Lumière Noire pour Homme is absolutely sophisticated and elegant. It is a gentle rose with a hint of patchouli and spices. It is very lyrical, poetic and just gets better as the day progresses. It lasts a very long time on me. I cannot stop smelling myself.
The name means "Black Light" and sure enough, this beautiful composition is based on a range of dark and light elements, each playing off each other to create a chiaroscuro effect. The bracing fougere opening of lavender and bergamot lays down a brackish bed for the liquor-like pink rose that unfolds next; the creamy orange-inflected musk in the dry-down is brought into sharp focus by the bitter green artemsia; the shy patchouli given texture by the dusty cumin and cinnamon.
It's ultra refined, with no sharp edges anywhere, and sits light years away from brutish, bullying rose-patchouli scents such as Portrait of a Lady, Black Aoud, and the like. For some, that refinement may be a drawback, but I think there is room enough in the genre for a rose-patchouli fragrance that doesn't necessarily hit you over the head with its boldness or roughness.
Indeed, I see enormous appeal in this scent's quiet sensuality and subtle light-dark effects. For me, it is, like its female equivalent, the perfect embodiment of a dark rose suitable for the daylight hours. It is slightly formal in the first half of its life, but later on, a smidgen of sexuality creeps in on the back of the creamy musk and hints of cumin. It's kind of like the white shirt of an architect which starts out starched and pristine and buttoned all the way to the top but that by the end of the day carries some man musk around the collar and is buttoned down a bit to reveal a hint of chest hair. Comfortably masculine, but refined and silky, and knows how to say quite a lot without shouting across the room at you.
By the way, I find the dry down to be eerily close to the Narciso Rodriguez Musc for Her, but this is more masculine in character and heavier on the spices and orange. In summary, a beautiful rose/orange pomander/musk fragrance that is about 1000% more refined and quiet in character than your run-of-the-mill rose and patchouli fragrances out there. Two very big thumbs up!
Nothing special jumps out at me for this fragrance. I found this dull and boring a little cinnamon a generous dosage of spices for some strange reason I don't pick up the patchouli. On the upside it does last on my skin.
Francis Kurkdjian has a penchant for high quality re-imaginings of historical classics: witness Enlévement au Sérail, Promesse de l’Aube, and even Narciso Rodriguez for Her, which seem respectively to channel Mitsouko, Chant d’Aròmes, and Bois des Îles through a contemporary olfactory sensibility. In each of these cases Kurkdjian avoids pastiche by streamlining olfactory contours and sharpening contrasts between accords to reveal underlying structural details. It’s a kind of olfactory liposuction, but one that magically circumvents the sterile reductionism that some other prominent perfumers have stumbled on in their pursuit of lean “modernity.”
Lumière Noire provides yet another example of Kurkdjian in his historicizing mode. It opens as a potent, spicy, animalic fougère that harks right back in style to Azzaro pour Homme, Jules, and Lauder for Men. As with some of Kurkdjian’s other recent successful scents, (I’m thinking particularly Enlévement aus Sérail,) Lumière Noire undergoes a chameleonic development with several distinct and interesting stages.
As the heavier aromatic and animalic notes retreat partway, Lumière Noire appears to skip forward two or three decades in style, into a spiced orange and nutty, creamy musk arrangement reminiscent of Kenzo’s Ça Scent Beau, only considerably darker and more weighty. The spiced orange fougère accord is next joined by a dark, winey rose note, which lends the composition an even more serious and pensive demeanor. Lumière Noire’s rose does not shoulder its way so far forward as those in Amouage Lyric Man, Czech & Speake No. 88, or their Edwardian predecessor Hammam Bouquet. Instead it remains tightly integrated, yet distinctly discernable, within the root fougère architecture.
While it doesn’t fall neatly into the “masculine” rose tradition, I do find something very familiar in Lumière Noire’s overall shape and mood. In fact, the warm, heavy musk, the sweet spices, and the prominent floral accord in a dark fougère context have parallels in Caron’s Third Man. Enough so that Lumière Noire could pass as Third Man’s younger, slightly slimmer cousin, with rose assuming the dominant floral role played by lavender in the older scent. The drydown sets the waning animalic musk against mild patchouli and a woody note with a very dry, sawdust texture. It’s not Lumière Noire’s most distinctive or prepossessing stage, but with so much of interest preceding it, I’m not going to complain.
LNPH performs by soon like a modern spicy/musky (sparkling and aromatic) fougere with at once a romantic/rosey and an extra fancy urban appeal. It opens with a marvellously spicy/green/citrusy (slightly orangy and exotic) blast conjuring me more than vaguely the mythical Vintage Romeo Gigli by Romeo Gigli Pour Homme but in a more modern way and with a less herbal initial approach. I detect indeed by soon an equally definite sweetly spicy vibe but a less stout watery/aromatic temperament (which is anyway polished from the slightly barber-shop citrus-lavender Gigli's feel). In a while I detect a mastering rose/patchouli supported by cinnamon, nutmeg, probably hints of cumin all over a dominant musky/ambery base. Probably minimal hints of civet, opoponax, edible balsams and tobacco take part to the olfactory orchestra (finally slightly powdery, semi-oriental ambery, lipstick and vaguely soapy/vanillic) and all of it conjures me an ideal blend of Gigli, the classic Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt and (at the beginning) Lancetti IL (another disappeared ghost). Well, despite I like this fragrance for its delicate and balanced final rosey subtleness and despite being this sweet/musky mélange a nice rose/patchouli with a modern label I can't say to be fully satisfied. Over a really promising first and second stage the final aroma seems to me vaguely "cosmetical" with its sort of Labello's undertone compromising complexity and a real level of realistic refinement. Probably I had huge expectations about or probably I was expecting something more sensual and bold. Anyway, conceptually a poetic/lyric aroma well appointed and suave with an extremely light balmy "pink" trail.
04th April, 2014 (last edited: 13th October, 2014)