I love the L’ Art et La Matiere collection so much I ordered this blindly, meaning I didn’t test it before buying. But I’m confident in this collection and as expected, Thierry Wasser, Guerlains perfumer/nose, once again delivered. I am really overjoyed too, because this fragrance is fantastic!
This is a gourmand orange dreamsicle treat for the grownups! The primary notes I get are orange, tangerine, and a creamy spicey vanilla but with so much more depth from the added nuances of smokey incense, myrrhe, and tea.
“Neroli” is the young blossom from the bitter orange tree. “Outrenoir” translates from French literally as “unusual black” but the term “l’ultrenoir” was coined by French artist, Pierre Soulages, whose abstract paintings composed mainly in black, focus on the play of light on various shades of black within the piece. His intentional brush strokes emphasize direction and create movement as well as give a sense of depth. You can tell which strokes are layered over which. The areas of black paint that are more transparent, feathery, and “dry brushed” are matte therefore absorb all of the light but the more opaque areas of thicker paint have a glossier texture, thus reflecting light creating highlights on the black impasto.
Pierre Soulages Untitled 1958
I completely understand why this fragrance was named as such: it’s a total dichotomy on the brink of oxymoron. Neroli and orange blossoms are pure white flowers, while “outrenoir” means “strange black”. This isn’t just noir, it’s outre noir. So the name equates to a white flower “noir”. Perhaps a gothic white flower noir even. Not literally dark but mysteriously dark. The seemingly polar elements of the notes on one hand, speak of warmth of spring and summer with sunny orange blossoms, grapefruits, and tangerines. On the other hand they tell a more overcast story of a chilly fall and winter with the myrrh, smokey incense, thick oriental vanilla, and Earl Grey hot tea, but it works so very well. It’s delicious and I can see myself wearing it year round.
Neroli Outrenoir has been compared to the Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra, and while I’ve never tried it, Teazzurra has been compared to Les Voyages Olifactifs Tokyo, which I own, so I can say they share that exact same tea note. The dry downs of Toyko and Outrenoir are only similar on that tea note. Outrenoir is much sweeter and thicker with vanilla and myrrhe. Side by side, it makes Tokyo feel bitter, brittle, and tart. And while we have seen quite a few neroli perfumes released within the past few years, including the highly successful Neroli Portifino by Tom Ford which I adore, I still prefer the Outrenoir. But I am a Guerlainophile. 😉
I’m usually not so crazy about citrus dominate perfumes in general, which I find too fleeting, too squeaky clean, a bit boring, and really, only appropriate for Summer. I think of citrus as mostly top notes as the molecules are more volatile and quick to evaporate. Outrenoir is a much heavier than most citrus frags though, thicker, creamier, and lasts 12 hours strong. I’m not sure how Wasser did it but I can smell the neroli all the way into the base, which is an accomplishment in itself. Plus I can wear this year round which is a super win-win. 👍
This is a Guerlain exclusive which means it’s not readily available for testing and it comes with a pretty hefty price tag. But if you love citrus and vanilla, this is absolutely the best of the best, creme de la creme, though I do recommend seeking out a sample before purchase if possible. But I adore it! My most successful blind buy this year! (So far, ha ;)❤
Season: Year round
Top: Bergamot, Petitgrain, Grapefruit, Lemon, Tangerine
Heart: Orange blossom, Tea, Smoke, Earthy notes, Neroli
Base: Ambrette (musk mallow), Oakmoss, Myrrh, Benzoin, Vanilla