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June 03, 2005

Fragrance Review: Caron Narcisse Noir and Caron Narcisse Blanc (New and Vintage)

Caronnn

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

Narcisse Noir

Caron Narcisse Noir created in 1911 by Ernest Daltroff is a true child of Art Deco, an era in art and fashion marked by the fascination with the East. The movie Sunset Boulevard enshrined this perfume, when Gloria Swanson pronounced the name in a deep sultry voice, “Black Narcissus, Narcisse Noir.” Even without knowing the context in which Narcisse Noir was created, one whiff of this sensual orange blossom can conjure up the Art Deco’s black and white motifs, Greek art inspired lithe figures, geometrical designs and stylized floral freezes.

It is a dark fragrance, with a sunny orange blossom note rendered uncharacteristically animalic and brooding. As Narcisse Noir develops, the incense unfolds and wrap the jasmine and orange blossom into a smoky mist.  The eau de toilette is beautiful for its luminous, sparkling quality. The extrait de parfum, on the other hand, is magical, given its rich, smoldering and mysterious character. Notes: orange blossom, lemon, bergamot, and petit grain; rose, jasmine, and jonquil; Persian black narcissus, musk, civet, and sandalwood.

On Reformulation (March 2011):

Narcisse Noir parfum is still a very good dark orange blossom fragrance. Even if it misses the animalic heft of the original, the opulent richness of the floral notes make up for the omission. The eau de toilette is less interesting: a pretty, uncomplicated orange blossom.

Narcisse Blanc

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

After the success of Narcisse Noir, Ernest Daltroff reworked the composition to make a fresher version for the American market. Introduced in 1922, Caron Narcisse Blanc is a pretty, bubbly floral dominated by notes of orange blossom, rose and jasmine. The opening motif is appealing--sweet orange blossom intertwined with jasmine and a hint of moss. The drydown is much sweeter than the opening accords suggest. I vacillate between enjoying it and finding it too cloying. However, after about an hour jasmine, orange blossom and rose start to fade revealing a cool iris note. It tempers the sweetness of the heart, like a soft breeze dispels the balmy air on a hot summer night.

Notes: orange blossom, neroli, petitgrain, orange, jasmine, rose, linden, iris, amber, musk. 

On Reformulation (March 2011):

Orange blossom, jasmine, narcissus on a musky ambery base, the original Narcisse Blanc was a very pretty white floral. The current version does not smell that different, albeit it is cleaner and brighter. Not a bad reformulation if you liked the original to begin with.

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