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.
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 smoothens 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, 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.
Eau Noire is marketed as a ‘cologne,’ but it has so much more depth and presence than colognes usually do.
Notes: thyme, sage, anise, lavender, coffee, Virginia cedar, immortelle, saffron, licorice, vanilla, violet, leather and stems and greens.