Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir: Dark, Delectable Magic

Only he could do it. Only Serge Lutens could make a fragrance that a lavender-phobe would not only love, but buy. And not just buy a regular bottle of it, but buy a bloody expensive, exclusive bell jar! Only a true master could make a fragrance that is essentially everything that I dislike in a fragrance, and bring me to my knees.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

It’s as though Uncle Serge decided to make me eat my hat by checking off every box that would normally make me wince — lavender, gourmand, sweet, sheer, discreet, and even sometimes vanishing, no less — intentionally combine them all into a single scent, and make the final result be something utterly beyond my ability to resist. It’s actually amusing at this point — and I say that as one who needs to take frequent breaks in typing to sniff the air around me with the glazed eyes of an addict. Only Le Grand Serge and Christopher Sheldrake could manage that. 

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

Fourreau Noir is an Oriental eau de parfum that was created by Christopher Sheldrake, and released in 2009. As noted above, it is one of the famous bell jar “Paris Exclusives,” which means that it not sold world-wide, but is generally exclusive to Serge Lutens’ Paris headquarters. That said, it can actually be purchased outside of France, either from Barney’s New York or directly from Serge Lutens’ international and U.S. websites, though it’s always at a big mark-up if you are buying outside of France. 

Uncle Serge describes the scent and the meaning of its name as follows:

A fourreau in French means a sheath for a dagger as well as a form-fitting dress… ready to embrace the voluptuous contours of a widow’s body.

Maybe you’ve heard of the brown bean used to extract vanillin? Its name is the tonka bean. It grows in abundance on a tree in the Amazonian rain forest. Sweet and fluid, its fragrance lingers, living its mark.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

As always, Serge Lutens keeps the perfume’s notes secret. Fragrantica says they are:

Lavender, tonka, musk, almonds, smokey accords

Based on what I smell, however, I think the list would be longer. My guess is:

Lavender, Incense, Patchouli, Almonds, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Cedarwood, and Musk. There may be some ambery element as well.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

Fourreau Noir opens on my skin with lavender. Have I mentioned lately just how much I loathe lavender? It is a note that I struggle with deeply, due to childhood experiences living in Cannes, in the South of France, where dried herbal sachets of the blasted stuff were ubiquitous. Their sharp, pungent, aggressively herbal aroma was everywhere, and it didn’t help matters that the driveway to our house had lavender growing as if it were on steroids. I had a sensitive nose even back then, and the aromatic deluge left a mark, making me avoid lavender as an adult whenever and wherever possible. As you might have gathered by now, this is the first of what will be several examples of Serge Lutens making me eat my hat because, yes, Fourreau Noir opens with lavender. And lots of it. En plus, it’s pungent, herbal, and dried — everything that would normally send a bone-deep shiver through my body.

Source: background-pictures.feedio.net

Source: background-pictures.feedio.net

Those magicians, Messieurs Lutens and Sheldrake, quickly coat and cloak the lavender with the black sheath talked about in Fourreau Noir’s description. Like loving tentacles, incense wraps itself around those blasted purple stalks, lovingly turning them dark and smoky. Within moments, my hated, floral, herbal nemesis is also infused with sweetness from a lightly spiced, chewy, slightly earthy patchouli. It, too, is a bit smoked, and the dark sheath is even further supplemented by what smells to me like dry, also smoky cedar wood.

Source: amyglaze.com

Source: amyglaze.com

There is something a little synthetic about all the sharpness, something biting that almost burns my nose, but it is soon countered by a wave of warm sweetness. Like a pale, white counterpart to the the black incense tendrils, creamy vanilla and tonka bean seep through. They curl their way around the sharp notes, fractionally dulling their razor’s edge. The sweetness is gauzy but strong, light but potent, and always feels like the very frothiest mousse. Subtle hints of a bitter fresh almond soon follow, along with an intangible woodiness that differs a little from the smoky, dry cedar. 

Five minutes in, the patchouli starts to slowly become more prominent, feeling wonderfully red-brown with its spicy, sweet, earthy facets. It’s potent, but never dense, chewy, or opaque in feel. It is true patchouli, even down to the very fleeting, momentary and faint hint of something medicinal in its character. It is a touch which underscores the more herbal aspects of the lavender. Yet, despite that, the flower is never completely like the aggressively pungent, aggressively herbal, dried, acrid note that is the stuff of my nightmares. Thanks to the impact of the other notes, especially the patchouli and incense, the lavender has been transformed into something different. It is now simultaneously incense-y, a little floral, and a little darkly leathered, herbal, and sweet.  

Source: layoutsparks.com

Source: layoutsparks.com

Fourreau Noir encompasses you like a cloud that is at once almost translucent and as tough as steel. I’ve worn differing amounts, but most recently tried 3 decent-sized sprays, and Fourreau Noir’s opening spread its tentacles about 4-5 inches around me. It is potent and intense, yet oddly feels as insubstantial and thin as the smoke it contains. It’s like being covered in a swirl of incense and lavender, tendrils that weave about you as thin as an invisible thread, but with enormous tenacity. I’m amazed by how sheer it is, and by the mental images of translucency. Take that as Exhibit No. Two of Serge Lutens making me eat my hat, as perfumes with a gauzy, almost invisible sheerness are far from my personal cup of tea.

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

What’s even more baffling about the odd case of Fourreau Noir is that it actually feels as though it disappears from my skin from time to time. On past occasions, there were times when fragrance felt as though it had evaporated after about 90 minutes, and it wasn’t always easy to detect. Yet, it still lingered all around me, an undeniable cloud of incense, patchouli, and lavender. It would follow me like a lap-dog, leaving a small trail in the air. At other times, however, I couldn’t detect any projection at all, but Fourreau Noir was clearly pulsating and evident on my skin. Occasionally, it seemed to slip away like a ghost, only to reappear, almost stronger than it had been before, just as I was about to apply more. Fourreau Noir is a perplexing creature with a mind of its own, flitting about, encapsulating you, weaving some mysterious spell around you that makes you ignore all your usual issues or concerns as you smell that entrancing mixture of sharp contrasts. Dry, smoky, sweet, earthy, herbal, and woody — it’s all there, all around you, potent and dark, and yet, as insubstantial as a ghost. How can I love it so?!  

Exhibit Three of Le Grand Serge making me tolerate what I normally dislike is the synthetic feel underlying Fourreau Noir’s opening hour. It is most definitely there, and I can’t stand fragrances whose unnatural sharpness almost burns my nose if I smell my arm up close. It’s not only that a few of the notes like the lavender or the incense feel like a razor at times, but something genuinely synthetic in the base. I can’t pinpoint what it may be, though I suspect it’s the musk, combined with notes that are inherently a bit sharp in nature. And, yet, I don’t mind it. Even though it lingers high in my nose and burns a little, Fourreau Noir is simply too beautiful a combination for me to really care. Yes, Uncle Serge, I will have another piece of that humble pie.

Source: dreamstime.com

Source: dreamstime.com

The fragrance continues to subtly shift. Twenty minute in, the patchouli becomes increasingly prominent, while the almond and vanilla foam in the base start their slow rise to the surface. As the supporting actors begin to arrive on stage, they counterbalance the lavender’s herbal, almost leathery undertone, the fierceness of the incense, and the dryness of the cedar. The vanilla tames the beastly lavender and smoke, while the almond’s bitter facets add a fascinating contrast to the earthiness of the lightly spiced patchouli.

Source: A Spicy Perspective. (For recipe for lavender chocolate ice cream, click on photo. Website link embedded within.)

Source: A Spicy Perspective. (For recipe for lavender chocolate ice cream, click on photo. Website link embedded within.)

At the end of the first hour, Fourreau Noir turns much sweeter, and borders almost on the gourmand. The lavender is now creamy, rich, and feels like lavender ice cream infused with almond extract. Yet, the perfume isn’t really a true dessert-y fragrance, thanks to the constant presence of the dry notes that swirl all around like a dark cloud. From the temple-like, black incense trails, to the dry smoky cedar, and even the earthy spiciness of the patchouli, there are too many checks and balances to the creamy lavender-vanilla-almond sherbert. What the sweeter notes really do is to soften that early razor sharpness, though the synthetic undertone to Fourreau Noir still remains at the base.

The perfume continues to soften. About 2.5 hours in, it lingers extremely close to the skin, and the patchouli has become as prominent as the incense, while the lavender has started to recede. There is something almost ambered to Fourreau Noir’s base, though the golden sweetness and warmth may simply be the indirect impact of the tonka bean on the patchouli. Whatever the cause, Fourreau Noir is now primarily a bouquet of patchouli amber with smoky incense, atop a vanilla base that is infused with almond and lavender, and lightly flecked with musk and abstract, dry woodiness.

Source: backgrounds.mysitemyway.com

Source: backgrounds.mysitemyway.com

There is also the merest, subtlest suggestion of something that smells like gingerbread, and it becomes increasingly strong. By the end of the 4th hour, it’s quite noticeable and I suspect that the creamy woods, the vanilla, and patchouli’s spicy, earth sweetness have all melded together to create a sweet-spiced gingerbread accord. It’s too dry, however, to be like actual dessert or cloying; the sweetness is perfectly balanced. In fact, the unexpected gingerbread element eventually turns drier and woody, taking on an almost sandalwood-like aroma. The overall effect strongly calls to mind Chanel‘s gorgeous Bois des Iles with its very close replication of Mysore sandalwood in its base and drydown.

Fourreau Noir turns increasingly abstract, and its final drydown is a simple, utterly lovely mix of sweetness, woodiness, and creamy smoothness. It’s a patchouli amber gingerbread with the lightest hint of spices, incense, and creamy, wispy, gauzy vanillic sweetness. All in all, Fourreau Noir’s duration averages out to about 10.5 hours on my perfume-consuming skin with three sprays being the median quantity applied. A smaller amount yields about 9.5 hours, while 4 big sprays results in about 11.75 hours. At all times, however, the fragrance feels sheer, almost translucent, and gauzy in weight. The sillage generally drops after about 75-minutes with a small amount, 90-minutes with a medium amount, and 2.5 hours with more. Fourreau Noir only becomes a true skin scent on me around the end of the fourth hour, though there are the issues mentioned earlier about the fragrance sometimes acting like a ghost in terms of projection, as well as strength on the skin.

I was surprised to read some of the reactions to Fourreau Noir as it has alternatively been described as a very clean scent, a masculine one, a deliciously gourmand one, a perfume similar to Chergui, and even, on one rare occasion, an animalic, almost dirty fragrance. All those opinions are noticeable on Fragrantica and in blog reviews. The Non Blonde referred to the latter in her very positive assessment of Fourreau Noir where she compared it to a cozy, cuddly, fuzzy, long sweater with a slightly clean vibe: 

Sometimes my taste in perfume makes me question my sanity. Many reviews and impressions of Fourreau Noir, a 2009 non-export Serge Lutens release, mention/lament/ celebrate two accords- black smoke and a dirty animalic heart. For some of the people who tried Fourreau Noir (the loaded name translates as black sheath) these aspects made it difficult to wear. Me? My skin diffuses smoke and domesticates large beasts. I find Fourreau Noir not just soft and cuddly but also as comfortable and embracing as an old hoodie fresh from the laundry.

I mentioned laundry for a reason. The lavender note is strong in the opening and quite persistent after. […] Fourreau Noir is fuzzy and warm as though it just left the dryer. The lavender over a sweet gourmand base supports this idea, though it’s not exactly Downy Lavender-Vanilla fabric softener. Don’t worry.

Fourreau Noir is musky, but to me it’s a fairly clean musk with a hint of fruitiness. The tactile equivalent is of a soft silk-merino knit, kind of like the long wrap sweater with caressing kimono sleeves I’m wearing now as I’m typing this review. This coziness is helped greatly by the sweet gourmand dry-down. Tonka bean, almond cookies covered in very light powdered sugar and lots and lots of immortelle. I love immortelle on its mapley goodness, and in this case the maple smells like it was aged and smoked in old wood barrels. This is the kind of stuff I expect and enjoy from our favorite uncle.

Obviously, my experience is a bit different from hers, and I don’t find that musk to be either clean or dirty, but I definitely agree that our mutually adored, favorite uncle created a beautiful scent whose drydown is of sweet, smoked, woody goodness.

At the end of the day, I find Fourreau Noir to be a delectably dark fragrance that is quite addictive in its coziness. It really shouldn’t have wrapped its tendrils around me in quite the way that it did. It is a fragrance centered, in large part, on a note that I despise, but it was genius to mix lavender with such unexpected elements as dark smoke, almonds and patchouli. It obviously helps that I’m a sucker for patchouli, but still, everyone who knows me is shocked that Fourreau Noir is the fragrance that I chose as my first bell jar. I am too, actually.

Source: wall.alphacoders.com

Source: wall.alphacoders.com

I had initially gone to the Palais Royal with plans to get a very different scent, perhaps the beautiful De Profundis with its delicate floral heart and gorgeous purple liquid. (I actually ended up with De Profundis as my second bell jar perfume!) While there, testing all the different perfumes, the gardenia-tobacco ode to Billie Holiday, Une Voix Noire, beckoned to me even more insistently than when I had tried it. My beloved Cuir Mauresque (the perfume that Serge Lutens himself wears) trumped both of them, but it’s ridiculous to buy it in a rare, expensive bell jar form when the perfume is also available for much cheaper overseas in a regular 1.7 oz spray bottle.

I was actually testing the Bois series of fragrances, and marveling over Bois et Fruits, when I happened to put Fourreau Noir on my wrist. It caught my attention almost immediately, but there was far too much going on, and I needed to assess each fragrance’s longevity. There were no samples to be had, so I clutched little scented strips wrapped tightly in plastic and went home to ponder the issue. Two days later, when I returned, I was still undecided. It was down between Bois et Fruits and Fourreau Noir, with Une Voix Noir perhaps in third place.

In the end, something about Fourreau Noir seemed more special to me, more unique, mysterious, and entrancing. I loved the mix of sweetness with the sharp, dry incense, and the way that dark smoke weaved its gauzy, tenacious tendrils around me like a witch’s spell. Fourreau Noir has never really seemed like a pure lavender fragrance to me; if it had, I would have run a mile in the opposite direction shrieking for help. It also seemed to be beyond easy categorization; neither “gourmand” nor “dark incense” really describe its core essence. In some ways, it’s everything and nothing, just like its peculiar, occasionally ghostly sillage that can also be a tenacious, sheer, potent cloud. It is a fragrance that seems at once very simple, but also very nuanced and layered.

Perhaps the best explanation for Fourreau Noir’s hold over me is the dark elusiveness at its heart, an elusiveness that is so very Serge Lutens. How else can one explain a lavender phobe falling for such a fragrance? I tried the much-vaunted, endlessly worshiped, lavender gourmand fragrance, Kiki, from Vero Profumo, and was bored to tears. I found it simple, uninteresting, lacking in nuance, and banal. Perhaps I simply needed dark magic? Or perhaps only a master like Serge Lutens can create a perfume that encompasses everything one dislikes, but make it so delectable that you can’t help but fall into its addictive embrace. Yes, the answer has to be Serge Lutens. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put on some lavender, and eat some humble pie.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Fourreau Noir is an eau de parfum that is part of the Serge Lutens “Paris Exclusives” line, which means it is available only in the larger 2.5 oz/75 ml Bell Jar size. It retails for $300 or €140 (I think) for a 75 ml/2.5 oz bottle. You can buy Fourreau Noir directly from the U.S. Serge Lutens website or from the International one. For some reason, the International Site seems to be temporarily out of the fragrance at the time of this review (which is why I can’t get the definitive Euro price), but you can recheck the listing later. There is also the rare option of purchasing Fourreau Noir in 2 refillable black sprays, each of which is 30 ml, for a total of 60 ml. The price is $190 on the U.S. Lutens website, and €120 on the International one.
In the U.S.: you can also find Fourreau Noir sold exclusively at Barney’s New York store. The website has a notice stating: “This product is only available for purchase at the Madison Avenue Store located at 660 Madison Avenue. The phone number for the Serge Lutens Boutique is (212) 833-2425.”
Personal Shopper Options: One way of getting Fourreau Noir at a cheaper price is Shop France Inc run by Suzan, a very reputable, extremely professional, personal shopper who has been used by a number of perfumistas. She will go to France, and buy you perfumes (and other luxury items like Hermès scarves, etc.) that are otherwise hard to find at a reasonable price. Shop France Inc. normally charges a 10% commission on top of the item’s price with 50% being required as a down payment. However, and this is significant, in the case of Lutens Bell Jars, the price is $225 instead. The amount reflects customs taxes that she pays each time, as well as a tiny, extra markup. It’s still cheaper than the $300 (not including tax) for the bell jar via Barney’s or the US Serge Lutens website.  Another caveat, however, is that Suzan is limited to only 10 bell jars per trip, via an arrangement with the Lutens house. There is a wait-list for the bell jars, but she goes every 6-8 weeks, so it’s not a ridiculously huge wait, I don’t think. If you have specific questions about the purchase of Lutens bell jars, or anything else, you can contact her at shopfranceinc@yahoo.com. As a side note, I have no affiliation with her, and receive nothing as a result of mentioning her.
Samples: You can order samples of Fourreau Noir from Surrender to Chance starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. The fragrance is also available as part of a Five Piece Non-Export Sampler Set, where you can choose 5 Lutens Paris Exclusives for a starting price of $18.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. 

54 thoughts on “Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir: Dark, Delectable Magic

  1. What does humble pie taste like, dear Kafka? If I had to guess which one you chose as YOUR bell jar, this would have been even lower than the bottom 🙂

    That said, I applaud your wonderful review of one of MY Preciousssss, which I got this past summer on my day trip to Paris. Now, you and I and scent twin Lucas have a shared love for this most unlikely masterpiece from Uncle Serge!

    • ROFL. It tastes of smoky lavender incense ice cream with almonds and patchouli. *grin* I have to laugh at how you said Fourreau Noir would have been in the negative numbers in terms of consideration. Ha, that makes two of us.

      I think it says something about Fourreau Noir that someone who loathes lavender (me), and someone who normally loathes Serge Lutens fragrances (Lucas), would BOTH fall in love with it. You, you’re different. You merely had good taste from the start. 😉

  2. Glad to read you were able to exorcise lavender, dear Kafka.
    Isn’t it wonderful when the magic of a master makes a much dreaded note turn into something beautiful?
    I have intentionally been avoiding Fourreau Noir because I know I might fall for it…and it’s not like I need any more lemmings and also because as much as I admire the oeuvre of both Mssrs. Lutens and Sheldrake, I still have to find a SL that works for me.

    Caro

    • Well, if Lucas can like Fourreau Noir when Serge Lutens doesn’t work for him, then there is a chance you might, too. I think you’d enjoy the gourmand aspect, but I don’t know about the smokiness. I think Lucas merely found it all to be very fluffy, though I also remember something about purring like a black cat. I’ll try to decant some for you next time I’m doing packages, because I’d love for you to try it.

      • I’ve seen pictures of the limited bell jar with the black cat and I went crazy.
        Cats and cozy lavender sound like a dream come true.

        I already have my lavender HG (which I am NOT mentioning again 😉 ) but I will make sure I try FN sooner or later.

        Thank you for your generous offer but I don’t want you to part with your precious elixir.

  3. Fantastic synchronicity: this is what I am asking for this Christmas. I LOVE it. Liberty London are doing a two travel spray set thing for an affordable price so I can get my hands on this ambery, enveloping gem.

      • Heh, living in Cannes, only 15 minutes away from Grasse, those bloody lavender sachets were everywhere! And in our house, too, though I kept trying to throw them out. I seem to be the only member of my family so badly affected though, and some of them think me quite nuts. Then again, they also don’t understand my bug phobia, so…. lol.

    • Fabulous choice, my dear Neil, even if I do say so myself. 😉 I’m also glad to hear that you find an ambery element in Fourreau Noir as well. BTW, Serge Lutens also has the affordable travel spray option for this particular fragrance, though I realise Liberty London may be easier for you, access wise.

  4. I clearly see that we both share a deep passion for fourreau noir, just a short time ago I’ve fallen in love with it and it became my favirite Lutens in the bunch of other SLI dislike. I wrote my review of it when you were in paris. Great pictures of your own

  5. Thanks for creating a lemming for me, my dear. I love lavender even though some days it smells nothing like lavender to me. I’m blaming hormones for that. This perfume sounds oddly beautiful and if it made you swoon I’m even more curious about it than I ever was. Thankfully for my purse it’s not easy to get so I probably won’t be buying it anytime soon and it’s a wee bit pricey for a blind buy so I will distract myself with something else and forget I ever read this review. 😉

    • I wish Fourreau Noir were more easily accessible because it really is an unsung gem in the collection. And, honestly, I think you’d adore the incense part, my dear Poodle. I’ll have to send you a sample, unless that will just make the lemming worse.

  6. Do you know, I’d put on Fourreau Noir this morning when it was chilly – I felt that I needed something to surround and keep me warm, and that’s just what Forreau Noir did. And now, a few hours later, I am reading your review of Fourreau Noir! What a coincidence! Like you, I absolutely dislike lavender, but Fourreau Noir works for me because of the gourmand notes that make it so much more palatable and help to smooth out the rough edges of lavender. On occasion, I still get a whiff of something reminiscent of barbershop/fougère fragrances, but it’s not too bad. I can say in all honesty that this is the first lavender fragrance that I truly like (but only perhaps because it’s not too heavy on the lavender!)

    • Hahaha, another lavender phobe! And another lavender phobe who adores Fourreau Noir! I find this hilarious, especially as a few people have told me on Twitter or privately that they feel the same way! So damn funny. I think that says a LOT about this perfume in specific, and Serge Lutens’ genius.

      BTW, what great coincidence that you wore the perfume this morning and far before reading the review. It does keep one warm, doesn’t it? Such a cozy, delicious scent, despite all that initial darkness. Rock on, my fellow lavender-phobe!

  7. How funny that this was the one that pulled you in, among all of them! Maybe it was a case of many wrongs making something oh-so-right! Glad you fell in love! I keep hearing about this one, and thinking I’ve tried it, but I don’t think I have. I agree Kiki was much ado about nothing, I didn’t like it at all.

  8. it’s true, fourreau noir IS a mysterious lil number – it flits between fougere & gourmand, between lavender & patchouli, between tonka & almond. it shifts & morphs and is always cozy. that’s the key to digging FN – coziness. i’m glad we are back on the same page with our frag faves 😉 i picked this up on my last visit to palais royal and couldn’t get over its initial similarity to gris clair, but the SA was adamant there was NO lavender in FR. it’s exactly the SAME lavender, but where gris clair is ‘hot’ & smoky and quite linear (and masculine), FR is all about those ‘tendrils’ of purple that comfort & beguile (now THAT is feminine, no? 🙂 ) i know exactly what you mean by that synthetic hit between 10 & 30 min, almost a warm plastic smell. it’s now been on for 10 hours & that dry down is indeed gorgeous. vive oncle serge et sa magie!

    • Heh, all these people wearing Fourreau Noir today! But what do you mean the SA at Les Palais Royal was adamant there there is no lavender in Fourreau Noir? WHAT???!! How could she say that?! No lavender, is she mad?!!! One might debate about the patchouli, the cedar or the other secondary stuff, but saying there is no lavender is like saying there is no incense in the perfume!! :O

      I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone on that weird synthetic hit in the first hour. Also glad to hear that you think there is patchouli in F/N as well. For me, that was the killer touch and really made it. Such a golden perfume in some ways, despite all those tendrils of purple and black! Vive Oncle Serge indeed!

  9. I’m glad you took this one on, it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Actually, in the blogosphere I can only remember you, me and Gaia from the Non Blonde having something positive to say about it. For me, this was the first gourmand I ever liked and, after reading your review, I positively feel the need for a new sample coming on 🙂

    • So glad to see more love for Fourreau Noir! 🙂 Is there really no appreciation for it in the blogosphere? I know in some groups that I occasionally look at, the fragrance seems to be quite admired. It’s definitely an under-appreciated gem on a wider level, though, and I wish it were more accessible. I think if it were one of the export line, it might well be one of the bigger Lutens hits.

  10. Well, aside from the fact that I just got weak in the knees with your descriptions of lavender and smoke and patchouli and dark and cozy goodness….. What really was exciting was hearing how you dear Kafka were brought to YOUR knees by a lavender fronted perfume. Never would I have ever expected that. Dear Mr. Sheldrake, You are a magician, and I love you.

  11. Hi there – I have just read your review which was great. God knows how you have learnt to smell 101 notes in a perfume! I’m a newbie and coming along but sometimes everything hits me at once, so it can be quite difficult to ascertain exactly what I’m smelling. I visited the local parfumerie yesterday and was so excited to see that they had Fourreau Noir (and Iris Silver Mist) in the black atomiser sprays. I sprayed myself silly with the 2 scents and while I loved both, Fourreau Noir had the edge – it’s utterly beautiful, slightly pungent yet gourmand and lasts and lasts and lasts. My partner detests lavender and like you he grew up in the South of France surrounded by the stuff so it’s completely unbearable for him. The sprays are a good way to buy these two scents if the bell jars are tricky to get hold of (but only slightly less expensive).

    • Heh, did you tell your partner that he’s not alone in his South of France lavender trauma? 😉 I’m dying to know what HE thinks of Fourreau Noir, and if it can overcome his phobia as well? As for you, do you think you’re going to succumb to those travel sprays? If you’re in France or the EU, you can order the bell jars from the website. They cost a little more, but you also get a greater quantity. Do let me know what you decide in the end. I’m very excited about your new love and, especially, the whole lavender issue. 🙂 🙂

      • Lavender trauma – haha. My partner really suffers from this – and I don’t have any lavender scents …. yet. But we’re in France and I have Fourreau Noir on my Xmas list so we’ll see if he runs for the hills when I spray it in his vicinity. I’m weighing up the spray vs bell jar but the deciding factor will most likely be price as I get a good discount at the local parfumerie. I’ll keep you posted on the lavender issue and see if Serge can do a magical number on someone else.

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  13. It’s really interesting to me how SL can indeed affect the core of our love and hate relationship to scent and to alter our perception of what we think we know and love. I adore sandalwood. If I could rub a piece of its floral creaminess against my neck and smell like it I’d be ready for Armageddon. I own and love Santal Majuscule, however, I despise Santal Blanc and I cannot wear it. To a lesser degree I dislike Santal de Mysore . The latter just infuriates me: all its notes should make me ask for the gods’ forgiveness but they dont work for me at all. I despise lavander too, so I feel (and fear) I must try Fourreau Noir. If it at all resembles my beloved Bois et Fruits then I must take the subway and head to Barneys. Anything remotely resembling Feminite du Bois is magic (the vitange Shiseido version that is). I read your reviews of Phaedon and your overall disenchantment with its sweet and synthetic scents and I kept thinking that SL is also quite sweet (Santal Blanc being way too much for me to even write coherently about it!).
    I have to continue reading the rest of your articles now before the walking dead starts.
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

    • Heh, I succumbed to Bois et Fruits too! Albeit, not in a bell jar form. I was thrilled upon my return to the US to see it was available in a regular 1.7 spray bottle for much less! Hurrah for Bois et Fruit love!

      I find your comments fascinating re. how Serge Lutens can alter our pre-set views and perceptions of what we think we know and love. You know, I think you’re right, he somehow does seem to do that! 🙂 He swayed me somewhat in the favour of aldehydes with La Myrrhe, when I loathe aldehydes! At the end of the day, he didn’t sway me enough, but he certainly can impact one deeply. God, I’d LOVE to try vintage Feminité du Bois! And I say that as someone who loathes the ISO E that it supposedly contains! If anyone could make me succumb to a fragrance with ISO E, it would be Serge Lutens! I have a sample of the current, reformulated version, so we’ll see how that goes, but I know it’s not meant to be anything like the original with all its beauty.

      You, someone who despises lavender like I do, you seem to have a sufficient degree of overlap in your tastes with mine (I had to laugh at your infuriation with Santal de Mysore), so I really do think you must head to Barney’s to try Fourreau Noir. For me, it is sweet, but never the sort of sweetness that was so appalling in Phaedon Paris’ perfumes. The reason why? There is so much smoke and dryness to counter the gourmand elements. I have a vague memory of having tried Santal Blanc, and I don’t think Fourreau Noir is anything at that level! So, please, take that subway ride, and let me know! 😀

      Enjoy the Walking Dead, and have a great week!

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  16. DearKafka,
    So I finally drained my sample of Fourreau Noir and Fille en Aiguilles and I think the former is by far my favorite, although I really like that latter as well. On my troublesome skin FN starts with a weird cold white plastic cleanliness that slowly and surely turns mysterious and deep and absolutely gorgeous yet I can still feel that astringent plastic weirdness playing hide and seek. There is also something dry as woods and soft as cotton rolling around a clear, light purpleness at the same time. It never entirely feels like cotton on me yet it has a pillowy dryness, does it make sense? At times it gets really dark and tempting as if I were smelling the sweeter underside of its beginning first hour. Absolutely stunning to the point that when I sometimes get a direct sniff to my arm it takes me out of this cold snowy winter right into some imaginary garden: a bit psychotropic for its white plastic-ness and a bit naughty for its golden brown-ness. This is serious love! I tried it alone. I mixed it with Le Labo musc 25 and with L’Ombre Fauve and both combinations turned out great. Does it need to be combined? Absolutely not but sometimes I feel the alchemist call and I just follow my desire. Who am I to deny myself these pleasures!?
    On my skin, there is always something powdery. I get some of the dryness of IPdF Sandalo Indiano and a bit of heliotrope, a much sweeter, less sneezing version than Accord Parfait’s Boise. It may be the almond and the cedarwood? I dont know. I love it.
    Fille en Aiguiles is lovey too: darker, toasted, burnt sweetness against softly chilled pine needles sticking right out of the praline mess. Its a furry warm sweet skin with some snow flurries melting on its warmth. Gorgeous too! I bought many samples so I havent been able to catch up with all of your reviews. Boy you make me crave LVdP Tabac and Sharif! I am also tempted to try Cuir Beluga till some degree due to my previos bad (and dull) exepriences with L’ Art et la Matiere line.
    Of course I made no justice to either perfume here my dear Kafka and that is because well, language eludes me when I try to describe a perfume and, secondly, English still sounds so “borrowed,” “ventriloquified” to my mind that I just cannot grasp it. So yes, it is not only a problem of me trying clumsily to explain a perfume, it is also me trying to write coherently in English, a problem I havent gotten used to despite the years I have been living in NYC :/
    That is my SL’s perfumes update.
    Have a wonderful week.

    • I loved your descriptions, my dear, so thank you for taking the time. And, please, don’t worry at all about your English, as I would never have guessed it wasn’t your main language. 🙂

      I’m thrilled that both fragrances worked out so well for you, but I’m especially happy about Fourreau Noir. The only question is: now what? If you’re on Facebook, perhaps you can join the perfume group, Facebook Fragrance Friends, as there is a French-based member who is splitting the bottle into decants.

      • In response to ‘wefadetogray’…. Oh yes, DO sign up for the Fourreau Noir Split !! We are almost at a full bottle. We just need one more person to bring it on Home!!!!!

      • You are too kind.
        I am a facebookless person but thanks for considering me for the splitting. I already sent a non-subliminal message to someone for Valentine’s day 😉 No respect!

        • When it comes to Fourreau Noir, may I suggest some bold neon signs? If that fails, perhaps a clubbing to the head if they don’t get their tush to Barney’s immediately? 😉 😛

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  18. Managed to get a sample of it.
    Comforting and soothing scent to me.
    Wonder if it’s just my skin, it does not last on me. It’s the same with Chergui.

    • I’m very sorry to hear that. How much are you applying, and are you spraying or dabbing? For some people, the Lutens line somehow seems to be a soft thing in general. I suppose it’s a question of skin chemistry. They aren’t opaque, dense and thick fragrances like those of Profumum, but for a few people, their skin eats up Lutens fragrances. Let me know how much you’re applying and the method. Perhaps doubling the dose and spraying might help?

      • Around 4 sprays. Maybe I should try increasing (but will go through them at a faster rate ha).
        Ya Profumum (Ambra Aurea) is dense, thick and lasting!
        BTW any idea if they have a scent that is similar to Fourreau Noir?
        Am thinking of getting Fiore d’Ambra or another scent from them.

        • If you’re using 4 sprays and it’s still not lasting long on you, it may be a lost cause, alas. Exactly how much time does it last before you can’t smell anything with even your nose on your arm/skin?

          Profumum doesn’t have anything like Fourreau Noir, but it has a super patchouli with amber called Patchouly. Gorgeous patchouli opening, then it segues into Ambra Aurea mixed in with patchouli. And for hardcore amber centered primarily on ambergris, you’ve obviously realised that you can’t do better than Ambra Aurea. It’s my favorite from the line, so I’m glad that you like it too. Fiore d’Ambra is nice as well. A new favorite of mine is Antico Caruso. Hopefully, some of those names will be a place for you to start and to look further into the line.

          • I normally do 3 spritzes at the base of the neck (left, right and center) near the collar bone and 1 spritz on the chest.
            I would say 6-7 hours and I can’t smell it.

            Wonder how patchouli smell like (just starting to learn more about fragrance).

            1 thing I discovered about Ambra Aurea is it can really stain your clothes.
            Tried a sample of Fiore d’Ambra. I like the cola smell in the initial stage. It is very soothing once it settles down.
            Oh Antico Caruso. Will read more about it.

          • You should try spraying on your arm, just for a scientific test, to see how long you smell it for. After all, you can’t smell your own neck after 7 hours, lol. Still, that doesn’t solve your problem if you always spray your fragrances in the neck and chest area. I suspect Fourreau Noir may still be there, but it’s a skin scent.

            Patchouli is a note that you’ve probably experienced in a lot of other fragrances. The true kind of patchouli is like the one in Fourreau Noir, it’s brown-red, spicy, slightly smoky, woody with tobacco and leather undertones. It can have a green mentholated side, or it can also have a chocolate nuance. However, in many modern fragrances, the kind of patchouli that shows up is a very fruity, purple, jammy kind, like grape or fruit molasses, and it’s frequently paired with roses to create a super-rich, jammy rose. Any fragrance where there is patchouli with rose (Malle’s Portrait of a Lady, many Montale ouds, Puredistance Black, Tom Ford’s Cafe Rose, and a vast majority of rose fragrances on the market today) have a purple patchouli note where it is syrupy, fruited sweetness. That is not the original, true patchouli note that I love so much.

            The real patchouli is at the heart of Chanel’s stunning Coromandel (Les Exclusifs Collection), but also in fragrances like Parfumerie Generale’s Coze, and even in Roja Dove’s Danger. Coromandel is one of my favorite fragrances, but I also love Coze. I strongly recommend the latter if you want a really good, dark, spicy, smoky, woody fragrance. Look up the review and try to get a sample. It’s a fantastic scent, and a favorite with a lot of men (and women who love bold orientals).

  19. Will try spraying on my arms to see how long it really last.

    Oh Fourreau Noir has patchouli. WIll try to identify it base on the descriptions.

    Ok will look up on Coze.

  20. Does the bell jar comes with a spray extension?

    Am deciding whether to order the 30ml spray bottles now or get the bell jar during my Paris trip in Sep.

    • No, none of the bell jars come with spray extensions, atomizers or anything else. Most people with bell jars decant a portion of the fragrance into a separate, smaller atomizer for more practical or daily use. I hope that helps.

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