Black by Undergreen smells like a big city at nightfall. the smoke from cars speeding by, dirty pavements, and a whiff from the coffee shops and bars. Undergreen is a Parisian brand, but for me the smells and the city can easily be New York or London. We all stink alike, and I mean it in the best possible way.
Black opens with an intriguing mix of smoky black pepper and burnt tires before it's taken over by licorice and slightly over-roasted coffee beans. Eventually the unorthodox non-perfumey urban noise settles down into a sweet tonka and smoky wood dry-down, rich with incense and birch tar. This is utterly delicious, yet edgy enough to keep my attention span for as long as the fragrance stays on skin (much longer when you spray generously than from a dab-on sample).
Undergreen is an all-natural line. Not that there aren't quite a few of them around, but most aren't French. As a matter of fact, I can only think of two others: Olivia Giacobetti's Honore des Pres and the little known Sama Parfums (see my review of their Jardin d'Iris). It's interesting to note how their style differs from most natural perfumeries I'm familiar with-- my gut feeling is that Undergreen is aiming for a more modern style. Kind of like the natural cousin of Etat Libre d'Orange. I need to spend more quality time with the three other perfumes in the line (Pink, Gold, and White. You can read an overview of the line by Mark on CaFleureBon), but so far Black is the clear favorite-- I can't help it: I'm a city girl all the way through.
Notes: ginger, cinnamon, pepper, tonka bean, coffee, licorice, birch, guaiac wood, incense, agarwood (oud).
Black by Undergreen ($140, 100ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily/Parfum1, BeautyHabit, and Henri Bendel. Sample supplied by Twisted Lily.
Photo: Paris at nightfall by http://euromode.wordpress.com.