Caron Narcisse Noir and Caron Narcisse Blanc : Perfume Review

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Narcisse Noir

5 stars

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.

Caronnn

 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

4 stars

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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20 Comments

  • KS: Victoria, I always enjoy your writing about scents…your visualizations of the aromas! But I get sad too…where are the male equivalents of these glorious elixirs??? ARE there any? I wear and appreciate Serge Lutens perfumes (Ambre Sultan is my favorite)… and I boldly wear Jicky and proclaim its MASCULINE ORIGINS!, and I MOURN the passing of the extract version of Hammam Bouquet, but when I read of the Caron scents…the vintage Guerlains…most male colognes pale in comparison and lack such originality and boldness. Maybe I’m just being negative on this gloomy day in the NW! HA! June 3, 2005 at 6:58pm Reply

  • KS: Ah yes, re: jasmine…I got the best result with the banana/lemon when I used the lemon PEEL (pressed it to make the oils erupt from the pores!) and then nestled the peel between the banana (don’t let it get TOO ripe) and its skin. HA! I didn’t get much effect from the pulp in the lemon or its juice. REPORT BACK!

    And you are so right about just wearing what appeals. My grandfathers wore violet, carnation, floral lavender scents without a thought. My male guide in Morocco wore rose water and a very heady orange blossom scent. I have a sample vial of Rose d’homme but have not even sniffed it…I want it to be GREAT…and I want to LOVE it. I’m afraid to proceed!!! Certainly there are rose types that are “brawnier” than the tea rose. Have you smelled Rose d’homme yet? Enjoy your weekend and experiments. K June 4, 2005 at 12:34am Reply

  • LaureAnne: Darling Vee, you make these sound like something I’d like! I’ll have to recheck them.
    So when do we start working on the book? ;D
    xoxox,
    L June 4, 2005 at 6:59pm Reply

  • mreenymo: Narcisse Noir is one Caron that I definitely want to test when I get to the Caron boutique. And, I will get there one day, I just know it!

    I hope you are having a great weekend, dearest V. I will email you next week, and look forward to more of your wonderful reviews!

    Hugs! June 5, 2005 at 12:08am Reply

  • gsanders: I recently found a mention of Narcisse Noir in The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, in the scene where the devil and his minions put on a performance at the theater, and give away French clothes and perfume to the audience. June 7, 2005 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Tania: Nothing to do with Narcisses, Noir or Blanc, but thinking of Sunset Boulevard and perfume reminds me of William Holden in voiceover saying, in one scene, that Norma is wearing tuberose–NOT his favorite. June 7, 2005 at 8:02pm Reply

  • julien: I have had the privilege of smelling them many times.

    Well,my favorite one is NARCISSE BLANC,much more sweeter than NARCISSE NOIR.

    Nevertheless,to me Narcisse Noir is “the real opium”,very spiced,powerful,made for seducing…wear extrait de parfum,and you will see,every eye on you.

    Narcisse Blanc is something more like the new “CUIR BELUGA” of guerlain,sweet,powdery,gentle,that creates an aura of sweetness…
    It’s the perfect virgin mary perfume…natural,loving,like a mother’s kiss.

    I Really enjoy it.

    Thanks for your reviews. 🙂 June 27, 2005 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: I like both of them, but I agree that Narcisse Blanc is easier to wear. It has a unique pairing of luminous white florals and metallic iris. Interesting to hear you referring to it as the Virgin Mary perfume. June 27, 2005 at 9:02pm Reply

  • julien: Well…in my mind,i always try to create a kind of image about a perfume to explain better what i feel.
    As “a virgin mary perfume”,i want to say it is sweet and shiny but not seductive…i think it is a perfect perfume for loving mothers,that’s why this image came to me…
    Narcisse Noir,according to me,is most a diva fragance,very attractive scent…I would imagine it worn with a lot of pleasure by a woman like saharon stone,for example.
    Perdon me if i am not always able to explain exactly what i feel,i am french,and abour perfumes,it’s hard finding good terms.

    Kisses.
    J. June 28, 2005 at 6:03am Reply

  • Victoria: J, I really like the way you express your thoughts. It is quite interesting to hear these image based impressions! June 28, 2005 at 9:41am Reply

  • julien: Well…i have change my mind.
    I prefer Narcisse Noir than narcisse blanc.
    Finally,the metallic note,the over clean feeling of pure white in narcisse Blanc is very agressive to me actually.
    So i do prefer the darkness of Narcisse noir and its little animalistic note ,very sensual and not so agressive.

    🙂

    Kisses,j. November 28, 2005 at 6:09pm Reply

  • Romina: Deep breath. This scent scares the crap out of me. Something in its composition borders on possesion when you put it on, and not in a good way. There really is a dose of madness in it. You mention Gloria Swanson and there is another movie actually called “Black Narcissus” (based on the novel by the same name by Rumer Godden). See the movie, it is brilliant and disturbing.

    This is the perfume of dark, maybe destructive sexuality. Proceed with caution. Whew. Therefore- a brilliant piece of work. June 23, 2006 at 11:24pm Reply

  • Sammy Santiago: I am new to this forum of scents but what has brought me here is Narcisse Noir, I am 35 years old and can remember the only women I know of substance and mystery throught my young years, a women who took her secrets to the grave in 2001. I am speaking of my grandmother, who at a young age was showered with such great gifts in the late 1930’s by adoring young men, my family is of latin decent who owned many busineses in the east and west coast and who told me tales of the great depression in which they never felt because of their wealth. My grandmother was a gorgeous women who was always dressed to the nines and never stepped out of the house or posed for a photograph without looking like she just stepped off a movie screen. This scent indeed takes me to a deep placeof love and mystery and just drives me crazy, after my grandmother passed and I was very sad there was a year that I awoke every morning to the strong scent of Narcisse Noir and also went to bed with the scent in the air, I thought I was crazy but a few times friends stood over they would wake up and ask me if I sprayed some kind of perfume in the air and even my neighbor asked me the same thing so I know I was not crazy. I would like to think of that being my grandmother taking me off to slumber and waking me up for a new day everyday! After reading this post I am doing lotts of research on House of Caron and it’s scents and would like to sample all they have to offer. I would also like to know of the book someone spoke about in an earlier post in which it had the history of House of Caron and pictures of the bottles from the past. God Bless you all! August 23, 2006 at 5:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sammy, what a wonderful story! Here is the book information:
    Jean-Marie Martin-Hattemberg
    Toulouse: Éditions Milan (2000)
    Hardcover, 208 pages
    translation: Anne Mote, Susan Baines

    Here is another book:
    http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1928655017/701-7425736-3481110?v=glance&n=916520 August 23, 2006 at 5:37pm Reply

  • lviv2_1256@yahoo.com: First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the reviews; they are very insighful and knowlegeable and I refer to them constantly. Second, I need some help in resolving this mystery for me. I have purchased Narcisse Noir parfum and was really excited to try it and get into Norma Desmonds’s skin, so to speak. When I looked at the box, I was shocked. The front of the box said “Narcisse Blanc” and the back had “Narcisse Noir”. It spelled knockoff to me right away. I understand that Narcisse Blanc is only sold at the Caron boutiques. I would like to hear the panel’s advice on what I bought – a typing mistake or a greedy, sloppy, and ignorant fake. July 1, 2011 at 9:29am Reply

  • Victoria: Can you pl send me the photo of the box and the bottle? My address is on my about page. That might make it easier to figure it out.

    Thank you also for your kind words!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile July 1, 2011 at 9:42am Reply

  • Gentiana: Narcisse Noir is more and more interesting. Still challenging smell, but in 3 hours it calmed down enough to be shown in public.
    A retro, powdery floral, with strong similarities to other Carons I smelled (Bellodgia, Parfum Sacre, En Avion). I appreciate that Caron perfumes share this common base that makes them recognizable.
    My NN is a recent (2-3 years) edition of EDP in those stingray skin wrapped bottles.
    I didn’t try Caron vintages and I think I prefer the ignorance towards the frustration… I don’t want to start to mourn for the lost vintage beauties and complicate my existence by chasing them and trying to jump over my shadow…
    But…I die to smell the pure perfume… May 25, 2014 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: NN is still very good, so it’s no use to hunt after the expensive and difficult to find vintage. Of course, if you come across a bottle at a reasonable price, it’s another story, but I enjoy the current NN enough not to miss the vintage too much. May 25, 2014 at 3:31pm Reply

      • Gentiana: Thank you, it is a gorgeous fragrance although it is not easy to wear it at all. First because in the first 2 hours of development the smell can be skanky. After that it is a real gorgeous movie-screen diva. Well, I have to try hard to fit in the grand shape of this perfume…. Perfect hairdo, perfect manicure, perfect makeup, perfect clothing and stilettos needed! May 30, 2014 at 4:30am Reply

        • Victoria: A red lipstick perfume! May 30, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

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