Once again, my subconscious decided to pop something into my head as I was just emerging from sleep. It did this mid-last week and because it was about perfume it was clear I was meant to write about it.
I started reading and posting on Makeup Alley’s Fragrance Board just as there was a surge in comments about Serge. Rahat Loukoum, to be exact. Someone will recall around when this occurred, but I can’t put my finger on it.
I sampled my way through various Lutens fragrances at various times in the past 20-odd years. Only Arabie and Rose de Nuit, the focus of my recent subconscious popup, are in my collection.
Rose is a note that generally works well on my chemistry, but this is the only rose perfume I still own.
One of the things I love about it is that of the many nuit-named perfumes out there it is actually ‘nuit’. You can name something ‘nuit’ and hope no one notices that it’s sort of innocent and wan, but RdN actually is the real deal.
This is a Serge Belle Jar and I don’t think it’s ever been offered in the more widely available rectangular bottles (ie, Tubereuse Criminelle is a Belle Jar that had a brief release in the regular line and I continue to kick myself for not buying it then, just as I continue to kick myself for not buying a forest green velvet YSL Le Smoking jacket priced at under $100 in a Barney’s Warehouse Sale 30 years ago).
Notes include Turkish rose, yellow jasmine, apricot, amber, musk, sandalwood and beeswax. A pretty straight-forward list that gives no real sense of this: from the get-go, this is noir to the nth degree. The juice in my bottle (probably at least 15 years old – a little under half the jar left, with its rounded stopper) is a rich pale yellow.
What gets me most about this fragrance is it’s clearly a rose perfume but it smells of so much more right from the start. There’s spice and fruit and resin all smoothed together but it’s not smooth in that things seamlessly unfold. Rather, it’s a rose just past it’s prime, almost but not quite tipping into the beginning of rot – that heavy dregs of red-wine-like aspect and the apricot work together beautifully; it’s one of the best fruity chypre-ish perfumes I’ve ever smelled, along with Mitsouko’s peach and Rochas Femme’s plum. Crushed silk velvet on a too warm evening sticking to the silk cami and knickers plus bare feet – a woman in a garden stretching out the anticipation before whatever will happen in bed. It’s hard to get more noir than that.
Have you tried it? Is it in your collection? Is there something you own that has noir in the name that totally lives up to it?