Post by Claire Vukcevic
Hi APJ folk!
We’ve been enjoying an amazing autumn here in Ireland. Lucky enough to live in the most sheltered spot on this rain-sodden island, we spent most of October and November trawling the long, golden beaches and kicking over the leaves in castle parks. The sun never stopped shining, temperatures barely dipped below 15 degrees, and we were all in such a damn good mood. Then one day, driving back from a jaunt to Kilkenny, I made the fatal mistake of saying, “And imagine – the kids haven’t been sick even once!”
Naturally, there hasn’t been a dry tissue in the house since. There’s been the flu, chest infections, and a torn cornea that necessitated an emergency hospital visit and a hefty bill (no health insurance). More familiar with hospital waiting rooms than I’d care to be, I have developed a perfume strategy that helps a bit. I wear powerfully radiant, antiseptic fumes that march ahead of me, wiping whole rooms down with Dettol before I enter, and whisper “Do not fuck with me” to receptionists.
Noir Epices by Frederic Malle 2000
Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Orange, rose, geranium
Heart: Nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cloves
Base: Sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, vanilla
Yeah, so, I’m wearing a lot of Noir Epices. It is a difficult, somewhat prickly perfume – a sort of stripped-down, Vorsprung Durch Technik version of Coco. Re-engineered to remove all the sweetness and ballasting amber; it’s the perfume equivalent of whittling a comfy sofa into a Philippe Starck chair.
In the opening notes, a hot pink rose stumbles onto the scene, flushed and boozy, washed down with the metallic sheen of geranium leaf. It is intensely beautiful to me at first because I get the impression of fullness – the bitter greenness of the geranium balanced by the rose, and the dry, peppery spices are backed up by rich woods. Singed orange peel and clove burn through spices, florals, and woods, purifying the unclean air around me and excoriating the flesh around open wounds. Noir Epices is the answer to the plague.
I feel fierce when I wear this, but eventually the very things that make me feel protected wear me down. Wearing Noir Epices is like putting a pure vitamin C serum on your face – the burning feels good because you know that it is active, but at the same time, the discomfort is real. Noir Epices has all the trappings of a rich spice oriental – the acidity of spilled orange juice, dry pomander woods, black pepper, an excitable rose – but completely lacks the underpinnings. There is no amber, vanilla, or creamy, hefty woods to round this out in the base, and while I understand that its appeal comes from this woody weightlessness, I would wish for a kinder, more forgiving ending. Noir Epices is a stern judge of character.
Longevity and sillage are outstanding, 7 hours at the least. I recommend Noir Epices to anyone in need of a magic potion to ward off illnesses, and to fans of spicy, dry orange-rose pomander fragrances such as Coco and Maharanih.
Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Non Blonde
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What do you guys use to banish the sickies?
14 thoughts on “Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska for Frederic Malle 2000”
When I am sick, I don’t usually wear fragrance. When I am in pain or down or upset, I wear what the mood dictates. It’s different every time. Often rose lifts me. Or amber. Usually, the ambers make me feel wrapped in a warm blanket.
Aha, ambers are usually my go-to when I need comfort too, but I tend to think of them in terms of couch comfort, rather than protective armour for when I need to battle the germs – then it is always the orangey fragrances, or ones heavy on orange blossom. I don’t know why, except that pain relief syrups here are flavored with orange and I associate oranges with preparing your system for winter!
Hey there Claire,
Depending on how sick I am. If it’s super sick I only wear my Indian oils.
If I’m just feeling crap or have a cold then Shalimar or the ambers. Warm cosy blankets of fragrance that can clear my head and comfort my body.
I am curious about those Indian oils, tell me more! xxx Claire
My last really long term partner was an Indian man. For a few years we were doing intercontinental love and I found some really good scent wallahs in my time there. Back in 2000 the fragrances were based on Mysore sandalwood. Around 2005 they started using faux sandalwood and the perfumes started to become copies of Western blockbusters. I still have some of the original ones and they are flawless.
Portia, I am still giggling at the “intercontinental love” bit 🙂 I think I know the oils you mean – the really traditional ones like Mitti, Khus, Wardia, majmua, shamama, etc? I have a few that I really love, but as you say, these days it is difficult to know what they are using instead of sandalwood for the attar base. I have heard that some of the cheaper ones even use paraffin, so I am really wary of buying them from eBay. If you know of any good suppliers that ship internationally, please do let me know! I am writing an attar book, remember – so I need access to the good stuff! 🙂
Claire, I’m getting you in touch with my ex. He will go to the oldest scent wallah in Delhi who has been in the same store for generations.
Great post, Claire! Noir Epices is a great favorite of mine, and I need to get a full bottle now that my samples and decants are finished. I can see how it could be used as armor.
When I’m not feeling well, there isn’t too much that I want to wear, but two reliables are 10 Corso Como and Costes.
Hi Francesca! Noir Epices is definitely a good one for steeling one’s girders, kind of like Mitsouko and No. 19 for me in a way. I bet you carry this off to perfection, fiercely elegant and fierce as you are. When I spray NE on, for the first few moments I get an image of myself striding down the Champs Elysees in a perfectly tailored white shirt, beige trench, and over-the-knee black leather boots (sometimes there is even a riding crop involved) – it is so clipped, dry, and soignee. Of course, that illusion dissipates….for me, at least.
I love 10CC and Costes – the ultimate in woody, low-key comfort. Excellent choice for when one is feeling delicate and up only for something in watercolor. xxx Claire
I happen to be wearing Noir Épices today. I love the austere antiseptic start, but then it dries down to a soft, dusty spice scent after a couple of hours that I find quite comfortable. Scents I tend to wear to ward off the plague are usually frankincense-based, and comfort when I am sick comes from vanilla or white musk.
Hi twin 🙂 Yes, I suppose that’s why frankincense was first used in churches, to cleanse the air of bad spirits and germs. I’m Catholic, though, so I can’t take too much of the straight-up frankincense in perfume, although I do burn it at home. I also love vanilla and musk for their eiderdown quilt comfort, in particular Musc Nomade for the musk. I am in a vanilla holding pattern at the moment, and don’t ever seem to reach for it. But I swapped my Cuir Beluga away a few years ago and regret it bitterly now! What white musks and vanillas do you rate? Best, Claire
Musc Nomade was my scent yesterday. 🙂 I also like SL Clair de Musc, MdO Musc and TF Musc Pure. For my frankincense hit, I reach for AG Encens Flamboyant, Profumum Olibanum, or Tauer Incense Extreme. Favourite vanillas are Indult Tihota, Guérlain Cuir Beluga and Spiritueuse Double Vanille, with an occasional foray into Memoirs of a Trespasser.
Amused by your comment on living in the most sheltered part of this rain-sodden island! We live in North Antrim, not far from the coast which, while beautiful, is definitely not the most sheltered part. I suppose the south-east is slightly less wind-swept and rainy…(comparatively speaking. To return to the subject in hand, you make Noir Epices sound like a must-have. Great description.
I freakin love this one.
Do you find that some perfumes bring out a certain ‘alter ego’ when you wear it? This one makes me feel confident on the strangest way. It’s so loud and potent on my skin and I tend to change my outfits to a more crisp, tailored style. Perfumes are so fun when I match it to my mood and then match my outfit to my perfume.
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