Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet Narcosa

So I was finishing up trying out all my new Gloi summer products, to review when I came to Narcosa.  I saved it for last, since I wasn't terribly taken with it, sniffing the sample vial, so all I got was the perfume. Not that it seemed bad, just that Brier Path and Sanctum were so wonderful, that poor little Narcosa seemed like an afterthought - Brier Path's slightly more elegant older sister.

"A thick haze of tonka and black vanilla, three jasmines, tuberose and ylang ylang."
image courtesy of House of Gloi

Boy, was I wrong. I daubed the perfume on yesterday and went about my business. At first it smelled the way it does in the bottle - a sweet, slightly powdery white floral - vaguely old-fashioned. It reminded me of something my grandmother had had once, or maybe my aunt. Nice, but nothing special. However, as the day went on and the perfume aged, the magic happened. The undertones of tonka and vanilla clouded the floral essence, making it richer, deeper and more complex. Grandmother's perfume, indeed - only if Grandma was, say, Virginia Woolf. Out of the bottle it was pearls and stockings, but time and deeper notes added gin and cigarettes.

I was really quite taken away by the scent - it seemed like something out of Paris in the twenties or thirties, the parfum of choice for a slightly boozy cabaret singer, or a hung over chorus girl. Ladylike and elegant on the surface, but underneath, smoky, sultry and a little wild. Dirty jazz in the background, wet streets, and flickering streetlamps. You might see Henry Miller, drunk in the corner, or hear Jospehine Baker's voice come lilting out of a club.  One of my favourite photographers is Brassai, and his work came to mind, with the scent of Narcosa weaving itself in and out of his images, along with cigarette smoke, fog and too many cocktails.

I was quite astonished by how powerfully evocative Narcosa turned out to be, how very vividly it captured my idea of a certain time and place - even though it's one I never experienced personally. That's one of the things that makes perfume so wonderful - it can capture moments, ideas, entire worlds in the barest thread of fragrance. For me, Narcosa smells like this:

Lovers in a Cafe 1932
Rue Quincampoix 1930-1932

For you it might be something else entirely.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.


  1. It really is lovely and surprisingly complex.

  2. I've been trying to tell myself I don't need this fragrance...grrr :P It just sounds lovely, though!

  3. hah! - I know what you mean - I'm thinking I should just have my paychecks forwarded directly to HoG, since so much of it ends up there anyway.