Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black


“We didn’t want to do another very average commercial fragrance where it could be anybody’s name on the bottle,” Mary-Kate Olsen declared in a WWD interview. Even if “better-than-average commercial fragrance” is not exactly a hard-won title these days, I’m happy to reassure MK that Nirvana Black, one of the two debut fragrances in the Olsen twins’ Elizabeth and James line, definitely qualifies.

The official notes for Nirvana Black are violet, sandalwood, and vanilla. I get no violet, or really any top notes to speak of. Nirvana Black is a sweet, creamy sandalwood fragrance from beginning to end. Perfumer Pierre Negrin claims that Nirvana Black contains “a good-grade sandalwood from Australia,” and it’s true that the fragrance never feels scratchy or thin. I’m basing this review on a rollerball (Sephora Beauty Insider reward, run don’t walk y’all), so I can’t speak to projection, but the lasting power is surprisingly good.

I like the Olsen twins, with their plucky little fashion careers and their slow loris eyes, and I like Nirvana Black just fine. I just can’t help thinking that Kate Walsh did it better with Boyfriend in 2011. Boyfriend had that same golden vanilla dry down, but the plum and myrrh notes made it significantly more complex. But seeing as Boyfriend has been dropped by Sephora, it’s nice to see another surprisingly good celeb scent on the market (especially one that comes in rollerball form).

The lost Olsen.
The lost Olsen.

15 thoughts on “Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black

  1. It kind of reminded me of TF Black Orchid, from the bottle design to the scent itself. That said, it’s pretty good. Brings me back to the days when I was dying to own the Mary-Kate&Ashley one and two “perfumes”.

    1. You have nothing to fear, Katherine. It’s very nice, a mainstream perfume that’s clearly been paying attention to the niche world.

  2. Loris Olsen is my favourite.
    Ha ha ha I love how you write “plucky little fashion careers”. These girls sell fashion with the big boys, I love them. From what could have ended very badly (youth acting, anorexia) I think they are very positive role models in loads of ways.
    Portia xx

    1. Very true! The Olsens have turned out loads better than some other child stars we could name (ahem, Lohan). Mary-Kate used to be my “thinspiration” as a teenager. It’s nice to see that both of us seem to have grown out of it.

  3. LOL the lost Olsen … I sniffed this today too and I have to say … The white is much more commercial but the black gives off niche/high quality vibes

    1. Agreed. The Olsens say in interviews that Black took a year and a half, but they did White in a few months after deciding they needed two fragrances. I think it definitely shows.

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