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.