When I first tried Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps in 1991, I was 21 and thought it an innocuous and pretty light floral. Revisiting it in 2013, aged 43 (but I look younger, we decided *cough*), I realised that my first impression was way off the mark. This is a floral with a bit of bite. This one is all about the warmth. The flowers are just the picture frame.
L’Air du Temps was created in 1948 and the classic bottle represents the dove of peace: a poignant symbol in post war Europe. The fragrance itself is a complex mix of light and shadow. The light comes from Rose, Bergamot and Violet: made airy and floaty with a light hand. The shadow comes from spicy warm Amber, raspy Vetiver, Benzoin and deep, dark Cloves. In other words, just when you think you’ve got it sussed, it changes into something different.
The balance of the two results in a fragrance of genius. It is light enough to be as delicate as a cloud, yet the base that remains makes it smoky, warm and rich. When I tried it yesterday the most prominent note was Amber. It was there from beginning to end. However, this is no rich Oriental: all warm and cosy. This is almost a sleight of hand. All those light, pretty florals promise one thing and then they fade into that classy and gently spiced finish that seems to say “there’s more to me than meets the eye.”
This is a classic scent that everyone should have in their collection. I understand there have been reformulations across the decades, but I cannot speak for them unless I have smelled them. It is also interesting, that I can’t for the life of me, name a scent that it resembles. (Fragrantica readers say Prince Matchabelli Wind Song, but I would have to have smelled that in order to agree).
For a flawless classic, this is a great price, starting at around 15GBP. I’ve run out again, but will be putting that right very soon.