The melancholic timbre of Billie Holiday's voice, the "black voice" behind the inspiration for Serge Lutens's latest Paris-exclusive perfume, is reverberating through the unusual paths of the fumes rising from the bell-jar bottle with its beautiful brownish, maroon almost, shade of juice inside. The waxy, thick petals of gardenia with their irresistible browning that is poised between sweet rot and carnal abandon have a way of capturing hearts like mine...and Billie's too, who wore one tucked beneath her ear as a trademark. But to designate just gardenia to Une Voix Noire would be doing it a disservice.
|Guy Bourdin photo via thinmoonsugar.blogspot.com|
Gardenia and tuberose are olfactory allies in crime. Both nocturnal creatures with creamy white blossoms which exude a kaleidoscope of weird and wondrous facets, from sharp greenness that recalls camphor, to blue cheese and mould, all the way to meat rotting in the heat to help attract various pollinators, they're fascinating flowers to cultivate in a warm climate that oozes with the dangerous atmosphere of a film noir. Lutens and his trusty perfumer Chris Sheldrake have been no strangers to tuberose's wiles thanks to Tubereuse Criminelle with its jarring contrast of rough edge against smooth silk.
But Une voix Noire is to gardenia a new take on the flower, less simplistic and more complex, with an abstract background that brings it closer to a Bois variation than a fleshy, photorealistic photo of the opulent flower with its blue cheese timbre that Tom Ford put in the forefront for his (now discontinued) Velvet Gardenia or the spring-like styralyl acetate greenness it exhibits in Lauder's life-like, budding Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. The candied plumminess of the cedar & fruits base is certainly progeny of the Feminite du Bois school of mock dilettantes (posing as less serious than in reality) and the rich, satisfying, warmly honeyed core to be explored on further wearings would be most pleasurably received by those who have enjoyed Mary Greenwell's Plum, Botytris, Jar's Jardenia and -naturally- the rest of the Lutensian series of "woody" cedar & fruits melange fragrances.
The perfumer and the art director play in chiaroscuro with extreme grace in Une voix Noire, bringing on an opening tuberose-gardenia note that is fresh and real but dissipates fast into clean and metallic notes that ring like cold air in the stillness of the night. Smoky and indolic, almost animalic facets slowly reveal themselves, darkening the proceedings through a sweetish, leathery, tobacco and boozy (rum, according to the official notes) phase which creates an effect worthy of a blues singer velvety sighing her pain into hard vinyl.
Like Billie's voice, Une Voix Noire is indelible...lasting a lifetime and then some.
Une Voix Noire is a Paris-exclusive Lutens fragrance available as Eau de Parfum 75ml in the bell jar bottles.
For our readers, a generous decant of the new Une Voix Noire is available.
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