Caron Narcisse Noir – sultry perfume

sultry perfume caron narcisse noirThe other day I was in the office, doing one of those insanely dull things that allows me to avoid getting a real job (in this case, looking through our files for for a tax document) and I realized – hey, what I need is some perfume. So I wandered upstairs and grabbed the vial Patty sent me of Mona di Orio Nuit Noir, because the Cheese wasn´t there to be disgusted by the stench and I was in the mood for something a little gamey. Back downstairs, I dug around in the file cabinet some more until eventually I realized that all the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up, a sure sign that something momentous was happening fragrance-wise. So I took a closer sniff and realized I´d put on the wrong fragrance, only I had no idea what it was. Not Mona, that´s for sure. Oh, well. Back to work.

Ten minutes later I gave up even pretending that I was working, because Fragrance X was driving me wild. What is that? I took a couple of long, experimental sniffs on my wrist and tried to sort it out. It had a definite resemblance to the hay-smoke and leather of L´Artisan Fleur de Narcisse, only that wasn´t quite right either. This was more … perfume-y, if you will. Ladylike in structure, with some sort of florals in there, but dirty as hell. A deep, dark base of … what, maybe oakmoss and civet? It smelled like a classic, anyway. I´ve gotten a couple of packages of vintage samples – maybe it was one of those? Eventually, unable to stand it any more, I went back upstairs and dug around in the bowl of stuff-to-try until I found it.

And then I was stunned. Floored. Because, guess what it was!? Caron, my nemesis! Narcisse Noir parfum, created by Ernest Daltroff in 1911 to frighten polite women everywhere.

Here´s a link to Patty´s recent review of Caron Narcisse Noir where she says, “Caron had to have a scent that is an all-out smoldering siren, and Narcisse Noir is the little vixen that fills that slot on the Caron line-up. The Parfum is loaded with civet, and just oozes sensuality while also whispering about class. The EDT is more pretty and civilized, it just keeps the skank octane down to manageable levels. Caron Narcisse Noir is a challenge to wear, and it has taken a while for me to really appreciate it, but every time I put it on, I am just bowled over by its beauty and how it perfectly balances what I think a woman becomes when she is done screwing around with the idea of who she should be or who other people think she is or should be.” Um, Patty — that’s a lovely sentiment about the parfum whispering class. What I am hearing from Narcisse Noir, however, is more of a growl, and what it’s saying is so filthy it should have its mouth washed out with soap.

I am shocked by Narcisse Noir. So, Caron lovers out there – is this what I´ve been missing? What is this amazing thing? Where’s the Grim Reaper base? Is my “problem” with Caron rooted in my failure to smell the parfum versions? Maybe what I need my Caron to smell like is whatever dark forces are swirling around in the Noir. Are there other super-dirty Carons? What about that Can-Can thing?

Then I committed a Crime Against Nature. (Patty, please forgive me!) The parfum lasts forever, so that afternoon I … well … I layered Narcisse Noir with a dab of CB Musk. And I spent the rest of the day walking around laughing. You know what it made me think of? That old line about Napoleon writing to Josephine after a successful battle: “Home in three days. Don´t wash.”

  • Judith says:

    agree with Elle on pretty much everything, particularly the Carons she is not crazy about. My list of absolute faves is somewhat shorter (all perfume): Tabac Blond, Poivre (alright, you can go the Coup de Fouet route here if you want–but it’s not as good), French CanCan, En Avion, N’Aimez que Moi (very different from aimez moi), Tubereuse (sadly neglected but really lovely), Narcisse Noir. If you really dislike the Caron base, Poivre and Tubereuse don’t seem to have it.

  • March says:

    Sariah — I think you and I are shaping up to be Evil Fragrance Twins in some ways — with your loathing for Cuir Amethyste and NN, and that TERRIBLE liver thing you did to lovely Passage d’Enfer:d

    But it was the parfum, huh? Hmmmm.:-?

  • March says:

    Sniff — ack!!! Skunk. Now there’s a terrible smell to behold — our dogs got skunked a time or three, and that’s a smell you don’t soon forget.

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog.

  • March says:

    Tigs — hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! Another woman falls prey to Apres!!!! Yes, it’s sad, but it still happens. Everything sounds so wrooooonng about it. Until you smell it. I actually traded my parfum to Robin at Now Smell This because I like the EDT better.

    Some day: I am going to do a post of fragrances that are above any set of rules. Apres is one of them, in my opinion. PS Have you smelled whatsit … the Les Nez Unicorn? How bout Cuir Amethyste (now there’s a kinky violet). And my favorite, Eleanora Duse by Laura Tonatto? Of course I lurve violets, I’ll stop there.

  • March says:

    Camilla — well, there you go. Seems to me that your argument puts this whole discussion back in the camp of, this is the only Caron I will ever like.

  • March says:

    Cait — honey, you’re killing me with the white flower vavoom. Okay, I will take your word on it (I think you and White Flowers Have a Relationship Based on Mutual Trust) and yeah — maybe it’s the Caron base being devoured by the 200 extra grams of holiday carbs I’m eating every day. But I am not getting the white flowers. I am getting the prostitute you have to pay extra for, in exchange for the kink you require.

  • March says:

    Elle — on the other hand, you and the rest of the POTL people … it’s all some crazy practical joke. I know it is. There is no way that stuff smells like anything but Play-Doh.

  • March says:

    Elle — I feel soooooooooooooo much better reading your post!!!:x But putting all of this information together, I’m still going to have to go back and do some re-sniffing.

    I crept back upstairs and retried the NN. I thought maybe it was some sort of weird thing, like Cait suggested. Nope. Still smells like The Bomb. Right up there with Jicky and Bal a Versailles as my classic skank favorites…. anyway, I’m going to retry from your list.

    I love that you’re willing to go the distance with me in the skank department. CB Musk and NN!!! ;)) Patty’s still speaking to me, though.

  • sariah says:

    Hi March,

    You know the first time I ordered Caron samples from ebay was on your advice, the first time I commented on your blog. So thank-you for that! As I said a few weeks back on the blog commenting to one of Patty’s posts, NN is like poison to me – anyone who can wear it has some serious cajones.

    That Tabac Blond sample I sent you was the parfum. Do not bother to try the EDT, I am not usually a “parfum only” snob, especially for Guerlains of which I like a lot of EDTs and EDPs, but the EDT of Tabac Blond just does not do the scent justice. This is a scent that just needs to be a little bit heavy…and the EDT is not. I’m thinking it’s probably the same case for NN.

  • SniffQ says:

    March–What a read! I do believe I’ll tie a rope of champa around a skunk’s neck and set it loose in your house just to hear you write about it. No one knows the words to describe the pleasure/pain syndrome of a great waft like you do!

  • Tigs says:

    Cait & March: I wonder if the Carons smell more dated because they’re truer to the original formulas? It seems that every Guerlain has had a facelift at some point. I’ve been having a weird fragrance week, too. I was always convinced that I couldn’t “do” violets. I had caved on Bois De Violette, which I admire but isn’t really me, but then this week I tried Apres L’Ondee (thanks Patty!) and don’t want to wear anything else. It seemed like something I wouldn’t like: a Guerlain EdT, low sillage, wistful, pretty. Ack! It’s the most marvelous thing.

  • Camilla says:

    I should not comment, as I consider you to be perfumistas of the highest caliber, and many times the arbiters of my innermost thoughts about perfume. But Narcisse Noir is a veritable perfume demon! I found it suffocating at first. Then it began to work its black powers on me. Romantic fantasies aside, at heart I am reserved and somewhat inhibited. But I cannot wear or smell
    NN without being completely over taken by its animal pull. Therefore it is strickly reserved for bedroom wear only. To me it is
    unlike any other Caron, a whole other beast.

  • Cait says:

    You realize that this may be a trick of that twilight zone we call the holidays, right? I find that things smell different in the dark cradle of winter. Maybe you’re just overtired and hungry, as my mother would say. Caron, like Guerlain, made perfumery into an artform with its nuance and development. I find the Carons to be more dated than the Guerlains, though. I smell them and feel transported to another time. NN is my kinda perfume, too, doncha think? All that heady white flower vavavoom? I’m such a perfume slut. I was reading that article today about how chypre women scorn floral women and oriental lovers are a horse of a different color. Not me. I range all over the map across genres and houses, snorting up all the perfume I can get my nose on. I say, March, congratulations on finding yet another scent to love!

  • Elle says:

    Tucks away incense scented dark cult membership card. :d

  • Elle says:

    OK, I have to go the true confession route here and admit that I don’t really love either of the Aimez ones, Lady Caron or Bellodgia (God knows I’ve tried w/ Bellodgia). It took me a *long* time to appreciate Montaigne…something too Donatella about it, but I enjoy it now. Still, would not lose my mind w/ grief if it were d/ced. However, Tabac Blond, Cancan, En Avion, Poivre, CdF, Nuit de Noel, Narcisse Noir, Parfum Sacre, Pois de Senteur and Narcisse Blanc all put me into total swoon mode. Am glad you like Parfum Sacre and Narcisse Noir, but it just seems like those others I listed would appeal to you as well – except for maybe Pois and NB. Pois doesn’t do it for me until after two hours and I get to the honeyed stage. I also think Alpona and Acaciosa are delicious. Infini and Nocturnes aren’t traditional Carons, but I still adore them. I know Nocturnes gets pushed into a corner as the unwanted stepchild, but I continue loving it – even in edt.
    Oh, NN and CB Musk make a damn fine combination. Good thing I’m not going out shopping today, though. 🙂 I’m going to try layering his musk w/ other Carons as well. I feel they were made to be together.
    Off to comfort my beloved POTL now.

  • Marina says:

    Yeah…I think those who claim to smell incense and all sorts of amazing stuff in That Evil Thing We Won’t Mention Again are members of some dark cult and generally should not be trusted 😉

  • March says:

    Patty — as I said to Elle and Judith, I’m inclined to think you’re right about the Caron base. I admit I’ve paid NO attention to the concentration. I’m going to gingerly dip my toe back into the parfums, though. I am just pigheaded about some things, and this is one of them.

  • March says:

    Marina — riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhht.

    POTL is manifestly evil and will always smell like 8-x. I don’t even believe those people any more who say it smells like incense or whatever their story is.

  • March says:

    Maria — please see my comment to Judith and Elle (BTW I have no idea how those slashes got in there, and I can’t seem to get them to go away!) I think Tabac Blond parfum is probably a good idea, given how much I like Guerlain.

  • March says:

    Judith and Elle — well, scratching my head here after reading Patty\’s comment. When I got started as a fragrance addict, I started with the Carons — because, really, where else would you start? They SOUNDED like me. So — I\\\’ll check this week, but the ones I sniffed at the Saks counter (they have a ton) MIGHT be EDP but could easily be EDT. And I hear you both about the concentrations — I mean, I am the gal who is always complaining about how crappy the Guerlain EDTs are.

    On the other hand… before Patty set me up, I bought some of the more unusual ones from Diane (dragonfly) and I just looked and she\\\’s selling the parfum. I loathed them. I\\\’ve also re-sniffed that Aimez and the Montaigne, and ugh (yeah, shoot me.) The Tabac Blond I tried from Sariah, but I can\\\’t remember what concentration. Oddly, Parfum Sacre EDP is still working for me — in that case the Grim Reaper Base is assisting by whacking at the rose.

    So. I am going to work on re-sniffing some of the Carons in parfum. However, I think Patty may have guessed correctly that NN is my sort of Caron. If that\\\’s correct, Judith and Elle — where should I start in my parfum search? (Bellodgia and Lady Caron and Aimez made me want to scream.)

  • Patty says:

    Well, I never defined “class” or exactly what it was whispering about it. 🙂 Classy Ladies ought to have their mouths washed out with soap from time to time if they’ve lived well.

    I’m looking around for that little Clarence Angel. I mean, WTH?!?!?

    For those of you asking, I do send March the parfums. I know she’s had the Montaigne parfum and the Nuit de Noel parfum. Poivre. En Avion. CdF, which is EDT, but the best EdT of any of them. And what else? N’aimez Que Moi, I sent that, right? and I think I sent some Farnesiana, didn’t I? That would have been parfum.

    Trust me, March hates the base, unless it’s a filthy little Caron. I’ll hunt around for some French CanCan. I know I have a little around.

    Though I have to say, I figured if you were going to love any Caron, NN had to be the one. Narcisse Blanc is more powdery, and I have a hunch that one wouldn’t work as well for you.

    But layering it with CB’s Musk?Did you ever see that movie Love Potion No. 9? Where the elixir makes everyone lust for the wearer, and she had cats following her around the neighborhood? Yeah… you. 🙂

  • Marina says:

    He he he he he
    ‘Tis a Christmas miracle, that’s what it is…maybe I should have re-tried POTL…too late now though :d

  • Maria B. says:

    Patty, you should try the Tabac Blond PARFUM if you haven’t already done so. After the burnt rubber topnote (for which you must prepare yourself) dies down, it becomes the sort of ambery, caressing fragrance we Guerlain fans adore, but with a bit of a reminder of the smoke. It’s not an “evil seductress who breaks men’s hearts just because she can” sort of scent. It’s more of a “come ride in my Bugatti, handsome” sort of perfume. Of course, you will drive your sports car while wearing the butteriest sort of doe-colored gloves–but not a long scarf! You do not have to be blonde. The “blond” refers to tobacco leaves.

  • Elle says:

    After recovering from the shock, I was tripping over myself to get to the comments, but then saw that Judith had already written pretty much the exact thing I was going to. 🙂 I seriously disliked Carons until I tried the parfums, which I adore beyond reason. I feel strongly there should be a large warning label on the edts letting everyone know they bear no relation to the parfums. They are evil imposters. OK, OK…not all of them are and some people who share my tastes in almost everything else like them, but I find that to be one of the world’s more interesting, insolvable olfactory mysteries.
    Off to find my NN and CB Musk and commit a crime against nature.

  • Judith says:

    Wait. Stop. You are telling me you hadn’t smelled parfum versions of the Carons when you decided against the house? If this is true, you must start all over again. Caron EdTs (like many Guerlains) are just NOT the same–and many of them are (to my nose) awful. Go back to Go, do not collect perfume cred, and start all over again!!