I remember Narcisse Noir being a huge, lush, and shockingly animalic indole-laden orange blossom composition on a sultry dark foundation of musk, woods and resins, similar in weight and character, if not actual smell, to Serge Lutens’s Fleurs d’Oranger. The sample I’m wearing today opens on spicy green neroli and incense, then quickly morphs into a woody rose accord not altogether distant from Cabaret, or even Caron’s own Parfum Sacré, though less rich and rounded than either. The drydown is soapy/powdery where it was once musky and animalic, with a hint of leather, and it arrives very, very quickly.
The Narcisse Noir of my memory was both extremely potent and extremely “perfumey” in that manner that evoked big powder puffs, dressing gowns, and hairbrushes with silver handles. I could never for one moment have imagined wearing it myself. The current version is actually pretty clean and quiet, and I think it works quite well on me. I just can’t think of it as Narcisse Noir.
Thing is, there are better neroli scents out there (Czech & Speake’s, for starters), and better woody rose and incense compositions, too. I’d recommend not only Parfum Sacré and Cabaret over this, but Paestum Rose, Czech & Speake No. 88, and several Montale fragrances as well. And if you want that sexy, animalic orange blossom, there’s always the Lutens…
This review is only for the reformulated EDT.
It opened strongly, surprisingly soapy. I wasn't expecting that. It is the soapiness of the combination of florals with the sandalwood, so it isn't offensive. Czech and Speake 88 has a similar soap accord produced by the combination of sandalwood and rose & geranium, but that one is couched in a complex myriad of notes, so the soapy note doesn't dominate, while this has been fairly linear on me - soap and floral.
It opened with a light, soft orange blossom soapy note, which faded into a less sweetly floral soapy narcissus middle note. It dried down within several hours to not so much floral as soap... though a clean and lovely soap. There is next to zero deep base. The musk if present is a white musk with somewhat the same feel it produces - clean, quiet, soft. I'm sure a clean sandalwood is contributing to that also. At the very end the soapiness leaves and I was left with a pleasant light orange flower, rose & narcissus bouquet.
I'm not sure what to think of it. I'm trying to stay away from comparisons with the original, because they seem to have no vestiges of kinship. I've never minded soapy fragrances myself, so I'm not offended by the new Narcisse Noir. I understand their clean fresh appeal and tend to like them more than clean 'aquatics' or powder. But I wasn't seduced by it and don't think I'd purchase it. For a fragrance whose original formulation was slightly naughty, this fragrance amazes in having no vestige of sexuality at all.
10th December, 2013 (last edited: 30th March, 2015)
I have tried both the vintage perfume and EDT and they are wonderful. A blend of dark animalic notes and florals. It is as far from 'fresh' as you can get - which suits me fine.
A hundred years ago they created an amazing perfume that has had a long lasting legacy. It is first of all a fragrance for women, but if you go for the darker vintage I think men can wear it as well.
I do not know if it wears well in cooler climates, but on a tropical evening you sense the intoxicating effect of a rather heavy musky floral scent. It is my kind of fragrance.
I get orange and incense, and no 'noir' at all. It gets a thumbs up, as it is lovely, but once again, I'm a bit disappointed that it's not the ballsy fragrance I expected, and would love to try the original.
The sheer luxury of its opening makes this worth the entrance fee – the most unctuous narcissus lifted by an orange blossom breeze on a cushion of velvety, powdery sandalwood rising from the base. It makes me want to swan about in robes of bejewelled silk. The heart is more of a quality jasmine and there are quite a few of those about, but the ravishment is in the first glimpse and in the absolute luxury of the base which lingers the whole day long.
This review is for the early noughties version of the EDT;
The first impression on my skin is one of incense, along with a very retro floral accord, & beneath it all a kind of darkness. l'm also getting a whiff of something animalic, perhaps civet. The florals steadily begin to dominate; to my nose mainly a heady & indolic orange blossom. The overall feel to me though is not of white flowers, but the yellow blossoms of spring, from the palest primrose to the deep gold of daffodils. The animalic darkness remains throughout it's duration, turning this perfume from an innocent floral into something far more wicked, bewitching & beguiling. ln the far drydown l get a very pleasing impression of jasmine incense, fading out after around eight hours. A knockout on a spring day when the sap is rising, & definitely one for inspiring lustful thoughts!
l recently bought a bottle of the current EDT, & although it is a sunny & very pretty floral, it has completely lost the darkness that so seduced me in the earlier version. Very disappointing.
More recently still, l got a small decant of the vintage parfum, & boy oh boy, but this is seriously swoonworthy stuff! Narcotic in it's headiness, hypnotic in it's seductiveness, the darkness of the flowers reaches it's full expression in this version. Quite simply one of the most incredible & entrancing perfumes l have ever experienced.