Tag: Caron

Narcisse Noir by Caron

Narcisse Noir creates an illusion of a non-existent flower which is quite convincing. The dry green bitterness with oil-paint like nuance evokes the image of narcissus. And the animalic darkness of civet in the base does paint it black. Although reading about this fragrance makes me to think that the original version of this perfume was much heavier on civet than its modern interpretations. But to me Narcisse Noir is mostly about the orange blossom. It represents an interesting aspect of the orange flower which I perceive as a slow thickening of sunlight during a sunset. The color changes from a warm orange glow to a dark orange and almost brown before it falls into the darkness. Warm, sultry, heady and definitely fatal.

Pyramid according to H&R Fragrance Guide:

Top notes: Fresh, Flowery
Main: Bergamot
Supported by: Mandarin, Petitgrain, Lemon

Heart notes: Dry, Floral
Main: Narcissus, Jasmin
Supported by: Jonquil, Orange Blossom

Base notes: Floral, Sensual
Main:  –
Supported by: Civet, Musk, Sandal

Perfumer: Ernest Daltroff

Year of creation: 1912 (or 1911)

Classification by H&R Genealogy:
Feminine, Oriental, Sweet (1985 version)
Feminine, Oriental (end 2000’s version)

Classification by Symrise Genealogy: Feminine, Oriental, Woody, Animalic

Classification by SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): B1f-09 – Floral, soliflore, Narcissus

Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Floral, Rich/Profond, orange blossom, feminine

Luca Turin Guide verdict: ** 2 stars of 5 calling it “woody jasmine”. In her review Tania Sanchez shares her regrets on reformulations of this great classic and describes the modern version as followed: “Fragrance Wheel (by Michael Edwards) classification: Floral, Rich/Profond, orange blossom, feminine.”

Smelling a modern version can raise a question about the placing this scent inside an oriental family. I guess the key here is the reformulation Tania Sanchez is complaining about. I think the animalic note of civet was much more pronounced in original and made it much closer to those animalic musk attars from the East. But it’s in the past. And nowadays Michael Edwards describes it as a floral perfume with a predominant orange blossom note.

Interesting facts:

Barbara Herman in her “Scent and Subversion” mentions that Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel N5 described Narcisse Noir as “a perfume of the most striking vulgarity.”

Ostrom, Lizzie in her “Perfume: A Century of Scents calls” it “a lawsuit perfume” as “Caron lawyered up against several firms, including Du Moiret for their Moon-Glo Narcissus, and Henri Muraour & Cie for their Narcisse Bleu. […]
Caron, holding the trademark for the complete phrase ‘Narcisse Noir’, argued that any use of the word ‘narcisse’ in fragrance from a competitor should be disallowed.”

The new (for the time of creation) aromachemicals para-cresol and its esters were used in Narcisse Noir for the first time (according to Perfumer&Flavorist, Vol. 15, November/December 1990). Para-cresol and its esters (like para-cresyl acetate) possess a harsh phenolic smell with heavy floral nuances (when diluted) resembling the smell of narcissus, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, lily and animalic accents.