narcissus: 3 posts

L’Artisan Parfumeur Mont de Narcisse : Perfume Review

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Narcissus is a flower that doesn’t smell floral. In general, the perfumery palette abounds in aromatics that play tricks on the senses. For instance, an iris note in fragrance smells more of carrots than of blossoms. Patchouli, a leaf, smells like woods. And so on. Narcissus, however, is one of the most intriguing ingredients. If you expect petals, April showers and gauzy lightness, you’ll be in for a surprise.

On its own narcissus absolute smells of woods and leather and has a facet reminiscent of damp hay. If you let it develop on a blotter and sniff it the next day, you’ll notice caramelized spices–cinnamon and clove–and a hint of musk.  It’s a powerful material and it often plays the role of a supporting player in the composition, lifting up the delicate floral or citrus accords or else accenting the woods and animalic notes. Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit is one of the best examples of narcissus in classical perfumery.

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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.

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 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.

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Guerlain Vol de Nuit : Perfume Review (New and Vintage)

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A gem of Guerlain’s classical collection, Vol de Nuit is a miniature universe. Smelling it, I am transported to a wood-paneled library. The gilded leather bound books, the honeyed scent of beeswax candles and the warmth of the fire are evoked by its balsamic and leathery notes. The baroque oriental base of Vol de Nuit cradles a luminous orange blossom and narcissus.

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Perfumer Jacques Guerlain created Vol de Nuit, “night flight”, in 1933 as an homage to the brave aviators of the 1920s. The French company Aéropostale was one of the first operations to fly the mail from continent to continent. The chief pilot of Aéropostale’s operations was Antoine de St. Exupéry. After serving as a French combat pilot during World War I, he wrote several books, among them Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight and The Little Prince. He disappeared during World War II while flying a reconnaissance mission in 1944. Vol de Nuit was named after a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The bottle is emblazoned with the shape of French Air Force wings and has a dark amber color.

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