So it seems that Serge Lutens has abandoned the Orient as a source of inspiration and has now turned to icons of Western culture to “materialise” into perfume… After Oscar Wilde, Billie Holiday. Both tormented and creative personalities who lived outside social boundaries. De Profundis was a mysterious and morbid exploration of chrysanthemum, a slightly claustrophobic and stark floral. Une Voix Noire is an ambitious approach on the most difficult of all flowers, gardenia. I do not necessarily expect a life-like gardenia perfume, although it would be most welcome, but what I don’t like is a soapy gardenia, which accounts for the vast majority of gardenia-centred perfumes. Sheldrake has definitely managed to avoid the pitfall of a boudoir version of the gardenia accord. The flower is there, under a lush layer of beeswax lightly spiced with clove and cardamom. Deep in the heart of the composition I can pick up traces of the clay note from De Profundis and this is a very clever addition that keeps Une Voix Noire from becoming too sweet or too oriental. The cold, urban note keeps everything vague and uncategorisable. Although the floral element is immediately evident it never comes to the forefront, instead it remains anchored to the base, not only in the classical temporal definition of a perfume basenote, but also in the sense that it is never distinct and isolated. There is always something between the wearer and the flower. As it progresses gardenia becomes a little creamier and brings to mind the buttered tuberose of Tubéreuse Criminelle but the flower is on a tight leash. What I smell is closer to the sillage of someone wearing a gardenia scent than an actual gardenia scent. Overall this is a very nice scent although not ground-breaking. The use of gardenia is really remarkable because it offers a glimpse into a new version of this flower, not green, not soapy, but rather sparkling and boozy.
My impression of Une Voix Noire comes from a purchased decant so I had the opportunity to try this both dabbed and sprayed. Of course my notes come from dabbing, the only way possible when using a Paris exclusive bell bottle. But as a side note, when I sprayed, this gardenia was a lot more evident from the start to the detriment of spices. In the deep drydown however my dabbed patch of skin had a clearer gardenia scent while the sprayed sampling was more sweet and waxy. In short, dabbing allows the notes to develop more independently while spraying forces everything to coexist even in the drydown. So if you are interested in this perfume and read reviews keep this difference in mind when interpreting other’s impressions.
The first moment I smelled this I had an immediate association with the French dessert Marons Déguisés, the chocolate covered candied chestnuts. To me there is a very intense contradiction of textures between the candied, dry chestnut and the melting chocolate and Une Voix Noire manages t capture that textured duality between gardenia and sweet, waxy opening.
Notes from Parfumo: gardenia, rum, tobacco
Notes from my nose: beeswax, clove, cardamom, gardenia, clay
MemoryOfScent by Christos Karageorgos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.