Notes: orange, rose, geranium, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, sandalwood, patchouli, pepper
Given my penchant for spicy fragrances, I couldn’t avoid sampling one with the name Noir Epices. But Michel Roudnitska’s composition for Frederic Malle is a tricky one for me personally to parse. While it’s true that I do love spice, Noir Epices is not a boldly spicy Serge Lutens-style creation. Rather, Noir Epices is subtle, dry, and takes its own time to reveal its layers. The really tricky aspect of Noir Epices for me is the rose. Quite frankly, rose usually smells strange on my skin. I enjoy when other people wear rose-centered fragrances but, for some reason, it just doesn’t speak to me. However, the soft dryness of Noir Epices really pays off, and the rose and geranium notes work for me in this case. Perhaps the orange in the opening helps, adding a spritz of zest to the floral accord.
As I wear this, the rose dies down and gives me the impression of dried crushed rose petals, rather than a living blooming flower. This is where the spice really starts to come into play. I detect clove and some light playful pepper, but I don’t get a sense of the cinnamon or nutmeg. There’s nothing to tip Noir Epices into gourmand territory, and no base of vanilla. In fact, there’s nothing remotely sweet about this fragrance, which is fairly atypical for spicy scents.
I almost hesitate to say this, but I can’t think to describe it any other way: Noir Epices smells soapy to me. I mean that in a good way. This would be the best possible soap. It’s odd, but there’s something about the dry florals and subtle spice here that reads as ‘clean’ to me. This is an intimate scent to be sure, but it’s not dirty or skanky. Maybe I get the soapy sensation simply because the overall effect of Noir Epices is pleasant, without ever becoming overwhelming or overbearing.
Noir Epices is lovely, and it has certainly challenged me. And yet, I don’t feel compelled to get a full bottle of this one. My sample isn’t quite empty, so I’m going to save it and check back in with it in a couple of months. Let’s be honest, this is a Frederic Malle, there is nothing to criticize here. I suppose I’m still uncertain if Noir Epices is really for me.
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle; Noir Epices: $175 for 50 ml // $255 for 100 ml. Full bottles available from Barney’s. I got my sample from The Perfumed Court.