When I bought my bottle of Eau Noire from Christian Dior's La Collection Privée, the excellent SA at one of Paris' department stores (I can't remember if it was Printemps or Le Bon Marche) called it a formal evening scent, something to wear on very serious occasions. Perhaps it's true, especially if you wear sunny florals during the day and reserve sweet velvety perfumes for date nights. I don't, so I feel free to wear Eau Noire whenever the mood for a good gourmand strikes me.
Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian created Eau Noire for Dior in 2004. Back then it was part of a trio together with Bois d’Argent and Cologne Blanche, and labeled as a "cologne", perhaps in an attempt to position the new line firmly as unisex/shared fragrances. However, Eau Noire is actually an EDP, as you can see clearly from the label on the bottom of my box:
The notes listed on Fragrantica include sage, anise, lavender, Virginian cedar, coffee, leather, vanilla and violet. There's a consensus between reviewers, including Dr. Luca Turin, that Eau Noire is an immortelle flower perfume. That was definitely the first thing that hits my nose every time I spray Dior's Eau Noire. Immortelle and anise first, herbs later. I get a lot of lavender that plays well with the maple syrup facet of the immortelle. The opening and the heart are very fougere-like with the classic combination of green herbs with thick sweetness. A little later the familiar masculine cologne vibe makes way to a gourmand lavender butter cookie, maybe with some anise for good measure.
The anise note is accompanied by a very dark coffee note, almost chocolate-like but not quite. It hits a similar spot as New Haarlem, but the Dior perfume is thicker and richer (there's no immortelle in New Haarlem). I adore the smoky sweetness of Eau Noire and always enjoy the ride with the twists and turns as woody, floral and vanilla notes go in and out of my nose range. It's a bit too hyper and edgy to be considered a true comfort scent. Still, Eau Noire is a fabulous cold weather scent and it takes residence between my coats and scarves for days.
Eau Noire like the rest of La Collection Privée Christian Dior is in very limited distribution, though recently most of the line has appeared online at Dior.com. In the US the only place you can find La Collection Privée is at the Las Vegas Dior boutique (702-369-6072). The perfumes come in various sizes, the smallest being a 4.25 oz priced at $150. I also saw them in 16 oz jugs in Paris. Don't ask me who thought it was a good idea.
For more reviews of Dior Eau Noire please visit Pere de Pierre, Beauty On The Outside, Bois de Jasmin and Victoria of EauMG's YouTube channel.
Image: detail of a Dior makeup ad (designed by Serge Lutens) that appeared in Elle magazine, March 1977 issue of the French edition.