Encre Noire, a 2006 Lalique release, was originally labeled as a masculine scent. Most vetiver fragrances are considered manly- it's probably something about the dry crisp feel of this grassy note and the way it's usually paired with citrus and wood. Encre Noire is not different in this. It has two facets- a dark and thick ink-like vetiver, of the kind Chanel took to the extreme in Sycomore, but also a very cool green, almost fresh and airy side. These two opposites come and go on skin, keeping things much more complex and intricate than you'd expect from a designer masculine eau de toilette.
The interesting thing here is that despite the notes, the bottle and the fact Encre Noire was originally being marketed for men (last year Lalique released a feminine version, Encre Noire Por Elle), I know many women who fell in love with it on first sniff and have been finding it very easy to wear. It might be because the vetiver here isn't very bitter (think Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire for the complete opposite in this regard). The drydown is both woody and musky, very smooth and balanced. To me it is a perfect example for a shared/unisex scent. Encre Noire is attractive, angular, with high cheek bones and a very distinct presence. It's wearable in an effortless way and actually feels stylish in a timeless manner, which is exactly the thing that makes a true classic. Fans of Guerlain Vetiver who are looking for something less obvious should give Encre Noire a thorough testing.
Encre Noire is available both as an EDT (reviewed here) and a 2 oz EDP. The latter has the modest price tag of $750, but it is more for the incredible Lalique bottle than for the juice (I only sniffed it a couple of time at Aedes, not enough to assess its greatness but I didn't feel it was JAR-good). The EDT is rich and long-lasting enough, in my opinion (12 hours easily), and while its retail price is $105 for the 3.4 oz bottle, several online discounters carry the 1.7 and 1 oz sizes for less than half that price. If I Remember correctly, I bought a bottle from Parfum1 during their 25% sale for less than $40.
Photo of Katharine Hepburn from myvintagevogue.com