Skin chemistry and perception are funny things. I’ve never been a fan of floral fragrances, and rose in particular has always been the most difficult for me to pull off. Add rose to a composition, and it just doesn’t seem to sit right on my skin. The only rose I’ve really regretted not being able to wear is Kilian’s Liaisons Dangereuses, which is objectively beautiful and sumptuous, but, again, not quite right for me.
For a long time, I’ve stuck to fragrances that trend more masculine, or to gourmands—anything to avoid a floral explosion! But I’m learning that the really great thing about taste is that it can change.
And who better to change my mind about rose than Francis Kurkdjian? I know that rose-patchouli is not a new theme for him. Quite honestly, I thought I would prefer his Absolue Pour Le Soir, a dark composition with a floral heart. But, again, perception and expectation can play with you, and I ended up falling for the rosy Lumiere Noire instead.
For me, this one plays out as a bit more Lumiere than Noire. The opening is vibrant and sparkling with spice. I’ve seen some comments and reviews where people found the first minute or so unpleasant because of the strong cumin, but it never really shows up on my skin so I can’t speak to that. I do, however, get the pimiento, which adds a nice kind of crackling sensation—you can almost feel it. But the spice is never overwhelming, and it quickly blends in with the composition to create a lively floral.
Lumiere Noire is quite a bit more green than I expected. I wouldn’t say this is a “clean” fragrance, but the rose here is never stifling, perhaps the more astringent narcissus helps to balance it. The entire composition maintains a fresh edge even after the opening wears off, and I would say that even the patchouli here is of the polite variety.
But I don’t want to oversell the Lumiere aspect of this fragrance. It’s true, Lumiere Noire is delicate and romantic, but it’s not insipid. With light comes shadows, and the shadows cast here open up spaces for contemplation, for a little brooding, even. It’s an elegant kind of brooding though, like sitting with a glass of red wine while still wearing your makeup and jewelry after a long day. Lumiere Noire dries down to something quite sensual, quite intimate, like a secret. I found that I liked wearing it to bed, there’s a dreamy quality to it.
I can’t remember now what prompted me to order a sample of this fragrance, but I’m glad that I did. With Lumiere Noire, Mr. Kurkdjian has taught me that there’s no need to be afraid of wearing florals, and that rose can be both dark and light, delicate and tenacious. There’s a kind of gentle perseverance to Lumiere Noire, as it lasts for a good six hours before fading (and I’m wondering if that will increase now in warmer weather).
This version is “Pour Femme” but I could easily see it working fantastically on a man, and I’m eager to try its counterpart, Lumiere Noire Pour Homme. For now, this one is definitely on the list for a full bottle.