Nuit Noire seems to positively shun conformity: It is a scent without the merest trace of trend, something quite bold in and out of itself. It smells old, but not aged, like a fresh batch created from an old recipe. Those of you that have smelled DSH’s “The Perfumed Court” collection of 17th and 18th century inspired fragrances will know what I mean. An interesting bitter note reveals itself in the opening, but it is quickly drowned under gentle, subdued sweetness that smells like a shower of flower petals. Suddenly the dull opening begins to sparkle with the aroma of citrus oils. Yet, unexpectedly, the scent is not fresh; the overall impression is that of stale aromatic water and orange that has gone bad. Suddenly, the spell of darkness lifts and the fragrance brightens, smelling intensely like citronella, while underneath there is the faint smell of orange blossom, mingled with the sweet scent of orange candy. The unmistakable, citrusy, soapy scent of ginger becomes stronger and stronger, a perfect counterpart to the rising scent of pungent, green cardamom. The heart notes sound complex and seductive, listing clove, cedarwood, olibanum, tuberose, cinnamon and sandalwood. Unfortunately, in all honesty I can’t detect even a hint of some of these notes, like clove, cinnamon and sandalwood. I still smell the familiar scent of the now mellower orange blossom, mingling with a dark, velvety tuberose, very unlike any other rendition of the flower I’ve smelled before. The olibanum is there, but seems quite discordant, while there is also a certain oily smell I can’t quite place. The drydown is quite beautiful: ambery and balsamic notes hugged by smooth vegetal musk. The sweetness is just right and the result is semi-transparent, a quite admirable result considering many of the fragrances with similar base notes tend to have a heavy, smothering effect, especially when applied liberally. What does go wrong for me is the leather note, which in this composition my mind illogically seems to interpret as having a human component – specifically, I tend to perceive it as smelling of warm, stale human breath. The ‘staleness’ seems to be a recurring theme in my description of Nuit Noire and indeed, I find this sense of something being off in the perfume quite perturbing. Admittedly, the more I wear it, the more I warm up to it and the more I can appreciate its undoubtedly unique character. I know however that I shan’t be able to get past its disconcerting kind of dirtiness any time soon.
Images: www.monadiorio.com, www.sxc.hu and commons.wikimedia.org