Vintage Magie Noire by Lancome

Top notes: Galbanum, Cassis, Cassia, Hiacynth, Bulgarian Rose, Raspberry and Bergamot.

Middle notes: Honey, Narcissus, Cedar, Orris Root, Ylang-Ylang, Tuberose, Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley.

Base notes: Oakmoss, Spices, Civet, Incense, Patchouli, Amber, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Vetiver and Musk

I’ve long lusted after vintage Magie Noire and been filled with regret that I didn’t buy a bottle when I first encountered it over ten years ago. Therefore, last year when Vanessa mentioned in Part 1 of her perfume collection reorg that she no longer felt any attachment to her vintage bottle, I asked if I could buy it from her. After sending me a sample, she generously gifted me the remains of her bottle. When it arrived I was thrilled to find that it was the Darth Vadar version.

I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to green chypres in recent times. There’s something about their mix of forest wildness and stern self-possession that seems to cut through any anxiety.

Magie Noire was launched in 1978 and I can’t help but wonder if a brand released a fragrance today with the name ‘Black Magic’ whether it would be in the same genre. I think it would more likely be some kind of amber oriental. It is the antithesis of Lancome’s current smash hit La Vie Est Belle with its overwhelming iris-drowning-in-caramel accord.

Magie Noire is magnificently eerie. It opens with tart, lip-staining, blackcurrants and bitter stems with a scattering of white flowers. But what gets me is the depth. I’ve read that it starts off with the base notes first and I can see where that comes from. You can pick up on the deeper, darker notes straight away. There is also just a tinge of honied, fruity sweetness but it doesn’t quite manage to blunt its thorns.

I sense I’m experiencing something greater than the sum of its parts. Its fully formed personality materialises before me. It’s every dream of a beguiling witchy scent I’ve ever had.

Vol de Nuit captured my attention because of the way it sits at the intersection of chypre and oriental. Magie Noire does something similar being half green chypre and half sultry oriental. I find the complexity and contrast between the two utterly enthralling.

Unlike most green chypres, it has the slinky texture of fur. The throw is moderate and I find its longevity to be excellent.

It possesses a maturity that is perfectly in keeping with the fragrances of its era. Magie Noire does not pander. On the face of it, it’s all wildflowers, fresh shoots and berries but they lie in the shadow of intoxicating leather, civet and musk.

I see Magie Noire as the mythological crone; a mature woman at the height of her powers. Before the patriarchy took over, discrediting and burning these astute women as witches, the ancient crone was associated with attributes of ‘wisdom, compassion, transformation, healing laughter, and bawdiness’*. This is a woman who has grown comfortable in her own skin and feels able to speak her mind because she could care less what others think of her. She rejoices in her esoteric interests and values her coven. If you look closely, you can see a wry sparkle in her eye.

Is Magie Noire a favourite of yours? Do you love the vintage version? I understand old bottles are prone to turning.




Filed under Perfume Reviews

34 responses to “Vintage Magie Noire by Lancome

  1. bonkersvanessa

    Glorious review! I almost could like it again…okay, maybe not, but your review nails Magie Noire to an absolute ‘t’. Also love the image of the crone – I aspire to be like that, even though my perfume tastes are for more accessible scents. So pleased to give this to an appreciative home and am trying and failing to remember the self that happily wore this in the 80s.


    • It’s always reassuring when someone who has known a perfume for a long time thinks I’ve nailed it. Thanks again for the bottle V. I love it.

      Yes, I’m all about embracing ‘crone life’. At least we have the Coven.


    • denise hurst

      Half my life seems dedicated to searching out the vintage edition of this perfume and purchasing it without selling a kidney. It’s become my signature perfume so I hunt high and low for it but it’s got to be the version that comes in the “Darth Vadar” (lol) bottle. Trouble is, the boxes all look the same when buying online so sometimes I’m ridiculously disappointed when I pull out the wrong bottle


      • I feel for you. There is nothing like that Darth Vadar version. My friend Scott recently gave me a bottle for my 50th birthday and I was seriously overjoyed. He is an aficionado and has stockpiles of the stuff.


  2. I’ve got a bottle of this …… somewhere …. must sort myself out! I think I was slightly disappointed with it because it didn’t smell like Magie (before the Noire), which I wore decades ago and remember fondly as my father gave it to me as a fourteenth birthday present. “Slinky texture of fur” is enough to make me hunt through the cupboards to find the Noire.


  3. davina

    Who wouldn’t want to wear this fragrance on reading this wicked review. Wonderful Tara. I was mesmerised Xx


  4. Lady Jane Grey

    What a wonderful review, T. – your review itself is a magie !
    You make the parfum so tempting ! And I have to admit with shame that I‘ve never tried it… 😪


    • No shame at all! There is so much I still haven’t tried and when it comes to vintage, sometimes it’s better not to fall in love with something that is not readily available or reasonably affordable. I was just fortunate I got to try it and Vanessa was kind enough to gift me her bottle.

      Hope all is well with you.


  5. Carrie

    Magie Noire is one of my few ultimate holy grail perfumes and I hoard it like mad. This, for me, is the most insulting reformulated perfume; the new stuff bears zero resemblance to the vintage. I have never actually worn it out in public because I have this feeling that this person is so sexy that I can’t live up to it and it almost feels indecently sensuous. Reality is that most people nowadays might perceive it as the dreaded “old lady” smell and I will be the antithesis of sexy. I am glad you got to try the vintage version.


    • HI Carrie
      I love that you feel so strongly about it. I know what you mean about its snsuality but agree that generally people are unlikely to see it like that.

      ‘Insulting’ is a great way to describe dreadful reformulation of well loved perfumes.

      I do feel very fortunate to experience the vintage. I will wesr and enjoy it while it lasts.


  6. Carrie

    Sorry- this PERFUME not this PERSON is so sexy. For the record, I am decades part the time when I could have been considered sexy.


    • It is has so much presence and personality that person works well too.


    • Sharon D. Pratcher

      Marie Noire was my favorite in the mid eighties I was in my early 20’s it was very sexy and alluring, I had the opportunity to sample what I assumed was revised version before Lancome removed it from Macy’s not the same I prefer vintage La’Huille. If it can be found and reasonably also body cream. Man I Love that fragrance. It was very sexy and made you as that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. WOO HOO! Magie Noire is HEAVENLY!
    At one point I had hoarded three of those magnificent Darth Vader bottles. Two have gone to Scotty, who is a major fan, and I’ve kept one for myself.
    I can just see you swanning around in great gouts of magie Noire! I bet it smells killer on you.
    Portia xx


  8. You and I are now related somehow… I’m not sure exactly how to call it, but I’m a happy owner of a sample from that Vanessa’s bottle! 🙂

    I got to appreciate MN much more now than I did decades ago. But since vintage perfumes and I do not mix well, I enjoy Vanessa’s gift as a test subject, but I probably won’t wear it. But I would had it been released like that today (I mean, the same formulation minus the “vintage vibe”). Great review nevertheless!

    Have you tried Magie (without Noire)?


    • I so want to be related to you in any way so I’ll take it!

      I somehow thought Magie came later but must have got that muddled up with something else (Miracle maybe). I see from Jillie’s comment it was around a good while ago. Must look it up now out of curiosity.


  9. This is one of the best pieces you have ever written. I have to try it now. I may have a small small sample somewhere. I may have binned it as well, you know. Damn.


    • Well that’s good to hear as was fearing I was losing my mojo.

      Don’t stress the sample, I doubt this one is for you and who needs another vaitnage love?


  10. Kelley Robinette

    Last year I scored a Darth Vader vintage bottle (love that description), used but nearly full, 1.7 ounces, and fully like I recalled it from when I wore bottle after bottle in the 80s. It’s the single greatest chypre there is, soaring over even Coty Chypre, Mitsouko, Paloma Picasso, and Knowing, all of which I own or have owned. It’s indeed the exact opposite of a fruity-floral or a gourmand. It speaks to the wildness inside while presenting a sophisticated surface. This is a fragrance for women, not children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh I love your description of it. Congrats on your score. Maybe it’s not so prone to turning as I’d read.


    • Carrie

      It is better even than Deneuve and the only one in your list that even comes close (in my opinion) is Paloma Picasso. I love your description, “…..speaks to the wildness inside while presenting a sophisticated surface.” A modern fragrance I have found that comes close is Amouage Myth.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Asali

    I know I have tried it, but I can’t remember it, I just have a vague feeling that it might have been a tad too green for me… another one in that space is Rochas Mystere, which you should try too
    Like you I do love that hybrid, though. The space just between chypre and oriental, or chypre and woody, or… It’s so special.
    Lovely review, as always 🙂


    • Thanks Asali. You know your vintage so will make a mental note of Mystere.

      These hybrid perfumes are fascinating but I can well see MN being too green for many.


  12. Great post! What a treasure to enjoy all to yourself.


  13. Pingback: May Melange Marathon: Thank You – Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities

  14. You get it Tara!
    Beautiful story telling and yes due to Scott getting us into it. I still have some left from a vintage sample .
    Miss you and hope you are well xxx


  15. S

    I have 2 bottles but the plastic vile came loose and it won’t spray. Uggggggghhhhh. I could just die. I’m buying a new one from Macy, it’s seasonal item.


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