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Monday, September 11, 2006

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.

30 Comments:

Blogger tmp00 said...

Sounds interesting- a bit expensive though. How is the longevity? One of the things that puts me off some l'Artisans is that they are so fleeting..

11:24 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tom,
It lasted a long time on me. Not just "long for an L'Artisan". Really good lasting power on my skin. The drydown is very subtle, but it's there and it lingers and lingers.

11:40 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Amazing, and fascinating...
Thank you for your excellent review.

Thank G-d it's not readily accessible...

6:53 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

*Faints* I cannot even speak coherently at the moment, much less post!! I did try the prototype in NY last April; it was lovely on the scent strip, but for some reason didn't work on my skin. I dearly hope this does (it sounds incredible--and quite different from what I tried). I ordered a sample from FiF: for those wanting to do the same, I should mention that there's a glitch in the English version of their website at the moment. If you want to be charged the correct amount for shipping samples (5 euros for a number of samples), you need to use the German version; otherwise, you will be charged too much (I imagine they will refund, but its easier to do it right in the first place:)

7:27 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, no! I need a hypnotist immediately to wipe out the memory of this brilliant, fatal (to my budget) review. As Ina just said on Aromascope, you are infamous for luring people into unsniffed purchases - sort of like a fragrance siren. Yes, my nose is always delighted and ready to send you long thank you notes, but my budget has major sulk fits in the corner. But...leather, tobacco, hay...how could I possibly resist?????

7:57 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Chaya,
It's not accesible yet, but it'll come to the boutiques and places like Luckyscent very soon...and then what? :-)

8:45 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
When I got the sample and immediately sprayed it on...either I was destracted or was already wearing too much, all I got was that busrt of narcissus. But next time, mamma mia, there was leather, a lot of leather. And ever since it was very leathery, with quite a bit of tobacco, and a very nice hay note.
Have you tried PdN Vie de Chateau? I don't want to imply that the two are identical...for one, Narcisse is way more floral...but there is some parallel there I feel.

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Elle,
Ina should be the one to talk, eh? Der Enabler. :-)
As for Narcisse, it's not the kind of thing where I could even remotely predict who might like it or how it might develop on other people. I have a feeling it's one of those very tricky scents. So what I'm saying is, I am not even sure you'd like it all that much, so tell your budget not to worry yet. :-)

8:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Christina H. said...

I must get myself a sample after reading your review! I'm afraid I will love this equally as I do the Fleur d'Oranger but we shall see.:) Thank you for a wonderful review!

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
I would love to hear what you think about this one! Fleur d'Oranger is unquestionably, obviously beautiful. but this one is more complex, and, I think, more intersting.

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Anya said...

Sounds wonderful. I'll make an effort to sample some.

9:32 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Anya,
There isn't nearly as much "skank" as in Pan (which I loved!) here, but it is interesting. :-) Not just a pretty floral.

9:35 AM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Love the parallel with the novel!

I have some of Monique Remy's narcissus absolute, and Fleur de Narcisse smells almost exactly like it, with some additional notes of leather and hay to accent what naturally occurs in absolute. Narcissus absolute does not really smell like narcissus, but it is an intriguing scent.

10:22 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
Thank you! And thank you for the information about thwe absolute. I was wondering what it might be like and if in fact it mightn't have the leathery undertone. Fascinating stuff!

10:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Sounds quite frankly amazing and very expensive. I think I will take your word on this scent and spare myself the heartache of something that is very much out of reach.

11:46 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Jennifer,
You are very wise! :-) I wish I'd stayed away from this one!

11:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Oh, dear god, you are killing me. I need this now!!!

12:28 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

...my job here is done... :-)

12:29 PM EDT  
Blogger The Scented Salamander said...

It sounds like a very interesting fragrance and I shall try to sample it in the coming weeks.

The tobacco smell apparently is natural and occurs soon after the narcissuses have been harvested. I am quoting a passage from the post I did on L'Artisan Narcisse 2006:

"Fanny Grégoire who reported on the L'Artisan 2006 narcissus harvest noted that soon after the narcissuses were harvested they, to her surprise, turned out not to smell floral at all but instead diffused a very pleasant honeyed blonde tobacco smell."

12:51 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

H,
The whole middle stage of FdeN practically doesn't smell floral at all. Well, there are some floral hints, but it is mostly, as she describes, honeyed blonde tobacco, plus hay and lots and lots of leather. It's wonderful.

12:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous andy said...

wow. I love the Chaterley story, it is perfect in a sense, sin under circumstances where it is no sin anymore. Ah well.
I will have to try this, sin or not sin, this is here the question.

12:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

So, does it smell like what we know as "narcyss" in Russian? Even if it doesn't, you managed to, once again, create a lemming. Except, this time I'm not on FIF ordering a bottle like I did with Balsam. Wah!

1:58 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Andy,
I love the story too...I also must confess I love the 80-s movie version :-)

2:03 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ina,
In the very beginning, it does smell exactly like a narcyss. Exactly like it. Then it becoems leather and stuff, and then in the drydown there is narcyss again, only subtler. Nice stuff! But...not in the Agraria price range, waaah.

2:04 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Oh, it sounds wonderful! I wasn't really that excited about this one. But the dirty bits, yum.

2:58 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I think you will like this oen, March. As long as the dirty bits don't hide under all the narcissi :-)

3:00 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Does it remind you at all of that other one ... I swear there's another one (one of the obscure ones) with Narcissus... not Orchidee, not La Chasse, not Ananas, shoot... it had this funky note in the middle, I never knew that about narcissus, that would explain it.

6:08 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Is that one called La Haie something or other. la Haie Fleurie de Something? If so, I don't remember that one at all, so can't really compare, sorry! But if you say there is something funky there, maybe I should make an effort to re-try it :-)

6:12 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I remembered! Not La Haie Fleurie (I'm sure I just spelled that wrong) which is a sweet flower-bomb like Joy. It's Jacinthe de Bois I'm thinking of. They sell samples on lusciouscargo. I guess the top's hyacinth but the middle's hay and funk.:P must be Narcissus

8:56 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
I have very vague memroies of Jacinthe. I must revisit both of these!

11:04 PM EDT  

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