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  1. #1
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    Default Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    I scored a 5 ml decant of Serge Noire by Serge Lutens in the recent 10% off sale at The Perfumed Court. SN is one of my most highly anticipated releases this second half of 2008 (right behind White Patchouli by Tom Ford).

    The last two Serge Lutens (export) releases I had strong hopes for: Rousse and Five O'Clock Gingembre. On paper, the notes sounded like exactly what I like. On my skin, after several repeated wearings, they failed to impress me seriously. In fact, I found Rousse slightly uncomfortable after repeated wearings.

    Serge Noire, however, is fantastic.

    The top notes, a blend of dry smokiness, resinous incense (not frankincense...well, shall I say not burning frankincense, but the incense resin itself and some other kind of pine based almost citrus spiked incense) - very dry. At the very edges of the incense is a wonderful spice accord. Not the candied Red Hots of Rousse or the ginger from Five O' Clock Gingembre. No sweet spice - rather, the smells of a fresh ground nutmeg pod.

    As it dries on the skin, the scent actually gave me the impression it was 'warming' my skin. I even looked at my skin the first time I tested this, just to check that I wasn't having a skin allergic reaction to the scent (I wasn't). But, the olfactory impression of warm skin and spice is uncanny. There it was, buzzing atop my skin.

    When I have Christmas parties at my house, right before the guests arrive I usually grab a few whole cinnamon sticks and whole cloves and boil them in a shallow pan of water - to fill the house with a fresh spicy scent. Once I left the pan on the stove idle for too long. I rushed in, the spices burning and sticking to the hot pan, when it ran out of water. I am reminded of this smell, the first hour of wearing SN.

    The honey notes come and go, in amidst the incense, spice and resins. Not too strongly, and almost imperceptible at times - but still enough to link the scent to my impression of a Serge Lutens scent. It's skillfully blended and it's not sweet honey. It's one of my favorite parts of the scent.

    The longer one wears the scent, the more sweeter the spice gets. It starts to really smell like cinnamon at this point (yay...I love cinnamon!!) but because it occurs at this stage of the drydown it is a subdued and restrained sweetness. Not candied or syrupy.

    I enjoyed the longevity of the scent - almost five to six hours later my skin, smelled up close, revealed even still the incense: dark, filled with hints of ash (less smoky than Avignon by CdG...more warm), almost raw. However my skin, smelled from far away, revealed the spice and oleoresins: freshly ground, nose tickling..

    In India, ground nutmeg is smoked. Imagining a burning, nutmeg scented, hand rolled cigarette. I am certain wearing Serge Noire comes close to replicating this olfactory experience.

    This scent is amazing.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 10th October 2008 at 01:57 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Wow... sounds fantastic, mike!
    - A spritz of Caron may be quite continental, but (a flacon of) Guerlain is a perfumisto's best friend...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    Wow... sounds fantastic, mike!
    It really is wildcat. I imagine the upcoming cooler weather will be the perfect weather for this scent too. Please try it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    I only have a small sample of this and it smells good enough but I cant escape the feeling that its a toned down spice (nutmeg is right) and sweet show (something which we have seen before) with a good incense note woven through .. like it : yes, but its not unique or wow enough at this point.. Encens et Lavande maybe more traditional but at this point I think its a far better composition.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Being from India, I get the ground Nutmeg reference.... lovely review as always Mike


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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    I only have a small sample of this and it smells good enough but I cant escape the feeling that its a toned down spice (nutmeg is right) and sweet show (something which we have seen before) with a good incense note woven through .. like it : yes, but its not unique or wow enough at this point.. Encens et Lavande maybe more traditional but at this point I think its a far better composition.
    Interesting.

    I have been playing around with a sample of EEL for a while now. I haven't given it too many full wearings because I was trying to wrap my head around my new bottle of Gris Clair and I'd heard they were so alike. I wanted to 'get' GC before I went off and tried to unravel EEL.

    I think I prefer SN more than EEL, for now, simply because I will always pick spice (cinnamon) over herbal/aromatics (lavender).

    Quote Originally Posted by javagreen View Post
    Being from India, I get the ground Nutmeg reference.... lovely review as always Mike
    Thanks javagreen. So then have you smelled someone smoking nutmeg? I'm intrigued.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Thanks for the review Mike! I've been having mixed experiences with the last few years' Lutens releases. I love Chene and Mandarin-Mandarine (the ones that Turin hates ), but Rousse, Sarrasins, and 5 O'Clock au Gingembre have all left me cold. I look forward to giving Serge Noir a try someday.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Nice review, Mike!

    I must say I prefer Encens et Lavande (I also prefer EeL to Gris Clair), though.

    What I like most about Serge Noire is the burning wood / campfire thing, I find it more smoky than spicy. With its dryness it's a welcome change among the usually sweet & spicy SL scents.
    "Wovon man nicht lesen kann, darüber muss man schreiben."

  9. #9

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Thanks javagreen. So then have you smelled someone smoking nutmeg? I'm intrigued.
    I have smoked a Nutmeg Cigarette myself a couple of years back.... very Intoxicating! One has to be careful about the amount of pure Nutmeg added per roll (of cigarette) because it induces a high level of drowsiness and puts one in a semi-drugged like state

    A lot of the old timers here still prefer these cigarettes over the packaged branded ones


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  10. #10

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Great review! I have a sample of this and I remember liking this very much.It strongly reminded me of something familiar, but I still can't put my finger on it. It's very close to the skin,like a cosy warm cashmere sweater.
    I haven't given the sample that much attention lately though.I will retry this one later this day and give it a good sniff.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    I think I'll like this perfume. I love the nutmeg in Cacharel PH and Chanel PMC. I also love cinnamon.

    I will use your method to fill my house with scent, when I visit my parents in Brazil during Christmas! It's a great idea.
    .

  12. #12

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Must...resist...urge...to...buy....but this sounds like Crypronite.
    My Wardrobe
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Vibert View Post
    Thanks for the review Mike! I've been having mixed experiences with the last few years' Lutens releases. I love Chene and Mandarin-Mandarine (the ones that Turin hates ), but Rousse, Sarrasins, and 5 O'Clock au Gingembre have all left me cold. I look forward to giving Serge Noir a try someday.
    I still haven't smelled Mandarin-Mandarine, however Sarassins I am still on the fence about. I think it reminds me too much of my favorite jasmine A La Nuit and I haven't worn my Sarassins sample enough to 'get' a difference. Turin's review of Sarassins really had me perked up, but on my skin it seemed flatter and more mysterious than ALN. I tend to prefer jasmine bright and clear. Please try SN Vibert, I'd love to hear what you think about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tigrushka View Post
    Nice review, Mike!

    I must say I prefer Encens et Lavande (I also prefer EeL to Gris Clair), though.

    What I like most about Serge Noire is the burning wood / campfire thing, I find it more smoky than spicy. With its dryness it's a welcome change among the usually sweet & spicy SL scents.
    I'm going to have to give EeL more attention, it seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by javagreen View Post
    I have smoked a Nutmeg Cigarette myself a couple of years back.... very Intoxicating! One has to be careful about the amount of pure Nutmeg added per roll (of cigarette) because it induces a high level of drowsiness and puts one in a semi-drugged like state

    A lot of the old timers here still prefer these cigarettes over the packaged branded ones
    Cool. I used to smoke clove cigarettes (kretek) when I was younger (and when I smoked). Haven't smoked for almost 6-7 years...but the nutmeg cigs sound delicious.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    thank you for your review, i have a bottle of Noire coming from Paris- unsniffed natch- and the reviews on MUA have not been kind, so i was nervous. your description has put my mind at ease, what wonderful writing. the male frag discussions here are always amazing

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    interesting review. thanks mike.

    i have yet to like any of the Lutens stuff that i've tried so far....however MKK and Chergui will be joined by Serge Noire in my list of Lutens scents i have not tried and need to...
    Last edited by everso; 15th August 2008 at 02:27 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Excellent Review Mike! i almost felt as if i wearing theis scent!! ill read this thread to have SN as my Sotd

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by eric View Post
    Great review! I have a sample of this and I remember liking this very much.It strongly reminded me of something familiar, but I still can't put my finger on it. It's very close to the skin,like a cosy warm cashmere sweater.
    I haven't given the sample that much attention lately though.I will retry this one later this day and give it a good sniff.
    Yes it's cozy and I almost used the 'cashmere sweater' adjective myself in my review. It's quite refreshing to find a smoky and incense prominent scent that's not too sweet and isn't made by CdG.

    Quote Originally Posted by LuciusVorenus View Post
    I think I'll like this perfume. I love the nutmeg in Cacharel PH and Chanel PMC. I also love cinnamon.

    I will use your method to fill my house with scent, when I visit my parents in Brazil during Christmas! It's a great idea.
    .
    I hope you do Lucius.

    I am not that familiar with the two scents you mentioned, but I will say that the nutmeg is like no other fragrance I've ever smelled. I get a hint of it in Jaisalmer (Series 3: Incense) by CdG, but in Jaisalmer it's loaded with Iso E Super, and perhaps other synthetics giving it a bright and sharp tang. In SN, it's warm and dark. Incredibly different effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    Must...resist...urge...to...buy....but this sounds like Crypronite.
    Please sample this t_g_l - I wouldn't urge anyone to blind buy this one, but I think you should really smell it. It seems, IMO, that Lutens/Sheldrake have done it again.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by 3xasif View Post
    thank you for your review, i have a bottle of Noire coming from Paris- unsniffed natch- and the reviews on MUA have not been kind, so i was nervous. your description has put my mind at ease, what wonderful writing. the male frag discussions here are always amazing
    Thanks 3xasif. Lucky you. Enjoy your bottle when it arrives!


    Quote Originally Posted by everso View Post
    interesting review. thanks mike. i have yet to like any of the Lutens stuff that i've tried so far....however MKK and Chergui will be joined by Serge Noire in my list of Lutens scents i have not tried and need to...
    Lutens scents are not easy to 'get' everso - it sometimes takes many full wearings (on skin, of course) before they start to show their personality.

    Which is why, as I mentioned above, it's taken me a while to figure out that I'm not going to ever like Rousse. It is nice when I have 'instant love' with a Lutens scent. But most of the SL scents take time to wrap my head (and nose) around. The same can be said for most MPG scents.

    Quote Originally Posted by jenson View Post
    Excellent Review Mike! i almost felt as if i wearing theis scent!! ill read this thread to have SN as my Sotd
    Thanks jenson - please try it when you can, I'd love to see what you think about it.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Your review's making me drool as I read, Mike. I've been hoping for a while that Lutens would make an attempt at an interesting incense scent, and maybe this might be my dream come true. Can't wait to sample this.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Thank you for this great review. It sounds delicious and I'm intrigued! I'm also wondering about the sillage of Serge Noire. Those SLs I've smelled so far seem to be very intimate scents.

    On another note (referencing your original post), I'm thinking you probably have access to this already since you're in Miami...but I have a Tom Ford sample of White Patchouli and would be happy to send it to you if you'd like. PM me if so.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    I finally scored a sample of Serge Noir from Aedes. Initial impressions are good. This one may be a bit of a sleeper scent. The cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with the incense and honey threw me off at first, but it keeps on evolving. The middle stage is a bit smelly kitchen like Bengal Fougere, - fenugreek? The drydown is sublime.
    Stay tuned.
    I'm back from dinner and a few hours with Serge Noir. The caramellic lavender notes that dominate the opening, are so far, not mentioned anywhere. They're very similar to the one used in Pour un Homme and Maharajah. The opening is not the most original part of SN. The incense, cinnamon and other ingredients makes this a subtle oriental. More wearings are needed for sure. I have to say, I'm not blown away. But that could be a the sign of a keeper.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 20th August 2008 at 02:34 AM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    I finally scored a sample of Serge Noir from Aedes. Initial impressions are good. This one may be a bit of a sleeper scent. The cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with the incense and honey threw me off at first, but it keeps on evolving. The middle stage is a bit smelly kitchen like Bengal Fougere, - fenugreek? The drydown is sublime.
    Stay tuned.
    I'm back from dinner and a few hours with Serge Noir. The caramellic lavender notes that dominate the opening, are so far, not mentioned anywhere. They're very similar to the one used in Pour un Homme and Maharajah. The opening is not the most original part of SN. The incense, cinnamon and other ingredients makes this a subtle oriental. More wearings are needed for sure. I have to say, I'm not blown away. But that could be a the sign of a keeper.
    What a coincidence: I wore my sample of Fougere Bengale last night and you're right FB is so kitchen smelly, whereas Serge Noire is much more spice prominent to me (no curry whiffs from SN!). I doubt SN has fenugreek in it (I kinda hate the smell of fenugreek) but yes, that drydown...neat huh? It's like flint, ash, kodo incense and cinnamon all rolled into one.

    I'm also agreeing with you on the top notes, I don't think they're too challenging. Yet a few people I've spoken to (and read reviews) mentioned they thought the top notes were 'difficult'. Perhaps I have a higher 'difficult' threshold.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 20th August 2008 at 02:56 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Thanks for posting Ruggles. My experience with Serge Noire has been similar. The lavender in the opening seems out place [read: I just don't like it] but fortunately the lavender dissipates within minutes. SN then evolves into a spicy oriental fragrance that feels at home in the Lutens oevre. I like Serge Noire but I want to wear it few more times before I decide to invest in a bottle.
    Last edited by Sloan; 20th August 2008 at 04:29 AM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    The Lavender note seems never to be mentioned in any of the scent pyramids I've seen about SN. The lavender is the type that Turin calls "caramellic". I do get a little bit of Gris Clair in the middle of SN. My feelings on this one is that it is SL's attempt at being commercial.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Aedes and Luckyscent (preorder) now have Serge Noir.

    You have no idea how tempted I am to buy a bottle!!!

    (sigh)

  26. #26

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Aedes and Luckyscent (preorder) now have Serge Noir.

    You have no idea how tempted I am to buy a bottle!!!

    (sigh)

    MIKE . . . GIVE YOURSELF TO THE NOIRE SIDE!
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  27. #27

    Default Re: Serge Noir by Serge Lutens - a review

    I just ordered a decant of this, can't wait to try it out!

  28. #28

    Default Re: Serge Noir by Serge Lutens - a review

    If you know Fumerie Turque, my favourite SL frag with smoke and sweetness, would you kindly try to sum up the differences. Thank you in advance.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Serge Noir by Serge Lutens - a review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    If you know Fumerie Turque, my favourite SL frag with smoke and sweetness, would you kindly try to sum up the differences. Thank you in advance.
    I have never smelled FT. I've always wanted to...feel free to send me a sample!

    From what I have read about FT, it's tobacco smoke, then a strong boozy sweetness...then leather. Am I right?

    SN has no tobacco notes. The smoke is from the incense. There is sweetness but its spicy honeyed sweetness, not rum (booze). And there's NO leather.

    I'm certain that tmp00 has smelled both - hopefully he'll read this thread and chime in with his thought.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Serge Noire by Serge Lutens - a review

    Superb scent. Very theatralic. The glow of black-golden dust.
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