mercredi 16 septembre 2009

Lalique Encre Noire pour Elle: Pastel Rose

If you’ve been holding your breath for a femmed-up version of the inky, smoky, black-chocolate-y goodness that is Lalique Encre Noire, exhale. Christine Nagel’s Encre Noire pour Elle is not to Encre Noire what Guerlain Vétiver pour Elle was to the Vétiver, a reprisal of the original with added florals, but an entirely different composition. Nagel has stated that her only obligation in the brief was to add a note of vetiver to link it to Encre Noire.

But don’t go sniffing too hard for it or you’ll be hyperventilating: the vetiver in Encre Noire pour Elle is such a self-effacing little character I haven’t even been able to detect it through the power of suggestion.

Encre Noire pour Elle is essentially a pallid rose with a touch of amber, the amber being supplied by a Givaudan material called Kephalis, which also has a tobacco facet. (With L’Artisan Havana Vanille and By Kilian Back to Black, tobacco may be the new oud, which was last year’s new patchouli: as perfume is the next cigarette, with more and more public places and companies banning its use, a tobacco facet in perfume is starting to sound like an allusion to transgression). Which doesn’t mean ENpE gives off the ashtray reek of Bandit, far from it: it is, in fact, a nostalgic gauzy rose-violet floral topped off with fruity touches – bergamot, a lick of apricot from the osmanthus, and maybe that tiny drop of grapefruit is the vetiver? No relation to the new crystalline rose notes of N°5 Eau Première, Narciso Rodriguez Essence or Flower by Kenzo Essentielle, but light enough not to frighten off non-rose lovers. The whole deal is drowned in a puff of clean musk.

The lasting power (on me) is average and the sillage is a little apologetic: this could be classified as an office-friendly fragrance. The only thing that’s remotely shocking about it is its discretion compared to the distinctiveness of Encre Noire. It’s very pretty, but not in the same league. Probably the least black-smelling of all the noir-something fragrances that have been popping up.

Illustration: Edmond Aman-Jean, portrait of Miss Ella Carmichael.

21 commentaires:

  1. The ashtray reek of Bandit??? *furiously fans self*
    The ashtray reek of Bandit???
    Darling, what the hey?

  2. Popcarts, I hear ya. That particular phrase cut through me like a knife!

  3. If tobacco is the new oud, which was last year's new patchouli, but the industry is still cranking out both oud and patch and now tobacco, then what? Back to Black may have been the most appropriate name in recent months, despite its lack of originality. Well, at least the iris craze has leveled off a bit.

    But from your description, ENpE doesn't suit its name and it makes little sense in this grouping of rich dark releases. That may not be a bad thing, scent-wise, given that trends appear to be overtaking the industry. But the name seems to mislead, just a little bit.

  4. I really liked your comment on how perfume is the new cigarette. That had me thinking, especially since I'm the only person I know who even wears any perfume. I certainly do feel like the strange outsider in my liking of it. However, I am inspired to finally buy a bottle of Bandit upon reading about that ashtray reek (which is fantastic- though my non-perfume friends likened Bandit to smoking pot).

    Too bad about this new release, though. Encre Noir is a definite favorite. A truer feminine version of it would be interesting (though I think women could wear Encre Noir as is, so a feminine version seemed kind of unneccesary...)

  5. Carter, did you not understand I meant that in a good way?
    Bandit does smell of ashstray, a bit -- in fact, green chypres with jasmine notes often do, even Cristalle. And I'm not an anti-tobacco ayatollah: I like the smell of cigarettes.

  6. Nathan, ditto: you should know by now "reek" is not a negative word with me, any more than "dirty".

  7. Melissa, the tobacco "bracket" was just an aside -- but a) there *is* a detectable tobacco trend though tobacco isn't detectable of ENpE and b) the perfume industry is a lot slower in reacting to trends than the fashion industry because it doesn't (quite) churn out its products for seasons.

    Mind you, light roses and clean perfumes are a trend too.

  8. Jared, oh *do* buy Bandit. It's glorious (and there is a bit of a pot reek to it too).

    As for the relationship between perfume and cigarettes... Apart from the fact than all the classics were conceived for an all-smoking environment (including perfumers, many of whom still smoke, in fact), their personal-space-invading quality is placing them in the sights of the ayatollahs.
    Except that in the case of perfume, there's no solid science to back up their claims.

    But you're right to say it goes further than that... I'll need to write about this sometime.

    And, indeed, Encre Noire probably doesn't need a feminized flanker.

  9. What a let down...If you say it's "pale rose", then unfortunately all interest is escaping through my mind tracks and out of my ears...If it had to be rose, then couldn't it be bold and proud? I might not like it but would respect it.
    All those pale, office-friendly scents are shaping up to be non entities destined to flutter out and wither in a couple of years. We're going through a demonisation of perfume for no good reason, when the real pon and insult to the senses are those terrible plugged-in things they have at stores and public toilets....eeeek!!
    If the case with EnpE is so, it'd be a pity, the masculine counterpart being so good. :-(

  10. Helg, yup, pale rose. I guess that's one strategy devised by the brands to ride out the anti-perfume backlash. And I agree there are much worse olfactory offenders -- not to mention that while perfume bans cover things that are at least *meant* to smell good, they don't encompass other, more personal effluvia.

    I think we'll be seeing more and more of those pallid, polite, clean scents. But I'll be writing soon about another stealth perfume that's really fabulous.

  11. Such a pity - I was really looking forward to this one. Something described as "pale rose" is definitely not up my alley. In fact, the whole concept of "offensive" vs "inoffensive" scents just makes me mad. As do the bans of (supposedly) allergy-inducing ingredients. It surprises me that there are actual people out there who can be offended by the sillage of somebody else's perfume. What about much-discussed tolerance?

    P.S. I've been reading your blog for quite a while now, but have never commented before. Thank you for your wonderful reviews!

  12. Oh, I did wonder about the "reek". I gave up smoking many years ago and still love the smell of cigarettes, but even when I was addicted the smell of an ashtray was another thing altogether. But I understand what you mean -- in perfume, especially, "dirty" means I'll probably love it; I did not realize that to you "reek" is another one of those. I guess I'm just not there yet, but now at least I do know how to translate :)

  13. Fashionistaag: thanks, and welcome!

    The perfume police aren't here in France yet, but ominous rumbles are heard accross the Atlantic. It's not just a matter of perfume bans though: lots of people, it seems, don't want to smell "perfume-y", and so "light" and "fresh" have become the mots du jour. I can think of lots more offensive smells than perfume, but there you go...

  14. Carter, there *is* a bit of an ashtray smell in Bandit, you must admit. Not a great smell in itself, but it's what gives it an edge.
    "Reek" was perhaps going a little overboard but as I rarely review things I utterly detest, it doesn't get much of a chance to be used!

  15. I *do* admit :) It's a whiff which, in combination with all else that is happening there, makes for such an utterly compelling whole. I find that it's just enough, and lasts only as long, as is sufficient to haunt my heart.

  16. color me sad! i was so excited for this and the bottle, too.


    for my own little ashtray love affair, i enjoy a spray of tabac blond in extrait.

  17. Wow, I fail to remember that, as you say, the classics were worn in all-smoking environments. What a thought...something as beautiful as Vol de Nuit getting mixed in with smoke. Imagine something like ENpE trying to compete with cigarette smoke. These pale things of mainstream releases wouldn't stand a chance. No wonder they made them with personality back then (though the artist in me believes there's more to it than smoking competition). The state of Michigan (where I live) still allows smoking in public places, which I hate because I go to great efforts to smell enchanting, but I bet many things today don't even register in such an environment.

  18. Carter, Norma Desmond's line comes to mind, somehow: "We had faces then."

  19. Dea, the bottle's magnificent (Lalique, glass: of course). It is worth the purchase price alone, and as I said, the fragrance is pretty so it's not as if it would go to waste. But it's no Encre noire.

  20. Jared, of course it was always about much, much more than competing with the smoke, but the smoke was part of the atmosphere and I'm sure it go subconsciously factored in.
    When I go to parties in people's houses, and everyone is smoking (this is Paris and most of my friends are artists and writers) I still get compliments on my fragrances (my vintage and tuberoses come out in the evening.)
    I'm sure Encre Noire stands up wonderfully to the smoking test: my Sycomore does!

  21. Yes, it's the pictures that got small.