With the re-release of Mona di Orio’s first perfumes, I thought it relevant to revisit Nuit Noire composed in 2006.
Mona di Orio created Nuit Noire as a dedication to the aesthetics and work of Serge Lutens, an oriental, broody and daring fragrance, which- like a few of Lutens’ own perfumes- is brutally polarising.
A true zesty ginger and cinnamon opens Nuit Noire, but soon the spices are shadowed by a dark rubbery tuberose. The tuberose is not long lived, but brace yourself, the entrance is that of a right diva with huge self-esteem and criminal intend (-a small indecent wink at Tubereuse Criminelle?). Just as you think that this Dame will not exit quietly, the onset of splatchouli and a drop of all-souls- incense do manage to calm her down, and perhaps she blows a kiss in the direction of Serge Noire on her way out.
After the Diva has been led discreetly out the backdoor, the dirtiness of the opening transitions from floral to animalic, until you realise you’ve hit the camel fair, and the whole composition is closer to a ‘Muscs Koublaï Khän for her’. For her, due to a little floral soapiness, as if washing off the day out in the North African desert.
Where you would expect dirtier, it actually gets gentler, cleaner and even sweeter. It’s neither the sweetness of Lutens’ Turkish delights alias Rahät Loukoum nor the dried fruits of Arabie et al, but like the soft downy Santal Blanc. And just as you think you know the end of this particular African night, your fluffy pillow of sandalwood gets scattered with indolic orange blossoms as a last sigh before finally going to sleep on a silk blanket of powdery musk of the most exquisite quality.
It has been a long time since I tried a fragrance with so much going on, and yet remarkably it isn’t a crowded room of people shouting to be heard, but a story-teller weaving together her mesmerising stories at night time in the Moroccan desert. Nuit Noire is a Monaesque Homage to the Lutensian Oeuvre, and one of the few contemporary perfumes currently on the market which actually deserve to wear their black name and their dark hearts on the sleeve
There are plenty of reviews for Nuit Noire Mona di Orio out there, here are what the non blonde and Suzanne’s Perfume Journal think. Disclaimer: Suzanne also was the lovely woman, who send me the sample, and I felt the need to say that tuberose, in its rubbery version, to me is the fragrant equivalent of nails on black board, so very unfortunately for me the tuberose opening will probably always be a bit too hard to handle.
Photo credits: Feature from ‘WildMorocco.com’, Pushkar Camel Fair AC, and Moroccan Storyteller from maison de la photographie, Marrakesh