The curry question: Dior’s Eau Noire

We’ve done the shampoo question. Now for the curry question.

This was raised in my mind by my recent acquisition of a small decant of Dior’s Eau Noire. This is one of the ‘Collection Privee Christion Dior’ series, although it originally came out as part of a trio, with Cologne Blanche and Bois d’Argent (I have not tried those).

Eau Noire was composed by Francis Kurkdjian and is well-known for its use of helichrysum (immortelle), a plant with a prominent curry-like smell. When I first tried Eau Noire I was home by myself on a Friday night, looking forward to an easy dinner and a good night on the TV. To usher in those pleasures I had a shower and poured myself a generous glass of red wine. By the time I got down to the Eau Noire, I was feeling very mellow.

I loved Eau Noire at first. The curry spices are very obvious, but I also noticed lavender almost immediately, and was intrigued. Gradually the sharp opening eased into a base of vanilla, and this seemed to me as magical as the entry of vanilla into Guerlain’s Chamade EDP, one of the most accomplished dry-downs in all perfumery.

Entranced, I had to restrain myself from rushing to the computer to tell you all how I had found a perfect three-way balance between sharp curry spices, gentle lavender and sweet vanilla, as if you had been hanging out for just such a thing.

The next morning, it was a different story. That day and every time since, I have been getting a lot of angry curry out of Eau Noire, but very little vanilla and still less lavender. What happened? Maybe my sense of smell was affected by the wine on my palate. The annoying part is that I keep thinking that that first experience is how the perfume is meant to be experienced, but I only got it that one time.

Dior’s website is coy about the curry aspect of Eau Noire. It says the top-notes are ‘aromatic’ but does not mention helichrysum, and certainly not curry. Many people would automatically be put off by curry. And indeed many perfumistas won’t go near curry spices in perfume, cumin in particular. I don’t mind cumin, but Eau Noire is just way too spice-basket for me. A pity. I think is actually a very accomplished bit of work, and a good sign of Dior’s commitment to originality in its fragrances.


15 thoughts on “The curry question: Dior’s Eau Noire

  1. I love Eau Noire!

    I think I wrote you recently, about the simple pleasure of cologne? Then I said how much I loved the one that smelled like Masala—this was the one that I meant, LOL!

    You are right though, it is truly curry, no way around it. “Aromatic” doesn’t come close to the reality of this fragrance—which is fine by me, because I do want to smell like curry 🙂

    That is interesting how vastly different your experiences were with EN. I think this calls for a scientific experiment: you will need a bottle of wine, and a note-pad 😉

    1. Ah ha!I wondered if EN was the one you meant and nearly remarked upon it last night in my email, but the ol’ brain was a bit weary. I’m really glad you love EN. The appreciation it gets, hopefully the stronger message gets back to Dior to keep up the good work.

      I’ve spent a lifetime researching with notebook, but not a bottle of wine as well. Always a first time!

  2. Interesting! I don’t think Eau Noire is particularly wearable but it does fascinate me no end and I own a small travel bottle for that reason. It is really unusual, it’s remarkably well-blended and clearly made of top-notch ingredients. BUT the curry note! I think my experience is closest to your initial reaction. I find it perfectly balanced between curry spices, lavender and maple syrup. Nobody else finds that particularly appealing but I get a kick out of it and wear for my own pleasure. It’s so rare to find a perfume that hits you over the head with its originality, I had to own a little for that reason alone. I SO hope you get back to that first wonderful experience. I agree, I think that’s how the perfume is meant to be. Not spice-free, but at least in balance. I so hate it when that happens, hope it comes back to you. Perhaps like dee says, an intensely mellow mood is called for!

    1. Damn, I don’t get maple syrup at all, unless it is the soft ‘vanilla’ I can smell. Luca T. says a ‘burnt sugar’ note is inherent in helichrysum. Do you get licorice? I don’t, but Dior claims that it is there.

      I totally agree about the originality – it cheers me up no end and I will keep testing Eau Noire. Yesterday, as I wore it for this post, I liked the waft very much, but kept wrinkling my nose at the smell on my skin. Oh well!

      1. Luckily I don’t get licorice either because it is one of my deal-breaker notes. If it is in there I guess it doesn’t stand much of a chance against the immortelle and lavender! It is indeed very heartening that Dior carried it over to the Privee line and didn’t ditch it as they did Cologne Blanche.

        I’m glad you’re going to keep testing Eau Noire, it may well turn out to be better “wafting” at a distance than up close.

  3. I am a big fan of immortelle/helichryssum so my opinion is heavily biased. I like Eau Noire but I do not really get curry from this. What I get is the smell of a coffee pot left too long on the stove. Burned, caramelised coffee notes. I get a lot of vanilla as well. This is a bit too sweet for me. I prefer the “in your face” boldness of Sables.

    1. Thanks, yes, Sables is often compared to Eau Noire as the other significant curry perfume.

      I ‘ve read a few reviews on fragrance forums where people say they don’t get much curry out of Eau Noire. Funny, because curry is about all I get.

      Over-brewed coffee is not too nice. Do you get much lavender?


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