Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nahema: the staggering queen of roses

800px-The_Roses_of_Heliogabalus Every time I think I have a handle on the incredible Guerlain lineup of fragrances, the ground shifts beneath my feet, I smell something again, for the first time, for the latest in the string of revelatory times, and my perspective changes. I then see the quality of one category of fragrance completely differently—all other iterations of genre pale in comparison to the one brilliant Guerlain creation. Such was my experience tonight with Nahema, a Guerlain I know well, own in several forms, thought I understood….I was wrong. Tonight was a hot rainy day, followed with a humid overcast evening. I put on Nahema and she radiated from my skin. I finally understood her, because she was part of me, or was I part of her? It didn't matter, really.

There she was, a shifting whorl of impressions, now a lavender, now a cinnamon, now the smell of503px-Giovanniricciardibit damp sweat, now the physical incarnation of the idea of the dark tang of love at midnight. never a rose in the sense of a rose is a rose is a rose, but a ROSE, like the platonic ideal of the idea of rosiness. I have heard a legend—I am not versed enough in the technical aspects of perfume creation to test its veracity or not, but I like it for the idea’s sake, for the power of legend--that this, one of the greatest of all roses, has no actual rose in it. I like that idea, like the notion that it is, like a pointillist painting (although this swooping oriental rose of Nahema has absolutely nothing to do with the stilted and blocky precision of pointillism) not at all rose when seen up close, but when one steps away, an incredible image emerges, something that boggles the mind a little.

Don’t forget to enter in my giveaway of Tauer perfume here


1888 Lawrence Alma-Tadema - The Roses of Heliogabalus courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Giovanni Ricciardi, olio su tela 2006 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Well done Sarah! I have never smelled Nahema but you sure made me want to. And I love the picture you chose on the top, the rose petals swirling around them all, so fitting for your post. :)

    I am loving roses and violets , iris, linden and mimosa scents. So light but yet I crave something along those lines and I'm having a ball trying to find the perfect ones for summer.

    Take care<3<3

  2. Thanks, Tamara! Those pictures did seem right for the post.

    You'll have to tell me what linden, iris, and mimosa scents you've found!

    Have a great Sunday!

  3. I love roses but Nahéma is plainly sickening for me. Beautiful but I need to sniff it with extreme caution... and I can't wear it.

    (on a side note, your mail doesn't work)
    (on another side note, I once made a perfume that contained quite some linden blossom)

  4. Sorry about Nahéma for you! That's too bad! Hmm. you're right, something is wrong with my email. I'll get after that right away!

    meanwhile, you can email me at

  5. Sarah,
    Nahema should have been my first Guerlain, and indeed was for a brief 20min. You see, I first read about it in a magazine article about rose perfumes in the mid-'90s. When I had a chance to visit Saks in NYC, I went to the Guerlain boutique to enquire about the scent, got a spritz, and promptly fell in-love with the incredible head-on blast of roses. I purchased the pdt and walked out of the store. It was a particularly warm spring day and I kept smelling my wrist until about 15 minutes, when the top notes faded and then came this plasticky tropical lotion smell. You can imagine my dismay as I trudged my purchase back to Saks for a refund. A year later, Chamade became my first "official" Guerlain and my favorite for the next 5 years.
    That was from my pre-perfumista days and nowadays, I have since re-purchased a bottle of the pdt, and appreciate the beauty of Nahema and enjoy it at every wearing.
    So glad you love it as well.

  6. OH NO!

    I am so sorry! What a tragic story. I think a really hot walk is a great test of a perfume, although one must know it well beforehand, I think, since the sick-making aspects of almost any scent are brought out by hot weather.

    Glad you were able to return to the lovely Nahéma.

    Thank you for the comment!


what thinkest thou?


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