Louis Vuitton Parfums: Matiere Noire, Turbulences & Contre Moi

The Louis Vuitton Parfums collection. Source: nymag.com via Louis Vuitton. [Photo lightly cropped on top by me.]

The Louis Vuitton Parfums collection. Source: nymag.com via Louis Vuitton. [The photo’s white top portion has been lightly cropped by me.]

Louis Vuitton has re-entered the perfume world, almost 90 years since its first fragrance and 70 years since its last. This month, the luxury goods giant launched Les Parfums de Louis Vuitton, a collection of seven fragrances. Each one is an eau de parfum that was created by Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, a Firmenich nose who made Acqua di Gio, L’Eau d’Issey, and Lancome‘s Poeme.

Today, I’ll look at three of the new fragrances, Matière Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi. In the next post, I’ll cover Mille Feux and Dans La Peau. So, let’s get straight to it.

MATIERE NOIRE:

Matiere Noire bottle via us.louisvuitton.com

Matiere Noire bottle via us.louisvuitton.com

On its American website, Louis Vuitton describes Matière Noire as follows:

A blend of dark wood and white flowers ventures into a world of mystery[.]
Exploring the universe is the ultimate travel fantasy and most thrilling adventure. Matière Noire plumbs intangible depths with a journey through the darkest, most precious woods, namely patchouli and Laos agarwood. The agarwood’s animal notes are intensified by blackcurrant and contrasted with the whiteness of narcissus and jasmine, a floral vibration that cuts the darkness like a comet. Plumes of sacred notes unfurl on the skin. The disruption is total, almost mystical.

Cyclamens via fr.wikipedia.org

Cyclamens via fr.wikipedia.org

The “Detailed Features” section on that page elaborates further and also adds to the note list. One new mention — cyclamen — is very prominent on my skin. Cyclamen is typically a synthetic fantasy representation of a flower that a lot of people say has no actual scent in nature. The fantasy aroma is an extremely fresh, aquatic, clean, and translucent floralcy. When we combine the additional notes listed in the Detailed Features section with the ones mentioned in LV’s description, the full note list for Matiere Noire is:

Laotian Oud, Blackcurrant, Narcissus, Jasmine sambac, Rose Centifolia [Cabbage Rose or Rose de Mai], Cyclamen, Patchouli, and Incense.

Cassis. Source: ornamental-trees.co.uk

Cassis. Source: ornamental-trees.co.uk

Matiere Noire opens on my skin with a profusion of berries, thanks to fruity patchouli (fruitchouli) mixed with an initially light, small quantity of blackcurrant (cassis). Following on their heels is the cyclamen’s fresh, clean, watery, and thin floralcy, and then the stronger strains of narcissus in all its many facets. In fact, the narcissus ends up being one of the three main notes for almost the entirety of Matiere Noire’s lifetime on my skin, not the oud which practically never shows up. If it’s actually there, it is either fully subsumed within the main floral note or else it’s a minor, tiny dose of some synthetic that has little to none of the properties of genuine, real agarwood except for a passing smokiness.

Narcissus via flowerspictures.org

Narcissus via flowerspictures.org

It’s become clear to me after reading several descriptions of Matiere Noire in mainstream fashion magazines that some people don’t know the scent of narcissus or its range, and they are erroneously confusing it with oud or patchouli as a result. In light of that and of the importance of the narcissus on my skin, let me take a few minutes to explain its olfactory profile because all of its many facets are on display here.

Narcissus is related to daffodils, but I find its scent much goes further, isn’t quite so Spring-like or delicate in feel, and can be much more intense, even stinky at times. It often smells of: bitter astringent greenness, dry hay, dry floralcy, rotting vegetation, vegetal muskiness, damp earth, and indolic skankiness. It can also have undertones of grass, minty herbs, incense, rubberiness, and even smoky, gasoline-like vibes at times. Perfumer Ayala Moriel once explained on her blog, Smelly Thoughts (in a section that now seems to have been deleted): “If not handled deftly, narcissus absolute can take on rotting, indolic, and/or smoky undertones, similar to that which may come, respectively, from: hawthorn; an indolic flower like ylang-ylang; or smoky styrax resin.”

Source: thedaffodilsociety.com

Source: thedaffodilsociety.com

The narcissus in Matiere Noire smells like all of that, but what is highlighted in particular is the dry, practically desiccated hay, the astringent green floralcy, the smoky gassiness, the gasoline or diesel-like smokiness, and the hawthorn-like aromas. The latter bears the scent of rotting, decomposing vegetation layered with earthiness, skanky muskiness, and a vague, amorphous woodiness.

While genuine oud can have similar attributes, they smell differently to my nose. It’s not the sort of earthiness, muskiness, smokiness, or dryness that is manifested here. I know what Laotian agarwood smells like and that is not what appears at any point on my skin when I wear Matiere Noire. There is no blue cheese or creamy gorgonzola; no barnyard, leatheriness, resinousness, mushroom, or stinky tofu aromas; no spiciness, tarriness or phenolic elements; and a completely different type of smokiness and muskiness. By the same token, any earthiness, rubberiness, smokiness, or woodiness that appears in Matiere Noire seems to be of the narcissus variety to my nose, not the patchouli kind.

On my skin, it is unquestionably the narcissus that reigns supreme in Matiere Noire, followed by berried fruitiness. Any actual, genuine agarwood that may allegedly exist in this fragrance (colour me highly skeptical) is so hidden within the main note that, to all intents and purposes, it’s practically irrelevant. The significance of that for you is that, if you’re expecting an oud fragrance, I suggest that you temper your expectations by a considerable degree. If that’s what you’re anticipating after reading the note list, I’m not sure how you’ll respond, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with narcissus in all its facets, or even cyclamens.

"Water Fountain Abstract 13" by Ed Weidman on Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Water Fountain Abstract 13” by Ed Weidman on Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Matiere Noire transitions quite quickly away from its opening bouquet of aquatic, clean cyclamen flowers layered with fruity floral, almost rose-like, red berries to one that is predominantly narcissus driven. It takes mere minutes. The narcissus is wrapped up with tendrils of the other elements. If I had to estimate the breakdown of notes, I’d say at least 75% of the bouquet consisted of the dry, musky, bitter green, hay-like, smoky, very gaseous and vegetal aromas of the narcissus. The remaining 25% would be, in order of importance and strength, the cassis, the cyclamen, and the fruitchouli.

It’s a sheer, almost vaporous bouquet that flits about like a fragile butterfly, strong in aroma up close but insubstantial in body and weight. Its opening projection is roughly about 3 inches, while the sillage is decent at about 6 inches, though neither number stays there for long.

All the Louis Vuitton fragrances that I’ve tried have been wispy, gauzy vapours with an extremely basic, simplistic, and linear character. Each one seems to focus on three notes, and they rarely change during the fragrance’s development. There is almost no complexity at all. None whatsoever. And there aren’t a ton of nuances, either, although the various facets of the narcissus make Matiere Noire one of fragrance with fractionally more undertones than the rest. But all these fragrances follow the Jean-Claude Ellena or Jo Malone school of minimalism, focusing on only a handful of notes and giving them the most insubstantial treatment possible. The less important notes typically weaken in strength or prominence after 90-120 minutes (sometimes less), the fragrance turns wispy and elusive, but the general gist of the scent remains the same from start to finish.

Source: dreamstime.com

Source: dreamstime.com

It’s the same story with Matiere Noire. After 75 minutes, it smells the same as what I described up above, except it feels even simpler than before: vegetal, dry hay, musky narcissus with red berried fruits and fresh, watery, translucent cyclamen, all in a tissue-thin bouquet. It also takes 75 minutes for the opening sillage and projection numbers to drop even further: a mere 1 inch of projection, maybe 1.5 at best, and about 3 inches of sillage. Matiere Noire turns into a skin scent 2.75 hours into its evolution.

By the middle of the 3rd hour, Matiere Noire is mostly a fruity floral centered on cassis, cyclamen, and something vaguely rose-y-ish. Wisps of narcissus linger at the edges, smelling primarily of parched, bleached hay with a bit of smokiness. The fragrance felt as though it were about to die at the 3.5 hour mark, but it lingered on as a sliver on the skin for a bit longer. In its final moments, it’s merely a sweet, sugary powderiness that vaguely floral and clean in nature. In total, Matiere Noire last just a hair over 6 hours.

Fashion magazine editors seem to really like Matiere Noire out of the seven Louis Vuitton fragrances, and a number cited it as their second favourite. I was significantly less impressed. It’s not terrible, but perhaps you have to be a hardcore narcissus lover or fan of fruity-florals to become excited about it.

On Matiere Noire’s Fragrantica page, reviews are mixed, although some of that seems to stem from the “premature death” of the fragrance, as one person put it. I’ll let you read the comments for yourself if you’re interested since I have two other Louis Vuitton fragrances to cover.

TURBULENCES:

Turbulences. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

Turbulences. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

Most descriptions of the Louis Vuitton collection that I have read single out Turbulences as the best of the lot, and I would tend to agree. However, like many of the writers, I am a tuberose lover and that makes a big difference. You’re bound to feel quite differently if you are not.

On its U.S. website, Louis Vuitton describes Turbulences as follows:

An extreme tuberose to stir the heart[.]
Discovering faraway lands can sometimes feel like soaring among the clouds. Inspired by a feeling akin to love at first sight, the perfume Turbulences pays tribute to the most narcotic of flowers: the tuberose. Here, it fuses with the most precious petals of jasmine. A light touch of leather, and you swoon. Intensely. Deliciously.

Once again, the Detailed Features section on the page elaborates and adds to the notes. When combining that with the description quoted above, the complete note list for Turbulences looks more like this:

Tuberose, Jasmin grandiflorum, Jasmine Sambac Absolute, May rose [Rose Centifolia], and Leather.

I was surprised to read a claim in New York Magazine‘s feature article on the seven new Louis Vuitton fragrances that Turbulences doesn’t actually contain any tuberose:

It’s described as a tuberose but, unlike Fracas, the queen of all tuberose scents, this one doesn’t actually contain any tuberose. It also doesn’t have the fleshy, carnal quality of Fracas and smells like a gentle mix of orange flower,  jasmine, and magnolia. [Emphasis added by me.]

On my skin, Turbulences definitely and unquestionably smells of tuberose, albeit one infused with a surprising, unexpected gardenia note. Not magnolia with its sometimes lemony creaminess, but gardenia. Tuberose’s aroma is occasionally described as being midway between that of gardenia and jasmine, with a few facets similar to each, so that may be one possible explanation.

Tuberose. Source: Fragrantica.de

Tuberose. Source: Fragrantica.de

Turbulences opens with tuberose that smells fresh, sweet, green-white, cool, almost clean, and with the wonderful crystalline liquidity that the real flower possesses. At the same time, though, it is also creamy, softly mushroomy, lightly indolic, and lightly camphorous.

Tuberose absolute can definitely have mushroomy undertones, but the ones here smell far more like gardenia to me, perhaps because of the beautiful creaminess that is at play. Either way, this treatment of tuberose is much less narcotic, heady, and intense than the real thing, although there are still enough of the really beautiful aspects of the flower, even in this light, rather diluted form, to be striking. Having said that, if you’re either hoping for or dreading a fragrance like Fracas, this is not it. Not by a long shot.

Jasmine Sambac. Source: flowallp.com

Jasmine Sambac. Source: flowallp.com

Other flowers hover about as well. Within minutes, the sweet refrains of jasmine appear, but its sweetness goes beyond the usual syrupiness and feels practically candied, as though the jasmine had been coated with vanilla sugar. The sugariness cuts through the tuberose’s lightness, freshness, and sweetness as the two flowers circle around each other, but the tuberose always comes out ahead. In the furthest reaches of the background, a solitary rose looks on from the shadows, occasionally fluttering her petals and sending out tremulous vapors of soft, sweet, pale pink cabbage roses. As a whole, Turbulences’ opening bouquet of flowers is dominated, in order of strength, by tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, and rose. It is simultaneously liquidy, mushroomy, creamy, candied, sugared, green, floral, fresh, and lightly indolic.

Gardenia. Photo: My own.

Gardenia. Photo: My own.

Roughly 30 minutes in, the tuberose takes over completely, a queen ruling from her throne, and everything else becomes a mere supplicant at her feet. The gardenia-like creaminess and mushroom aromas become stronger than ever. The sugary, syrupy jasmine retreats to the distant background where it joins the increasingly elusive and wimpy rose. A clean white musk takes the jasmine’s old place on center stage. Turbulences is now a tuberose soliflore with gardenia-like facets and clean white musk. That’s it, and that’s how it remains until its very end.

Turbulences was as vaporous as Matiere Noire and had similar numbers for projection, sillage, and longevity. It opened with roughly 2 to 2.5 inches of projection, and about 5 inches of scent trail. It’s a gossamer thin, sheer cloud that is noticeable but discreet at the same time. After 30 minutes, the projection drops to about 1.5 to 2 inches, while the sillage is about 4 inches. Turbulences became a skin scent at the 3.5 hour mark, and lasted 6.25 hours in total. It was a nice scent throughout all that time, nothing distinctive, earth shattering, original, or compelling, but pleasant to wear and moderately refined in feel.

For other reviews and scent experiences, you can turn to Turbulences’ Fragrantica page.

CONTRE MOI:

Contre Moi. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

Contre Moi. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

I really looked forward to trying Contre Moi after reading Louis Vuitton’s description on its website:

An unexpected vanilla in a fusional embrace[.]
Contre Moi evokes the fusion of two travelers. A sensual outpouring that lets emotions rush to the surface. Ever fascinated by vanilla, Master Perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud transports it to uncharted territory by giving it unprecedented freshness. Madagascar and Tahitensis vanilla blend in a delicate tulle of orange flower, rose and magnolia petals. A subtle touch of bitter cocoa reaffirms the perfume’s rebellious temperament.

Once again, the “Detailed Features” section provides more specifics, like the three different types of vanilla that were used and the inclusion of ambrette seeds. When those details are added to the cocoa referenced in the description above, the complete note list for Contre Moi looks something like this:

Madagascar vanilla infusion, Madagascar vanilla essence, Tahitian vanilla, Orange Blossom, Rose centifolia [Rose de Mai or cabbage rose], Magnolia essence, Ambrette Seeds & Cocoa.

Photo: Louise at her blog, Lick That Spoon. (Direct website link to site and recipe for sugared roses is embedded within.)

Photo: Louise at her blog, Lick That Spoon. (Direct website link to site and recipe for sugared roses is embedded within.)

Contre Moi opens on my skin with vanilla laced with roses. Flickers of orange blossom appear on the sidelines after a few minutes, but the scent from afar is primarily candied, saccharine-sweet vanilla festooned with a few pale pink rose petals.

Roughly 20-25 minutes in, clean and sugary white musk joins the party, and that clinches it. I’ve smelt this scent before. In fact, many, many, many times before, so much so that I can’t single out a particular fragrance. Most of the similar compositions are designer scents and, while Contre Moi has fractionally better quality, it’s only fractional. It’s in the same universe as the heavily candied, vanilla florals done by Dominique Ropion, the king of department store fragrances, for Viktor & Rolf (Flowerbomb), Lancome (La Vie est Belle), or one of their slew of flankers. In the niche field, Contre Moi feels like a cousin to things he’s made for A Lab on Fire (like Mon Musc à Moi) and for the overpriced, pseudo-niche brand, Orlov.

Source: LOreal.com

Source: LOreal.com

Out of the lot, Contre Moi reminds me most of Flowerbomb with some Prada Candy and Mon Musc à Moi tossed in. It’s as redundant and by-the-numbers as you can get. Go to any Sephora, Macy’s, or TJ Maxx, and you’ll find something extremely similar but for a much lower price. I concede that the white musk is softer, lighter, and less egregious than the amounts that someone like Ropion uses in his dizzying number of La Vie est Belle and Flowerbomb flankers, but it is purely relative. Given Contre Moi’s much higher price as compared to the floral vanilla musks in the mall, that minimal improvement is the very least that one can ask, in my opinion.

Other than price, perhaps the greatest difference between the two types of scent is that Contre Moi is extremely soft and discreet on the skin. Perhaps it’s the lighter hand with the musk which is always a major amplifier of sillage and longevity (one reason why it is so common in modern fragrances), but the more likely reason is that Louis Vuitton equates discreetness with sophistication. (Given the obviousness, trashiness, and loudness of some of their handbags in recent years, this would be a new state of mind for the company, if you ask me.) Unlike some of their in-your-face, gaudier branding, Contre Moi’s floral candy is only strong when smelt up close and in the first hour. But, when the scent is taken as a whole and smelt from afar, it practically amounts to a few vapors.

Pink candy floss or cotton candy. Source: Favim.com.

Pink candy floss or cotton candy. Source: Favim.com.

Like all the other Louis Vuitton fragrances, Contre Moi is simple and doesn’t change much throughout its lifetime. Roughly 20-25 minutes in, the orange blossom joins the vanilla, clean musk, and rose on center stage, and begins to slowly push the other flower to the edges. The rose gives way for a short time, then returns, before receding once again. It’s a back-and-forth dance that continues for a while. At the same time as this is happening, the vanilla’s sweetness amps up, turning into pure saccharine, and the white musk grows louder as well. Have I mentioned Flowerbomb lately? The vibe grows even stronger at the end of the first hour with the mix of sugared candy floss vanilla, sugared musk, and sugared florals. The notes are not only beginning to overlap and they’re also losing their individual character beyond the basics like floralcy or sugariness, especially if I’m smelling Contre Moi on the scent trail in the air around me. By the middle of the second hour, Contre Moi is synthetic, sugared vanilla cotton candy infused with a vaguely rose-ish floralcy and a totally hideous blob of fruited syrup that is the remnants of the orange blossom, all blanketed by a thick layer of fresh, clean white musk. I find it horrifying.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

Contre Moi’s drydown begins roughly at the end of the 3rd hour, and it’s an improvement, at least in so far as the sugar has stopped making my teeth hurt, the clean musk is no longer giving me a pounding headache, everything is slightly better modulated at more normal levels, and the end is clearly (blessedly) near. The vanilla continues to be intensely candied and the musk is still strong, but at least the completely abstract, shapeless, unidentifiable floralcy has an enjoyable touch of velvety plush softness to it as well. It’s almost like a sliver of quasi-magnolia-ish creaminess, but it’s difficult to identify the note specifically given how thin, wispy, translucent, and quiet the fragrance is on my skin. In its final hour or two, Contre Moi is nothing more than sugary sweetness with cleanness.

The numbers for Contre Moi are basically the same as for the other two fragrances, only a shade lower. The opening projection was about 2 to 2.5 inches, and the sillage extended 3-4 inches. Both dropped after a mere 35 minutes to about 1.5 inches and 2-3 inches, respectively. Contre Moi became a skin scent after 3 hours, and lasted just a hair over 6 hours in total.

For other reviews and scent experiences, you can turn to Fragrantica.

ALL IN ALL:

I kept my expectations low going into my LV tests, but I have to say, I didn’t expect compositions that were quite so simplistic, wispy, linear, short-lived, mainstream, and commercial in nature. At the very best, and in the most generous interpretation, they’re like a mash-up of Hermes and Maison Francis Kurkdjian in style and aesthetic — from the sheerness of one to the fresh cleanness (and musk deluge) of the other. At other times, I thought a lot of Jo Malone.

All three brands are a perfect parallel for the audience that I think Louis Vuitton is targeting. A Reuters article on the LV launch claims that the move to perfumery is part of the company’s attempt to appeal to “middle-income shoppers amid a downturn in luxury spending” because, until now, “shoppers on more modest incomes have only been catered for by Louis Vuitton’s key chains and very small leather goods, costing around 200-300 euros apiece.” The article added that the company needed “to boost sales growth after a sharp slowdown in the past three years,” and that perfume “has been more resilient to the industry downturn than some parts of the luxury market.”

In my opinion, Louis Vuitton is targeting this specific group, and not hardcore niche perfumistas or true luxury perfume buyers, and that’s why the fragrances all smell as they do: completely familiar, basic, safe, and banal. It’s also why the collection marks off the conventional genres like a check list, focusing on popular notes or even copying the hot designer bestsellers — be it candied floral vanillas like Flowerbomb or, as you will see in the next review when I cover Mille Feux, Tom Ford’s popular Tuscan Leather. The only difference here between a Flowerbomb or Tuscan Leather is there is an extra patina of exclusivity and luxury to the LV name that will appeal to the corporate or social type who would otherwise buy their sheer, soft, fresh, clean, and discreet scents from Hermes, MFK, or even Kilian. The real luxury buyers would go elsewhere, like Roja Dove or Clive Christian. The ones who want big, bold, powerhouse scents would go to Tom Ford or Xerjoff. And the hardcore niche lover would seek something interesting or with a twist, perhaps from Serge Lutens or SHL 777. Louis Vuitton is basically going after the Jo Malone fan who wants a more prestigious name on the label, and that’s it.

In the case of Contre Moi, I don’t think the scent has luxury quality, not as we know it in the niche world, and certainly nothing approaching an interesting take on vanilla. It’s wanna-be quality done in a complete regurgitation of other fragrances, but it’s disguised as something rarefied, exclusive, and unique, and then given a high price. That may be capitalism, but it doesn’t mean it’s not cynical and irritating nonetheless.

The cheapest size option, the refill minis for $130. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

The cheapest size option, the refill minis for $130. Source: us.louisvuitton.com

I would be much less annoyed if the LV releases were not such insubstantial, wispy, things with an iffy longevity. When I smear on the equivalent of two big sprays from a bottle, I’m not going to be happy when the scent drops in sillage and projection after a mere 35 minutes, it feels close to dying at the 3 hour mark, and I have to keep my nose right on the actual skin to detect its existence. And I’m most certainly not going to be happy when all that comes with a $240, €200, or £180 price tag a bottle. True, there are mini refills that are more reasonable in price at $130, €110, or £100 for a total quantity of 1 oz or 30 ml, but that doesn’t change the fact that longevity and sillage are weak across the LV line as compared to comparable scents from other brands.

[UPDATE 9/12: A reader, Yinghao, kindly informed me that the $240 travel dispenser is necessary to use all the refills, including the cheaper ones. From what one of the LV sales assistants showed her, she says that the travel spray’s internal mechanism must be used and that it’s “impractical” to use the refills by themselves. I haven’t seen them in person, but it sounds as though LV has designed the refill minis in a way that forces you to buy the travel set first, removing the cheaper option as way for you to get around their pricing scheme.]

I suppose I should be relieved that I didn’t experience the 1-hour lifespan for any of these fragrances that someone on Fragrantica did with Mille Feux, but still, my numbers were not great for the price in question. Am I supposed to drown myself in Matiere Noire in order to be able to detect it without effort after 2.75 hours? If I’m using tiny little refill decants to keep prices affordable, that would go through them quickly, and if I’m paying $240 for a full bottle, then I expect better. Not even Hermes has such iffy longevity and presence on my skin, and MFK certainly doesn’t. But it’s a lot like Jo Malone, and that’s not a positive in my eyes.

Source: voyageenbeaute.com

Source: voyageenbeaute.com

What does Louis Vuitton really bring to the table that these other brands do not? I’ve already discussed what Contre Moi resembles in my opinion, but the other two compositions have been done much better elsewhere with better longevity, sillage, and frequently a better price as well. MFK has done a narcissus, fruity, rose and patchouli scent with Lumiere Noire Pour FemmePenhaligon‘s has a much cheaper and significantly more appealing daffodil, narcissus, cassis one with Duchaufour’s radiant Ostara. Both of those fragrances cost less than Matiere Noire and last longer. Ostara may be discontinued, but you can still find it easily. Beautyspin has a large 100 ml bottle for only $86. Compare that to the $240 for similarly sized bottle of Matiere Noire. (For some strange reason, the LV travel spray and refills are the same price as a 100 ml bottle, even though they only amount to 30 ml in total. I guess they think the travel dispenser is worth it. Hmph.)

Dusita Melodie de L'Amour. Source: Parfums Dusita. [Photo lightly cropped by me.]

Dusita Melodie de L’Amour. Source: Parfums Dusita. [Photo lightly cropped by me.]

As for Turbulences, if you want a luxury treatment of tuberose and white flowers, Dusita‘s Melodie de L’Amour can’t be beaten for its opulent, radiant, head-spinning, dazzling opening which transitions over time to the same sort of clean white floralcy that marks the LV scent. Yes, it’s more expensive at $295, but it’s a pure parfum and if you’re seeking actual luxury, that is the way to go. It’s got top-notch materials, has a distinctive character, and genuinely stands out from the mass of white florals out there. Otherwise, why not just buy a white floral from Tocca and be done with it? Florence is very pretty, clean, fresh, green-white tuberose, jasmine, and gardenia scent that only costs $68 a bottle. (And it lasts longer than Turbulences, too.)

So, in my opinion, if the point of buying one of these LV fragrances is its quality, exclusivity, and purported luxuriousness, you can do better elsewhere with authentically niche fragrances that smell and perform much better, often for less. If the point is the prettiness of the smell, then you can buy something similar for less elsewhere as well, this time in the mainstream world. Even with my extremely low expectations coming in, I’m simply not swayed by anything that I’ve smelt from Louis Vuitton.

Perhaps you’ll fare better and the fragrances won’t be so disappointing, generic, and boring on your skin, so if any of the three tempt you, then you should give them a try for yourself. It’s a total pass for me.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Matiere Noire, Turbulences and Contre Moi are eau de parfums that are exclusive to Louis Vuitton stores and its website. They each come in a variety of sizes and prices, starting at $130, €110, or £100 for the refill minis (4 x 7.5 ml for a total of 30 ml or 1 oz). After that, it’s $240, €200, or £180 for the travel spray (same size minis for a total of 30 ml), but also the same exact price for the much larger amount of 100 ml/ 3.4 oz in a full bottle. Finally, the 200 ml/6.8 oz bottle costs $350, €300, or £270. At the time of this post, the U.S. Louis Vuitton website is sold out of the cheaper $130 option for several of the fragrances, including Turbulences and Contre Moi. For the U.S. site, the direct links are: Matiere Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi. For U.K readers, the direct links are: Matiere Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi. For other international readers, the following links go to the general fragrance section on the Canadian, French, Italian, German, and Australian sites. There are also LV websites for Spain, Russia, Brasil, and some countries in Asia, as well as one Middle Eastern one. Go to the bottom of any LV page, click on Location on the left, and you’ll find the one for your area. As a side note, the International or EU website lists each fragrance but does not permit you to purchase online. It says to call for information. Also, just to let you know, at the time of this posting, the cheaper €100 refill option is not sold out on several of the European sites that I looked at. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells samples of five of the LV fragrances, including the three covered here today. The price for each one starts at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. The links are: Matiere Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi.

24 thoughts on “Louis Vuitton Parfums: Matiere Noire, Turbulences & Contre Moi

    • LOL! According to Reuters, they made too many bags and shoes, and at too high a price, hence a money-maker like a perfume collection. Which fragrance or what overall aspects disappointed you most, Mark? (BTW, it’s nice to see you again. I hope you had an enjoyable summer.)

      • I must say LV makes top quality shoes. In fact my dad has one pair bought it 5 years ago and they look like new. Talking about the subject… their line is totally generic and uninteresting. Im sure they entered that market to cover more clients’ desire. Thats why they started making cloths as well. Btw i now use Amouage Myths Man. I really like that in russian cold weather. This summer i was in India, mostly in Mumbai. Spent there 2 months. Im glad u remember me my dear ;)))

        • Of course I remember you, Mark! I thought of you when I heard about the new Russian Roja Doves, Oligarch and Karenina, and I also wondered if you were still enjoying your Soleil de Jeddah. Two months in India sounds glorious!! It’s one of my favourite places in the world from the beauty and majesty of the ancient structures in the provinces to the vibrancy and high-octane life of Mumbai. Only Delhi leaves me a bit cold, although it did have one fantastic restaurant whose naans and Aloo Parathas I recall to this day. 🙂

  1. I had a feeling the LV fragrances would be just as you described. I won’t even bother to sample any of them. Plus, I already have enough perfumes (new and old) to sustain 100 people for the next 20 years. Thanks for the reviews.

  2. Glad I read this. I do notice people liking and wearing the watery floral all the time.They seem toned down and boring to me. The dry hay narcissus was very interesting to learn about. Yes, Penhalogin’s Ostra wasn’t bad, and it is discontinued . I subscribe to them, so I get email’s when they have sales. They were getting rid of it for , I believe $26 or $29. I tried to get a few bottles, but they sold out almost immediately . They would have made lovely presents for the holidays. I did get some deals on the 30 mil bottles from their line. Fan of SL and the likes. I just picked up Regio from Beauty Spin and a sample of Creed’s Adventus. It’s a first time with BeautySpin. I did have a problem with the PayPal link, so I went with the card. Xerjoff has the 30 mil bottles now. Had to go for it. Regio smells good on me. Let you know about the experience. I haven’t had one problem at all with Fragrancenet. Picked up some Amouage too along with the SL’s Arabi . Love the money saved and the experience . So a big thank you for pointing them out to us. Yes, LVMHF is having some problems . M is over their in China with BABA. The lower Euro should have helped them out, but with the problems they were having in Europe , attacks , Brexit and what not ,they had a slight turned down in tourism . Recent new auto sales over there were good though. Fingers crossed . Is the new 20/30 something Chinese customer wanting Prada? Don’t know, but we shall see. Always thank you for the great articles Kaf. Sorry about the rambling. Eddie .

    • As a maybe ‘less typical’ Chinese customer, I would tend to guess yes, Prada or LV might stil attract a bunch new-moneys in a few years, but not long, just solely by the names, given that more often than not, LV bags have been particularly labelled and associated with ‘upstart taste’ for ages! And the mass perfume customers in China are either Sephora/dpt store visitors, or niche house frenetics. Its highly unlikely nor alike in the west, that a LV shopper will stop by or linger to purchase a LV fragrance meanwhile as he/she is shopping a wallet or purse. They go straight up to Chanel, Dior or just Sephora for perfumes, or they search for Lutens, Amouage, L’artisan or MFK online and maybe never bother(or even disparage) checking LV out!
      Different markets and not similar consuming mindsets, LV would probably find it even harder to bail the money out of customers’pockets in the near future, specially when Chinese new moneys are lurking around something more niche-ish, not just Roja Dove or Nicolai, but also niche bags, cars and vacation resorts!

      • Good reply and thank you. Interesting reads concerning this; qz.com , Quartz, ” A Spending Freeze by High Rolling Chinese Tourists is Scaring the Luxury Industry ” Another article you can look up is ” Chinese Tourists Shun Western Europe in Wake of Violence to France ” . http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1002364.shtml .What I was ” Mainly” thinking about though is how the younger generation will take to this travel and spending with the likes of BABA and Macy’s joining together along with others. Yes, LVMH owns much of what Macy’s sells, but will they take to Prada among others. Is traditional China still intact ? China buys tons of luxury goods.

      • Welcome to the blog, Haoran L, and thank you for the “eye on the ground” (so to speak) regarding Chinese consumer interests, shopping mindsets, and the sorts of brands they gravitate to. I found it extremely interesting. 🙂

    • Eddie, I’m so pleased to hear that FragranceNet has been such a positive, successful experience for you. Is there anything better than getting good perfume at a major savings and discount? 😀 😀 I’m a sucker for bargains, so I’m always happy to pass along the tips to others.

  3. I’m actually sorry about these as I was hoping that there might be a recognizable magnolia note in one or two of these. Well, not really sorry as the price tag would preclude my buying any of them.
    I’ve noticed that on almost every fragrance strip I’ve sniffed in magazines they all seem to smell alike, and I’m not impressed. I wish I could afford Ambra Aurea or F’iore de Ambra. (sp?), The problem would be that I couldn’t decide between the two. Now there would be money well spent as far as I’m concerned.
    Thanks for the review. I LOVE knowing what not to bother about.

    • You’re very welcome, my dear. Regarding the two Profumum ambers, my suggestion would be to get a large decant from a splitter in one of the FB perfume groups or via one of the Basenotes splitters. 30 ml of Ambra Aurea would last you ages, and would probably be quite affordable on a “per ml” basis.

    • First, welcome to the blog, Rita. 🙂 Second, regarding the fragrances, they weren’t actually hideous or terrible. I’ve smelt far, far worse — fragrances that I was dying to scrub or that triggered really horrible physical reactions with all their Norlimbanol, Amber Xtreme, ISO E Super, or other chemical horrors. These LV ones were simply incredibly ho-hum, boring to wear, and depressingly generic. Bland copies of much better fragrances. Given how many fragrances have pushed me to the point of scrubbing in the last few years, review or no review, these were quite bearable. lol 😀 Anyway, welcome to the blog. I hope you’ll feel free to pop by again some time.

  4. Their handbags are boring as well, so I am not surprised. On the other hand, Jacques Cavallier made some good perfumes (imo, maybe not for your critical nose, Kafka).
    I know it got bad critics, but I Like Poême.

  5. Thank you Kafka for this review! I happen to have sniffed the entire collection and tested four on my skin thus far, among which three are those you reviewed here, the last one being Dans La Peau. I totally agree with you that the entire collection seems like a strategical move in marketing and sale than a true interest in bringing something new to the industry. I approached them expecting something like By Kilian Oeuvre Noire collection – ticking different notes du jour to appeal as many as possible, and that’s exactly what I got, plus the “sheerness equals elegance” strategy. Sometimes when I’m being cynical, I wonder if it’s all a conspiracy that in the mainstream section, they’re making the fragrances loudest and trashiest possible, so that we’re conditioned to think that sheerness is chic and elegant, then they can get away with these lazy, “simplistic” fragrances charged even higher. It’s certainly not as simple as that, but when the SA was telling me how luxurious these fragrances are, half of me inside my head wanted to laugh, and the other half felt kind of melancholy. 🙁

    Out of the three, I was most baffled by Contre Moi. When wearing it on my skin, I too had a myriad of vanilla fragrances popping into my head. The scent itself is ok to me, if it’s sold as a mainstream fragrance at a much lower price. But at this price, with such simple and plain vanilla and the lazy treatment of sheerness, that’s not cool at all.

    As for Matière Noire, I’m really surprised reading about your experience with a prominent narcissus note, probably because I didn’t get much hay on my skin, one of the key aspect that I associate with narcissus. Instead, I get quite a lot of cassis-berry-rose-fruitchouli, and again with a lazy sheerness. I also catched a very brief rubbery note in the very opening, which I suppose was what they intended as oud, but it’s gone in tens of seconds.

    However, Turbulences really surprised me and I loved it. Although I love tuberose, I initially kept my expectation really low, thinking it would be a watery, extremely friendly interpretation or something déjà-vu, done many times before. Therefore, I was positively surprised by the easily noticeable mushroom and cheese smell of gardenia! I actually love this smell, and among what I managed to test, while it’s still not at the same level as JAR Jardenia and Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia, Turbulences is one of the few that put this smell at the front. The development on me as whole is very close to what you described, but with this mushroom/cheese smell lasting into the dry down, I’m very happy. 😀

    Oh, regarding the travel spray, I initially wanted to get a refill set of Turbulences, as it’s the least expensive. But when the SA showed me how it works, it turned out that spray mechanism is integral to the case, and it would be impractical to use the refill alone. Very “clever”! Maybe that’s why they dare to sell the travel spray at the same price as the 100 ml full bottle.

    • Thank you so much for the scoop on the travel spray, its internal mechanism, and the $130 refill option!! That’s invaluable information, and I’ve updated the post accordingly to mention it (and you). It made me go, Grrrrr, though. So, there is no way to open the minis without the travel dispenser? Does it work like some sort of Keurig K-Cup coffee thing? In other words, is there a needle or something in the travel spray that pokes through the perfume vials in order to open them? Regardless of method, it is “clever” as you said, ensuring that $240 is the absolute minimum that you must pay to have any of their fragrances. I just hope that all the people who bought the $130 option to the point of selling them out on the US site won’t be in for a rude shock when they get their order. 🙁

      With regard to the perfumes, I laughed at you calling Contre Moi “baffling.” It is, but I also think it will end up being one of the big sellers in the line because people go crazy for vanilla and don’t seem to care if there are similar ones around for a lower price.

      As for Turbulences, I’m glad the mushroomy and gardenia aspects last on you until the end and that you’ve found something you love so much. How is the longevity, sillage, and body of the fragrance as a whole on you? If I may, can I suggest that you try Dusita’s Melodie de L’Amour before you decide on Turbulences, if you haven’t already? Given that the $130 refill option is out and that $240 seems to be the starting price for the LV, you don’t have much to lose by sampling the Melodie before you decide. As a tuberose lover, I think you’d really love it, especially as there is more than tuberose going on, it’s rich and opulent, and the opening is truly dizzying in its beauty. It doesn’t have much mushroom, though, but everything else makes up for it, in my opinion.

      For Matiere Noire, I was surprised by the strength of the narcissus on me, too, but the cassis and cyclamen were very much present as well. (The patchouli was total fruitchouli and definitely contributed to the berried fruitiness, but it wasn’t as prominent as the other notes on my skin.) You’re absolutely right that hay is one of narcissus’ most typical characteristics, but so many of its other ones showed up as well. I hadn’t expected that. Still, it was only a major factor for the first few hours and then everything became that fruity-floral thing that you encountered as well. The good thing about so much narcissus, though, was that it added SOME sort of distinctiveness to the bouquet beyond the more conventional floral-red berries-rose-fruitchouli thing that you find everywhere. Without it, I think Matiere Noire would be even more boring than it was. So, I guess I had a fractionally more interesting experience than you did? LOL 😛 😉

      Your point about the sheerness/simplicity issue being viewed as “luxury” and seeming to be a trend in niche perfumery is a good one, and you’re right that the mainstream sector seems to take a very different approach. I actually had a discussion about this very point with a friend just a few weeks ago. He blames Jean-Claude Ellena, arguing that he started a trend that has now spread because other perfumers or brands have latched onto his simple, gauzy, minimalistic style (“sheerness equals elegance” as you put it so well) and that they’ve used that to justify “lazy, ‘simplistic’ fragrances charged even higher.” I very much agree. I think you’re a fan of the Ellena and Hermes style, if I remember correctly, but there is no denying the influence that he’s yielded over the last 20 years.

      • I can’t recall the exact detail of the refill bottle, but I distinctively remember the little cap with a small hole, with which we usually press and spray, is on the black travel case. I think the tube is still in the refill bottle, but without the atomizer, you can’t really spray, either. 🙁

        I’ve been eyeing the Dusita line since your post on the brand in summer, and I’m planning to get some samples very soon. 😀 And I envy your experience with Matière Noire! 😛 I tried Romanza, Ostara, Tabac Tabou and Dame’s Narcissus oil in the last couple months and am slowly getting acquainted with narcissus. Although in Matière Noire I can’t yet relate to narcissus, I tend to agree that in the first few hours, there are some dynamics stemming from something green and earthy. But, alas, the dry down is much more conventional, as expected.

        As for the “minimalism” trend, I think it’s safe to say that Ellena played an important role. I do love a few of his fragrances, such as Elixir des Merveilles, Bois Farine and Bois d’Iris. Among his Hermessence line, I also find the combination of green pepper and iris in Paprika Brasil, and that of lavender and liquorice in Brin de Réglisse both intriguing. But a few of his popular ones, such as the Bvlgari green tea and Osmanthe Yunnan, left me cold. I have the impression that he has recycled quite a few his earlier ideas, maybe a side effect of being one of the most prolific perfumers.

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  7. Sorry, I’m late to the party, here. Two quick things…Firstly, thanks as always Beloved Kafka, for your enlightening review!!! Secondly, I have no desire whatsoever to even sample these. In my humble opinion, LV is just cashing in on the hideously overpriced “boutique-exclusive” trend that has me ever-more fed up with each passing announcement of another brand’s entry into this type of line. Enough already! Very few have come to amount to anything more than jokes! I understand why Chanel and Dior did this in response to their over-licensing crap perfumes in the 80’s and 90’s, but now everyone’s jumping on this train. D & G, Elie Saab, Prada, YSL, just to name a few. And there isn’t even ONE phenomenal scent amongst any to these johnny-come-latelys! I for one am getting a little fed up with “BOUTIQUE”

    • lines, that are worthless, and downright mediocre, at best. I’m not even the slightest bit curious about TURBULENCES. Between this bunk, and the fact that everyone and their brother is now suddenly a “Creative Director” and is infinitely capable of creating their own niche line with the help of an investor friend, and a nose willing to work on the cheap for a little bit more creative control…I may just start wearing vintage again…at least I know which ones are the true stars there! Have a wonderful day and Kindest Thanks Kafka!!! 🙂

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