The Nicolaï universe

    • A FAMILY SAGA: Perfume in the blood

      With the opening of NICOLAÏ PARFUMEUR-CREATEUR in 1989, Patricia de Nicolaï and her husband Jean-Louis Michau took an audacious gamble by creating, signing and selling her own perfumes. The era of the auteur in the perfume business hadn’t yet arrived, and being a ‘nose’ (professional perfumer) was primarily a man’s role.

      From the beginning, the house of NICOLAÏ has taken devotion to top quality and complete creative freedom as its credo, maintaining a distinguished elegance that never bows to the diktats of marketing.

      This was the philosophy of the Guerlain family, from which Patricia is a descendant on her mother’s side. She is the great-granddaughter of Pierre Guerlain who, with his brother Jacques as chief perfume designer, propelled their company to success in the first part of the 20th century.

      Over the years, such rigour has captured an audience hungering for beautiful creations. Today, NICOLAÏ PARFUMEUR-CREATEUR is one of the jewels of the independent French perfume industry, whose products are exported around the world. Patricia is now assisted in her creative work by her son Axel de Nicolaï, who is also the enterprise’s director-general for development. For the Nicolaï family values both passion and tradition.

    • NICOLAÏ VALUES AND KNOW-HOW

      Outstanding quality selected by a resident perfumer

      It may seem obvious but it actually makes the difference: NICOLAÏ integrates the entire process between creation and fabrication, from the purchase of raw materials to sales in its shops. For both Patricia and Axel, it all begins with the raw materials. As well as the most innovative synthetics, they choose from among the best sources and producers of natural ingredients, ignoring the constraints of cost. Thus Patricia’s creative palette includes Indonesian patchouli, Cambodian oud and essence of Turkish rose – unique ingredients that tingle on the skin and provide a pleasant surprise even hours later. For that too is a NICOLAÏ hallmark.

      A typical day at NICOLAÏ

      Every morning Patricia and her team work on creating new scents, while staying in close touch with the market in order to anticipate the public’s tastes. Meanwhile, Axel closely evaluates Patricia’s fragrance explorations, with no holding back.

      In addition to her creative work Patricia supervises production, from monitoring the weight of ingredients to conformance with rigorous legislative standards (EU, national and also those of the many countries where NICOLAÏ is marketed). It is this unceasing attention to detail that makes her the guarantor of the finished product.

    • THE FACTORY: 100% FRENCH, 100% NICOLAÏ

      All NICOLAÏ fragrances begin life in the company’s Paris laboratory directly behind the shop at 28 rue de Richelieu, just steps away from the Louvre and the Palais-Royal. Once approved, a perfume’s concentrate formula is sent to the factory where it will be produced at a greater scale.

      NICOLAÏ owns its own production and packaging factory in La Ferté-Saint-Aubin in the heart of the ‘Cosmetic Valley’, a hub of the perfume industry that that is unique in the world, located in the Eure-et-Loir district.

      At the factory, which also contains a laboratory, offices and a sales outlet, qualified artisans put their know-how to work in support of the company’s valuable brand.

      Infusion with alcohol, maceration, icing, filtration, bottling and packaging… There are so many necessary stages between the original concept and the final product sent out to the eight NICOLAÏ shops and to the authorized retailers around the world.

       

      All perfume bottles are hand-stamped with the initials PN in black wax. Scented candles are poured by hand and made entirely of natural wax. It is a point of honour that the products are 100% made in France according to the traditional values of the perfume trade.

    TIMELINE

    1957

    Birth of Patricia de Nicolaï in Paris, to the great perfume making family, the Guerlains.

    1989

    In November the NICOLAÏ PARFUMEUR-CREATEUR brand is officially launched and the first shop is opened at 69 avenue Raymond Poincaré in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The perfumes are entirely created by Patricia in the small laboratory that can be seen by visitors to the shop. Both Patricia and her husband like to show what happens “behind the scene,” following the tradition of original modern perfume makers, notably Patricia’s ancestor Pierre François Pascal Guerlain. Among the first perfumes on sale is New York, Patricia’s signature perfume, which is deemed by Luca Turin (author of the 1992 Perfume Guide) to be one of the greatest fragrances in history.

    1992

    Opening of the second NICOLAÏ shop at 80 rue de Grenelle (Paris 7th).

    1997

    Patricia reveals her first eau fraîche, Eau d’Eté.

    2000

    Launch of Fig-Tea, an eau de toilette, which quickly becomes a star in Asia.

    2007

    Patricia is named a Chevalier in France’s Legion of Honour, recognizing her achievement as perfume designer who built her own brand.

    2009

    Launch of Patchouli Intense, the brand’s greatest bestseller.

    2011

    Opening of the sixth Parisian NICOLAÏ shop in the Sorbonne district at 240 rue Saint-Jacques (Paris 5th).

    2013

    Creation of a new collection: the Oud range launches with Rose Oud and Amber Oud.

    November 2014

    To mark the firm’s 25th anniversary, NICOLAÏ announces the appointment of Axel de Nicolaï, Patricia’s second son, as the general manager of the brand. Axel previously had made his mark in the perfume world working for major groups such as L’Oréal and LVMH, then for a distributer in the Middle East. This follows the publication of Nicolaï: parfumeur-créateur, un metier d’artiste, a history of the brand written by Patricia and her husband Jean-Louis.

    March 2016

    Launch of Oud Sublime, one of the most expensive Elixir de Parfum of the world.

    March 2017

    Launch of Rose Royale, eau de toilette.

    1981

    Patricia graduates from the ISIPCA (International Institute for Perfume, Cosmetics and Food Aromatics) in Versailles.

    1988

    Tired of working in a marketing-dominated environment, Patricia and her husband decide to take the huge gamble of creating their own perfume brand. In a positive omen for the future, the same year sees Patricia become the first female winner of the International Prize for Young Perfumers (French Society of Perfumers) for the fragrance Number One.

    1990

    In addition to producing perfume, Patricia is one of the first to create high quality ambiance scents (190 g candle, 100 ml spray and 250ml reed diffusers) especially Maharadjah, the brand’s iconic home fragrance.

    1993

    Launch of Sacrebleu perfume.

    1998

    The first NICOLAÏ shop outside of France opens in London’s elegant neighbourhood of Chelsea.

    2005

    Opening of the third NICOLAÏ shop in Paris at 28 rue de Richelieu, 1st arrondissement. Today the shop is both the company’s headquarters and Patricia’s creative laboratory.

    2008

    Patricia is elected President of the Osmothèque perfume museum and international archive situated in Versailles on the campus of the famous ISIPCA school.

    2010

    In full expansion, NICOLAÏ opens two new Parisian shops: one in the chic Marais district at 45 rue des Archives (Paris 3rd) and the other at 24bis boulevard de Courcelles (Paris 17th) facing the Parc Monceau.

    2012

    Launch of Musc Intense.

    2015

    Release of Ambre Cashmere Intense, the first creative collaboration between mother and son.

    June 2015

    Patricia receives the Prix Olfactorama (‘Enthousiasme’ category) for New York Intense, an eau de parfum version of her signature fragrance.

    January 2017

    Ouverture de la huitième boutique de la marque, au coeur de Neuilly sur Seine, au 31 rue de Chartres.

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