Creme Noir

Wait!  I haven’t finished telling you about my Streetwalk up Boul Mich!    sooo…where were we?  lessee..(we did Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom…did we do Chanel?  Quick Chanel:  Howard LOVES Sycomore.  Made ‘mmmm’ noises at Jersey.  huh.  Eau de Cologne and Bel Respiro are still perfect- oh!   my SA left, dangherhide – but she did leave a lovely young man in her place. We yakked about how many bottles of Cuir de Russie perfume he could sell in-store, if only they had it (hint:  LOTS!!!)… the boutique clothes for Fall are kind of weird but I’m too fat for it to matter (there is no line designed less for the full figure than Chanel) so that wasn’t painful at all…, on to the Real Fun.

So..we all know there are many different types of SAs.  The Great White Shark, Sweet-but-Clueless (and my personal favorite) YouCannotBeSeriousYouExpectMeToWaitOnYOU?….love ’em or hate ’em, though, let’s face it:  SAs are there to SELL YOU STUFF.   A lot of them could just as easily sell shoes.  Or refrigerators.  And that’s fine.  I’m the consummate marketer/sales gal and let me tell you, it’s hard to get my liver all quivery over a reaction arm adjustment rod.  And I doubt the guy in Women’s Shoes is personally invested in that pair of Manolos, no matter how fab they are.  But somehow, with perfume, it feels different, doesn’t it? Perhaps because we’re so crazed about it, we want everybody else to be crazed, too.  We don’t expect the same level of passion from the refrigerator guy.

Which is why, when you find SAs who are real perfume lovers, it’s just a wonderful thing.  The Chicago Barneys has two incredible women for Frederic Malle, Kristina and Marie (they had 3 but Lydia isn’t there right now, dangit).  Sitting with them, chatting about perfume, is a real delight.  They love perfume.  Yes, they love Malle- they’re supposed to (and anyway, who doesn’t?)..but beyond that is a deep and abiding interest in perfumery.  Which makes talking with them about Malle more like a conversation between perfumistas and less like a sale-in-progress (but don’t worry , Barneys:  they get plenty o’ my simoleans.  And the simoleans of my friends and colleagues.  And sundry strangers who wander into my gravitational field).  But I digress:


So here’s what happened THIS time:  we were yarking on about perfume and I was talking about my ambivalence towards Noir Epices, which I’d tried – and failed – to love several times over.  And Kristina asked if I’d ever tried the body lotion.  See, that’s how they are – they know I am a Scented Lotion Ho. So they dangle the baited hook. Marie hooked me on Carnal Flower body butter and Kristina had me giving my left kidney for the last jar of Fleur de Cassie (alas, all gone now)….they may be charming and gorgeous but they are rough on the wallet, these women….anyway…..back to Noir Epices.  I admire the perfume but never really got it.  On my bare skin it reads vaguely muddy and jumbly – it’s allllmost there…but not quite, with the spices overwhelming. I always thought of it as dark and brooding.

Ahhh…but slicker on a bit of the body lotion.  And watch the whole composition unbend, straighten out ..and soar straight to heaven, with your heart clenched firmly in its orange-scented claws.  The body lotion is..sparkling! is the best word to describe it. Deep and complex – but sparkling.  On the Malle copy, much attention is paid to the spices but  I think in the body lotion, without smelling like Tropicana, the orange takes center stage.  Not Bigarade orange.  Warmer, zestier, a fully-composed perfume scent.   Spritzing the perfume atop the body lotion is, for me, the perfect pairing (though I’m also aching to see how it fares with Denyse’s Seville…).  As the combo dries down, it becomes a sparkling chypre, which is as close to Paradise as a perfume can get.  I wish Noir Epices came in Body Butter, though I suppose I should be grateful it doesn’t – I would probably go through a jar a week!  On its own, the lotion is a subtle near-skin scent YBBB) which even the most perfume-phobic office mate couldn’t object to (if they do, send them to me.  I will deal with them accordingly).


I know this is Not Great News.  Like my sweet darling Joe said, we need a lemming for a $100 body lotion like we need another hole in our collective heads.  But I aver that it’s little luxuries like this that keep us from choking people in their sleep (and not all those luxuries need to be 3 figures, btw.  I love this weird little $12 muguet cream I got at Marshalls – well, ‘loved’ it – it’s all gone now)….  the world can be such a skritchy place… something about slathering on a quality, deeply-scented cream or lotion takes me out of my stressful, wackadoo life for a few minutes and.. just makes me feel special.  Noir Epices body lotion makes me feel special, indeed.







Henri Matisse  Apres le bain 1920.  What I wouldn’t give for a few moments’ meditation, apres le bain….le sigh.


  • Joe says:

    Hullo, mah love.

    You. Are. KEEEEELING me! with this Noir Epices body lotion stuff. You remember that NE is one of my Top 3 or Top 5 Holy Grail scents, don’t you. And for me, actually, it IS a lot about the orange. I discovered it at Christmas time, and thus, it’s still my Christmas Scent… and totally evokes for me an orange pomander ball, studded with cloves and rolled in all kinds of other luscious spices and stuffs. Makes my mouth water, this thing.

    Hmm, but the lotion is a quiet skin scent, you say? Inneresting…. I may need to get my hands on some and try it anyway. I like how big and orangey and spicy and wafty the stuff is.

    Oh, and now, what were you say about the In Your Bra lotion? Another “like I need a hole in the head” experience? <3

    • Musette says:

      Oh, my darlin’ clementine-lovin Joe!

      You will LOVE this! It goes on with a little orange zingy ‘oomph’ but doesn’t get that screechy thing that citrus does sometimes. You. Will. Love. It.

      but get a sample first! give it a few whirls.

      xoxoxo :Devil:

  • nozknoz says:

    Musette, I’m so glad that you and your friend had such a great perfume shopping trip! One couldn’t have a better guide as one plunges head first down the rabbit hole.

  • Lisa D says:

    I’ve been on a “take care of myself” kick lately – exercising, consciously taking time for myself, eating well – and I have to say, I’ve rarely felt better. I sleep better, I have more energy, my outlook is more positive – all of the benefits listed in those numerous articles and sound bytes really have been coming together for me. So, in a faint echo of Musette’s Lecture #1 – cut that bad stuff out, and be good to yourself. It doesn’t make me feel guilty – it makes me feel great.

    And, of course, spritz with abandon. You know you have enough perfume to last into the next century, so go ahead.

  • I love you Musette. You make a good story,
    Portia xxx

    • Musette says:

      I love you more. But you already know that!

      xoxox :Devil:

      ps. remember that VVLFN I told you about? They are WORKIN’ it, Portia. WORK-IN’ IT!

      Pray for me.


  • DinaC says:

    Great post, Musette. It sounds like Noir Epices might be like Constant Comment tea, but in a scent? Maybe not. I remember that you’re a fan of CC. I need to sniff some more Malle scents. I think all I’ve sniffed is Le Parfum de Therese, which is nice but not FBW for me. I’m most curious about Iris Poudre since I’m an iris lover, and any other “green” scents.

    Love scented body lotion, bath/shower gel and stuff like that. I have no problem using it up right away. What I save for a special occasion is the Wedgwood china, the silver, and going to live performances of theater, music, dance, etc. I love that stuff, but it always seems like an indulgence that’s not strictly necessary. Though in the last 10 days, I’ve been to two concerts. Yay me. 🙂

    Loved your lectures above. I can attest to the reality of Carpe Diem. My dad died of cancer, suddenly, at the age of 52. He never got to enjoy all his retirement savings. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve swung to the opposite extreme, but I try to enjoy what I have in the moment moreso than he ever did.

    • Musette says:

      No, Agraria Bitter Orange is quintessential Constant Comment. This isn’t tea-like at all (though I certainly can see where you would think it might be). It’s the zest of an orange (and don’t ask if it’s Seville – I only know ‘orange’) with peppery spices. When you’re next at a Malle counter, ask them to make little samples of the NE and the IP creams.

      So sorry to hear of your dad’s passing – so young! (I’m older than he was when he died). Please! Swing away! Don’t bet the mortgage or anything but do use the good china. It makes dinner taste better!

      xoxo :Devil:

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    There must be better SA’s were you live as opposed to where I live. The SA’s either try and sell me stuff that I never liked or some celeb scent or I get the SA’s (Saks Fifth, I’m looking at you) the time of day. I used to be a body cream ho back before I fell into the rabbit hole of perfume. That was when I thought Bath and Body Works was the greatest store ever.

    • Musette says:

      BBW has its charms! And honey, SAs are SAs everywhere. I tend to ‘manage’ my personal ones and sort of terrify others into leaving me alone…but I have a Mean Face. You want to meet yourself at the intersection of Oh! and My God? Malle and Amouage body stuff.

      xoxo :Devil:

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweetie! Another fun column — I really do think you were a comedian in another life. I hear you on the SAs, all types out there, and when you find a good one (or several) it’s wonderful. I have the sweetest SA at my Saks, kind, thoughtful, generous, not pushy — wouldn’t trade her for anything. I like that Malle and now I need to dig out my sample of the lotion to re-try.

    • Musette says:

      You won’t thank me for that, Ann. The lotion takes the scent composition to a whole ‘nother level. :Angel:

      It’s heaven when you have a good SA, innit? Sometimes the best SAs are those who ‘know’ what type of customer you are. My best ones intuitively know that I will be best served by being left alone to burble amongst the bottles, making notes, etc – and I reward them by almost always buying something …even in my reduced circumstances I can at least buy a cheap lipstick. In the old days, when I bought like it was a fire sale, my SFA SA used to tell the rep ‘spritzer’ to get the hell away from me, since she knew that nothing would run me and my wallet out of the store faster! Now that’s knowing your customer! LOL!

      xoxo :Devil:

  • March says:

    Lol on the body cream — I just CANNOT get myself excited, which means it’s only a matter of time before I run into something I’d cut my arm off for.

    I lurve Noir Epices. I get why people hate it, though.


  • Poodle says:

    I love body creams and lotions but when I spend a lot on them I tend to not use them as much. It’s like I need to save them for a special occasion that never comes. Then they turn and I get mad at myself for not using them. I frustrate myself sometimes.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Poodle, I do that, too — I must be your body product-hoarding twin!! Of course, these days no extra $$$ for spendy lotions/creams so it’s a moot point. But if I ever get a windfall, I’m having “Use it or lose it” tattoed on my arm 🙂

    • Musette says:

      I can see I’m going to be saying CUT THAT OUT! a LOT today! lol!

      Listen: Life is Uncertain. And creams go bad. USE THEM! I got my Carnal Flower body butter (a HUGE financial outlay for me) and for a full MONTH was too freaked to even OPEN the damn thing. Then, when I did, I barely scooped out a thumbnail-sized portion.

      Then my stepsister was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and her life is radically changed. Scent is not an option – all the beautiful perfumes I’ve given her, that she saved instead of wearing, she now can’t even smell. Chocolate tastes like dust. Wine might as well be vinegar. The sad part? She spent most of her adult life ‘saving things for later’ . Well…’later’ is here. And it sucks for her.

      So, in honor of her I now slather that crap on like the zombies are comin’ up 5th Avenue.

      Life is Uncertain. Folks would rather find scrapings at the bottom of a jar and know you had a helluva time slathering that stuff on.

      So there.

      Okay: Lecture No 2 over. Dig in. With a scoop, of course. But DIG IN!

      xoxoxo :Devil:

      • FragrantWitch says:

        Oh no, you must be so concerned for your stepsister. I wish her strength comfort. And you strength as well. x

      • Ann says:

        Will be thinking of her and sending up prayers and good thoughts for both of you …

      • Poodle says:

        Oh the poor thing! That’s awful. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

        And you are so right, life can change in the blink of an eye. So tonight I will do as you say and I will take a bubble bath and find a fabulous body cream and slather it on like I’m frosting a cake. Thank goodness we can turn to you for a voice of reason. 🙂

        • Musette says:

          Poodle, you couldn’t honor her (or yourself) any better! I just popped a bottle of bubble (the ‘drankin’ kind, not the bathing kind) in the fridgerbator. I have a cellar that I was ‘saving for…”…saving for What?

          Ann and FWitch, thank you! Do as Poodle and I are going to do! Go do something for YOU!!!

          xoxox :Devil:

          btw – her situation is, in large part, why I am going to Sniffa Fall Ball. I have held off for 5 yrs, waiting for money/my dad/the biz/zombies…whatever. Done waiting.

      • Oh, Sweetie, I’m so sorry about your stepsister.
        Years ago I was tasked with sorting my beloved aunt’s house after she died. I found many completely unwrapped presents from me. My mother had a similar attitude: ” Oh, it’s too good, I can’t use it.” Use it, dammit.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    I take too little time to indulge myself lately, resulting in me looking like a portly crocodile. Body lotion has gone by the wayside in favour of multipurpose body washes that DON’T actually moisturise sufficiently yet I keep buying them, idiot optimist that I am. When I do use take time to indulge and do the whole body lotion, face mask thing I fell wonderful in an ‘all is right with the world, I can handle anything’ sort of way. Which rather begs the question of why the hell I don’t do it more often! Surely, it’s better than my usual ‘yikes, it’s that the time. Oh god, that will do for now, onto the next thing’ mode of operation. All of this is a rather long-winded way of saying that I am going to get my scaly self some gorgeous body lotion and try my best to not feel guilty about taking the 10 minutes to use it. If I got for a gourmand do ya think it will take care of my cookie craving?

    • Musette says:

      LOL! on the cookie craving. And no. Alas.

      Okay – Quick Lecture Here:

      Cut That Out.

      I went that route for awhile (serious depression didn’t help) and let me tell you – at the end of it, you just feel dumb for having neglected yourself. I watched my mother do it and the sad thing is, that lack of caring for herself (in the service of others) became a very sad part of my memory of her. It’s a slap in the face of the Universe’s gift of LIFE. Mom-guilt/spouse-guilt/job-guilt – there are always guilt factors for women. But I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, from my lofty perch of a bazillion years on this planet. Women who take care of themselves have better lives. That 10 minutes (or, gasp!, 10 minutes TWICE A DAMN DAY!!!) results in exactly the sort of woman you describe – that woman is more respected, certainly more confident and probably more appreciated by other people (including your children and spouse/partner). It’s not the perfume/powder/paint itself – it’s that it represents how you feel about yourself and your place in the world. So take that time. Kids/spouse/job/parents – everybody can just settle the hell down for 10 minutes, while you smooth on some lotion and pluck your eyebrows. Anybody gives you agita? Send ’em to me.

      okay! Lecture Over.

      xo :Devil:

      • FragrantWitch says:

        Thanks for that. :Heart:

        I hear you on the depression as well, still taking the SSRI’s. Wish I couldn’t but when I don’t well, it’s not pretty. Both of my girls will be in school in the a couple of weeks so I am hoping I can start to be that mum and woman, every day, instead of occasionally. And the guilt for struggling with depression in front of your children is just EPIC. Any whoo, thank goodness for the you and the Posse! Big, big love.

        • Dionne says:

          Fragrantwitch, I can really relate (REALLY relate) to the guilt about depression, been there myself. Not to mention the annual late August self-flagellation because I didn’t come within a mile of the completely unrealistic goals I make at the beginning of every summer. (Strip wallpaper! Deep clean the house, and maybe paint it! Bake! But also get out every day with the children in a frenzy of fun!)

          I’m in a good place now, but it’s been a long journey. And my kids have turned out OK despite the fact I was operating way below capacity for a lot of years. If you need the SSRI’s right now, do it. No guilt. And big big love right back.

          • FragrantWitch says:

            ‘Late August self-flagellation’, ah yes, I know it well. Glad to hear you have come out the other side. And that your kids are okay! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-my fumie peeps on here are GREAT.

        • Woodgirl says:

          Fragrantwitch, don’t feel guilty about struggling with depression in front of your daughters. It shows them that it’s another thing to be dealt with in life, and they will be better prepared to recognize it and conquer it, should they ever need to. Takes away it’s power.

      • Gwenyth says:

        Anita/Musette YOU are a WISE woman!
        I’ve told you before that I love your posts because you are alternately and simultaneously (1) articulate, (2) saavy, (3) so-funny-I-laugh-out-loud, (4) full of common sense, (5) wise.

        I can identify with your feelings regarding your Mamma, her life of service, and your relationship with her. Sing it sister!
        You are on target – <<>>

        A Woman can take on the world (as we are supposed to do…) if we first take care of ourselves!

        Ummmm…..can I go shopping on Boul Mich wit ya sometime? Purty Pleze?
        You Rock!
        I’ve long been a fan of deliciously scented lotions and body cremes. Frequently I save up for a wonderful treat!!

        BTW – the Chanel lotions are FABULOUS!

        • Musette says:

          You can come up Boul Mich with me ANYTIME! Seriously! I love meeting up with perfumistas.

          I used to give all, then be pissed when I was sort of passed-over, if that makes sense. There is no reason why a mom/wife/employee/??? can’t also be her own person and care for herself. And if you have kids, so much the better, imo – it shows girls how to demand respect for themselves and boys how to acknowledge and give respect to women and respect for other people in general. If you’re not into ‘beauty’ that’s fine – maybe it’s just about having a little bit of quiet time.

          I have a friend whose two girls used to, when they were young, sit outside the bathroom while their mom showered (they never sat outside the bathroom when dad was in there…) they grew up respecting that 10-20 minutes of ‘me’ time their mom demanded. worked well for everybody!

          (and thank you for the wonderful compliments! I really am put to the blush – please know that your words mean a LOT to me! )

          xoxo :Devil:

      • maggiecat says:

        Oh so true. I couldn’t have said it better, even if I tried. There are people alive and walking around now who remain that way only because I have a tiny jar of Chanel No 5 body cream in my office.

  • Tatiana says:

    I feel a lemming coming on. I love Noir Epices sprayed on a card and used as a bookmark. But somehow on my skin it just fell apart. Now I’m thinking I need to try it in the lotion. Darn it, I’ve been trying to be good and not buy too much perfume, but it just isn’t working.

    • Musette says:

      Well, this wouldn’t be as painful as the perfume. Right after showering, the lotion just sliiiiides on…so a little goes quite a bit aways! And it’s so …luxe.

      xoxo :Devil: