Narcisse Noir fragrance notes

  • Head

    • Orange Blossom, Bergamot, Lemon, Petitgrain
  • Heart

    • narcissus, rose, jasmine
  • Base

    • Musk, Civet, Sandalwood, Vetiver

Where to buy

Latest Reviews of Narcisse Noir

The DB5 that Bond drove may be a classic car, and desirable, but it's probably too simple for modern drivers.
The same may be true for Narcisse Noir.
It's a sweet orange flower bouquet with a vintage rubbery feel - similar to Knize Ten and l'Origan - which may put some wearers off.
People used to the modern type of red berry sweetness might not like the dark smelly depths of this black narcissus, which could be why it's been repackaged at least three times, and - of course -that often means reformulated.
This is a modern sample in a dimpled white box, which I think is alright but I wouldn't go berserk for it...
7th November 2022
A legendary fragrance in the Caron canon, Narcisse Noir (90s interation) is sun-kissed narcissus flowers lifted by the balm of orange blossom. A shade of methyl anthranilate from the orange blossom accord suggests concord grapes in the sun as well. The honeyed, aldehydic radiance of the opening soon converges with a sheer, almost dust, yet warm yellow impression of the floral heart, rending the glow into a melancholy luminescence.

A subtle hint of civet, or something civet-like, are discerned in the dry down, extending the floral heart with traces of powder and pollen, lingering longingly on the skin. The base is beautifully haunting and pensive: cue the classic 60s song "Traces" by Classics IV. A fanciful reverie merges into a pensive reflection; a trompe l'oeil field of daffodils.
8th March 2022

This started off with such promise. First thought: Oh, that's very interesting. Opening: black tea(?) & bergamot; then old-fashioned grandma soap (Ivory?) with some abstract white flower (Jasmine?); powdery musk lurking just around the corner, extremely reluctant to reveal itself in all its animalic, seductive glory. I can't wait to find out what it develops into. Alas: two hours later, all signs of Narcisse Noir have disappeared. Such a tease.
5th March 2022
Narcisse Noir by Caron (1911) is a creamy, sweet, powdery floral that seems almost as a presage to Guerlain L'Huere Bleue (1912) in style, but with narcissus and neroli leading the charge over incense and light musky animalics instead of a heliotrope-led semi-fougère musk accord like the Guerlain. Ernest Daltroff was indeed a peer of Jacques Guerlain in talent, but had a less-fussy style that didn't use the kitchen sink note pyramids Jacques became famous for (and modern luxury perfumers like Roja Dove try to emulate). This difference in approach is evident on Narcisse Noir, which reaches much the same conclusion albeit with less dynamism due to having less "sides" to the composition. While I won't fool anyone by calling this a simple perfume, it certainly was operating with a level of economy not seen in most other French houses of the time.

Bergamot, petitgrain, and lemon flank a sweet orange blossom in the beginning, but this is no fresh neroli eau since that musky base is evident right away. Rose and heavily-indolic jasmine flank the starring narcissus, affording that rounded daffodil smell which comes across like a darker heliotrope without the powdery aspects, hence the scent's name, further accentuated by the musk and light civet dusting in the base. Creamy and slight sandalwood appears under the darkened florals, with olibanum and a bit of vetiver to keep the composition from being too sweet, plus a tiny dollop of coumarin to smooth out the woody incense. This is not a horny toad despite the animalics, and the whole composition only really hints at scandal, making it a romantic perfume for the "proper women" of the time period. Wear time is long with acceptable sillage, and like L'Huere Bleue, Narcisse Noir is no monster in performance even in extrait. Something this painfully period-correct is hard to pitch a context for in the 21st century, so wear in median temperatures for any occasion you feel suited.

Narcisse Noir is just too "pretty" for even genderbending CISHET perfume wearing men, but women and anyone less-defined by the double standards of masculine tropes in patriarchal Western culture will find Narcisse Noir nice, if a bit quaint. This one often gets called a must-sample rose perfume but I honestly don't get much rose around the narcissus, neroli, and the fattening base notes, so I'd only seek this out if you're a lover of prim, well-blended, and semi-powdery vintage perfumes for the sexually-repressed upper classes of the era, because those not cultivating an appreciation of this baroque period of perfumery will label Narcisse Noir a "grandma's perfume". Brilliant genre-defining effort from Caron, but only a worthwhile venture for the hardcore due to Caron only offering most of their antique lines as pricey extraits outside also-pricey vintage examples. Thumbs up!
6th May 2019
Really? Maybe it's just a drastic difference between the vintage and the current version that I'm sampling, but all I smell is grape Kool Aid, very obviously "inspired" by Dior's Poison.

With a gun held to my head, I could barely make out a smudge of sandalwood under the Kool Aid, but not a single pinch of indolic orange blossom or anything else everyone is talking about.

Judged as a modern fruity floral that smells like Kool Aid, it's not terrible, though it's quite thin and totally unnecessary. Anyone want to share a sample of the vintage?
19th December 2015
A vintage sample:
The opening introduces the narcissus very early on my skin, underpinned by a gently woven carpet of white florals, which are difficult to discern in detail. In the drydown, however, a lovely jasmines comes to the fore, and these impression more or less define the first half of this scent's development.

In the later stage a shift firm the bright floral towards the darker side occurs, with a sinister rose and wood notes heralding this change. Then an animalic note arises and gradually takes over, a civet-rich but more somber than sinister note that is never really heavy on my skin. In the end the now somewhat attenuated civet remains as the main player, mellowed by a ligh powdery background, albeit very close to my skin at that stage, and slowly fades out over that last half of this fragrance's life span.

The quality of the ingredients is without reproach, and the blending supreme. A floral turning animalic - great. The performance is good with only soft sillage, but adequate projection and an excellent longevity of eight hours. Lovely with a creative twist. 3.5/5
18th August 2015
Genre: Floral

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…
21st June 2014
This review is for the reformulated EDT. It opened strongly soapy orange blossom. It smells like the soapiness you get with some florals and sandalwood. Czech and Speake 88 has a similar soap accord produced by a combination of sandalwood and rose & geranium, but that one is couched in complex myriad notes so the soapy note doesn't dominate, while Narcisse Noire is fairly linear on me - a sort of soap and neroli confection.
It has a strong orange blossom-neroli riff, so you have to be in the mood for that. It fades into a less sweetly floral soapy narcissus note, and dries down within several hours to a less orange blossom/more soap affair. It's a clean and lovely soap, but there's next to zero deep base, perhaps a subtle undertone of civet.
I know orange blossom was very popular in the era Narcisse Noir was created, and that ethos is present in this edt. It is soft, sweet feminine with no shadow, which was preferred then, I think, and which made the original Narcisse Noire so daring. So what happened to this edt? What does it represent? Certainly not a more daring version of femininity. It seems to reinforce the status quo, not challenge it.
So I'm going to have to leave it's heritage behind, because this edt doesn't make sense with all that. I assume the original had a stronger naughty element - I'm sure this new edt is the most cleaned-up version. Sometimes these reformulations of perfumes from past eras don't translate well.
So I'll consider the edt on its own. I don't mind the clean, pretty, soapy appeal and like it more than clean 'aquatics' or powder. I wasn't seduced by it and don't think I'd purchase it. I'd have to be in a certain zone to want to wear it, perhaps a few times a year. But for a fragrance whose original formulation was slightly naughty, this fragrance amazes in having no vestige of sexuality at all.
10th December 2013
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.

16th January 2013
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.
31st October 2012
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.
28th June 2012
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.
11th June 2012