaging. So badass.
What are your favourite scents? And how do you guys feel about “unisex” fragrances?