If this perfume were a food then it would most definitely be bad for you (but delicious)!
Date, davana, pomegranate, palm leaf, black pepper, jasmin sambac, rosa damascena, dry plum, patchouli, cashmeran, vanilla, benzoin, caramel, tonka bean, ambroxan, musk.
Unless you have lived under some fragrance-free rock for the last ten years, and have never smelled a fine-quality fruity fragrance, you won’t be at all surprised that the first thing that hits you when you spray Nea by Jul et Mad is just how rich and opulent it is.
Sweet fruity notes are balanced by a nuttier and spicier edge. There is a very definite vein of sweetness here, which is touched by sourness, and the scent is fruity without being citrusy, abundant, warm and opulent.
Nea calls to mind some mythical table laden to the point of groaning with exotic fruits, dates, pomegranates, and dotted with beautiful flowers. Really, the only thing missing here is overt citrus. Instead, Nea focusses on the softer side of fruit and that feels like a good thing – there are no shortages of classy citrus scents, so much so that that particular field is already crowded.
At first, there is a touch of juiciness about the plum, pomegranate, apple, and peach notes that the scent conjured for us, but this is tempered by a stickiness from the dates. It reminded us of fingers, tacky from scoffing some sun-warmed succulent delights. As the scent matures, the juiciness turns into a lovely flowing smoothness, before finally, towards the end of the wear, becoming a luxuriant powderiness.
If there is a nit to pick here it would be that a little more of the spices would have been nice. The pepper is beautiful, but very restrained and perhaps could have gone a bit louder without putting the scent out of balance.
There is a caramel note in Nea, but it is well-handled. Caramel is one of those notes which is very easy to go over-the-top with and consequently fragrances that list it sometimes precipitate a rather nervous first sniff. Nea teases with a hint of caramel, that really smooths the fruity aspects out, and acts as a backdrop for them to rest against, but at a really good level that never becomes obtrusive.
At times, Nea, like many fruity scents (even excellent quality ones), winks in the direction of bubblebath or children’s medicine, but the perfumer has been skilful here because the fragrance makes this feel like a deliberate and charming whimsy, rather than a slip of the pipette. In many respects, this perfume is a tribute to difficult things handled gracefully with a very pleasing end result.
Nea becomes rosier and creamier as the scent wears on, before finally becoming powdery towards the end. The rose adds a really luscious honeyed and fleshy tone to the scent, suggesting a ripeness and fecundity as well as reading as ‘rose’ in its own right. The floral aspects of the fragrance really come into their own once the fragrance matures. They add a level of sophistication to the fruits and steer them, now, away from anything twee or humdrum.
Jasmine and rose are such a classic, elegant combination, and they really elevate the composition here, which is sweetened further by the vanilla and benzoin. Nea does seem to purr along at a very high pitch, but it never tips over into shrill or scratchy, always warm and round and rather lovely. A cosy scent for those who don’t like typically cosy scents perhaps?
One of the things we liked most about this fragrance though is the warm personality it has. If it were a person, it would be the sort of person who makes everyone feel welcome, the person who you leave with a warm glow after visiting, the person who always makes you feel loved and cherished. In fact if there were one word to sum up this fragrance it would be ‘cherish’. Which is rather a nice way to think of it.
The other stuff
Nea sits relatively close to the body. It projects to around handshake distance or so. The longevity of this fragrance is really good, lasting a full day of 10 hours or longer from an early morning application.
Nea wears best when it is warm, as a little warmth helps it to radiate beautifully, so for that reason we would suggest wearing it in the summer months.
In terms of the gender of this fragrance, it falls more towards the stereotypically feminine side of the spectrum. Wear it if you love it without heed to that though if you are more masculine and it appeals to you.
Jul et Mad are a brand centred around the love affair of the two founders, who met on the streets of Paris and who are documenting their lives together through scent. They work in close partnership with the perfumer to produce a fragrance which reflects each chapter of their experience. The brand are based in Paris, and work with French partners specialising in high quality and traditional French perfumery.
Nea was a 2016 Art and Olfaction award winner. It’s the first fragrance we have tried from the Jul et Mad line, but we are definitely intrigued to try more.
Nea by Jul et Mad is available from Jovoy Mayfair where it is priced at £420 for the ‘high luxury’ box which includes a fancy box, 50ml of the fragrance at extrait concentration, and a travel atomiser.
We were supplied with a no-strings-attached sample of Nea by Jovoy Mayfair, and thank them for their kindness.