Hay, Dope, Twine, Smoke

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

  • Cait says:

    I really love the way this smells on paper or a towel after a day – very warm and floral. Wish it would dry down that way on me. Great review as usual!

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — if you got anything like what Marina and I get out of it, you’ll be very happy. I think this would be incredible on a man. However, mine, having submitted to one round of fragrance testing, is never going to try anything else… this is what Bill at my perfume boutique is for.

  • Leopoldo says:

    Ok I’m persuaded. It’s on a list of samples from First in Fragrance. always happy(ish) to give Georg my money…

  • March says:

    Sariah — hon, you and I are not shaping up to be fragrance twins, are we?

    I feel so sorry for you based on the notes you listed, I don’t blame you for not putting it on. Yuck!

  • sariah says:

    I got miso soup, mushrooms, and raw beef. That’s just the top notes on paper. I was not tempted to try it on skin.

  • March says:

    Vi — my money says it’s too butch for you. Please let me know how it works out!

  • March says:

    Justine — yeah, my roommate;) whatsyerpoint?

    Reading others’ comments, you’re closer to the norm than I am with this one. So far I think only Marina and I really got a lot out of it.

  • March says:

    Robin — it doesn’t strike me as something you’d love. I love it, but I’m still not buying a bottle:)

  • March says:

    Patty — it IS weird. Did I ever send you a sample of Kolnisch Juchten? It reminds me a lot of that.

  • March says:

    Marina — I re-read your post, I think you and I experienced this one in very much the same way.

    PS I re-smelled the bottle of M de Bourbon today — it was empty, dang — it smelled GORGEOUS. They promised a new tester… they also have the Lys, it was lovely.

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — if it worked on you, you would love the dirty bits.

    PS I’m wearing Opium for Men right now, have never smelled before. Humpy!

  • March says:

    Elle — hairspray? HAIRSPRAY!?!?!?:o

    Welll…. if we kept track, a pattern emerges for each of us. Whether it’s skin chem or just nasal perception, I tend to minimize sweet notes and maximize the others (hence my love-hate relationship with things like vetiver and cedar). So it seems like what was, to many people, a light diaphanous thang becomes Eau de Testosterone … you’re probably closer to the norm on this one.

  • March says:

    Chaya — Of course, I never actually see the bottles, since I’m all decants…/:) judging by most people’s responses, it’s pretty light on them too.

  • violetnoir says:

    Ooh, my sample should be coming to me next week. I highly doubt that I would ever want to purchase FdN, but I sure do want to test it!


  • Justine says:

    Your *roommate’s* stash of high grade weed? Yeah, riiiiight.

    I am also wearing Fleur de Narcisse today, for the first time. After an hour it is so light I can barely smell it, but I’m getting something slightly green and vaguely sweet that reminds me of anise. No smoke, no twine. Not at all unpleasant. I will have to pour the rest of that vial on me next time for another test drive, but the price of this one is going to prevent me from ever truely loving it. At that price even a decant is expensive, which is ridiculous.

  • Robin says:

    I tried it briefly, on a card. Didn’t love it. Should have put it on skin, but I prefer not to love it…will always long for Fleur d’Oranger, and will never pay for it, no matter what. Don’t need another Grand Cru lemming, LOL…

  • Patty says:

    A great description! I gave this to W to wear, and he even liked it, couldn’t keep his nose off of it, but wasn’t something he wanted to wear regularly. It’s an odd one, and I do love it. It doesn’t stick quite that long on me, but it is surprisingly long-lasting for a L’Artisan.

  • Marina says:

    I want a bottle so much, SO MUCH. *sobs* :((

  • Leopoldo says:

    Another one to try, sometime.

  • Elle says:

    I am convinced that while I was sleeping innocently, the boring, budget minded, spoil sport, pragmatic part of my self (hate it!)did something terrible to my skin chemistry so that this much anticipated lemming would not work on me. All I get is hairspray for the first 3 hours. Then I get a little bit of hay and a touch of leather. That’s it. :(( Brutally, tragically unfair!!!

  • chayaruchama says:

    I loved the pictorial !
    I can smell it from here…
    I found FdN ethereal, diaphanous, complex, and fleeting.
    I liked it, but it doesn’t stay, doesn’t fit my needs for the season, and costs too much for a caprice buy….
    Does that sum it up ?
    I agree, it’s genderless.
    One will either love or hate it.

    Hoever, would they PLEASE remove those sucky white cheap-looking flars on that there bottle ?