Homage to Serge- Nuit Noire Mona di Orio


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?).article-2237003-162ACF38000005DC-323_964x567 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

16 thoughts on “Homage to Serge- Nuit Noire Mona di Orio

  1. I’m so glad you wrote about the Nuit Noire, I still think that first collection doesn’t get enough love. 🙂

    • I know you are a fan. I know this one and Lux the best I think. Which one is your favourite from her early ones? And didn’t you write about it too?

  2. Ha! You know, I’d quite forgotten I sent this to you, but now it’s coming back to me … I think you’re the one who told me of the Serge Lutens inspiration (I never realized that when I purchased it, but it makes sense). And the tuberose that was rather troublesome for you … hehe. One day you’ll be craving it, and you’ll have me to thank. 😀 (Just kidding, of course. I know you’ve come along way with tuberose, actually.)

    I love the way you wrote this, pointing out the connections you made between Nuit Noire and Monsieur Lutens’ work. (And thanks for the link love!) I’m so glad to know this is being re-released. Has it happened yet, or do you know when it’s expected?

    • Hehe, yes still waiting for the sudden onset of tuberose craving. I promise you to split the honours equally between you and Ines if it should ever happen. I find when a perfume is a beautifully made as this one, I can fully appreciate everything, even the tuberose, and see how it had to be like this or it just wouldn’t be Nuit Noire.
      The funny thing was that i didn’t start out thinking about Serge Lutens, and kept going back and rewrite things because I kept thinking ‘where have I smelled this before’ and again and again it was Serge. Only Serge Noire was actually created after Mona’s Nuit Noire. It would be nice, if it was a reference back. She deserved it.
      I think the release has happened. I saw it at ALZD, but they sometimes but things up before they can be purchased.

  3. This was a lot of fun to read.

    I also had no idea Nuit Noire was a tribute to Lutens. I haven’t tried any of the original collection and to be honest, they sound too much for me, but I am so glad they are being re-released. They sound like proper, fearless perfumes. With so much blandness around it’s great to read about a bold fragrance with so much going on.

    • Hi Tara, I’m glad you think so 🙂
      I would say they might be too much for you to own, but I do think you would appreciate them as perfumes. I need to retry my samples of the other ‘old ones’. But as you say yourself, with so much blandness around, even on the ‘niche’ market ( do we need a new term?) they stick out in a positive way. And also, at the time they were originally released, they were perhaps too bold(? Just a guess) and should hopefully find more appreciation now.

      • I think you may well be right. Their time has come.

        I will definitely give them a try. I know it will be an experience!

  4. I had no idea about the Nuit Noir – Serge Lutens connection. Well, there’s always something new to discover every day! I really loved the way you described the fragrance. I haven’t tried it yet but now I certainly will. Exquisite. 🙂

    • Ooh, I’m glad you think so- If you generally like the SL fragrances, you are in for a treat here. It’s both an ode to Serge, and completely its own. I do hope you’ll like it, I hope to be growing into the tuberose-thing, just so that I can wear this 🙂

  5. wonderful, wonderful, thanks so much for this!

    • Thank you Irina, very much appreciated.

  6. Beautiful review, but am sad to report that Nuit Noire was one of those nemesis scents for me, made all the more so by a trigger-happy SA in Paris who fired eight spritzes of the scent around my neck area, promptly bringing on a migraine and requiring me to take the rest of the day off – a sad waste in Paris, as you can imagine. I featured the sorry experience in my ‘Scent Crimes Series’ if you are curious – it is ‘No 5: The Tester As Tommy Gun’.

    • OMG! 8 spritzes of Nuit Noire. I would have had a migraine too AND never wanted to see the perfume again. I had something similar happening to me with Serge Noire, which I used to love. I’ve not been able to handle it after a friend over-sprayed in my former flat, which was a studio, and the scent was there weeks 🙁 .To me, and I don’t say this often, NN is so strong one small spritz will do.

  7. MdO isn’t my brand in general and tuberose in this one suggests that I’ll hate it – so there’s a good chance I’ll never even attempt to try it. But still it was interesting to read your review: as others I didn’t know about SL connection (though, I think, I don’t like those SL’s perfumes, dedication to which Nuit Noir was;-) ).

    • Dear Undina, actually I couldn’t see this as being your thing at all. How are you with the Nombres d’Or collection? Anything there you like? I think that Nuit Noire is more of an ‘all round’ dedication to Serge Lutens, the perfumes I mention are just a personal association. But still, the tuberose is pretty tough to handle for anyone who doesn’t care for tuberose in general, so I wouldn’t recommend this for you, unless perhaps for your next office halloween party. (this is a dare 😉 )

      • I actually like Les Nombres d’Or Vanille (thanks to Suzanne – I wouldn’t have even tried it otherwise). But so far it’s the only one that worked for me. Though I didn’t get a chance to try the amber one: I think it might be not bad as well but I won’t spend money on testing that theory.

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