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.