Coming around again Monday: Norell New York

NorellWell, this certainly was a long time coming, and a nice surprise to boot. Having loved the original ages ago, I was happy to see the new Norell New York at Neiman Marcus. But I did wonder: Why now, after all these years? Not sure how much name recognition it’s likely to get these days, save for those who recall the original scent, and fashionistas and those familiar with its namesake American designer Norman Norell. This new scent obviously is capitalizing on the name, but geared toward a younger crowd, fragrance-wise, because vintage-style juice it is not. This no-way, no-how, not in any form, resembles the spirit of the 1968-launched original. It doesn’t pack even a fraction of the punch of its predecessor, with its take-charge mix of spice, florals and crisp green.

But taken on its own, the new Norell is a lovely, soft whisper of scent, silky, modern and feminine. It’s the epitome of smooth, and well-blended almost to a fault, with one of the most linear developments I can recall sniffing in a while. In fact, I had difficulty parsing out many of the listed notes. I think I detect a hint of peony and perhaps pear; and later on, it eases into a bit of warmth and nuttiness (sandalwood and vetiver), joined by vanilla and musk. But no galbanum, jasmine or other note jumped out at me. Had I sniffed this blindly, I might have thought it had come from Stella McCartney’s stable of scents, or perhaps one of the recent offerings from Carven or Balenciaga. Of course, I am not the best at deconstructing a fragrance, and some of you may pick out more in this.

Per Fragrantica: Top notes are galbanum, bergamot, pear and mandarin orange; middle notes are jasmine, peony, orchid and gardenia; base notes are orris, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla and musk.

And lest I forget, there is the bottle. One of the classiest I have seen in a while; it gets its silhouette from the original Norell bottle and takes it up a notch. I had to jump through about eleventy-jillion hoops to do so, but finally got my mitts on a mini of this. So refined and elegant, it makes me almost wish I could afford the Baccarat crystal version of it (at $1500 no less — yikes!).

The kind SA at Neiman’s where I sniffed this also made me a sample of the Norell New York body oil, and I have to say I was rather taken with it. Very silky and delicately scented, it would make a lovely après-bath treat to slather on all over. And I almost could get away with it at my fragrance-free office, so close to the skin does it wear.

What about you? Are there any perfumed body oils that you like? And did any of you wear the original Norell back in the day? I remember loving it in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and feeling very bold and chic in it, almost as if it were sophisticated fragrant armor. I know it’s been reformulated at least once, maybe twice or more, but not sure.

  • Dina C. says:

    Well if you couldn’t smell the galbanum, then I’m afraid it will be a disappointment to me. I wanted it to be one of those emerald ladies like No. 19 or Vent Vert. Oh well. I still want to sniff it. The bottle has that old Hollywood glamour. The only bath oil I can remember using is Neutrogena, which is drugstore fare, but smells nice anyway.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Dina! Do give it a try if you get the chance — your nose might be better than mine and you might get the galbanum.
      I really like Neutrogena’s body products, too, just don’t get to do baths much anymore. But one day … long, leisurely soaks will be mine again. 🙂

  • pklagrange says:

    I was using up some time at Nieman’s when I saw the Norell bottles on the shelf! I used to wear this in the 70’s – the fragrance was probably too mature for me then, but I loved it. I was hoping for something a little closer to the original, but I think you captured its essence perfectly. I did get the oil, if only for old time’s sake. Miss the perfumes of my youth!

    • Ann says:

      Yay! So happy you got to try this. I, too, was hoping for something closer to the original, but that’s the way it goes with fragrance today mostly. Glad you liked the body oil though.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Ann,
    The bottle IS gorgeous.
    Portia xx

  • rosarita313 says:

    Hi Ann! I remember buying Norell at the drugstore with babysitting money many years ago. I have a little of the vintage and eke out a little every once in a while. The body oil of the reissue sounds lovely.

    • Ann says:

      Hello, dear! That is so cool — only “back in the day” could you get a nice classic scent at the drugstore. Enjoy that lovely vintage! BTW, if it weren’t quite so pricey, I might have treated myself to a bottle of the body oil. But at $80-plus bucks a pop, I will just have to pass, enjoy my little sample and when it’s gone, indulge at the counter every time I’m at Neiman’s. I am curious (and hopeful) if this will end up going into wider distribution than just Neiman’s and Bergdorf’s. Six months or a year will tell!

  • Claudia says:

    My mother wore this and Ivoire around ’72 when I was in high school. Loved them both!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Claudia. You both have good taste! I remember wearing Ivoire a time or two back in the day, but now can’t for the life of me recall what it smelled like. Must find some vintage and re-sniff. Thanks!