Magie Noire is difficult to talk about for several reasons:
1) It's so weird that you're unsure if it's actually supposed to smell like that or if your sample has gone off.
2) There's a good chance that it has gone off, because it's not a fragrance that seems to preserve well.
3) It was reformulated so many times even before the real heavy-hitting IFRA restrictions of the 00s that each iteration of it smells wildly different.
That said, I've owned roughly seven different bottles of Magie Noire over the years from many different eras, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it. The really good stuff, that preserves the best and smells the most expensive, comes in the original orange and black bottle. It is a mind-blowing trip and should be smelled in 3-D under the influence of marijuana for maximum effect. It smells evil, and it's not just the marketing. It is disturbingly vegetal in the way that Yatagan is, but draped in feminine opulence-- stewing vegetables in an evening gown. Every real animalic in the book is present in large quantities, creating a rude honeyed dog foot effect. There is an addictive industrial gasoline cast to it all, like something it's unhealthy for you to be smelling.
Magie Noire wasn't considered that glamorous or highbrow a fragrance in its day, which seems unbelievable to us now. It was common for suburban mothers to smell like this (what I'd give to go back and inhale that air...). It was sort of a knock-off less expensive Opium that places the resins and spices and musty mystery of that fragrance on the framework of the more prevalent sour green chypres of the 70s. It borrowed Opium's image of oriental languor and added to it a satanic angle, with dark, ghoulish, wonderful advertisements and a package design that incorporated foreboding hieroglyphs. Considering the recent ubiquitous popularity of putting satanic imagery and goats and pentagrams on everything, even clothing for unremarkable hipster good girls, Lancome was ahead.
The subsequent formulation with the black plastic mushroom cap is still excellent but seems slimmed down and cheapened. It is more peppery and conventionally woody, but still disturbing in its vegetable sourness. There is also a weird formulation packaged in a black plastic flask; do not buy this. Because of the cheap packaging, none of them have kept and they have all gone completely off. You will see reports of this anywhere there is talk of vintage Magie Noire.
After this it was briefly discontinued and brought back in a still-interesting version in a clear bottle that smells not unpleasantly like a drugstore knock-off. It's all sneezy black pepper and sour rose and, like everything else from the 80s that's still in production, doesn't have base notes to speak of. This version is still easy to come by and gives you a hint of what the real stuff was like, and it can be appreciated as a sort of "If you like Magie Noire, you'll love Sexy Magic" body spray.
As with Aromatics, I once thought Magie Noire was my signature scent. I spent untold dollars amassing vintage bottles of it on eBay to wear for the rest of my life. I quit wearing it cause I smelled like a lunatic. It makes an exciting appearance in Working Girl, the perfume-lover's dream movie. Melanie Griffith is sitting at Sigourney Weaver's vanity and applies extrait from the black and orange bottle.
Magie Noire was never a top fragrance choice for me. Through the years, it has become a cult classic, so I decided to revisit it and purchased a vintage bottle. I've worn it in two seasons before I've written this review, so I can feel I am accurately assessing my thoughts.
Back when it was first released, I wasn't a huge fan of this or any of Lancome's perfumes. But with all of the accolades surrounding it, I decided to give it a go again to see what the hoopla is all about.
It's definitely a cooler weather perfume. Wearing it above 55 degrees is nauseating. I've discovered that is one of it's flaws and perhaps why some absolutely abhor it. The temperature outside (or inside) must be cool enough for this perfume to work properly. This is a very strange potion.
Its aroma wafts and wanes around you, circling its fumes in layers of clouds that hypnotize and entice and mesmerize. How do perfumes create such images? Some scents hit head-on with no looking back, some sit in a corner of room expectantly, hoping for attention, and others are classics that need no introduction because they are simply elegant members of a family. But Magie Noire swirls around, dances and sings, appears light and floral one moment then impacts hard and deep as a chypre floral that's just very complex. This is not a try it once to decide if you like it perfume. It changes with the seasons, your moods and the climate. It's been called a witch's brew and the moniker fits it well. Although there are many that wear this only a few can truly pull it off successfully. It's must be worn with an attitude, from the base of your soul , with determination. Heavy on spices and woods, burning with incense and myrhh, musky with patchouli and wrapped in a tight package with a civets tail, this might or might not be for you. It is a Seductress perfume, an Enchantress' fragrance, it will bewitch those around you if you are the Femme Fatale wearing it.
Certainly not an everyday perfume, and definitely not an office fragrance, Magie Noire is wonderful for an evening soiree or a tete-a-tete supper. This is a strong perfume to use on your pulse points and let the heat of your skin bring it to its fire,
Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, and Bridgette Bardot could all wear this perfume easily.
Radiates strongly if you're not careful and lasts for hours and hours.
Top Notes: Cassis, Cassia, Raspberry, Galbanum, Hiacynth, Bergamot, Bulgarian Rose.
Middle Notes: Honey, Tuberose, Orris Root, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Lily-Of-The-Valley, Cedar, Narcissus.
Base Notes: Spices, Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Civet, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Myrhh, Incense.
No, no, no, at least to the modern version of it! Having read some raving reviews about this classic, I ventured out to the loal drugstore with a well-composed perfume section and took a hopeful sniff - instantly regretting it. Sprayed it on to give it a second chance - and rued the day. I had actually never come by a revolting perfume before - some could be nice, some blah, some too alcohol-ey, but this is just nausea in a bottle: burnt chocolate and plastic - 2 main ingredients that lurk in that cocktail waiting for another fool like me to approach the counter in search of an "oldie. but goodie". I will NEVER even think about trying again unless someone will give me an authentic vintage to sample ( perhaps it is just the reformulation that sends me bowing over the porcelan friend! )
Oh Magie Noire what have they done to you? Every bit of gorgeous, sexy smokiness has gone - cheapened to the point of extinction. There is a trace of the old magic like a wisp from Gandalf's wand then it poops out after 30 minutes. 'Fly you fools!' before it disappears into the abyss forever. A minute of silence for the old Magie Noire please.
I just purchased Magic Noire from Lancome, and it came today. All I can say is, boy did it take me back. This new version is lighter, but still packs a punch. Since I just got it, I'm not sure how long it will last on me. I will do an update review. For now, I will just bask in the lovely fragrance. The bottle is pretty, but i do miss the black top bottle that was on the original fragrance.
Magie Noire is discontinued!!!
I will not buy any other products from Lancome - ever!
Their line management are complete losers.
My Mum used to wear this in the 90s. I got a sample the other day, and they've changed the smell beyond recognition.
This smells like either an ancient man or an animal fell asleep in my bed and covered my sheets in rank sweat.
This really needs two reviews: one for the vintage formulation (in the funny round bottle) and one for the current edt sold in stores.
Vintage: starts out a bright raspberry and chocolate note that manages to be fruity and chocolatey without actually being sweet. A fierce, dark chypre is right behind it, and the raspberry and a touch of dried rose are woven through the scent as it dries down. It gets softer as it wears, but has excellent lasting power. Black Magic is the perfect name for this, and this perfume is perfect for making trouble.
Current reformulation: a gloss of cheap musty chocolate over a rough, chemical-laden approximation of Magie Noire's chypre structure, I don't smell any florals. After a few minutes it kind of smells sort of like the vintage, but less good, and after about 45 minutes it's gone.
This reviews came out all threes because I split the difference between the old and new versions; I would definitely buy the old again.
Straight up Bánh mě. It sprays on a promising, yet vaguely astringent oriental, but within seconds it is the various components of a Vietnamese sandwich. Cilantro, daikon, pork belly, chiles, pickled vegetables, right down to the yeasty tang of a crusty baguette. There must be something wrong with me; no one in their right mind would make a fragrance that smells like this. However, sometimes one is just in the mood for a sandwich, and this is certainly complex and delicious. Therefore -2 stars.
As far as I'm concerned, the true Magie Noire should be considered "discontinued." Lancome still produces something called Magie Noire, in a glass bottle. However, this is a pale and anemic distant cousin to the vintage smell. Do not be fooled by an initial similar smell if you try the new one. I compared both, one on each wrist, the vintage I'd put on in the morning far outlasted the new formulation's smell. I finally tracked down a vintage bottle at some random perfume outlet near Chicago. I refused to buy something over the internet. The old box containing the edt used to have little v's over the O in Noire if that helps. Edit: I have to cringe when I hear that raspberry is a note in MN. I discern no raspberries in it, nothing fruity. It's a mysterious oakmoss chypre.