WHAT I SMELL: Narcisse Noir opens with a dark and deep narcissus, like it comes from the depths of a country field that is moistened with a warm undercurrent that runs through it. It’s sharp like the flower, but not so much that it’s all bite. After around five minutes the orange blossom comes to the surface. It’s not bright and it’s not juicy, but rather mixed with the narcissus it retains this darker, more mysterious edge. The jasmine adds a bit of rubberiness to the mix almost like its tuberose. I like it at this stage because it fills your lungs with weighted beefy florals. But soon enough, the darker veil lifts a bit to reveal a lighter side which unfortunately reminds me of expensive hair spray. If only the fragrance could have stayed in that early stage! The drydown….well, see below…
Top notes are african orange flower and narcissus; middle notes are jasmine, orange and tincture of rose; base notes are vetyver, musk and sandalwood.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: Years ago, the first home I ever purchased was in a suburb outside of Atlanta, GA called College Park. I lived in a neighborhood where we all had historic plaques on our homes and it was very homey, pretty and was a great place to live. Unfortunately, historic College Park is surrounded by some not so nice areas and quality grocery shopping was hard to come by. In East Point, the town next to us there was the Kroger Citi Center. I don’t know if they were trying to recreate a neighborhood concept, but whatever it was, it failed. Instead of walking directly into the grocery store, you had to walk by a series of mom and pop small businesses in addition to a Popeyes chicken restaurant. One of the business was a nasty looking beauty salon. I don’t know what kind of chemicals were used in that shop, but that horrid burnt hair, chemical smell combined with the smell of Popeye’s Fried Chicken always gave me a headache and made me nauseous. Unfortunately, the drydown in Narcisse Noir reminds me of the Kroger Citi Center. OK, this is better than that, but it still reminds me of the gauntlet that I used to have to walk through to get my groceries.
As I was having a hard time getting past this association, I asked my husband what he thought it smelled like. He said it smells kind of powdery like a girls bedroom and said it reminded him of his sister. Go figure…maybe she ate a lot of fried chicken while she was under the hairdryer!
THREE ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE NARCISSE NOIR: sour, strange, pungent
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT NARCISSE NOIR: Bois de Jasmin, The Perfumed Dandy, Perfume Posse
BOTTOM LINE: You would think that I would give this a great big “1 Bone”, but for some reason I am repulsed, yet attracted to this Caron classic and every once in a while will wear it. So even though it’s not for me there is a reason that it has been around since 1911. Besides, who couldn’t love that perfume bottle?
- Bone Rating: 3 out of 5 possible bones
- Scent: Oriental Floral
- Nose: Ernest Daltroff
- Classification: Feminine, with masculine leanings
- Expense: $180 for 15ml Parfum Extrait which this review was based on.
March 19, 2014 at 7:15 am
I have similar reactions to Narcisse Noir. I’m glad it’s not just me. thought I was a terrible philistine or something but this one smells sour and chemical and burnt on my skin, too.
March 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm
Ricky…thank goodness. I thought I would be the only one that seemed to struggle with this. Thanks for confirming I’m not brother!
March 19, 2014 at 9:38 am
As I remember that one is not easy to like, but can hardly be compared to anything else. I’d say strange kind of scent, I don’t even have better words to describe it.
March 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm
Strange is a good word for it.
March 19, 2014 at 11:54 am
Oh Steve, it hurts me to leave a negative comment on Caron but there are a certainly a few from my beloved Caron that leave me cold. This is one of them. I am curious about your description of Kroga City as I too found an oily hot chemical smell that I’d put down to an odd type of vanilla/vanillin or coumarin. I can smell it too in Royal Bain De Caron and Chopard’s Casmir where it reeks like burning rubber trainers!
March 19, 2014 at 6:49 pm
Ugggh… I picked up a bottle of Casmir for a song at an estate sale. I wish I wouldn’t have, it does nothing for me and is rather cloying and thick. I have to admit that I still want to check out Narcisse Blanc because it’s lighter, but I’m still worried about the orange blossom. Have you ever tried it?
March 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm
Nope, I haven’t. I wish Caron would do something about their distribution. There are a gazillion shops in france so why not a few more International boutiques? I want to smell everything by them regularly. I’m clearly a carnation slut. Casmir is very strange, I haven’t sold it because the bottle is wonderful but I can only wear it in very particular moods, uber plasticky.
March 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm
Caron isn’t “my brand” so I need a glowing review to even start thinking about testing any of their perfumes. Your review helped not to create any lemmings – thank you, Steve! 🙂
March 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm
Your pocketbook is no doubt happy right now 🙂
March 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Well, I am meeting a perfumista at the Caron boutique tomorrow after work and I’ll be sure to have a sniff of this. When I was at Bendel’s last week, the SA steered me towards some repackaged / reformulated Carons — not wowed by any and I was in a retail therapy mood.
March 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm
I can’t wait to hear what you think about the boutique. I am so jealous!!! Get lots of samples!
March 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm
So I made it to 715 Lex BUT the spa with the tiny Caron boutique was CLOSED for a private event! Grrrrr — Next time I will have to call them before I go.
March 21, 2014 at 5:42 am
What are the odds??!! Sorry, that means next time will be even sweeter!
March 20, 2014 at 2:41 am
I was thinking that you had a much more exciting time with Narcisse Noir than I did, but I’ve only tried the modern edt. There may be a musk I’m anosmic to, though, because it disappeared in a hurry. (Maybe that’s why it smelled so tame to your husband? Just speculation, as I am a little obsessed lately with anosmia, and wondering if I’ve ever actually smelled a musk in perfume that couldn’t be described as white or “clean.”) In any case, you’ve inspired me to dig out my sample and try it again.
March 21, 2014 at 6:04 am
Laurels – the extrait has some oomph behind it and lasts for a good long time. I don’t get any musk in it. Thankfully, I’m not a huge fan of musk, white or dirty. As for a dirty musk, check out my review on Bond’s New York Musk…another for me was P’dE’s Musc Tonkin, which just hit me the wrong way.
March 20, 2014 at 6:41 am
A wonderfully vivid review Mr Hound! I love when a perfume gives a very specific yet random vision in your head. I quite liked the vintage-y style of Narcisse Noir, but another Caron favourite, Nuit de Noel, smelled like stale urine in a gents toilet on me. There’s no logic!
March 21, 2014 at 6:05 am
That’s so funny that we have are polar opposites. I LOVE Nuit de Noel and think of it as creamy and rich…but I have never tried the EdT…maybe that’s a bit weaker?
March 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm
I think I was trying the EDP- it certainly had lasting power! However it was only a sample so it didn’t say.
March 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm
I keep thinking about sampling this one but never have. I love the scent of the narcissus but sour… hmmm…
March 21, 2014 at 6:06 am
Yeah, I couldn’t call it my favorite note!
March 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm
I love Tabac Blond and Parfum Sacre. My grandmother owned a hair salon growing up (think Steel Magnolias, the movie). I know that strange aqua net/fried chicken vibe plus perm or relaxer smell.
March 21, 2014 at 6:08 am
It is one of those smells that never really leaves you as it’s so distinct. Actually, I would think that it would have been fun as a kid to run around a salon which would have seemed so exciting as the ladies would be getting ready for their big weekends with their big hair!