Genre: Woody Oriental
Chalk one up for truth in advertising. Noir Epices is just that: dark and brooding, like Byron's Manfed in a particularly grim mood. The nutmeg, black pepper, and clove blend with a clean rose note to produce a melancholic heart accord that is as beautiful as it is sober.
The pepper and clove hang around to join the patchouli and woods in a rich, yet utterly sugarless drydown. I get a whiff of barbershop a few hours into the development, but it's not enough to cheapen the scent at all. Instead, it adds a tinge of nostalgia to this already moody composition.
This is a gripping fragrance, and also very formal to my nose. Malle markets it as unisex, but I think it would take a very special woman to pull this one off. Moderate sillage and projection, and reasonable staying power.
Based on the scents Catherine Deneuve lists as her favorites, as well as her own scent, Deneuve, I can see why she likes Noir Epices. It definitely opens with a dramatic flourish of rich spices and mystery that evokes a frozen frame from a Film Noire movie from the 1930's or 40's, along with the dramatic chypres that would have likely been worn back then by the movie's leading lady. However, on me, that wonderful drama doesn't sustain itself for very long and the scent quickly dries down into a soft and creamy, but mildly spicy skin scent and whatever created the chypre effect (JaimeB and PigeonMurderer seemed to have experienced the same chypre faze) has completely disappeared. In all fairness, I am experiencing this scent from dabs from a 1 ml sample. It might be that this is a scent that is best sprayed to get the full effect.
Frederic Malle - Noir Espices
This is a perfume that clearly suffers from an overdose of geranium, making it smell cheap, like mosquito-spray and/or citronella, which to my nose is one the most 'avoid if possible'-notes in perfumery. It gives Noir Espices a top-heavy top while its base is rather lightweight, giving it a very strange dynamic feel. Good materials, but it gives me the impression that it was made in a hurry because overall there is little refinement to detect - it smells sharp, crude and sharp-edged most of the time. Its nice when the basenotes get more apparent and the rest gets toned down, finding a more airy-feel giving it a more balanced character; still, it only gets a soft elegance and juicy flow till late in its dry-out making me wonder what was all the noise about... Overall, this perfume suffers from a lack of identity - a clear balanced form in which it can find a language of its own. Its dryout is the most expressive part - mixing up creamy-woody and spicy-woody notes with a brushed off mentholic-patchouli note that gives it an airy lift. To me it smells like trying to enjoy eating a lemon-curd in a very hot and cramped traditional Indian kitchen, where they are preparing marinades from crushed and baked spices in large foodpans. But then, without the spirit of human warmth...
Frederic Malle Noir Epice.
This is a delicate perfume. There is orange, geranium and rose. It is an aged perfume. There is cedar, nutmeg, and clove. I find the composition to be nostalgic.
Smelling Noir Epice is like finding your favourite fall coat from your college days. You remember how much you loved it, the good times associated with it, and how dashing it made you feel. You are happy that you found it. It still looks great, and you wonder why you haven't worn it in so long. But wearing it out that night, you notice that it is a little torn on the sleeve, and a bit worn out on the elbows, and that it is just not you any more.
Noir Epice is an evocative and a romantic scent. The rose, woods, and spices are intoxicating. Despite being a bit aged and a bit too sensual for my taste, this one begs to be worn.
Pros: One of the best uses of the rose note
Cons: Old wood chest vibe"
'Black (and) spices' might be the translation--not 'black spices' because the adjective is supposed to come after the noun in French. Anyway, this fragrance has lots of oddities beyond the name. I found the orange and sweet flashes of the opening very fleeting. The geranium managed to hold on and add a tiny bit of herbal freshness to balance the dark angularity of the base. The woods and spice used here have nothing to do with anything incense-y. The base is like an old wooden box--maybe a cigar box--that has been stored in a dry attic or maybe an Egyptian pyramid. When you open the box, you get only the very basso base notes of wood. It is a dark scent that reminds me of Domenico Caraceni 1913--another very dark rose, although Noir Epices is much smoother. It is a very unique note that has nothing 'perfumey' about it. As the blurb puts it 'its sensuality is elegant, never lascivious.' The very dark rosy and woody hum is brightened by the geranium and pepper. I got something kind of minty about it from time to time, although such a note is not listed. An analogous visual effect might be, say, a very powerful or spiritual person, very serious, wearing heavy, sombre earth toned clothing, but also wearing just a small swatch of sparkly netting or something else bright and a bit ephemeral. This dichotomy eases as as the base smoothes out, and the sparkly upper layer settles down to blend with the base in a more relaxed and balmy tone. This is unlike anything I have ever smelled before--quite a creative accomplishment. Not for everyone--get a sample first! For me, it was a completely new concept of fragrance. Groundbreaking. Super masculine, I would say. A woman who could rock this would be a very special person indeed.