I was determined, I really was. I did my research, tested as much as I could and decided to limit myself to only one fragrance when I visited Les Salons du Palais Royale in Paris. Unfortunately, the lure of Serge Lutens was more than I could bear and Fourreau Noir was amongst the damage. At least I didn’t inexplicably find myself leaving that store with one of their limited editions bell jars.
On first application, Fourreau Noir immediately brought about a wave of nostalgia. Wafts of sweet tobacco swirl and swirl around lavender and incense. Months later, it finally dawned on me that this actually smells of my dad. Dad was a lover of fougère colognes. In fact, he would douse himself with so much cologne that his clothes would still smell of whichever scent he wore after it was laundered. He also smoked. Fourreau Noir reminds me of how he would sometimes smell, a kind of lavender scent weaved into smoke. I usually dislike (to put it mildly) the smell of secondhand cigarette smoke and don’t even get me started on cigar smoke. But, I am strangely compelled to fresh tobacco and sometimes the lingering scent of cigarette smoke on clothes.
Post-purchase, I’ve come to learn that Fourreau Noir means “black sheath”. Now I’m pretty sure that references a black dress or clothing material, but the first thing that came into my mind was a black leather sword sheath. Although I think the latter would be more appropriate, I can definitely see the allusion to a black dress. Fourreau Noir after all calls out for a more dressy occasion. Its melancholic character almost deems it impossible for it to be worn on a bright sunny day. Although that said, I’d happily wear it just pottering around the house. There’s also a sweetness to Fourreau Noir that makes the dress allusion appropriate, though the “candied fruit” aspect common in many of Serge Lutens fragrances is played down here. Instead, sweetness comes from myrrh and tonka beans, that becomes more prominent after the initial smoky phase. Almond is also listed as a fragrance note but that has always been a note that eludes me.
I cannot of course speak about the Serge Lutens exclusive line without any mention of the bell jar glass falcon. I simply adore it, the look of it, the act of dabbing on scent from the stopper, the substantial weight of the glass bottle… I could go on for quite a while. But of course, on the flipside, it definitely makes it a stay-at-home scent since travelling with it is virtually impossible. Being a worrywart, I’m also alarmed how I can still smell the scent up close even when the stopper is completely jammed into the opening. In fact, there’s enough of the scent to fill up any small enclosed space where I store the bottle. Is the precious juice actually slowly evaporating away? Also, has anyone noticed sediments settling at the bottom of the jar?
Speaking of juice, I find the actual colour to be quite fascinating. It mostly appears a warm amber but in dim lighting, it takes on an autumnal-leaves olive brown. Quite appropriate really, as I find myself often reaching out to it in cooler months or nights. Despite its dark nature, Fourreau Noir to me is a pretty straightforward scent that only brings out blissful memories. And on that note, cue in Swing Out Sister, a band I absolutely love but has sadly and quite unjustly in my opinion faded into music limbo. There is often a longing in their music that reminds me very much of Fourreau Noir.