Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Noir Epices- Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums

Many of the fragrances in Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums line have a very modern "non-perfumy" feel. It applies to just about everything in the line- from Jean Claude Elena's sparse and airy creations to the naughty things Maurice Roucel does on one's skin. These are the examples I'd use to explain modern perfumery to someone who doesn't follow the industry.

Noir Epices definitely smells like a perfume. And a big one, at that. But it doesn't belong with the other rosy Frederic Malle fragrances (Lipstick Rose, Une Rose and also Iris Poudre, which has a different violet-rose thing going). Even those who aren't big on rose scents (like me) would admit that they often have a certain joyous beauty, le vie en rose, a lighthearted touch. Noir Epices, as the name hints, doesn't play this game. Actually, it doesn't play at all. Even the spiced orange accord that could have been singing about cozy rooms at Christmastime has a different vibe than you'd expect. It smells good but it ain't pretty.

There's a lot of darkness here. The perfumer, Michel Roudnitska, has created a very serious, heavy hearted scent. Even at its most glorious moments, where the black rose is being lit from the inside by the spicy fire or when it all melds into a beautiful woody core, it is never uplifting. Noir Epices carries the heaviness of being. It isn't mopey, not at all, and wouldn't do for a pity party, because it completely lacks a comforting aspect one would at the end of such a day (or a night). It has many good moments and I keep going through samples, unable to resist the darkness. But have yet to feel a need for an actual bottle in my collection. It would feel like giving in. Or giving up.

Picture: Amanda Holding A Rose by Eddie O'Bryan


  1. As is completely obvious since we]re scent twins, I feel the same way; thanks for encapsulating it for me

  2. Yesss! It's my favourite from all the Frederic Malle's EdP - I've been sniffing my sample so long, so finally I bought a full bottle...
    (Something completely different : you were "talking" about O.Jayne's Ta'if lately - did you sample the pure parfume, or the edp ?)

  3. delurking briefly to thank you so much for the best review (to me) of one of my favourite scents. I'm not a rose scent girl yet I love the rose in this. At the beginning of my perfume obsession I acquired a sample of this and loved it but was distracted by Musc Ravageur. Then last winter when Liberty installed the Malle column thingies I had a road to Damascus conversion and bought a bottle. It is severe but oh so beautiful. Thanks again. Nicola

  4. It took me several tries to fall in love with this, and even now, I have to be in just the right state of mind to wear it, but when it's right, it's perfect. It is indeed a heavy and intense perfume.

    1. 100% - this isn't a 'throw on' scent - you have to be ready for it.

  5. Tom, it's a good thing we both met other people in the perfume community who would vouch for us not being the same person.

    (On a different but equally amusing note, I've been asked a couple of times if my cat Thomas was named after you...)

  6. Lady Jane, I was talking about the EDP. I've never tried the parfum of any OJ scent.

    (and by the way, later tonight I'm going to review Tolu)

  7. Nicola, thank you for delurking. Nothing pleases me more than to "meet" my readers.

    I adore Musc Ravegeur. Love love love it. And then some. I think the only Frederic Malle I actively dislike is Fleur de Cassie, which simply hates me and my skin.

  8. Tara, you're right- one needs to be in the right mood and emotional place to fully enjoy Noir Epices. It's wonderful on those days.


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