Perfume Review: L'Artisan Fleur de Narcisse
In 2005, L'Artisan went to Tunisia to harvest orange blossom and thus started its Vintage or Harvest series. This year, the focus is on narcissi which were gathered closer to home, in Lozère, the part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France. Fleur de Narcisse, with notes of narcissus, hay, hyacinth, blond tobacco, iris, blackcurrant bud, moss and leather, came as a surprise to me. I have expected a lovely, ethereal creation along the lines of Fleur d’Oranger, a delicate vision of a fragile flower subtly emitting its scent in the summer breeze…What a I got, however, was a much more substantial, complicated and striking scent.
The effect of the very first spritz of Fleur de Narcisse is akin to sticking one’s nose inside the flower, right among the petals. It smells of yellow pollen, white petals, green stems. It smells like a field of wild flowers warmed by the summer sun. The very soul of summer is in the top notes of Fleur de Narcisse. If that’s where the scent stayed, I would have already been very impressed. But it went much further, in a rather startling direction. After one’s nose has been teased and caressed by the bright, summery smell of narcissus, a very distinct leather note enters the scent. The note, whose presence in what could have been a pretty, fresh and simple soliflore is already a surprise by itself, is also unexpectedly meaty, fatty, not as much smoky as it is salty, in a very sensual way. The leather is accompanied by its trusty companion, tobacco, which has the most wonderful flowery smokiness one could wish for in this note. Add to that the smell of hay, and it becomes evident that the summer in the Fleur de Narcisse story is not spent all that innocently, lying in the field, surrounded my daffodils, gazing on the sun and snacking on blackcurrants. The central character does much rolling in the hay with his or her (this is a unisex scent, no doubt about it) rugged, bucolic lover. Think of Lady Chatterley and her gamekeeper and you will have a very good idea of what goes on in Fleur de Narcisse.
All jokes aside, this is a complex, multi-layered and multi-faceted fragrance. It fearlessly and strikingly combines the wraithlike, fresh beauty of narcissus with a full-bodied, sensual forcefulness of leather. What I also like about the scent is the fact that the composion is well-rounded, it comes full circle. It starts with a yellow-green, shiny note of narcissus and ends with it, in a drydown that features the star note of the blend and some iris. The effect is much subtler then in the beginning (it reminds me a little of Armani Prive Pierre de Lune), but it does give the fragrance a very satisfying finishing touch. Fleur de Narcisse is original, by no means conventionally pretty and to me much more interesting then the very beautiful but rather more simple Fleur d’Oranger. Whereas Fleur d'Oranger was a very detailed, very true-to-life photograph of the blossoms, Fleur de Nacrisse is a painting in which the artist takes creative license with his subject and manages to evoke the real flower without being at all realistic in his method. I would still hesitate to pay the staggering price of € 220.00, but in this case the hesitation has an unpleasant smell of sour grapes. Truth be told, if I could afford to pay this sum, I would have done so as soon as Fleur de Narcisse was available.
Right now the samples of Fleur de Narcisse are sold at First in Fragrance. The fragrance is said to be scheduled to appear in the States in November.
The first image is from First in Fragrance, the second from Amazon.com.