Blog post by Gwen

Eau Noire – verdant and warm and sensual

Photo: perfumeniche

This morning I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I pulled out my bottle of Eau Noire from the French design house Dior. The second that deep, green juice hit my skin and wafted up to my nose, I realized how much I had missed its beauty.
Eau Noir was launched in 2004 as one of a trio of fragrances in Dior’s prestigious ‘La Collection Privée.’ I was won over by it the first time I smelled it at Collette in Paris in 2010 and bought my bottle right then and there. Looking back on it now, I realize why I didn’t hesitate to get out the plastic. First, it was created by uber-talented perfumer Frances Kurkdjian and second, it features immortelle, one of my favourite notes in perfumery.
Immortelle, also known as Helichrysum italicum or everlasting flower, is a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. Its clusters of yellow flowers have grown wild on the dry, rocky ground around the Mediterranean for centuries. What makes it so intriguing is how multifaceted it is. Immortelle has facets of maple syrup, curry, sage, wormwood, smoky tea, straw, tobacco, caramel and fruit. This complex ingredient is a polarizing note in fragrance, so how a perfumer handles it makes a fragrance featuring it either a big love or a pass. 
Eau Noire has a pungent, herbal start from warm sage and dry thyme. A note of licoricey anise joins the herbs making the opening verdant and dark. Here is the ‘noire’ in Eau Noire. As it settles, the anise links to the licoricey aspect of lavender and draws it forward. As the aromatic lavender blooms, it connects to a woody note of Virginia cedar; together, their camphorous facets counterbalance and smoothen the dark, herbaceous opening beautifully with a pitch-perfect freshness. Then a surprise. Eau Noire moves into gourmand territory. I smell coffee and maple syrup. The coffee is black and strong, and the maple syrup is sweet and seductive – it’s the immortelle I’m smelling. A note of saffron adds warmth and sweetness, leading to the base of sticky licorice that is sweetened by a creamy, boozy note of vanilla. Violet appears here and echoes the lavender with a floral delicacy, while its leather facet introduces a note of supple leather that gives Eau Noire an enticing sensuality. It sits atop a gentle smell of warm, spicy curry, which comes from the stems and leaves of the immortelle plant, which balances the verdancy of the opening just so.
The drydown is rich, exotic and sensual.

Smelling Eau Noire on my skin now, I wonder: have I been smelling facets of immortelle from the start? Dry herbs? Faint floralcy? Licorice, maple syrup, curry? I am. For me, Eau Noire is a masterwork created by an exceptional perfumer and definitely a big love.
Check out Eau Noire in our Shop.