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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Perfume Review: Christian Dior Eau Noire

Eau Noire is a part of the collection of colognes (which also includes Bois d’Argent and Cologne Blanche) produced for Christian Dior by Hedi Slimane. Eau Noire is said to have been developed “to harmonize with the black tie world of Dior Homme” and made to suit the taste of Hedi Slimane himself. According to the designer, it allowed him to trade what he had been wearing “since the age of 11”. (from It was created by Francis Kurkdjian, the author of Guerlain Rose Barbare, Narciso Rodriguez For Her and Jean Paul Gaultier Gaultier2. I think that Eau Noire is perhaps the most interesting of the three colognes, and one of my favorite Kurkdjian’s creations.

According to Luca Turin, Eau Noire has the note of Helichrysum (Immortelle), “an odd, fenugreek-like smell halfway between curry and burnt sugar.” The note was famously used in Goutal’s Sables, however, while Sables enveloped the note within the folds of the dark, syrupy sweetness of vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood, Eau Noire opts for the wonderful (and to me much more wearable), thick, vegetal verdancy. I am a little confused by the statement that Eau Noire was meant to go with “the black tie world of Dior”. Not that it would be out of place in such a world, but to me the scent is not so much about chic and elegance, as it is about comfort and serenity. The thyme and sage top notes are refreshing, the lavender is tranquil, the cedarwood is dry and soothing and all this Zen-like, green-woody harmony is softened by vanilla…Black tie parties? With Eau Noire on, the vanity and bustle of such time-pursuits could not be further from my relaxed and enlightened mind. It makes me want to sit in a remote quiet corner of the world, gazing at an endless sea and sagely quoting Tao Te Ching:

…Empty yourself of everything…

…There is no greater sin than desire, no greater curse than discontent, no greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself…

…The world is ruled by letting things go. It cannot be ruled by interfering…

Coming back to reality…I would especially recommend Eau Noire to the fans of Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens; the scents share the enjoyable herbal smokiness and the relaxing, centering quality. Eau Noire is available at Neiman Marcus, $115.00 for 4.2oz.

The image is from

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Blogger tmp00 said...

well, while I love and adore Sables (although, it's a special occasion scent), I have been looking for a more wearable immortelle scent. I'm going to walk over to N-M this weekend and see if I can score a sample of this one.

God I'm a geek.

11:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

This might be it then- a wearable immortelle fragrance.

And, if you do not squeal when you really, really like a are not a geek yet. Me, I have crossed the line to geekdom a while ago :-)

11:14 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent description! I concur with the black tie confusion. ;) It's all about comfort and serenity for me, too. Eau Noire is my fave of the trio. I especially love how tame the lavender is, and how sage and thyme don't make it too herbal and sharp. Oh, and I adore the sizes! Except, maybe that 16.9 oz bottle on Eluxury. Um, what exactly would one do with a honkin' bottle like that?

11:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Aww, I would love to have that monster of a bottle. :-) There is a sort of additional comfort in its "substantionality" :-) I love big, chunky bottles.

11:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... I suppose you could marinate cucumbers in it. Kidding!

11:40 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

hah! No, I don't squeal. I bury my nose in the crook of my arm and throatilly mutter "oh GAWD". That's the boy version of sqealing. Thanks to you, I am doing that with my elbow full of Yatagan.

I find Sables wearable, just a little too in-your-face to be more than a small splash on before dressing, nothing on exposed skin.

BTW- you have become what they call in the broadcast field "default viewing" for me: every weeknight, I tune in to get my fix. Bravo or FX would kill to get that sort of devotion...

11:43 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I am NOT a fan of the Serge, or Sables, and I loved this one. Took two tries, though -- the first was "meh," but the second time was love... I actually think it's quite elegant, although there's nothing uncomfortable about it. Yes, the lavender is veeery muted, which is a good thing as far as I am concerned.

7:57 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Hmmm--my comment seems to have disappeared. Probably my fault--and if I appear 2ce, it's also my fault.
Anyhow---I'm strangely ambivalent about this one. I started out liking it, but it smells an awful lot like curry on me, which is not really a good thing IMHO. Maybe I just can't wear immortelle well (Sables=maple syrup).

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You are not a fan of this particular Serge scent, or The Serge in general? :-)
And I guess if you prefer lavender to be muted, you did not like Gris Clair either, right?

9:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I must say I am surprised. I always thought you and Eau Noire would be so happy together :-) But if it smells of, I wouldn't have liked it either!

10:01 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Closer to curry than burnt sugar, to my nose...not my cup of tea :-)

10:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Luckily, in Eau Noire, I get neither curry nor sugar....just a sort of herbal-lavender-thick-slight sweet "vegetable" kind of smell :-) Now, Sables, that's a different story...cannot pull that off at all.

12:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tested this last year and it started off curry all the way. I love curry, but on my, it's an accord that makes me shake my head. It's what puts me off Santal de Mysore and Ambre Sultan a little (but not Arabie, strangely). But, after your link to Encens et Lavande, one of my most favourite scents, I guess i'll have to retest.

12:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Arabie seems to me to be the curry-est of them all :-) And yet, it doesn't bother me there either.

1:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of strong lavender in fragrance -- no SL Gris Clair, Encens I did not care for. My fave serges are Oranger, Clair de Musc (go ahead, laugh) and Chergui.

The Eau Noire is gorgeous, though.

11:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love Felur d'Oranger and Calir de Musc. Sadly, Chergui has never worked for me, even though it sounded as if it would work wonders :-(

1:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M -- retried the Sables today (I have been sooooo busy examining Chicago culture ;-) ) what the heck was wrong with me the last time I smelled it?!?!? It is wonderful. I guess one of these days I'll have to do a review correcting previous boneheaded assertions.

PS Getting together with Ina tomorrow for sniffage. I am having a great time!

10:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Enjoy Chicago culture :-P

I am sooo envious you guys get to meet! please give Ina a hug from me and tell her to give you an extra one from me :-)

10:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if it's too late to comment but for me Eau Noir makes me feel that I've been to the sauna and the smell of that warm wood stayed on my skin.
I love it!

9:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ah! Great comparison!
It's so cold here, your comment made me long for a sauna. :-)

9:12 AM EDT  

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