Perfume Pen Pals: Parfums de Nicolai Maharadjah and L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!


Okay, I'm back in the game! (Press release in an hour, news conference at 3 p.m.) I've tried Parfums de Nicolai Maharadjah once more, and this time, it's been a revelation.

I only remember the lavender last time and while it was a nice sharp lavender, Maharadjah was supposed to be a lavender oriental, with lots of cinnamon and spices, an odd hybrid of a proper English lavender and an Indian patchouli.

Well, this morning I smelled it, after two whole hours. And it smells great. As time passes it somehow turns less loud but more rich. Right now I smell like a real man! And a real Indian!

A real Indian man.

I'm loving this Maharadjah. It's Coldstone Creamery in one bottle. I smell a hundred different things. It's bold like Chanel Coromandel (though sharper and somehow not quite as satisfying), with all kinds of spices and incense. And the lavender is fierce at the top, almost as if to prove by comparison the rest of the perfume is mammoth, because it soon gets completely crushed by a big fat patchouli sledgehammer. The reviewers on MakeupAlley either love it or hate it, and all the ones who hate it are dead wrong.

So my order stash now includes Maharadjah and, on impulse, or further impulse, because I can't just buy one thing from LuckyScent (it hardly seems worth their while), I finally bought Dzing! (Their exclamation AND mine!) I don't know why. I don't know why!



I don't know why you bought Dzing!, either! You didn't remember it both times you tried it. You and perfumes are like Elizabeth Taylor and marriages.

Re Maharadjah, I do see what you mean about the drydown being reminiscent of Coromandel, but Maharadjah seems building-blocky: here's the lavender, here's the red hots, then here's the cloves, then welcome Mr. Patchouli. It never smooshes together into a perfume.

It's not a perfume, it's a series of smells.



On Dzing!: I've tried it THREE times, the most recent at Barneys, though I don't remember that time either. I think it's because everyone is so kooky in their descriptions of it and it just doesn't live up. But I do think it's good -- I can't quite remember.

And you, perfume-expert-referral-type person, you recommended it, with the cameras rolling, even! I doubt anyone recommended Elizabeth Taylor marry Eddie Fisher. Maybe Debbie Reynolds.


Smiles all around for Debbie's sloppy seconds.

P.S. I'm wearing Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum post-run, and I smell fake. You know how junior-high girls would call other junior-high girls "fake"? Well, this is the smell of those fake girls. I smell fake and also a little like cat urine. Four stars!


Now that we're talking leather (what with your new ELO Rien and your Dzing! on the way), I wonder if you've tried Hermès Kelly Calèche, a leather rose. Good on dudes, I'd imagine.



I've got Dzing! already! And wore it one morning this week. And it is similar to Rien. Though it would've taken me six months to make the connection without you mentioning it. They're both leathers, of course. But Rien is even more stark and odd, I think. Dzing! is sweaty saddle, as you said. Which is somehow comforting. But I'm not comforted by Rien. Which isn't a bad thing, by the way.

Okay, I can't keep talking about perfumes. I mean, I could, but I need to put on a shirt and go outside. Like normal people do.


Fumies, which perfume gives you instant smell amnesia? Mine is Frédéric Malle L'Eau d'Hiver.

Nastik album cover via


  1. Dan, sweaty saddle? Really? What is with all the urine/body odor/urine (ok, I said that twice, but - really?)comments of late? I mean, how do you 'spose that saddle GOT sweaty? You and Katie are on a roll lately, or a saddle. Ridden by a cat - who just peed on the saddle. Sheesh!

  2. Instant amnesia is my standard reaction to Byredo Bal d'Afrique. When I first read about it the notes got me curious. Since then I've tried it at least 3 or 4 times. I have even worn it a couple of times and I always end up thinking.... er....yeah.... it was pleasant... citrusy....citrusy? really? Oh well...

  3. SoS,

    However did this menagerie get into our perfume bottles?


    Now, I can manage to retain an olfactory memory of Bal d'Afrique, but it's not a happy one. It's not an unhappy one, either. It's a memory of a mash of fruits and woods.

  4. I think I'm with Dan on Dzing! - I know that I love it, that one day I'll get a full bottle, but I can never, ever remember it.

    Delfina, I was wearing ELdO's Josephine Baker on Saturday and couldn't help but notice its VERY similar drydown to Bal d'Afrique (also Baker inspired.) Bit off topic, but I just wish someone could create a truly great homage to La Baker. Add some banana to Shalimar. Or something.

  5. Wow, Katie - L'eau d'Hiver gives you smell amnesia???? That scent haunts me to this day, after sampling it at Barney's in Boston months ago.

    I've never forgotten it - it was my first experience with Frederic Malle, and it's like losing your virginity to the sexiest, most intelligent and sophisticated woman you could ever meet.

  6. Jaacq, I haven't smelled ElDO's Josephine Baker yet, but yeah, Bal d'Afrique feels like a too restrained homage to me. I really don't get it. Anyway, now I'm left with the persistent image of a banana Shalimar :-)

  7. Hi Katie,

    Your "buildy-blocky" comment was great. I tried to explain to my perfume pen-pal last week that that's what I got from Absolue Pour le Soir, but went on a tangent about fragrance cubism and apothecary chests; your description is much more succinct and easier to understand, I think.

    As for Delfina's comment, "I've never forgotten it - it was my first experience with Frederic Malle, and it's like losing your virginity to the sexiest, most intelligent and sophisticated woman you could ever meet."

    Um, I'll take what she's having. Lemming for L'eau, now.

  8. I haven't smelt that Nicolai scent but if it is even distantly related to Coromandel I will give it a miss. I am still in recovery from an unfortunate encounter with Sacrebleu Intense, now thankfully rehomed.

    I wore Dzing! again the other day and realised that my tolerance for barnyard smells is improving all the time. It reminds be a bit of L'Ombre Fauve, Felanilla, Bal a Versailles and my new oddball love, L'Air de Rien.

    Speaking of Bals, I can recall Bal d'Afrique clearly enough, but have trouble remembering Heeleys and some of The Different Company. That one with Ailleurs in the title and another one with Charmes and Feuilles? See, I can't even remember the names, never mind the scents. It's the double "l" that does it.

  9. Armani Prive Ambre Soie is mine. I remember seeing the reviews for this one. Incense all my all time favorite notes, go and test it at Saks in Vegas. Nothing... I mean nothing, I even ask the SA did you spray the strip? She does another spritz and nothing. I take tester in hand put in on my wrist nothing!!! I think I walked away a bit perturbed by it. I was expecting something like CdG Avignon. Then I realized I didn't spend another 170. Felt good about it after that.

    As for Maharadjah I don't get the blocky feel to it. Now my wife on the other thinks it smells like lipstick. I actually like it. Not a masterpiece but a welcome addition to the collection. Dan, you did yourself proud. Can't please them all the time. Sometimes its all about what you want to wear.

  10. Loving everyone's input, here!


    I must have my perfume chastity belt firmly locked on whenever I try L'eau d'Hiver. So far, it just hasn't managed to get into my pants.


    I think part of Dzing!'s forgetability is that it's a woofer among tweeter perfumes, if you'll allow an audiophiliac analogy. Dzing! is deep and subtle and all about subsonic "oomph".

    You're onto something with your "add a banana to Shalimar" concept, and the wonderful line Parfumerie Generale have actually done something along those lines with Felanilla. It comes off as a feral vanilla with one foot in the tropics and the other in the barnyard. (Does perfume have feet?)


    I'm liking your idea of cubist perfume.

  11. Vanessa,

    My, you certainly are getting downer and dirtier all the time with your ever-increasing tolerance for "Let's Get Physical" fumes.

    I can't remember, have you tried L'Air's little brother, Un Petit Rien? Though maybe it's not hardcore enough for you now that you're on board with L'Air de Rien.

    Funny you should mention those TDC scents - those are the ones that give me amnesia, too. Can't pronounce 'em, can't remember 'em.


    Sometimes I find that expectations of a perfume's smell, based on the name or what you've read, can futz with your perception when you do actually smell it.

    I had a real confusion when I first tried Malle's Portrait of a Lady, because no one had really talked about the billowing, airy musk, which I feel is its main identity. The rose, patchouli and incense are there there in abundance, sure, but they're all a-swirl in a wind of musk.

  12. Waaahhh! I was going to write about the Maharadjah. It is one of the weirdest fragrances I've ever tried, with that slap-yo-face lavender and then huh?...and then...huh? But I couldn't have come up with something as good as the building-blocks thing. I love every other PdN I've ever tried, even Eau Turquoise, but that one's weird in a good way.

  13. Wow, Katie - thank you so much for telling me about PG Felanilla! I'll definitely try to get a sample from Les Senteurs. I'd never say no to a little banana in my barnyard. Which...sounds so...strange. But true!

  14. Katie -- self-serving question here: What's yr impression of Frederic Malle's candles, Coffee Society and Rubrum Lily? I may be buying one smell unsmelt (is that right, like sight unseen -- why does that sound wrong?) but I often trust your reviews to clue me in on "surprises" ... I seem to remember a picture of you on Nathan Branch's site sampling these goods? Any advice?


    BTW, I liked Bal d'Afrique but do not own. Felanilla was both feet in the barnyard for me, thanks to my skin which is a gauntlet for more ephemeral top notes! Missoni *is* a series of smells and it's so good that way! Then again, on me Shalimar Ode de la Vanille was also a series of smells ... bergamot, jasmine, vanilla, I got cedar, and sandlewood, *very* linear and just no fun damn it!

  15. Katie: no one picked up on your Kelly Caleche suggestion, so I will. I love KC, a beautiful leather rose, which is one of those perfumes that makes more of a statement after you've left the room. Walk back into a room after running for...I don't know...a banana from the kitchen... and POW! Kelly Caleche! I hate it when your perfume upstages you.

    You know me Katie, I like to blur the gender lines when it comes to perfume, but this is quite feminine and not dark enough for me. Paestum Rose, Rose Oud, and that Czech and Speake one work better for me. I sent a whole bottle of Kelly Caleche EDP to my mom. She didn't appreciate it. She lives in the woods of Maine. Pronounced Hermes "hermies". What was I thinking...

  16. Olfacta,

    With perfume, it seems there's "weird in a a good way," and then there's "huh?"


    Dream it, and it shall be so.


    I'm here to serve. All of the Malle candles smell upliftingly beautiful unlit (though I've not yet smelled Russian Nights, which I just noticed on the Malle website.) I'm sure they're just as good while burning.

    Frederic M himself feels that Coffee Society is the one that's closest to a proper perfume (I suppose in complexity and depth,) and hints that Portrait of a Lady took some cues from it. I recall that Nathan Branch found that one the most enticing, but he ended up buying the Rubrum Lily as he felt it was more "neutral" for his home. He got the Mechanical Flower version - read his take on it here:

    I swoon every time I smell their Gardenia and Rose candles. I'd love to have them, but burning scented candles interferes with my perfume discovery process.

  17. Scott,

    Thank you for "hearing" me! Don't think of Kelly Calèche upstaging you -- think of it keeping your seat warm as you run for that banana.

    That's a good story about your mom. I guess Hermies doesn't cut it in the Maine woods. How about Lutens' Fille en Aiguilles to keep on the piney continuum?

  18. Ah, those homies in Maine.... and their Hermies!

  19. Katie, can you please help me?
    So... I'm desperate to find a fragrance that perfectly suits my party girl spirit.
    I'm looking for something energetic, easygoing, flirty and sexy. Something vibrating, I don't know, I just wish I can call some attencion in a good way. There are so many people at a club!
    I'm currently wearing Ma Dame by JPG and sometimes Fuel For Life by Diesel for the occasions.
    I've been considering buying Elle by YSL for the PARTIES! so what do you thing? And more importantly, what can you suggest me?


  20. Katie,

    I have Russian Nights and The Rose one by Malle. I love them both. I know what you mean about interfering in your perfume discovery. These will mess with it. That Rose is so awesome smelling. Only have to burn it about a half an hour and the whole house smells of roses. Russian Nights is really more your cup of tea. I love it. Its my favorite one.


  21. Gojira,

    Leave to you to have "gone on all the rides" when it comes to perfume experiences! Sounds like the Malle candles really deliver on "smell volume". I'd love to smell Rosa Rugosa when it's at full throttle. All of them, really!

  22. Nadia,

    I really like how you've worded your perfume "want ad!" Especially the "vibrating" part.

    You're drawn to some cool perfumes. Both Ma Dame and Fuel for Life are unusual blends of fruity and herby. YSL Elle is nice, too.

    For an energetic and vibrating party girl, you can't get more vibrating than Gucci Rush. That stuff is practically made for frolicsome nights out. It's got the off-kilter sexiness of the scents you like, and it's bold. Boy, is it ever bold.

    And see if Tom Ford Black Orchid works for you. It's also a quirky/sexy one that will carry in a crowded room.

  23. Eeeee! A picture of my man Amitabh, the Big B, on one of my favorite perfume blogs -- two of my obsessions collide!

    I have spent months wishing for a Bollywood-inspired fragrance; do you think Maharadjah could be it?

  24. Thanks Katie. I was a little worried when I read the words "spicy lily" in the description of Rubrum Lily, but I may go for it. I've faith that that means spicy in a floral way and not in a scary peppery way b/c this is Frederic Malle and he's classy like that. :)

  25. 50c76e2etc...

    The universe is officially folding in upon itself! Maharadjah could be Amitabh's scent, and L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant could be his leading lady's.


    I just got back from Barneys where I had a chance to revisit the Malle candles. "Spicy lily" definitely means in a floral way - classy to the max. It smells like fresh white lilies.

  26. I had heard something about cloves in Rubrum Lily and I got scared. Thanks for the recon! Also, a SA told me the Malle people had suggested you could use the candle wax on your skin like a solid perfume should you so be inclined (which I don't care much about) b/c they have perfume-based oils ... seemed to remember you wanted to wear Saints de Saints. Maybe you can. Thanks again.

  27. Katie, really enjoyed your Pen Pal exchange as usual and everyone's comments. I have absolutely no memory of Traverse de Bosphere even after spraying on the back of my hand. I hear it's a very low sillage scent but everyone raves about it so much I'm frustrated I can't remember a thing about it.

    Off topic I was reading about Anne Pliska yesterday and I thought it sounded like a potential KP scent.

    Oh and can I just recommend Insolence edp to Nadia Brasil - what else should a party girl smell of but red berries and hairspray?