Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Serge Lutens- Datura Noir (Revisited)

Let's make one thing clear: I still don't like wearing Datura Noir.

I loathed this 2001 Serge Lutens perfume when I first tried it, and didn't enjoy it any better as I kept testing it over the years. In fact, in 2007 I vowed to stay away from it forever.  But I gave all the samples I had to my mother, who smelled divine in this weird white floral. So I bought her a bottle and sniffed in amazement as her sillage took over my old hometown. I still wouldn't wear it. But I had to figure it out. I needed to know what was about Datura Noir that made me want to jump out of my skin (scrubbing never worked), considering that I love tuberose, coconut, and oriental perfumes. Why was this particular Serge Lutens perfume trying to eat me alive?

I've discovered that there's a tremendous difference between spraying and dabbing Datura Noir. It's nothing new. Several Serge Lutens fragrances behave differently when you give the more volatile top notes a larger skin surface to burst from vs. a more intimate focused application (good examples:  Miel de Bois and Fleurs de Oranger benefit from dabbing, Iris Silver Mist does well when decanted into a sprayer). A light touch of Datura Noir under one's clothes eliminated the Audrey II effect and makes it less of a crazy green tuberose. I could finally concentrate on the sweeter and  more gourmand elements.

It's a jungle out there. The mutant giant white trumpets are accompanied by just as large leafy greenery, but that's just the harbinger of a thick and fatty coconut note. The creaminess is nice, as it lets in a rich almondy note (there's both bitter almond and a sweeter, lighter heliotrope to complement it). The scent that surrounds the skin is white, velvety and opaque. I should enjoy it much better than I do, considering my taste in perfume, but I find any larger dose than a drop to be very suffocating. It reminds me the tactile feel of a 1970s acrylic/polyester tight turtle neck, the bane of my childhood.

In a minuscule amount I get the witches brew idea behind Datura Noir. It tempts you with its vanillic creamy promise and makes you powerless before you know it, completely enslaved to its will. On the right skin this is a magical perfume, as I've known for years. I'm just not the right person to wear it, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Notes: myrrh, bitter almond, tonka bean, musk, osmanthus, heliotrope, mandarin, lemon blossom, tuberose, vanilla, coconut oil, apricot.

Serge Lutens- Datura Noir ($130, 50ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, Aedes, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman.

Art: Krista Huot -Trumpets of Datura


  1. We usually like the same things, but I LOVE Datura Noir! It was my very first Lutens purchase about seven years ago. (Of course a white floral would have to be pretty bad for me not to like it.)

    Do you have the same reaction to MPG's Secrete Datura? To me it's a tamer perfume, but very lovely.

  2. OH MAH GAH, Gaia. Datura Noir... I love this scent so much I would like to bathe in it. I'm a fragrance newbie (and a total philistine at that), but I immediately fell in love with this. I used to have a terrible aversion to all things coconut (food, candy, scents), but something about the way DN warms and melds into my skin and reminds me of sitting on a beach or a sweaty jungle does something to me. I love this so much I actually purchased a full bottle recently and already put a sizeable dent in it. Days I don't wear it, I sadly sniff my wrist looking for it. I am looking forward to how it wears when it is cold.

  3. Bought a bottle of this unsniffed when it first came out because I was *so* sure I'd love it. Have kept that bottle in part because I completely adore Serge and keep hoping it will work for me, in part because I hate admitting I made such a stupid mistake and, in part because, like you, I know it works beautifully on other people (including my DH). But, on me, especially if sprayed on, the first few minutes remind me intensely of hospitals or some sort of medicinal accord. No idea why I get this association so powerfully, but I do. If dabbed on, it is indeed better, and as it dries down, some of that association also fades...but only a bit. So, instead of the gorgeous tropical island scent, which this should in all rights be, given the wonderful list of notes, I get the last scent in the world I would want to wear - a total scrubber.

  4. So I'm a perfume newbie but I have samples of both DN and Fleur d'oranger; they are in spray-bottles. What's the best way to "dab" them? Spray on a cottonball and dab that on my wrist? Take of the cap? It's not obvious to me how to best go about it. Thank you for a nice blog, really like the make-up reviews.


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