Caron Narcisse Noir was created in 1911 making this a 101 year old beauty from the tail end of the Belle Epoque. Like every era it had many facets, icons, and symbols. Paris of the Belle Epoque was different than Edwardian London (or Downton Abbey). Narcisse Noir, in case you were wondering, is straight from the cabarets and the boudoirs of the infamous courtesans.
My bottle is vintage but not quite that old (it's a Caron lay-down style encased in leather, not the famous art deco one with the flower stopper). The juice inside is wonderfully potent, lively and unbelievably raunchy. Caron perfumes are not necessarily known for sexiness (remember that old adage about Caron for the wife and Guerlain for the mistress), but Narcisse Noir with its liberal use of civet makes vintage Jicky and Shalimar seem virginal. Between the hot breath of civet on the skin and the indolic jasmine and orange blossom there's no doubt where and when one would wear Narcisse Noir.
This is a classic Caron perfume, though, created by Ernest Daltroff, so there's quite a bit more to Narcisse Noir than first hits the nose. The grassy green of the real flower is still there somehow. While the virginal jonquil is seen through a sheer black smoke screen, it is alive and serves as a contrast to the sultry orange blossom. Then there's a hint of incense and a touch of oriental sweetness. Narcisse Noir has a heady and addictive quality even in my ripe vintage version. But don't even get near it if you're not a hardcore civet fans. This juice is potent and long lasting and you won't be able to get rid of the beast for long hours.
Notes: orange blossom, lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, rose, jasmine, jonquil, Persian black narcissus, musk, civet and sandalwood.
Ginette Lantelme by Giovanni Boldini, 1908
Lantelme in “Les Modes”, December 1909
1950s Parfums Caron ad (Narcisse Noir is on the far right) via Hprints.com.