Elizabeth & James House of Nirvana Black Gift Set ($180.00) is described as “sensual, edgy, mysterious” with notes of “violet, sandalwood, [and] vanilla.”
Long-time readers will know that when I wear fragrance, it’s typically something from Tom Ford’s range (there’s just something about the formulations that appeal to my preferences but wear exceptionally well on my skin), but I’ve really come to love Elizabeth & James’ Nirvana Black. Where the Tom Ford scents I wear are loud, heavy, powerhouse scents, Nirvana Black gives me a lot of the warmth and coziness that I tend to like in a more moderate version. It’s also a more linear, less complex scent that is simply done to me; it’s mostly a mix of warmer sandalwood paired with sweet vanilla that is neither strongly woodsy nor cloyingly sweet. There’s a violet note in it, which I mostly detect in the first half hour to hour but is soft and plays hide and seek.
It’s a very smooth, moderately creamy scent where none of the notes really stand out at any point. It smells much the same hours later as it did when first applied. I find it just as wearable in 110-degree heat as it is in cooler seasons. There’s low to moderate sillage (depending on what variation you’re wearing, and how much you apply), but it’s the type of scent that very much feels like something I can tell I’m wearing but know that it is unlikely to bother everyone I come into contact with.
I find the eau de parfum and body oil to have the best longevity (12 hours for the spray, 8 hours for the body oil), while the dry shampoo has greater sillage for the first hour but calms down after that and is detectable when I release my hair from a bun but less so otherwise. The dry shampoo has worked well for me at absorbing oil from the hair and getting another day or two out of my hair for when I’m too lazy to wash it (I’ve repurchased it several times, and I purchased five–yes, five!–during the recent sale).
The body oil is more of a skin scent, which I think works if you are applying it all over the legs or the arms. Though it has a very similar smell to the dry down of the Nirvana Black scent, the body oil lacks transformation and smells the same from start to finish with even less nuance. I liked it, but the eau de parfum is better. It’s actually the body oil (which I had as a press sample from its initial debut) that made me love the scent and want the actual eau de parfum.
The hand cream was decent to good as a hand moisturizer, but it’s less ideal for someone with very dry or cracked hands, while the scent is noticeable but not over-the-top; it’s non-greasy, dries down within a few minutes. If it was a gift with purchase, I wouldn’t say no, but I don’t think I’d purchase it on its own.
The candle has a burn time of 55 hours, according to the brand, and it comes in a black, glass holder that’s very simple. It’s incredibly low in throw; I could barely get a whiff of sweet vanilla just in the jar. I’ve burned it for a few hours at a time, and the scent is so subtle that I hardly notice that it’s burning. Of all the products in the set, this was the most disappointing.
There’s also a rollerball version (which isn’t included in this set, but I have, so I might as well mention it here!) has the least sillage and shortest wear on me (I can barely tell it’s there after six to eight hours), and I always get a little plastic scent from it in the first five minutes that isn’t apparent in the other variations to me (thankfully, that does go away). I have not tried the solid or perfume oil options.
I thought the presentation of the set was lovely; it was a well-made, cardboard box with raised, gold dots and gold edging that opened and lifted the first tray at an angle, and then the other products were in a drawer that pulled out. I don’t recommend the set, as I don’t think all of the accessory products are worth getting (hand cream, candle). If it’s the type of you might enjoy, I’d recommend checking out the eau de parfum, which you can get in a smaller 1 fl. oz. size for $65 (or 1.7 fl. oz. for $85, 3.4 fl. oz. for $110) or the body oil ($60).
The Nirvana Black family…
- Eau de Parfum ($65 to $110)
- Body Oil ($60)
- Dry Shampoo ($28)
- Candle ($60)
- Rollerball ($25)
- Pure Perfume Oil ($35)