Blog post by Gwen
Photo: courtesy of L'Artisan
Any discussion about Noir Exquis has to begin with a discussion about gourmand fragrances, so here we go.
Gourmand fragrances consist primarily of edible notes, such as vanilla, chocolate, honey, caramel, coffee, Cognac, sugared nuts and Tonka bean. Think of them as olfactory desserts. These notes can be supported by other notes like amber, musk, patchouli, musk and warm spices like cinnamon, but they are the star. They also work quite well with fruity notes. The first modern gourmand scent was the brilliant Angel by Mugler, released in 1992. And since then, warm, snuggly, cake-like gourmand scents have increased dramatically in popularity.
But gourmands can be a bit tricky; done well they are balanced, complex and familiar, swathing you in a comforting blanket of scent. Done badly, and they fall into the trap of being cloying and sickly sweet like a child’s all-day sucker.
It takes a nose with a deft hand to make the kind of gourmand I want to wear and the good people at L`Artisan Parfumeur know just the one: Bertrand Duchaufour.
According to the L`Artisan press release, the brief for Noir Exquis was: ‘an unexpected rendez-vous in a French patisserie. Two people meet over a coffee. In this delicious atmosphere of pâtisserie and coffee, hushed looks are exchanged. This delightful rendez-vous is the beginning of a new story with Noir Exquis.’ I’m always up for a rendez-vous with a Bertrand Duchaufour fragrance!
Noir Exquis opens with a note of marron glacé (candied chestnut) – those sweet, dense toothsome treats that show up in every Paris corner boulangerie and pâtisserie during the late fall and winter. Here, the smell has been beautifully replicated: sweet enough to draw in you so you want more but not so sweet it pushes you away. The denseness of the chestnut is tempered with a note of fresh, juicy orange, while a note of walnut adds a rich nuttiness to the opening. It smells delicious. As it blooms, a sweet, floral note of orange blossom ushers in a light note of coffee, like the scent that rises up from a hot cup of coffee creme.
And, then, it appears – a note of caramelly maple syrup. I love the sweet/savoury odour profile of maple syrup in a fragrance, and in Noir Exquis it keeps the sweetness perfectly balanced as it moves to the base where I get a lovely hint of coconut, likely from Macassar wood, along with heliotrope, it's almond and vanilla facets extended with lush, creamy vanilla. Tonka bean adds a bittersweet almond facet to the base, while sandalwood, rich and creamy, adds a gorgeous woodiness to it.
The drydown isn’t foodie or heavy, but radiant, refined and elegant. True to the brief, it smells like the air in a French pâtisserie in late fall or winter: fresh pastries and brewing coffee, and two people warming up from the cold and warming up to each other. This is a new kind of seduction that’s born of familiarity, comfort and warmth. It’s what makes Noir Exquis so exciting to wear.
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