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. 










Filed under Flowers

25 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. janeykate

    I want it!
    Jane x

  5. ninakane1

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. I had NO IDEA there was a Blanc counterpoint to Narcisse Noir! In all my years of trolling for vintage, this gem has never surfaced.

    • It’s a weird one. Like I say, it is supposed to be the lighter version, but I have never seen it that way. I bought my fountain extrait in about 2000 I think. I would LOVE to smell the vintage extrait. God, imagine what the bottle might look like as well…..

      Caron have something very obsessive about them for me.

  9. OnWingsofSaffron

    How I would love to smell this White Narcissus! Yet, even though I have an online search automated since around two years on ebay, not once has it come around this way… Quite in contrast to “Black Narcissus” which I own in different concentrations.
    With Narcisse noir I love the civet – and I wonder what that root beer scent is? (Reminds at times of the old “Visa”.)

  10. Oh, to be hanging out at Caron!

    That would be on my Dream Come True list: to encounter a vintage bottle of Narcisse Blanc extrait. Perhaps you will, what with your extraordinary luck, Neil!

    • Have you ever been to the Paris shops? There is something so old world glorious about them. Little boutiques, all powder puffs and old bottles, but just so lovely.

      • All my previous visits to Paris have been wine-focused, sadly, with no time to prowl Caron et al at all. The way you describe them is just how I picture them. Grrrr. One day . . .

      • What would the wine equivalent of these dark Carons be? I am finding recently that I am frequently really disappointed by wines I drink (always red). They just don’t taste that good to me. I am getting into Primitivo, but even that doesn’t always work.

      • The dark Carons don’t go into the dull or coarse or murky territory that some other dark scents do; they are fine-textured and well-defined. Red wine equivalents would be well-aged, medium-weight Burgundies from decent years. In my experience, disappointments have often been when a red that should have some bottle age is simply opened too soon. Perhaps putting away your reds even just for a year or two would make a difference. Doesn’t cost a thing and it can make a lot of not-especially-distinguished wines taste appreciably better. Worth a try.

      • Storing a bottle of red wine for a year.


  11. rprichpot

    What an intriguing review. One day I shall visit the Caron boutique in New York (by appointment only) to sample the urn perfumes.

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