Monday, February 28, 2011
Lancome - Magie Noir (Vintage)
Magie Noir was launched in 1978. The generous JoanElaine at Redolent of Spices recently sent me a vintage sample of it that has me bewitched.
Although it's classified at an oriental floral by Fragrantica, to me Magie Noir smells like a chypre. Its opening notes are those of a traditional chypre base. Dark, mossy and bitter, the opening of Magie Noir slaps you in the face with its "chypre-ness" and a healthy animal note of civet. She growls.
The earthy darkness of the opening stays throughout, but Magie Noir's gorgeous bitchiness softens after a few minutes. It has a sort of backwards progression from that of most perfumes. After opening with traditional base notes, honey, fruit, and flowers join Magie Noir and seem to smooth out her mood. Nevertheless, it still feels like the fruit and flowers are under the base notes, not the other way around. The red and black fruit, cassis and raspberry, are present but only if you smell closely. From arms length, I still smell mostly the patchouli and oakmoss.
The florals of Magie Noir are subtle but wonderfully complicated. I think I can smell hints of narcissus and a spicy greeness from hyacinth and galbanum. These notes make it a spring time perfume for me. Magie Noir reminds me of early spring, when the everything is still chilly and dark, but the daffodils and hyacinths are just beginning to sprout out of the black earth.
In the end, Magie Noir reverses direction and goes back to base notes of amber, and wood. Like an unpredictable woman, she keeps you guessing.
Unfortunately, Magie Noir has been reformulated and it has suffered. The current formula is harsh and chemical in the opening notes. I can see how the basic structure of dark notes over fruit and florals has been imitated, but the magic is gone. There is something sour about the fruit, and the dark base notes are not as rich, missing the oakmoss and civet. Only after the dry down does the new version become a tolerable, if slightly powdery, facsimile of the original. It's a loss.
Nose: Gérard Coupy
Notes: cassis, raspberry, galbanum, hyacinth, bergamot, bulgarian rose, honey, tuberose, jasmine, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, orris, cedar, narcissus, spices, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, civet, oakmoss, vetiver.
Where to buy: skip the new stuff and try to find the vintage online.