I have recently had the pleasure of trying both the current eau de toilette and the vintage parfum extrait of Caron, Narcisse Noir (Caron 1911). And, since I forgot to post on Saturday, here’s a combination review for both.
The eau de toilette opens with a mixture of orange flower and narcissus in sharp but genteel assertion, reminiscent of a tart Earl Grey. At the heart, fruity jasmine blossoms in tandem with a creamy, translucent rose, while a warm but very soapy background quietly sets the stage.
Narcisse Noir in the current edt is breezy, nostalgic, sweet, moving and tremendously pretty. In fact, the late 19th Century, early 20th Century ideal of femininity, the Gibson Girl, would certainly have worn this…
Now, vintage extrait… well… it’s mesmerizing. It’s smoky, luscious, sexy and overwhelming beautiful. A wild, totally untamed but very sweet floral bouquet blossoms alongside a clear and refined, yet audaciously romantic vetyver, musk and sandalwood. And yet, it somehow manages to be clean and almost soapy like the current edt in a way very similar to vintage Estee Lauder Private Collection. It’s basically an old fashioned, genuine and sensuous romance in olfactory form…
I’m smitten by Narcisse Noir. It’s probably my second favorite fragrance ever to Chanel No. 22. Even above Shalimar… And that’s saying something my dears.
Top notes: African orange flower and narcissus. Middle notes: jasmine, orange and tincture of rose. Base notes: vetyver, musk and sandalwood.
Imagine all the honeyed warmth of a vintage Schiaparelli combined with genuine strawberries and cream and you have Amour Amour (Jean Patou 1925). Yes! There truly is a strawberry note in this old beauty… and it’s nothing like the recent varieties. It’s almost threatening actually… Why threatening? Well, my dears, because it smells real.
It’s not saccharine or coy. No! This strawberry note, flanked by what smells like a kaleidoscope of rich, warm and sensual base notes and sharp, springlike florals (including lilac) is nearly pungent. It brings to mind the way fresh, sweet and tart berries *actually* taste. Quite evocative of love in real life after all…
Top notes: neroli, bergamot, strawberry and lemon. Middle notes: carnation, lily, lilac, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and narcissus. Base notes: honey, musk, civet, vetiver and heliotrope.
Nose: Henri Almeras
The current Liu (Guerlain 2005) opens with a sweet, balsamic and beautifully aldehydic Guerlinade. And, it’s almost salty… The floral notes smell gentle and yet distinct; the olfactory equivalent of flowers on a postcard, tinted with age. Just as the vintage extrait reminds me a bit of Chanel No. 5, so does the current Liu, but unlike the vintage extrait I also detect traces of notes that take similar shape in the current formulation of Chamade…
Then, suddenly, there’s a burst of an airy bergamot. This fragrance is delicate but tenacious. Warm and ebullient but also somewhat serious.
And on personal note, Liu has been a very unique experience for me. At first I was not amazed by the current Liu and I thought the vintage version was lovely but also not a fragrance I would naturally gravitate to. Yet, given enough time mixing with my skin chemistry I could not deny that the current Liu seems to get along exceedingly well with my skin chemistry (not a common thing with me actually)… Something almost magical happens actually and while I prefer a few other fragrances more, other than Chanel No. 22 nothing I’ve tried is more complimentary. I will definitely have to buy a bottle…or two.
Top notes: aldehydes, neroli and bergamot. Middle notes: rosemary, jasmine and rose. Base notes: iris, amber, vanilla and woody notes.
(Please note: This was originally posted years ago before I also posted a short story on my blog as well. I will not be reposting the short story.)
Amber Empire (Atkinsons 2015) is a warm, sweet, gooey caramel amber. Rich vanilla, sandalwood and incense are reminiscent of pipe tobacco. And after the smoke clears into the late drydown, an oolong tea note mixes with the vanilla and incense to create a beautiful, very vintage inspired, Oriental skin scent.
Notes: sandalwood, incense, myrhh, vanilla and oolong tea.
Nose: Maurice Roucel
Well, this week I’ll finally be posting my story… I’m sorry about the delay…
I’m also sorry about the state of this blog right now. I need to make edits and rearrange a few things…
Chanel Beige (Chanel 2008) is perfectly named. The image of classic beige colored Chanel shoes or handbags certainly comes to mind with this beauty.
Smooth, sweet, luminous and delightfully tangy frangipani and freesia create a fruity cocktail with honey and hawthorne. And, the effect is, as many have noted, reminiscent of honeydew melon. But it also reminds me of banana, pineapple and perhaps even pear. There’s a cerulean tinged green quality to it too. Very green. Matter of fact, it even reminds me a bit of vintage Estée Lauder Private Collection. I also am reminded of the tremendously popular cucumber melon combinations of the late 90’s.
Still, Beige is frothy, rich and so Chanel. Very pretty.
Notes: hawthorne, frangipani, honey and freesia.
Nose: Olivier Polge
A very vintage mandarin orange is flanked by a spicy, tea-like bergamot (Lucien Lelong 1936) in Indiscret. Green, slightly bitter galbanum meets a subtle tuberose, woody, indolic and herbal jasmine, sugary ylang ylang, and well-rounded rose.
Indiscret is aptly named. It’d be considered quite smoky except it’s so predominantly floral… It is, however, animalic and even a little spicy. It’s not a “day fragrance” although it is ladylike and soft.
Top notes: mandarin orange, galbanum and bergamot. Middle notes: tuberose, iris, african orange flower, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and geranium. Base note: woodsy notes.
Nose: Jean Carles
I’m in awe of this vintage fragrance from the 1910’s (Caron 1913). It has moods. It’s a little like L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko in that way… For example: I tried Violette Précieuse first over a month ago on a cold snowy/rainy day and it was somber, haunting and green antique violet… Today, with warmer, sunny weather it’s warm, effusive, opulent violet.
There are other slightly spicy, delicate florals in the background but sultry, free-spirited, elegant and bright violet dominants the entire course. That’s not to say that the other notes aren’t present, i.e. orange blossom, lily-of-the-valley and vetiver… But airy violet is beyond nostalgic and entrancing… It’s supposedly very hard to find vintage Violette Précieuse these days but I hope to someday have a full bottle.
Top notes: violet flowers, iris, violet leaves and orange. Middle notes: jasmine and lily-of-the-valley. Base notes: raspberry and vetiver.
Nose: Ernest Daltroff
Dani (Henry Dunay 1998) is instantly enchanting and effortlessly cool. The citrus tinged, lush florals, specifically orange blossom, narcissus, carnation, hyacinth, tuberose, and angelica combine with spice laden vetiver to create an aromatic wonder. It’s a crisp floral like Private Collection or White Linen but it has such an inviting and warm vanillic base that it’s unique. And then moment by moment you keep being reminded of the vetiver. It’s pure luxury.
Top notes: Indian mandarin, carnation, angelica, orange blossom and bergamot. Middle notes: hyacinth, yellow narcissus, narcissus, jasmine, violet leaf and tuberose. Base notes: sandalwood, haitian vetiver, tonka bean and musk.
Nose: Richard Loniewski
How do you properly review this iconic beauty? It’s near impossible. And, shockingly, I haven’t tried yet. But now I’ll say that in a word Chanel Cuir de Russie (Chanel 1924) is: Remarkable. Really, the very animalic leather note is downright scandalous, especially given the way it plays with the sharp, cigarette-like smoke. And the florals? My goodness… They’re tangy, dainty, well blended (of course) and perfectly vintage. The woods are elegant and slightly austere and remote, which is just as they should be – mysterious and alluring. Truly this fragrance is torrid and yet accessible in the most lovely Chanelesque way. Absolutely stunning!
Top notes: clary sage, mandarin orange, orange blossom, lemon and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, iris, vetiver, ylang ylang, rose and cedar. Base notes: leather, amber, vanilla, heliotrope, birch, musk and tobacco.
Nose: Ernest Beaux
This sample of the vintage 1933 Caron En Avion wonderfully displays this grand old dame’s sassy and spicy floral heart, with particular emphasis on carnation (I also detect a very subtle lilac). Actually, I could easily see 1930’s or 40’s Katherine Hepburn in perfectly tailored pants wearing this one… En Avion has a lot of personality. And, the way the notes combine to create something similar to the smell of old school cigarette smoke lingering among well-coiffed florals tells a story in one whiff.
The drydown is exquisite and very typically vintage Caron too. …If you like 1980’s floral powerhouses and want to explore florals from before most people’s living memory then this one is surely worth seeking out for at least a sample.
Top notes: orange, carnation, rose, and neroli. Middle notes: jasmine, orange blossom and lilac. Base notes: opoponax, sandalwood and amber
Nose: Ernest Daltroff