Nisean by Parfums de Marly is a proof that an woody-oriental fragrance can be conventional without being boring. The first spray will deliver a healthy dose of the typical for the genre resins, woods and flowers. You may smile and say to yourself that Nisean is a well-composed fragrance but nothing you haven't smelled before and you'll be right.
Just like with any other good fragrance, in the case of Nisean by Parfums de Marly, patience pays off. Before dismissing it as just another boring oriental, stick with it. You'll be rewarded with the expansive smell of the plains of the Zagros Mountains.
I have my own theory about the story behind Nisean. My research of the fragrance didn't reveal what could have inspired Parfums de Marly to create Nisean. I did find, however, some interesting facts about horses and Persia. Weave them together and you have a plausible story behind the creation of Nisean by Parfums de Marly.
Parfums de Marly followed its practice to name its fragrances after horse breeds and named Nisean after an extinct breed. The Nisean horses were native to the plains of the Zagros Mountains in Iran. The breed was sought after in the 400's B.C. because of their strength and robustness. The Ancient Greeks gave the breed the name "Nisean" after Nisa - the town in Persia where they were bred.
My guess is Nisean by Parfums de Marly was inspired to the Nisean horse and its native land. It is strong, elegant and reminiscent to the open spaces of its native plains of Persia. Parfums de arly masterfully recreated this vision by using ingredients native to the Middle East (labdanum and saffron) and combined them with airy incense and smoke accords.
What Does Nisean by Parfums de Marly Smells Like?
The beauty of Nisean is that on the surface it smells just like any other oriental fragrance. You have resins, woods and smoke blended together to come up with something typical for the genre. Where Nisean excels is in the quality of the blend and the ingredients.
Nisean opens with a floral accord, resins and soft woods. A dusty note of saffron adds some dryness to the opening and prevents it from turning too sweet.
After the first ten minutes, I started detecting an emerging patchouli note. It is reminiscent of wet earth and juxtaposes the sweetness of the labdanum.
As time passes by, the patchouli takes on more central stage. The patchouli in Nisean comes in the form of Akigalawood. Parfums de Marly explains that Akigalawood is an aromachemical "with patchouli and oud inflections".
Nisean's ingredient list doesn't include smoke or incense notes. They are evident, however, in the heart and the dry-down of the composition.
The smoky accord in Nisean creates a sense of dry airiness. It is similar to the accord present in Lonestar Memories by Tauer Perfumes but it is less dirty. I imagine open arid fields with hot air and dust vibrating above ground.
I am not sure how accurate my mental images are of the actual place where the Nisean horses used to live. The incense accord, however, plays another role besides creating a certain imagery. It balances the patchouli's earthiness and elevates the fragrance from the ground. If the patchouli and woods are earthy elements, the incense is an airy one.
The extra dose of incense makes Nisean unique. Perfumers use smoke and incense notes to add some character to a fragrance. They usually do so cautiously. Putting too much incense in a composition can turn it too dirty or spiritual-smelling. Smelling of campfire is interesting but not something that will turn a fragrance into a hit.
Therefore, many designer and niche fragrances feature an incense note that is hardly present. Aventus by Creed features an incense accord. Yet, it is hard to detect it even if you know to look for it.
Nisean by Parfums de Marly dries down to a scent of soft woods and resins that lingers on the skin. It lasts close to 12 hours on my skin and I suspect it can last even longer if it rubs off on your shirt.
Nisean has a decent projection and more than 2 sprays on the neck would be asking for trouble.
Where to Rock It
Despite the incense and its airy qualities, Nisean is a warm fragrance. It will work best in a cold weather, even though, it did great when I tested it in the summer.
When it comes to occasions, Nisean is versatile. I see myself wearing it casually out for a dinner with friends or at more formal occasions.
I see Nisean by Parfums de Marly as an evening fragrance. The woods and smoke give it a certain sense of mystery, which would work well in the evening. For those who love to be mysterious during the day, Nisean is a good choice. It may, however, come off as too "mysterious" for the office.
Some reviewers argue any fragrance is appropriate for any age. I disagree. Certain scents work only for people of certain age (read more about it here). Nisean by Parfums de Marly is such a fragrance. The smoky resinous-woody notes would work best on someone in their thirties and forties.
Men in their 20s would have to amp up their maturity in other ways to pull it off. If you are in your teens, prom may be the only occasion that is somewhat appropriate for Nisean.
The Bottom Line
Nisean by Parfums de Marly is a well-blended woody-oriental fragrance with a healthy dose of incense. It is by no means an original take on the genre, however, it does a great job at being a woody-oriental scent. If you are new to the genre, Nisean by Parfums de Marly would be a good choice to start.
Would you buy Nisean by Parfums de Marly?
I would if I didn't have similar fragrances in my collection. If you are a perfume connoisseur with a substantial collection, you will find Nisean similar to other fragrances you have. If you are just starting out, Nisean would be a great representative of the woody-oriental family in your collection.
It sells for $275 (US) on Parfume de Marly's website.
Would I get compliments wearing Nisean by Parfums de Marly?
Yes, you will. Nisean projects well enough to be detected by those around you. It also is conventional enough for the general public to perceive it as a good scent. It is often the case that even good-smelling fragrances that are creative are perceived negative by the general public. People don't know what to make of smells they don't have a reference point for. Nisean is not such a fragrance and it smells good. It is compliment-worthy.
What rating would you give Nisean by Parfums de Marly?
I am hovering somewhere between 3.5 and 4.0. Nisean is a good fragrance but its conventional take on the genre stops me from giving it a full 4.0.
Patchouli, Akigalawood, Woody Accords, Incense