Maison Francis Kurkdjian provides a number of entry points to the brand. It offers traditional products (perfume, papier d’Armenie, candles, body creams) and less expected ones (fabric softener, soap bubbles.) There is a deliberateness to much of the line that challenges the trend-chasing and slot-filling approach of many brands. His vision of a contemporary sensibility derives from an understanding of traditional methods and principles. The design of the brand is like Kurkdjian’s perfumes themselves: modern and classical, composed yet stylish, lavish but concise.
Kurkdjian has mentioned Guerlain as a model for his house but the line’s day-to-evening approach brings Hermès to mind. Hermès offers a fashionable cocoon from an unstylish world. My level skepticism of ‘lifestyle’ branding is stratospheric, but I’m persuaded by MFK.
MFK offers the daydream of a pleasantly scented life but manages to avoid Hermès’s pose of bored affluence. Laundry soap alludes to soap operas and the fiction of the bored housewife. Scented bubbles suggest designer-dressed children and an infusion of finery into the most remote corners of one’s life. The perfumes, though, hint at something more. Most perfume marketing matches a fantasy of inventiveness and distinction to tame, predictable perfumes, but MFK does the reverse. MFK’s subtle subversiveness is in the perfume, not the image. Absolue pour le Soir and Cologne pour le Soir are wolves in sheep’s marketing. The Amyrises satirize mainstream designer perfumes by creating idealized versions of them. The Lumières Noires poke at our nostalgia for the good-old days of the chypre. I might be able to resist the Maison’s sensibility but I fall for the perfumes.
Rose and patchouli aren’t an unexpected combination by any means and their pairing is a motif Kurkdjian has explored over the years, both in his own line and in commission work such as Rose Barbare for Guerlain and Lady Vengeance for Juliette Has a Gun. Coaxing something new out of well-worn materials is one of Kurkdjian’s strengths and Lumière Noire pour Femme demonstrates his knack for reshaping traditional forms and classical techniques to find a novel idea. He shifts the picture and rearranges olfactory clues. Pairing the refined floral and earthy patchouli is a well-understood method for adding richness to perfumes. Kurkdjian recreates the tone in an unexpected way with a clean patchouli and a dirty flower: narcissus. The dynamics are recognizable, but the reframing shifts the perspective and creates a new view.
Lumière Noire pour Femme highlights Kurkdjian’s ability to make perfumes that balance composure and abandon. Grain de Musc called Lumière Noire pour Femme a “bodice-ripper” yet it is also mink-smooth and lusciously lipsticky. It is composed at a glance but uninhibited on closer inspection. It hints at indecency but is never indelicate.
Kurkdjian’s style of subversion is highly mannered. He covers new ideas under a blanket of propriety. The precision of Lumière Noire pour Femme’s composition leaves no seems showing and reveals Kurkdjian’s strategy for subversion. No disruption, no distortion. More a seduction.
If you're looking for an unique take on rose, you're probably in the wrong place. Instead, if what you're after is a slightly modernized take on a classically french, kind of chyprey thing with rose as the main player, Lumiere Noir Pour Femme surely delivers what *she* promises.
A winey, bright rose on top. Slightly aldheydic and bright with an oriental quality but devoided of the *heavyness* of other more typically middle-eastern kind of roses. It feels unquestionably classic but it's also carefully modernized via an overall airy feel. There's an element of *distrub* to Lumiere Noir Pour Femme, probably provided by either subtle animalic facets or some spices (cumin?)…or both. The drydown is based on smooth woody patch foundation that wears like a glove for hours and hours.
As many have pointed out, this perfume has a classic feel, as though it's been in the perfume world of greats for a while, but that's not to say it's old school or vintage in effect.
The first impression is rose/patchouli, which has been done to death in the perfume world, but the main difference with Lumiere Noire is the note of heady, sensuous narcissus or daffodil. It's animalic and somehow, blended with a high quality, fairly subtle patchouli, it does indeed feel light yet dark. The rose lends a slightly fruity and elegant edge with just a hint of sweetness, with notes of pimento warming up the cooler elegant tones.
It feels to me like a film noir perfume, wearing it does make me feel glamorous, to the extent I'd rarely wear it during the day and instead save it for more dressy events. Its sillage is fairly persistent and I'd only wear a very small amount to, say, the cinema or dinner.
If it's a dressy evening event though, it's just perfect and it's no surprise that Catherine Deneuve had a hand in its making, I can absolutely see her wearing this with insouciant grace and subtle sex-appeal.
If you've tried other Maison Francis Kurkdjian perfumes you'll find this quite different from his other feminines. The others are lovely - elegant, contemporary, but they have a bright quality and utilise some quite projective musks/aroma chemicals. Lumiere Noire is strong, but deeper and darker, its sillage comfortable, especially into drydown.
Excellent, seductive and addictive!
Lumiere Noire initially promises something rich and sumptuous in the Amouage mode which is a new place for Kurkdjian to be going – his perfumes are, if nothing else, sleek as whippets. It’s the central theme of a rose ripened by patchouli paired with the greasy fullness of a quite natural smelling narcissus. Rose and narcissus aren’t blooms that pair particularly well if both are quite strong in the mix, and here it’s that central oddness of their attempted union that is beguiling. At times the juxtaposition inflects the scent towards a ripe berry smell.
However, with a little time the initial sumptuousness thins out considerably. If one were to unfairly compare the setting of the narcissus here to the many layered bed it is lain upon in a creation such as Chamade, it’s a bit like a flickering candle beside a blazing sun. Underlying the florals, is the familiar skin-like odour that is a Kurkdjian signature along with a modest sprinkle of cumin.
Ultimately, while Lumiere Noire pour homme plays up its rose-on-aldehydic-roller-skates central theme to divine effect, Lumiere Noir pour femme dwindles somewhat in the wear after a bold opening fanfare. It’s still a pleasing perfume, just not Lumiere Noir pour homme’s equal.
Like its companion scent Lumière Noire pour Homme, his work for Parfums MDCI, and Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile, Lumière Noire pour Femme shows off perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s talent for crafting ambitious, classically inspired compositions without slipping into historical pastiche. In this case the stylistic landmark is a grand, spicy, aldehydic rose against a gamy animalic chypre background, making Lumière Noire a distant cousin to rose chypres like Knowing and Paris - perhaps by way of the more fruity and obviously animalic Amouage Lyric Woman.
Like its forebears, Lumière Noire pour Elle is an elaborate and generously scaled composition, but it displays none of the dense, opaque quality that makes the roses of the 1980s so challenging to wear today. Instead it feels as if a lantern has been set inside the old rose chypre structure, lending a diffuse brightness and revealing internal contrasts against its soft glow. How Kurkdjian accomplishes this I do not know, but I will say that here, as in Enlévement au Sérail and Promesse de l’Aube, this treatment rejuvenates and revitalizes a long-established genre.
Lumière Noire’s rich, sweet-tart fruity top notes possess a wine-like overtone that persists into its rose centered heart. The rose is redolent not only of fermenting fruit, but spice and wood as well, in a manner reminiscent of the woody, fruity rose in Femenité du Bois, with which it shares a paradoxical sense of translucency and darkness. Prominent but unobtrusive cumin contributes the same kind of knowing, animalic sensuality it does in scents like Eau d’Hermès, Rochas Femme, and Gucci Eau de Parfum, though its subtle, unobtrusive application Lunière Noire is more in accord with the Gucci than the Hermès or Rochas. The animalic overtone finds reinforcement in an earthy, green narcissus note that sidles up next to the central rose, then extends into the warm patchouli-laden drydown. Lumière Noire is potent and lasting, though again without the often overwhelming power of a Knowing or a Paris. A beautifully constructed, noble, yet suggestive scent that can stand proudly beside the masculine version.