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Frederic Malle Noir Epices
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

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April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

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April Aromatics Nectar of Love

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Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

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At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

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Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

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Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

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Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

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Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

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Coty Ambre Antique

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Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

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Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

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Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

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M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

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Missoni (original) by Missoni

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Montale Black Aoud

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Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

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Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

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Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

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Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

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Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

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Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

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SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

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What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

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Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Noir Epices:

Spice Liberated and Highly Polished


It’s a rare thing for me to fall in love with a spicy oriental fragrance, or at least those that emphasize the word “spicy” and lean heavily on clove or a clove-cinnamon combination. It’s not that I don’t care for the note at all, it’s simply a matter of proportion: I guess you could say that clove becomes a deal-breaker for me when it is used as a key note. There are exceptions, of course (Aroma M Geisha Rouge being a delightful one), but clove-heavy perfumes such as Yves Saint Laurent Opium or Caron Poivre make me feel claustrophobic, like my neck is about to break out in hives, which, come to think of it, is how clutter makes me feel too.

Now, lighten clove up with some aldehydes and floral notes—balance it against some other pretty spices and give it an urbane treatment—and a spicy oriental becomes something I can’t resist, apparently, because that’s exactly the way I feel about Noir Epices, from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. I can’t leave my spray sample alone, even though it arrived in a package with a number of other beautiful fragrances (thank you, Birgit!)—fragrances that would normally vie for my attention but which have largely gone ignored, so besotted am I with this one.

Like most fragrances of its genre, Noir Epices is a bold and assertive perfume, but there is also something spacious, uncluttered and clean about it. This is spice transformed into modern art, completely liberated from the claustrophobic environs of the spice shelf or from the historical confines of the Spice Trail, romantic as that notion is. This is also one of those perfumes with which I have a quibble with the name, because it smells not of anything “noir” but of something so gleaming it could bounce a light beam off its trim butt. If Noir Epices is a study in dark spices, then said spices have been strung like black pearls* on a silk cord: each dark note separated by a silken knot that maintains its olfactory space, and each one buffed to a brilliant luster, such that the entire effect is one of deep, vibrato shimmer.

Returning to the subject of clove again, I have to say that I only notice clove in the first five to ten minutes of wear, when the scent is at its darkest (and I suppose I would characterize Noir Epices as dark in its fleeting, top-notes stage). Had I been asked to guess the notes of Noir Epices, I would have said there was a pronounced cardamom note—and when I hold my sprayed wrist up to my jar of cardamom pods for a comparison, I could swear this is true. The piquant, perfume-y smell of cardamom, so full of uplift, is one of my favorite spices, but as it is not mentioned in the official list of notes that the company provides (and quite often these lists offer only a brief sketch of what’s in a fragrance), I have to wonder if it is a phantom note of my imagination. Later, as the scent dries down, I think I also detect an orris note lending a subtle powderiness to Noir Epices, but since that’s not listed either, let’s take a look at what does, officially, make up the framework of this radiant fragrance.

Created by perfumer Michel Roudnitska and launched in 2000, Noir Epices has top notes of orange, rose and geranium; heart notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and pepper; and base notes of patchouli, cedarwood and sandalwood. It is characterized as being unisex, and I would say that while it gently leans in the direction of the masculine, that’s a pretty good assessment. Noir Epices is, according to some sources on the Internet, Catherine Deneuve’s favorite fragrance, or at least one of them (I recall reading that she is something of a perfumista who has a number of favorite perfumes), and it does strike me as uniquely suited to a woman of her leonine beauty and cool intellect.

I have not sampled enough perfumes by Michel Roudnitska to comment on his style, but of the ones I have, I am impressed by the way he puts a shine on notes that are so saturated they would normally read as heavy, yet somehow he takes the weight off of them without robbing them of their rich olfactory color. In Noir Epices, Roudnitska gives the illusion of stripping away density, stripping away gravity from the normally thick and heavy smell of spice—much in the same way that the sculptor Constantin Brancusi created bronze sculptures that were not only streamlined, but polished to a degree that they became both laser-like and weightless. If, like me, you find most spicy orientals to be claustrophobic affairs, give Noir Epices a try and see if you aren’t dazzled by its soaring brilliance.

*In one of those odd cases of coincidence, after writing this review I did a Google search on “fragrances by Michel Roudnitska” and came upon a page describing his unique, artistic background—which included, much to my surprise, his co-authoring a reference book on the Tahitian black pearl, titled La Magie de la Perle Noire.

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Noir Epices can be purchased from Barneys.com or the Frederic Malle website, where a 50-ml bottle is currently $160.


Image: photo of black pearls is from an article on the Four Seasons Hotel in Bora-Bora on Zimbio.com.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 6/14/2011.


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