Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir, 2009

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(image paulajeansgarden)

Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake

Fourreau Noir makes me reflect on repetition. Series, variation on a theme? Deliberate, derivative?  Sequel, flanker, homage? However it has come about, Fourreau Noir reminds me quite a bit of Chergui. A little less raspy and a bit cooler and herbal from the lavender. It’s syrupy, sweet and woody. It’s a spin on the coumarin accord of Chergui, a range that Sheldrake and Lutens do very well. Sadly, it holds no surprise here, but then again, I’m not a great fan of Chergui. (I should note that nobody but me thinks these two are similar.)

Sheldrake and Lutens manage to make distinctive perfumes in a small range of spicy syrup (see Arabie, Cedre, Cuir Mauresque). But in both Chergui and here in Fourreau Noir, they cede the middle ground to convention and, like Chergui, Fourreau Noir winds up undistinguished. Each fits effortlessly in the middle of the herd of contemporary masculine nichy, woody-resinous perfumes.

Clearly, I’m not hiding my biases, but I’m unsure how to take Fourreau Noir? Lutens don’t group it with Chergui in their “Sudden Sweetness” series, but the composition is similar. The generous thing to do would be to paint the two as a Bernard Chant/Estee Lauder gender pairing such as Azurée/Aramis or Aromatics Elixir /Aramis 900. Less generous would be to call Fourreau Noir a retread.

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