Had I not read some other reviews prior to smelling L´Artisan Fleur de Narcisse, I would have expected the smell of paperwhites, with their green-sap-meets-Casablanca-lily smell I adore (one of my regular winter rituals is forcing the bulbs) but others inexplicably hate. Instead, googling “narcisse” produces endless images of what we, at least where I grew up, refer to as daffodils or jonquils. I know cut daffodils have a smell, which I´d describe as hay-butter, but it´s so faint it hardly seems worth noticing.
Fleur de Narcisse is a limited edition release from a particular crop of flowers, a concept I have mixed feelings about. As a scent, though, I can´t leave it alone. If you look at the note I scribbled half an hour after putting it on, it says “hay, dope, twine, smoke.” Narcisse opens with an extremely brief note of something vaguely sweet, like a sniff from the open door of a florist, but the overall thrust is anti-floral — powerful, intoxicating, strange. There´s the haylike smell you apparently get from narcissus after you cut them. Fairly shortly thereafter there´s the faint but distinct smell of your college roommate´s stash of high-grade weed – the smell of the ripe buds themselves rather than the smoke. Added to that is a smell I can only describe as twine, a smell I´m fond of because I use twine in my garden. There’s smoke – distant, like a chimney a half a mile away. And, wandering in and out, leather which doesn´t even seem like its own note, but some alchemic combination of the other notes.
Fleur de Narcisse is not feminine. It´s not masculine. It´s … alien. It´s weird, sure, but not difficult. In fact, I can compare it plausibly to another weirdly wearable fragrance, Kolnisch Juchten – the vintage, not the new. It has something of KJ´s smoky/leather/perfume trio. I ended up wearing Narcisse (in a moment of stunningly poor foresight) to my yoga class, and was delighted to discover that, while it kept on dancing for me, and even bloomed a little with my exertion, it´s unobtrusive enough it offended no one around me. How long does it last? On me, a full 24 hours, although I should disclose that I´m not one of those people who´s always complaining about L´Artisan´s staying power.
There´s a limit to the amount of time I want to smell like hay, dope, twine and smoke. But there´s no denying the allure of this fragrance. If you´re willing to go a little offbeat, this might be just your thing.
(Note – here’s a link to what I think is an article and photos of the 2006 narcissus crop being harvested for L’Artisan… it’s in French.)
PS Bargain-lovers: Vermont County Store (purveyors of vintage-type oddities of all sorts) is clearing out some of its stock – Straw Hat and Stradivari for $2.99, Lanvin Vetyver for $29, plus some others – have fun!
image of hay bales: www.zuga.net