Noir Épices (Frédéric Malle)

My siblings and I grew up in the magic garden of public television. Believing it to be a source of safe, wholesome, and educational diversion, my parents entrusted us to its care without an iota of suspicion. We then spent unlimited hours feasting from a cornucopia of the visually subversive and surreal. We watched Fellini, Truffaut, Svankmajer, Kurosawa, Pilobolus, Monty Python, La Planète Sauvage, and gems like the fruit-bowl orange that inexplicably busts out singing Carmen's "Habanera".

Citrus claymation! Spicy stop-motion! Plastic fantastic! No sooner did I spray Michel Roudnitska's playful Noir Épices on my wrists than it all came back to me-- as cheerful, colorful, and wildly improbable as I remembered from childhood.

Noir Épices hits you up front with the most fabulously synthetic orange outside of a Japanese fake-foods display. Given extra boing! by a dose of aldehydes, this waxy slug of sunshine paves the way for a peppery-dry spice-cabinet accord that teases forth memories of winter afternoons devoted to making gingerbread, molasses drops, and other holiday treats. Though such a fragrance may seem incompatible with summer heat, again we find a friend in Noir Épices' sheer aldehydic layer, which filters all this richness to a point where it can be tolerated even in the oven of summer.

Above all, Noir Épices contains whimsy-- and how I welcome it! From first spray to last breath of drydown, it whirs, ticks, and hums sweetly along like a wind-up toy of the most cunning miniature design. I'm inclined to believe that the mind of its creator must house a world of delights comparable to those I used to find long ago, when I turned the TV dial to that certain, singular channel.

Tune in tomorrow? You bet.

Scent Elements: Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, orange, aldehydes, geranium, sandalwood, patchouli