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Yves St. Laurent Nu - Still Nu after all these years - December 13, 2013 New fragrance Listing


Photo - Wikipedia - YSL boutique, Beverly Hills, California 

I knew I would love Yves St Laurent Nu before I even smelled it.

First of all – the name, there’s so much in the name! There’s the St. Laurent connection, a fashion and design powerhouse which gave us the incomparable Rive Gauche and Kouros scents. Then the clever word-play, a play on the word “new”. Nu was launched in 2001, the first fragrance art-directed by Tom Ford after he joined YSL, and before he transformed into a monster celeb-brand with his own perfume line. And it’s a play on the French word “nu”, which means “nude”. Nude, French, visions of skin, French sensuality…hmm, this scent could be interesting.

Second, the scent is built around incense, one of the powerfully spiritual notes in perfumery.

Third, it’s described as dark and moody, but also radiant and elegant. Filled with contrasts.

Yes, I knew I would love YSL Nu, but I didn’t have clear expectations as to how it would actually smell. The note list includes bergamot, cardamom, elemi, white orchid, wild orchid, black pepper, sandalwood, musks, incense and olibanum. Would it smell like Donna Karan Black Cashmere, or Serge Noire by Serge Lutens, both incense/spicy/woody scents which I love, and have written about here? Nothing terrifically different in the YSL Nu note list, except perhaps white orchid, and I’ve no idea how a white orchid should smell. I have to admit I absolutely was not prepared for this spectacular scent.

YSL Nu opens defiantly with a blast of citrus and spice, reinforced with peppery notes – it’s rich, radiant and very strong. After a couple of minutes a resinous green undertone develops, which has a piney feel to it – elemi - and mixed with the citrus/spice, it soon transforms into a cool incense accord, thick and slightly smoky, but cool, cool.

Sweetening the incense with spicy carnation and sandalwood as it moves down into the heart, YSL Nu becomes warmer and more opulent, and just when I’m beginning to enjoy a familiar warm woody dry-down, an unsettling note steers Nu into cool country once more. It must be the white orchid, or maybe it’s jasmine, or iris. Slightly metallic with a green edge, this white floral note comes and goes, and brilliantly amplifies the warm dry smokiness of the incense as it  blends with the sandalwood and musk notes. YSL Nu becomes very rich but softer, slightly powdery and vanillic in the base, with balsamic flashes that maintain a satiny radiance through its long dry-down. The contrast of cool and warm is disarmingly gorgeous.

YSL Nu never becomes a skin scent, or a cozy sit-by-the-fire scent. To me, it’s downtown urban-chic, totally androgynous, the kind of scent that not only engages the senses and stirs the soul, but also fires the intellect. It’s sleek and polished, with a spicy fire smouldering at its core, a truly original scent created by Jacques Cavallier, the genius who also created the wonderful Le Feu D’Issey. Both these amazing scents flopped as luxury mainstream fragrances and were discontinued, out of step with the fresh florals of the time, too darkly different, not pretty enough. There is  YSL Nu Collection which was recently launched, but I haven't smelled it so I don't know if it is the same as the 2001 original. 

YSL Nu, the original EdP can still be found online, or on e-Bay. The unusual violet-grey metallic flat disc bottle is so distinctive, it’s easy to spot. If you like unusual perfumes which are beyond good, and happen to become across a bottle of YSL Nu, I suggest you buy it. And if you don’t want it, please e-mail the link……

Yves St. Laurent Nu is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.