The narcissus flower is nature’s narcotic. Worshipped by the ancients, it is an intoxicating, overpowering scent in concentration and in excess can be deleterious to the health, the bulb of the flower, if ingested, lethal.
Narcissus absolute is therefore usually used in moderate quantities, for a certain carnal luminosity: for added, troubling intrigue in fragranced blends, but rarely seems to star. Caron, however, once a fearless house of perfume, had the temerity to create, in 1927, a scent of these white flowers at their most potent (it is only available in extrait): a perfume dominated in its head notes by an intense concentration of narcissus, orange blossom, neroli, petitgrain, bitter orange, linden, and iris. While often said to be a ‘lighter’ more polite, version of Narcisse Noir, I have never personally understood this, as I own the extrait, an unlikely perfume for me in truth, that I bought from the Caron boutique on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris many years ago, having spent an entire afternoon with Helen testing all the urn perfumes in the shop and trying, desperately, to decide which one to buy. Probably I should have bought Poivre, or Farnesiana, or even Rose, but somehow, at that time, for some reason, I kept being drawn back inexorably to The White Narcissus.
To me personally, its exotic, sultry and erotic intimations, its dry, animalic base of sandalwood and musk, all make it raw, uncompromising; resolutely sensual; unwestern. While Narcisse Noir works so well because of the sullen, carnal tensions between the darkness of the base and the glowering, narcisssus’d orange blossoms in the head, the less shadowed, boisé anchoring in Narcisse Blanc almost make the flowers more torrid, more feral as they have more room in the blend to breathe and emote.
Narcisse Blanc is very difficult for me to wear, the strength of the flowers bursting from their little flacon, for me almost headache inducing in their glinting, warm sweet headiness. It is a perfume for very specific timess, therefore, one I try to get Duncan to wear on occasion ( it smells curiously sexy, like an Indian prince), or dab on once in a while on hot summer evenings while sitting on the balcony. But never have I, as with a fair proportion of my perfumes, actually worn this perfume outside the house. Maybe one day I might. Perhaps on a once in a lifetime trip to the Taj Majal.