28 febbraio 2011

Nombre Noir (Serge Lutens & Jean Yves Leroy for Shiseido, 1981)

Some time ago Magnifiscent wrote a wonderful post (here) explaining how he happened to be near a certain Lady in Black while she was finding, all alone on a shop’s corner, a bottle of this legendary perfume. Legendary because after Luca Turin described it as the best scent ever, perfumistas haunted the four corners of the globe for it, and occasional findings are now Ebayed at impossible prices (1 ml costs about 40 €). But since "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get", last Sunday I could smell it on a touche, and also wear it on skin.
Well… being essentially a rose scent, I definetly won’t cry if I won’t wear it again, but it’s undoubtedly a superb scent, and I understand why, when Turin was finally able to pass a drop in the gas chromatograph, he was carried away at the thought of how skilfully it had been created.
In fact, what is striking in this fragrance is the amazing rose note, which the fragrance revolves around: lavish, rich, slightly spicy, with a tactile presence, smooth and fleshy. A true Queen of flowers in all respects. I could have sworn that it was a huge dose of damask rose, and instead it turns out to be... damascones. Since we’re not used to smell so much in a formula it’s difficult to tell. Beauty isn’t always the result of perfect proportions, and the unusual beauty of this fragrance comes from this "strange" note, hinting at "primitive" and hoarse smells, introduced disproportionately in the formula. A not-standardized beauty, not easily forgotten. Rose lovers might go crazy for this perfume.
This note is flanked by others that contribute vividly to the rose illusion: the geranium scent accentuates the green aspect, violet and iris make it elegant and slightly poudrèe, osmanthus -true, very true this time, and even surdosed- binds damascone very well, accentuating the fruity sensation (apricot) and giving the scent both a modern and a classic touch. Classic because those who smelled "The Fruit Defendu" at the Osmothèque will find exactly the same kind of unexpected crisp, fruity feeling so very different from the overly sweet “tutti-frutti-exotic" juice which perfume industry has accustomed us to.
Modern because it seems launched today and not thirty years ago: the composer Jean Yves Leroy worked under the artistic direction of Serge Lutens –here at his first job for Shiseido- and I suspect that it’ll continue to look modern even thirty years from now.
The scent then, sits on a woody base (cedar, sandalwood, vetiver) rough, slightly smoky reminiscent of Feminite du Bois and Bois Violette (Lutens, again!).
At the top, aldehydes and hedione give the flowers a light that otherwise would lack a bit; the scent is quite twilight-y, and without these synthetic light-catchers, the nocturnal feeling would be too dark.
I wish to thank Magnifiscent for being so generous and letting me know this wonder, removed from the market may be because osmanthus was really expensive, or because the thick black glass bottle was even more (it was necessary, I suppose, to repair the fragile damascone from harmful light).
Mags, I owe you one, and a huge one!

Pic from Perfume Shrine: here

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