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.