Perfume Directory

Nombre Noir (1981)
by Shiseido


Nombre Noir information

Year of Launch1981
Average Rating
(based on 50 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

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
BLUF: A humid dark rose chypre. A compelling rose note, damp and dewy with some subtle red & orange colored spices (like in Egoiste). Pretty scent, ugly asking price.

Nombre Noir is charming. I find it downright pretty. I don’t think it is off-the-charts amazing or innovative in terms of structure, but I do think it is a skillfully balanced and pleasing fragrance. In the opening I mostly detect a mossy dark rose/patchouli mix. Considering the year it was released (1981), the restraint of all three main notes is admirable. In fact I’d even call it delicate. It has plenty of substance but is never close to heavy or overbearing. It has a rounded, smooth texture that agrees with my tastes very much.

After about an hour, I start to pick up on an airy, mildly sweet tannic red wine vibe. Presumably from the rose and woods, maybe the light clove-spiced carnation too. A sandalwood/rosewood base lightly supports everything in a complimentary fashion. Unlike my vintage-loving cohort, I do not find much of a connection to Ho Hang Club. Then again, I don't find a HHC/Antaeus commonality either.

Nombre Noir seems to be famous for two reasons. Reason one, and probably the lesser, is that it's the first commercial perfume that Serge Lutens helped breathe life into, as far as I know. The second, and likely the reason it now goes for $2000/15ml on eBay is that Luca Turin basically creamed his pants over Nombre Noir…is what some lesser, cruder, truly classless person might say. He fawned, prices rose.

I like Nombre Noir perfectly well. If I were able to find a 10ml decant for say $40, I’d be all over it. But in this dark rose chypre genre of yesteryear, I’ll take L’Arte di Gucci over this any day.

In fact, if I were to break it down into a single, do-no-justice sentence, I’d say, “A woodier, softer, lighter, less rosey, L’Arte di Gucci”.

Recommended sniffing if you can do so for a reasonable price.
25th March, 2018
Where have I scented this before? Certainly this is a refined and polite, still boozy, Ho Hang Club. However it also shares some resemblance to By Kilian Criminal of Love in a "Comet" cleaner sort of way. It is an accord that pairs Carnation and Patchouli Camphour. Rose seems a shaping ingredient.
Where Ho Hang Club wins the day is in the over the top Animalic, Honeyed Piss accord and it's availability, price.
For my most Feminine wife I prefer the quieter and tender touch of Patchouli surrounded by Peony, of Divine L'inspiratrice.
The attraction of Nombre Noir is that it is
a beautiful period piece, inspiring a number of other wonderful 80's Feminines and Masculines.
The rarity and therefore it's asking price puts it outside my field of vision.
15th September, 2017 (last edited: 18th September, 2017)

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