The holidays are here. Another year is preparing to make an exit. What better way to celebrate this time of the year than remembering and wearing my ultimate mood enhancers for the holidays.
Serge Noire holds a very special place in my Christmas wardrobe. It is a perfume that I wear a lot less than I would want to because it is an imposing one. I cannot imagine wearing it in warm weather. It opens with clove. In fact clove is everywhere in this one. In the great Sheldrake – Lutens tradition clove is not quite what one expects it to be. It does not show its metallic thorns, the way we know it from other clove prominent scents. This is much closer to the taste of chewing cloves. Sweet and hot at the same time. Cinnamon adds sweetness and polishes rough edges. A slightly floral note is briefly there in the opening, carnation probably. A few minutes into the wearing a pungent, extremely volatile note appears almost piercing the nostrils. The warmth of the spices is coupled with a cooling mentholated vapour. It isn’t mint, but the cool tickling in the nose sure feels like it. In the heart of the composition a note of artificial vanilla adds to the overall ethereal effect. This isn’t natural vanilla with its sweet, complicated undercurrent. It is pure peppery vanillin. Less complex but more effervescent than vanilla. In fact vanillin is a phenolic aldehyde closely related to eugenol, the heart of the clove essence.
I can never decide whether I actually smell incense in this one or not. If I do it certainly isn’t the slightly floral, fruity smell of incense tears. This one is much closer to the sensual, narcotic smell of burning incense fumes inside an Orthodox church. Everything in this perfume levitates above the skin like a halo. It is as if this composition has no basenotes. It feels like you can actually see thin strings of fumes rising from the skin to the air. It is so energising that I cannot help reaching to sniff my wrists. Every breath of these mystical fumes is like sting of a sacred spear. And yet I cannot get enough of it.
Serge Noire for me a is a sacrilegious experience. It evokes the interior of an Orthodox church with thin rays of light cutting through the cold darkness of the austere temple. Thin strings of incense smoke rise inside the light columns. At the same time though the warmth of the spices make this such a wonderfully seductive fragrance. The absence of conventional basenotes keeps this scent on a mental level while the familiarity of spices takes me back to cosy places. I cannot help thinking of all the old black and white photos of Rasputin, the Russian mystic with the mesmerizing eyes who used spirituality to influence the last family of Czars. The Royal family considered him a holy man and a healer while most of the rest of the nation thought he was a sexually uninhibited charlatan. Serge Noire is a dark figure chanting hymns and murmuring my name.
Notes from parfyym.pri.ee: patchouli, cinnamon, amber, woods
Notes from my nose: clove, cinnamon, camphor, incense fumes, vanillin