N.C.P. Olfactives is different from most celebrity fragrances. For starters, it’s not immediately obvious which star is behind this chic-looking brand. And it is chic. While many celebrity juices come housed in look-at-me bottles adorned with glitter or pom-poms (which aren’t really my thing), this is all about functional packaging with some quirky design twists (more on those later). The scents housed inside are beautifully blended and can be layered, which makes you, the wearer, the star, since N.C.P. Olfactives enables you to create a mix that’s unique to you.
Actress Noomi Rapace is behind the unisex beauty brand (it also sells skincare), which she launched with three others: Swedish hairdresser Steve Terry, Jonas Nilsson, whose career has spanned international skier and pharmaceutical CEO, and Ash Purnouri, a well-known music mogul. The idea for a fragrance line came from Rapace’s lifelong love of fragrance and the way she uses different scents to get into characters for her film roles (which include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).
Rapace started concocting her own perfumes to help her embody her characters, as well as get in touch with who she really was off the set. “I needed to smell me,” the actress told WWD.com. “It basically feels like a shield, it strengthens my aura and it’s almost like an angel putting wings on you if you have the right smell.”
While using scent to create a character may seem alien to us non-actors, Rapace notes that we are all multifaceted beings showing slightly different versions of ourselves at different points during any given day. “You can go from a meeting in the morning where you need to approach someone in a certain way, to a lunch meeting with someone else and then in the evening you go out for a date or dancing,” she says. “If you have three perfumes that you can mix…you can be sure the message your fragrance communicates can match what you want to achieve.” And that’s the core of N.C.P. Olfactives. The brand isn’t just one signature scent—it’s a collective creating scents for people who don’t want to smell the same day in, day out. I have a friend who always wears Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady and it is one incredible perfume that makes me think of her when I smell it, but personally, I’m someone who loves to change my fragrance daily depending on my mood or my outfit. Sometimes, I’ll want a scent that is rich and leathery and other times I’ll reach for something floral and romantic. If, like me, you have a rotating perfume wardrobe, then keep scrolling to find out more about N.C.P. Olfactives and shop my favorite scents below.
How N.C.P. Olfactives Works
For years, I have played with layering fragrances. I’ll apply scented body oil and then layer a different fragrance on top, or I’ll apply two different perfumes to create my own unique blend—but I’m no perfumer and it’s not always a success. Thankfully, this brand takes the guesswork out of layering by concocting perfumes with fewer ingredients so you can’t go wrong—they all work together, so you can layer with wild abandon.
Every N.C.P. Olfactives fragrance is known as a “facet” and can be bought as a 50ml bottle with a striking monochrome striped lid, a 10ml bottle, or a 5ml ampoule. This enables you to really mix and match. When it comes to layering a few fragrances or pairing a couple, the website suggests you think about balance or yin and yang: you might pair a fresh, sparkling scent with something heavy and woody, for instance.
If you do decide to buy your favorite fragrance as a 50ml and then snap up a few smaller bottles of fragrances for layering, it makes sense to keep the smaller bottles in your handbag like I do. That way, you can tweak your signature scent throughout the day, whether you need something bright and zesty for a meeting or packed with sultry oud for a night out.
Along with the individual scents, there are two boxes containing either four 10ml facets or seven (pictured below, right), which are ideal if you’re not sure which ones to buy. I really like the simplicity of the box of four facets and it contains some seriously wearable and pretty addictive scents. There is also The Piece (pictured below left) which is an ampoule on a chain; you can choose from either silver, gold or black and it comes with two 5ml roll-ons of the brand’s signature scent, 701 Leather and Vetiver. I usually go for gold jewelry but apparently silver is making a comeback in fashion circles, so I went with it.
To help you with your layering journey, each fragrance is numbered to represent which olfactive family it comes from. 100 is citrus, 300 is floral, 500 is chypre, 700 is oriental, 200 is fruity, 400 is fougere and 600 is woody. So, for example, fragrance 102 contains notes of lime and ginger, while 301 is jasmine blended with sandalwood. Using the idea of balance as your guide, you might wear a woody fragrance but add a citrus or floral facet on top.
Shop My Favorites Below
I love wearing The Piece over a lightweight white T-shirt with a black blazer. It takes the concept of fragrance as an accessory to the next level. The big decision is whether you go for gold, silver or black.
With 14 facets to choose from, it can be a little daunting to know where to start—so why not treat yourself to this box of four facets? It contains popular scents from different olfactive families. 201 Apple & Driftwood actually smells like soft, sweet melon and layers wonderfully with the amber scent to add a little freshness. 301 Jasmine & Sandalwood has a real classic floral vibe (think fresh white flowers, not old lady rose) and it blends well with 401 Lavender & Juniper, which has just the softest hint of lavender and a lovely sniffable sweetness. I’m obsessed with 601 Amber & Gaiacwood, which adds an incredibly addictive earthy warmth to the skin—it’s my absolute favorite.
The N.C.P. Olfactives signature that comes in The Piece is a rich, warm and sultry oriental fragrance that is the perfect base for layering. With patchouli, musk, and vanilla, it’s highly addictive. I really love to spritz 401 Lavender & Juniper over the top for an intense, sexy scent.
If you love woody fragrances then this is worth a try. Shot through with vanilla and sandalwood, it’s got a hint of sweetness and is super easy to wear alone or layer.
A symphony of white flowers grounded in sandalwood, this is sensual on the skin but not as heavy as some of the woodier or oriental scents in the lineup. This is a really bright scent, which makes it the perfect go-to for daytime. I’ll be wearing this a lot come spring and then shifting it to something more sultry with one of the woodier scents in the evenings.