Perfume Directory

Nombre Noir (1981)
by Shiseido


Nombre Noir information

Year of Launch1981
Average Rating
(based on 52 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerJean-Yves Leroy

About Nombre Noir

Nombre Noir was a fragrance that used perfume maker Serge Lutens as image creator. Lutens' idea was that black is the ultimate color because it concentrates all other colors, and so the design was based entirely on black. Both cap and glass bottle were black, the latter sandblast etched with the lettering, creating a contrast between gloss and matte areas that highlighted the appeal of black to the very core.

Reviews of Nombre Noir

Tackling a sacred cow like this is no easy job, especially when it displays a damage note in the top.
But when it all settles down, Nombre Noir is a blackcurrant jasmin-rose with a base of biscuit and woody-musk.
I imagine that, originally, the rosy facet would have had more of a stained glass feel, but the molecules responsible are fragile, and for example, alpha-damascone (rose, apple, blackcurrant and mint with a rich plum undertone) is now sold with a stabiliser.
When the purple fruity rose is paired with a light brown woody-oily-musky base - with a sawdust feel up close, it makes for an interesting colour scheme, as well as a vibrant contrast.

NoNo develops the fruity and musky pairing of Műre et Musc (1978) and it also draws on other Shiseido works like Murasaki from the 1980's (in the original fruity - praline version) and the 'woody rose' of Zen (1964) - as Luca Turin described it.

Now, thanks to Turin's assessment, NoNo has legendary status. Like Grain de musc with her Iris Gris, I'm lucky - I found a sample on a flea market. So I can say, this tart-fruity and woody purple rose is very nice; but I wouldn't pay exorbitant prices for it. Nombre Noir is not unique enough to warrant that kind of outlay, and there are other things - which are there or there abouts - which are better value for money in my opinion.
26th May, 2021 (last edited: 08th June, 2021)
Nombre Noir is a haunted gothic rose that smells *exactly* like the early 80's. It deepens with jammy notes of blackberry, osmanthus, and flux capacitor. ( I'm not sure how else this can smell so exactly like the 80's! They put *something* in the water during the Cold War.)

Nombre Noir is an 80's fragrance without any of the 80's fragrance PTSD. It didn't permeate every mall and magazine like Giorgio. It wasn't worn in the high school hallways and locker rooms like Poison. And yet Nombre Noir feels like it was actually there. Nombre Noir is the atmosphere of my own dark, perfect, alternate past.

Nombre Noir smells like the deepest velvety purple rose, a rose so dark it's almost black. It's a rose with blackberry jam and carnations (maybe just one carnation, this isn't Ho Hang Club). No soap, no sugar, some spice. It is sad somehow, but it's not depressing or tedious. It's the fragrance that a smart goth girl would wear.

Or at least it was. Nowadays, Nombre Noir is so insanely expensive that it's probably just the smell of bad judgement.

Nombre Noir is uniquely beautiful. It is worthy of praise. But I think it has probably been a bit overpraised and over promoted. There are other rose fragrances out there. There are better rose fragrances out there. Still, if you are lucky enough to own a bottle of this... I guess I should be brave enough to admit that I'm terribly, terribly jealous.
02nd April, 2021
drseid Show all reviews
United States
Nombre Noir opens with nose tingling aldehydes and smooth rosewood with just a hint of slightly sharp, citric lemony orange bergamot before transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart fine white floral jasmine takes the fore with slightly dark rose, slightly powdery carnation and smooth yellow floral ylang-ylang in support. Additional support is provided by an ever-so slightly waxy orris butter and lemony-green geranium with a tinge of mildly sweet honey. During the late dry-down the florals all gradually recede with the rose now most prominent, turning slightly powdery as it joins a very subtle natural woody accord through the finish. Projection is average, as is longevity at around 8 hours on skin.

The elusive Nombre Noir has taken on near-legendary status over the years, being touted by some prominent names in perfume (one in particular) placing it as one of the all-time greats. I always wanted to try the perfume, but alas, the price of admission reached stratospheric levels in relative terms, making obtaining even a small sample a decent sized investment. Well, I finally "bit the bullet" and got my hands on a decant to try out, and here we are... This is one of the rare instances where I hoped I would dislike the composition due to its lofty cost, but alas, it really is *incredible* smelling. The first thing that grabbed me was the jasmine. This is some very good quality stuff that is not unlike the fine jasmine used in X for Men by Clive Christian, but even higher quality. The rose, which ultimately becomes the focal note in the perfume transitions so seamlessly from the jasmine I barely realized what had happened. In fact, the entire composition is about class, finesse, restraint and most of all balance. It is the balance of an amalgamation of its laundry list of high quality materials that makes Nombre Noir such an absolute marvel. I barely mention even a small fraction of the ingredients primarliy because they all complement each other so well and just meld together perfectly. So in the end, instead a hopeful pan, I ended up with an immediate hunt for my own admittedly crazy expensive bottle. The bottom line is the extremely rare and long since discontinued $1350 per 60 ml bottle on the aftermarket Nombre Noir is a near-perfect chypre from the great, late perfumer Jean-Yves Leroy that approaches a "masterpiece" rating of 4.5 to 5 stars out of 5 and an easy recommendation to at least secure a small sample. Everyone needs to at least sniff Nombre Noir once in their lifetime.
05th May, 2020 (last edited: 10th May, 2020)
A very beautiful dark elegant rose scent. Anyone smelled La Fille de Berlin? The rose note I feel is quite similar for both however there's a lot more complexity going on with Nombre Noir. For one there's a definite aldehyde note that fortunately works really well with the rose. Then there's the wood and chypre notes at the base which I enjoy in a rose based scent. Although a dark rose, it's very airy as well. I think this is a rose that would definitely appeal for someone like me. Yes it's very rare and its going for a high premium on eBay. L'Arte di Gucci also offers both the same quality and complexity that fulfills my expectations in a rose scent but it's almost a dead tie between the two. Both of these I enjoy more than YSL Rive Gauche and Coty la rose Jacqueminot that I've sampled from PL's retro Rose Sample Pass.
17th March, 2019
The one, the only, the infamous unobtainium! Luca's first love! Etc.!

To my admittedly-limited and utterly subjective nose this is Luten's Rose de Nuit mixed with Poison. And because I adore Rose de Nuit and deplore Poison, I have very mixed feelings about this perfume-unicorn. Which is wonderful, since I could never afford to buy it in the first place. YAY! One lemming down!

Also, it goes on forever with almost nuclear silage. In fact, it gets stronger and oddly more potent as you wear it.
27th January, 2019
I tried to put all expectations aside and approach this like smelling any other sample...the first 30 seconds or so hit my nose like the vinegary aldehyde opening of Balenciaga pour Homme...I then get a steady buildup of rose with the rooty/bitterish/herby smell from a blending of carnation and orris root...seems to straddle two worlds...a classic smelling fragrance with a timeless quality...not a powerhouse by any means , but smooth and suave and laid my nose, about as perfectly unisex as you can get...does pull you in and makes you want to stay glued to the back of your hand to marvel at the subtle developments....very well blended and has an air of quality ingredients...i have to agree with a couple of other reviews i've read that this is somewhat similar to Acteur...the rose in this does ring that bell for me, but in a good way...has an all-around woody ambience...ever so slightly powdery...overall, a very pleasing and enjoyable rose fragrance, but I don't think it's something I personally would be adding to my wardrobe , even at a reasonable price...
23rd July, 2018

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