WHITE NARCISSUS : : : NARCISSE BLANC by CARON (1927)

 

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

Filed under Flowers

11 responses to “WHITE NARCISSUS : : : NARCISSE BLANC by CARON (1927)

  1. I have a small, precious gift decant of vintage Narcisse Noir and now I realize that I need the white counterpart just as much. So far, the only time I have worn my cherished Narcisse outside was for a walk under the full moon; it was perfect for that. Every spring I get obsessed with the succession of narcissus scents, from the indoor paperwhites in January clear through to the impossibly lovely poet’s narcissus in late April. I have never smelled a perfume that really smelled like that, but I will sniff avidly at anything that comes close.

  2. Dearest Ginza
    I adore the idea of Duncan as an Indian Prince in this… do you get him to dress up and re-enact the last days of the Raj?
    It is a truly daring, exponentially overpowering piece of perfumery this. Vertiginous in a way that Hitchcock would understand and Mugler is forever grasping after.
    But no, not easily worn. Except my you Maharadjha…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Lilybelle

    I’ve never smelled Narcisse Blanc but now I want to. I once had some narcissus oil and it was unbelievably strong and potent, unwearable really, but fascinating.

  4. ninakane1

    Sounds intriguing! Must try! Neil darling, just wanted to wish you luck in the awards tomorrow. Enjoy!! Xxx

  5. Expecting a jasmine perfume review next to celebrate your Jasmine Award, you Perfume Lover you. Congratulations on the award for Perfume Haters in ODOU Magazine. How cool, how exciting and how well deserved. Scary article though!

  6. One of my favorite Caron scents ever. Truly a heady, sweet, intoxicating blend.
    When you mentioned Duncan as an Indian Prince it made me think of another Caron, the darker sister of this scent, Narcisse Noir. There was a movie, from the 40’s called Narcisse Noir, and it had a character of an Indian Prince (the young prince) who is wearing Narcisse Noir. The movie starred Deborah Kerr. Interesting.

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