In my review for Goutal's Sables (1985), I made note of the fenugreek scent of immortelle, which is copied here, as a unique addition to the world of gourmand scents. I gave it a thumbs up, despite not wanting to smell like I had just emerged from creating a curry in my kitchen.
In Dior's Eau Noire created 19 years later, we get the same immortelle center, this time layered with lavender, vanilla and cedar. This time it is sweeter than Sables' use, with a decided maple syrup and celery seed combo. Now one can smell like either a curry or French toast. The choice is ours.
I love both gourmand scents, but I still don't care to smell like them. A neutral rating due to lack of originality. It's decent if you love Indian spices. Of the two I prefer the original Sables.
Gourmand (first thought that came to mind was New Haarlem), coffee and a nice lavender note mixed with some vanilla and cedar. Get a nice hit of licorice in there also. More suited for cooler weather. Own a nice sized decant which should hold me down for quite a while. 7.5/10
13th March, 2015 (last edited: 24th December, 2015)
A very interesting scent, and also a very, very sweet scent. The immortelle-anis combo has potential, but the sweet facets of the immortelle combine with the vanilla for a Maple Syrup Pancake Breakfast impression.
Points for uniqueness, but I can't wear it.
Interesting take on Lavender...
The name Eau Noire relates to the Château de La Colle Noire, located in Provence in southern France, where Christian Dior spent his holidays in retirement. To put that in context, it makes use of a lot of Provençal (i.e. Mediterranean notes), namely Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Immortelle and Liqorice. Also, I read that the head of design at Dior, Hedi Slimane, wanted something that he would wear based on his lifelong signature scent, which was Pour un Homme de Caron, with it's Lavender-Vanilla combination; and what better man to do it than Francis Kurkdjian, the man who created the world famous Lavender and Vanilla bomb, "Le Male"?
Right out of the bottle I get a really aromatic thyme note (listed by Dior as 'white Spanish thyme'). Thyme as a herb can be sharp and is unmistakable, I also detect sage, which adds to the herbal build-up. The thyme, sage and lavender all play on the dry herbal aspects of one another to give Eau Noire a definite herbal quality. I would describe this fragrance as a "herbal gourmand" or "aromatic gourmand", purely because of the aromatic coffee-vanilla and herbal lavender pairing. I happen to love the smell of lavender, and the lavender here smells very much like the almost-dry lavender picked off the bush in hot summer. The herbs are then paired with a deep-roasted coffee bean note, with the leather and liquorice simmering underneath.
With regards to the infamous "curry note". I wonder if the mention of Immortelle or 'everlasting flower' is not just a trick of the mind? As it could also be the liquorice/thyme combination or the burnt vanilla-coffee mixing with the herbs and leather? On the Dior website Immortelle isn't listed in the notes. However, if the flower IS in the fragrance (and many people swear it is), it most certainly forms its backbone, the very thread which holds it together, and in this sense it completes a very Mediterranean vibe when paired with the herbal qualities of the sage, thyme and lavender.
Overall, Eau Noire may be a love or hate fragrance. It is undeniably well made and well composed, of that there is no doubt. It smells extremely natural, very much like sitting on a Mediterranean hillside in the South of France in hot summer whilst sipping an authentic espresso. It's gourmand, it's definitely interesting, and whilst it's not for everyone, and it's certainly not bad. I for one find it really unique, and not something that I come across very often in fragrances.
This is a fascinating fragrance, and one of great balance and refinement. It opens up on an almost shockingly bitter, aromatic note, like the burning smell you get when you spill coffee or sugar on a boiling hot stove. Actually, the more I wear this, the more I’ve realized that this ‘burned coffee’ note is actually lavender, which makes sense both coffee and lavender smell piercingly resinous, woody, and ‘roasted’ as if exposed to high heat for too long. It’s pretty genius of Francis Kurkdijan to pair two highly aromatic notes like this – they play off each other so that your nose smells sun-roasted lavender one moment and burned coffee grounds the next.
It is almost too “black” a smell at first. There is a coffee roasting business near my building, and in the early hours of the morning, the owner turns on the roasting machine and starts processing the coffee beans. The smell fills the entire neighborhood. But like with all good, aromatic smells, like herbs or coffee, when you take it too far, like way past burning point, the effect is almost exactly half way between nauseating and attractive. Eau Noire has that effect going on for the first half hour. I am torn between repulsion and attraction, but either way, I can’t stop smelling my wrist.
The dry down is sublime, though, no two ways about it. I can only describe it as an arid, burning cedar smell, giving the impression of dry and hot all at once, like when someone throws water on the stones in a Swedish sauna. It is so parched in effect that it feels like the air is being sucked out of the room. The dry, papery vanilla is a delight too – the more I wear it, the more it smells like fresh newspaper pages to me.
So here we have all the elements needed for total relaxation – a good cup of steaming black coffee, a touch of immortelle to provide that interesting salt-sweet twang of Scandinavian licorice, the smell of a sauna heating up, and a good fresh newspaper waiting for you to read. What more could a person want?
13th June, 2014 (last edited: 30th May, 2015)