Perfume Directory

Thé Noir 29 (2015)
by Le Labo

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Thé Noir 29 information

Year of Launch2015
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 54 votes)

People and companies

HouseLe Labo
PerfumerFrank Voelkl
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Thé Noir 29

Le Labo say:

Thé Noir 29 is an ode to the noble leaf and the craft that surrounds it. Thé Noir 29 combines depth and freshness, softness and strength through permanent oscillation between the light of bergamot, fig and bay leaves and the depth of cedar wood, vetiver and musk. A special extraction of black tea leaves wraps up the composition by bringing to the formula a dry, leafy, hay, tobacco feeling in the dry down to transform this creation into a sensuous and addictive essence.

Thé Noir 29 fragrance notes

Reviews of Thé Noir 29

I haven't been too keen on Le Labo overall, as I find their "sciency-wiency" gimmick and naming things one way but having them smell another to not be so cute as they'd hope it to be, but I rather like Thé Noir 29 (2015). Those not brushed up on French might see this as "The Black 29" but it actually means "Black Tea 29". Yeah, we have another case of not smelling like what it's called, but in this instance, I forgive Le Labo for their quirky misleading single-note titles because what it -does- smell like is pretty damned good. Thé Noir does contain elements of black tea, but the elephant in the room which makes this not what it seems is a fig and rose pair of Siamese twins. You get a big ol' fat dry fig and rose compound note conjoined at the hips which is the true focus of this composition, whether real or just a happy coincidence from the mix of black tea and it's surrounding support columns, but for anyone who has smelled Cartier Déclaration d'Un Soir (2012), Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme (1999) or Mancera So Blue (2015), it's a darker take on the same aura. As a whole, Thé Noir is a dark, brooding, dry, "Gothic Romance" fragrance in the atmospheric (but not necessarily olfactory) vein of Salvador Dali Pour Homme (1987) or Portrait of a Lady (2010), just with black tea, hay, fig and tobacco as the canvas for it's rose instead of animalics or ambery synthetics, respectively. This is so far the one Le Labo I'd buy, and the most accessible of the range's most popular creations by far, since Santal 33 (2011) and Rose 31 (2009) are pretty "out there" in comparison to Thé Noir 29. I'm not saying being "out there" is a bad thing, just not a great quality to possess for easing newcomers into a brand, since folks regularly test these at Nordstrom counters where they're most-commonly found.

Thé Noir opens with dry bergamot, which is almost a prerequisite for this psuedo-Victorian style, but the black tea shows it's face pretty early, holding hands with fig on the left and rose on the right, like the top notes are playing a very intense game of Red Rover. It's all pretty stiff and linear going in, which is the biggest weakness of the opening, as a love-or-shove reaction will be had then and there, but if you get passed it, there is some development. Cedar, hay, and vetiver comprise the middle, tightening and firming with grassy and woody aromatics with just enough hay to give Thé Noir growl without feeling like being down on the farm. These middle notes join the simple musk and slight tobacco base near the end. Yeah, there's some synthetic play here, like Iso E Super, but I don't get much else. The tobacco is very leafy and almost invisible against the rest, and the musk isn't very rich, with most of Thé Noir living in the strong top and aromatic middle, coming across as pale, dimly-lit, and mysterious. Sillage is on the impressive side but this isn't a bomb, and longevity is appropriately sufficient given the niche price point. The kicker here is how much do you like dark, dry, leafy tea, fig, and rose on an aromatic bed, and if that answer is "a lot", then this may be right for you. I'd say Thé Noir is too "Depeche Mode" for the work space, but on a night out at a darkly-lit gastro pub or an art exhibit, this feels particularly right. There's a bit of unisex appeal in Thé Noir as well, but it does swing mostly masculine to my nose.

Thé Noir sits somewhere between modernity and antiquity, as do a lot of things in this perennial genre. Other scents present stronger tea notes, like Bvlgari Black (1998), while still others have a more-prominent rose, like the aforementioned Déclaration d'Un Soir, and if you want to go full-fig, there's Philosykos by Diptyque (1996), so the value in Thé Noir is in it's blending of these themes on an aromatic base. For that reason, Thé Noir is spared from being assessed as an ineffectively expensive option in a crowded samey genre, like so many niche fougères or niche Western ouds, because there isn't much exactly like it, albeit there are many more economical options in the same wheelhouse. Frank Voelkl earned his perfumer stripes making compositions on a much smaller budget for Avon and Kenneth Cole before becoming a Le Labo mainstay, and like his compositions for those houses, Thé Noir displays a certain level of "less is more" efficiency despite being a niche scent, giving it great note separation and a bit of transparency in spite of it's voluminous strength. Niche done like a mainstream cheapie or niche done cheaply? That's for you to decide, but if you're up for the $240+ price tag Le Labo commands for 100ml, this is almost a blind buy for lovers of leafy, floral, dark, aromatic perfumes. For everyone else, I suggest a sample first, lest a steep blind buy make this Gothic romance transform into an Expressionist stage play full of tragedy and long faces. Thumbs up for me!
09th October, 2018
Yes, this is good, real good. The most accessible Le Labo of them all. The first time I wore it was from the official 1.5ml sample. I wasn’t blown away but I liked it. The second time I got way more depth. The third time was from the 100ml bottle and wow, kinda stunned. It’s easy to wear and the sillage and longevity are deceiving as it’s a little softer than you might think, but it lasts and projects. Really like this. A lot. Gentle black currant and fig tea that’s different enough from the rest to really stand out.
31st March, 2018
Most likely the best scent from Le Labo that I've encountered so far, Thé Noir 29 can honestly be rocked by men and women. The initial scent is pungently sweet despite having tobacco and cedar in the notes. The dry down is very pleasant, however, as it begins to become very fresh and crisp. I love it for chilly mornings because the smell is very similar to tea imo. Wish the price would be a little lower doe, there very well could be cheaper alternative.
02nd March, 2018
iobhai Show all reviews
United States
You're sitting in time-out wondering why you're munching on some sour Fig Newtons, drinking sour rosewater, and sitting on some sour, wet hay in a stuffy barn. The Noir 29 by Le Labo.
25th February, 2018
The Noir 29 opens with an absolutely lovely fig/tea/spice opening that takes the fig note in a uniquely dry and aromatic direction. Unique and highly wearable. I love the opening accord - and it lasts quite awhile.

As the middle and base approach, the dry and aromatic tea very gradually morphs into more of an agricultural hay note, and you don't really realize what's going on until all of the sudden...where did that hay come from? This is a distinctly "wet" and somewhat sweet hay with the addition of tobacco and musk (big contrast with the relatively dry feel of the tea in the opening), and I'm starting to worry that this is going in a murky and swampy I'm not going to like.

Luckily, the hay dries out and cedar as vetiver enter the picture. And there it stays until the end. A (still surprisingly strong) woody hay note with a shading of fig and tea in the background. Longevity and projection are both fairly impressive. Really good and interesting stuff.
08th May, 2017
For me, this scent was too intense and robust even for an evening scent. Others seemed to like it on me. But, after an hour of wearing it outside on a hot day it, it remained overpowering and cloying. It did not mellow or complicate as I'd hoped it would.
It reminded me of a beautiful yet melodramatic woman who must always be the center of attention.

That said, there was something intriguing behind the Look At Me! shouting. I might like it if I blend it down to 1 or 2% strength and apply it very judiciously to avoid overwhelm. Even the lotion was trop fort.
24th October, 2016

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Le Labo Another 13, Santal 33, Rose 31, Bergamote 22, The Noir 29, Patchouli 24

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Le Labo The Noir 29 50ml 1.7oz

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