Lancome Magie Noire was created in 1978 by genius Nose Gerard Goupy, who also created the equally superb Lancome Climat (which is a devil to get hold of these days. I only have a dim Duty Free memory of it, but I loved it).
Magie Noire opens as a mossy chypre. It’s loud, floral and powdery at first. I got tuberose, hyacinth and lily of the valley, with the volume turned up. That’s OK, I like them loud. Unusually, the oakmoss base comes through straight away. No waiting.
This is wonderfully earthy and green, and those flowers ( an entire garden full) just jostle for attention. There’s spice too, but nothing savoury- think incense and mysterious spice markets. You’ll find myrrh, vetiver, patchouli in spades, warm amber… There’s no fixed start, middle and finish for this. Apparently it was designed to unfurl like a figure of eight, but that feels to complicated even for my eager nose. I just love how it develops as my skin warms it.
Two hours after slathering it on at the beauty counter, it has settled into one of the best florals I have ever tried. The spices are around the edges warming it up and anchoring it down. The oakmoss is giving me that chypre fix that I always seek and the galbanum and bergamot are giving me my hit of “green”. It’s everything I want in a fragrance, all in one.
Lancome have brought this back in a modern formulation, which is the one I tried today. I can’t comment on the previous incarnation as I haven’t tried it, but I would happily buy a lorry load of this.