The original New York by Parfums de Nicolai is one of those miraculous fragrances that reshaped an old idea into a masterpiece. A close relative to woody spicy fragrances of the mid-sixties like Chanel’s Pour Monsieur and Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, New York – released in 1989 – opens with a blast of citruses and herbs followed closely by lavender, spices and musk. The arrangement is immediately recognizable, snapping the mind to visions of Mad Men’s upscale bars full of well-dressed men in the off hours.
Yet somehow, it bears a polish and depth that similar perfumes just barely miss. I’m sure it’s partially a matter of taste, but I never even considered plunking down the money for this style of perfume until I got my nose on New York. Now I’m convinced that anyone of any age should have this bottle in their collection.
So of course, when I heard that New York Intense — a flanker released in 2014 — was somehow an improvement on the original, my mind couldn’t quite comprehend the idea. It was almost inevitable that my first experience with the fragrance was one of disappointment. New York Intense’s syrupy citrus-vanilla combination made me realize just how much I prized the airy freshness of the original composition.
Into the sample box my little vial went, there to remain for almost a year before I revisited it. Upon revisit, my initial impression wasn’t ‘wrong,’ exactly. New York Intense absolutely opens with a heavy-handed, syrupy version of the original. However, there’s certainly more to New York Intense than the first sniff. Of course that’s true for most perfumes – but New York Intense goes out of its way to show why disappointed expectations may just be a sign of greatness lying in unexpected places.
New York Intense Notes:
Oakmoss, Bergamot, Lavender, Citron, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Civet, Petitgrain, Vanilla, Incense, Castoreum, Thyme, Styrax, Musk, Artemisia, Chamomile
There’s no way around it – the first blast of New York Intense is a lot to handle. I’ve never smelled a Woody Spicy fragrance so dense. The citrus notes, spices, and basenotes all open with disorienting volume. It’s one of those perfumes that had me wincing every time I stuck my nose into it for the first twenty minutes or so. Yet I couldn’t stop smelling my wrist. Contained in that first stage are hints of all the stages to come. Wow, are those stages glorious.
After New York Intense calms down, it transforms into a far more appealing, complex version of the initial blast. The citron, bright and rounded, is complemented beautifully by the spicy notes, which bubble happily along the edges. Cinnamon and cloves are a pretty common pairing, but here they’re truly at their best. This perfume manages to make those holiday-leaning notes lean closer to classic masculine territory through their deft balance with animalic basenotes as well as oakmoss, which is gloriously present during the perfume’s entire lifespan.
The mossy, sweeter characteristics blossom over the next ten or so hours of New York Intense’s impressive performance, developing gracefully into a musky, mossy vanilla that smells like every glowing review of an oakmoss perfume would suggest. It’s the sort of accomplishment that makes old school new again, and truly timeless. I can see high schoolers pulling this off just as well as grey-haired professors. New York Intense bears a simultaneous vibrancy and elegance that really does suit anyone lucky enough to wear it.
If you’re looking for old school cool, you absolutely need to sample New York Intense, and you can do so here. Thankfully, Parfums de Nicolai also offers the perfume in a single-ounce bottle, which is ridiculously good value at this level of quality. Don’t hesitate to try this one out, no matter what kind of experiences you’ve had with classic masculine fragrances. It’s worth a look, and a second look, and a third – no matter when you revisit it, it’s unlikely to have lost its luster.
The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.
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