Saturday Question: What Perfume Is Really Noir?

Have you ever heard anyone complaining that perfume called [Something] Light or [Something] Fraiche wasn’t light or fresh enough? I haven’t. But with rare exceptions, most of the reviews for [Something] Noir ends up mentioning that perfume in question does not live up to the proud “Noir” part of its moniker. So, I got curious: What perfumes in your collection or out of those that you have tried don’t cause cognitive dissonance?

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #41:

What Perfume Is Really Noir?

My Answer

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was … Noirvember.

After playing on this month’s name a couple of times in the past (Perfume Diary: NovAmber and I did it again: NovAmber 2018), I thought of using this new variation to wear in November perfumes with the “Noir” as a part of the name.

I started with the list of such perfumes that I have. My database showed that I either have or at least used to have at some point enough perfumes with that name to sustain me for longer than a month. Unfortunately, most of them were samples that I tried at some point and didn’t like much, so even if I could dig them out from wherever that final destination for such samples that I call “Library” is, I wouldn’t have enjoyed wearing them – and with enough negative things going on in our day-to-day life I decided against making that sacrifice “in the name of science” (besides, who would have patience to read through 30 even one-paragraph descriptions for random perfumes?).

But since I liked the idea (well, mostly I liked the Word), I collected only those perfumes that I either liked or wanted to try again. And while wearing them and writing down my impressions, I realized that out of eight perfumes that I went through for this mini-project, just two or maybe three didn’t feel like a misnomer – Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme (I previously wrote about it in Mr. & Mrs. Tom Ford Noir), SixScents Parfums Nappa Noir (my story here) and maybe Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir.

I’m not sure what makes these three “noir” (and we all understand that when talking about perfumes, we do not think of a literal translation of this French word), but they somehow fit into the image in my head, most likely created by the Film noir genre, definition of which itself is still being debated.

 

Rusty and Sixth Scents Nappa Noir

 

What Perfume Is Really Noir?

30 thoughts on “Saturday Question: What Perfume Is Really Noir?

    • I remember liking Fourreau Noir, but my sample is long gone, and these days I’m not buying anything I used to like before without retesting the current version: so many perfumes became victims either IFRA regulations, or new owners’ greed, or both.

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  1. I have 2 perfumes with ‘noir’ or ‘noire’ in the names: Guerlain’s Angelique Noire and Serge Lutens’ Une Voix Noire. Both have ambery spicy notes and Une Voix Noire has some tobacco notes, but other than that I don’t see either as particularly “dark.” I have a perfume with the English version of the word in Jo Malone’s Black Vetyver & Cafe– it’s a perfume that evokes visions of black coffee and dried vetiver that smells rather dry and smoky. Nothing Gothy or extremely oudhy in my collection. I try to live in the light. :-))

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  2. Difficult question. If I think of Noir not as black but in terms of dark, I could probably mention a few, although none in my collection with noir in their name ( I think I came down to only two btw, Narcisse Noir and Cuir Noir) Truly Dark in my collection would be something that wasn’t too sweet, so perhaps Tubereuse 3.
    To Noir/ black, I realised I need a completely different ‘feeling’, so not so much a super dark base, more an edge, toughness. Gucci Arte and perhaps even De Profundis,and here Nacisse Noir fits in as well.
    And actually, in the standard of the ‘noir’-sense, I suppose Tabac Blonde funnily enough is very Noir…

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    • I would agree with you on Tabac Blonde.
      Interestingly, I didn’t think about perfumes with different names fitting that genre. I would probably say that Tom Ford has at least a couple of other “players”: Black Violet (discontinued) and Black Orchid – which isn’t surprising, both do have that “black” in the name. What is surprising, I think Violet Blonde (also sadly discontinued) also would fit the bill.

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    • Interestingly, until Tara’s and then your comments I didn’t think of “noir” perfumes as of “heavy.” But probably you’re right: I would agree that whatever feels like “dark” perfume would have to be heavy (I’m not sure though that the reverse would be true: not every heavy perfume is “noir”).

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  3. Interesting question, and great word invention! My only perfume that has “noir” in the name is a mini of Frédéric Malle’s Noir Epices, which doesn’t fit into the category in question to start. 😉 It smells spicy as promised and a little cosmetic to me, but is generally more on the bright side. I tend to prefer brightness or cosiness in my perfumes.

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    • Noir Epices was one of the perfumes that I revisited during this mini-project. I seem to like it more than I used to, but I won’t need a bottle of it. I’m not even sure that I’ll finish the sample I have. And yes, it wasn’t dark.

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  4. I can’t think offhand what Noir scents I may own, but my perfume nemesis, Narcisse Noir, which Asali mentions above, immediately sprung to mind as one that is properly dark. I also thought of L’Arte di Gucci straight away, for though it doesn’t have ‘noir’ in the name it is definitely a brooding contender. And I do like Sensuous Noir – thanks to MMKinPA for the reminder!

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  5. As a lover of heavy, big sillage fragrances, this question is so relevant to me. I scanned my collection and here are the candidates, most of which I got hoping for that “Maltese Falcon” moment: LPRN Black Perfecto, both edp and edt; Bulgari Jasmin Noir, EL Sensuous Noir, Coco Noir, Serge Noir and in the running for a night reference Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights, Aromatics in Black, and Judith Leiber Night. Of the named-noirs, I would say Coco Noir won the day, but I prefer Serge Noir, even though it is not that noir to me; if only Coco Noir had left out *grapefruit*. LPRNBP edt, with a spritz of Encens Mythique gives me that Noir feeling. But vintage EL Cinnabar, Sonoma Scent Studio’s Nostalgie, and Avon Occur are the heavy, sultry vibe I crave more than any of the named-noirs.

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    • It’s interesting: for me Coco Noir isn’t dark enough to warrant that name: when I wore it, I thought it was too light. But I would agree with your choice of Encens Mythique (and I think that Rose Nacrée du Désert could also be considered for the nomination).

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  6. I can’t even think of any “noir” fragrances in my collection off the top of my head, though I’m sure I have some. I definitely don’t seek them out. I don’t really think of LPRN Black Perfecto as “noir”, or Bvlgari Jasmin Noir.

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  7. I own Maria Candida Gentile Noir Tropical, which as a vanilla scent I don’t really consider to be either noir or tropical. But it is truly beautiful. On my fb want list is Angelique Noir, but to me that isn’t what I would consider “noir”, either. When I think noir, I think dark, heavy and brooding.

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    • It’s funny: when I tested Noir Tropical, I had exactly the same comment – neither “noir” nor “tropical” but very nice :)
      Love Angelique Noir, though I haven’t tested it recently, so I’m not sure if the current version smells similar to my decant. Will test once I’m done with the decant and consider a FB.

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  8. I’m sure there are a dozen noirs here but I can’t for the life of me think of even one Undina.
    Some that feel noir inspired include Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather and Tea for Two, Serge Lutens Chergui and Fille en Aiguilles, Burberry The Beat Man and IUNX Splash Forte
    Portia xx

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  9. I immediately thought of three “noir” perfumes I have (or had), and I think they show that “noir” does not have anything close to one meaning: vintage Narcisse Noir (noir = indolic, animalic white floral), vintage Magie Noire (noir = dark and sharp patchouli chypre), and EL Sensuous Noir (noir= thick modern ambered woods). I would love to have more vintage Caron’s Or et Noir, but I think that is unlikely. Meanwhile, I cannot think of any reason why the scent of Lumiere Noire would suggest “black light” to anyone, it was the most transparent rose scent, but I think Encre Noire is perfectly named and I enjoy its inky associations. In the end, I think “noir” is usually just a marketing strategy, but one to which I am often susceptible.

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    • I think it’s a double-edged sword: some people (like you) are attracted by the “noir” part in the name, while others would stay away thinking that it would be too “heavy” for them.

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  10. I feel compelled to say that Chanel’s Coco Noir is one of the worst uses of “noir” as a perfume descriptor ever. Vague fluffiness, far less “noir” than the original. I have Narcisse Noir which is indeed has a heart of darkness :D

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