Perfume Review – Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir: Henry VIII’s Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose, emblem of the royal house of King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

The Tudor Rose, emblem of the royal house of King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

If the royal medieval dynasty, the Tudors, had a perfume to go along with their rose emblem, I suspect it would probably have been something like Tom Ford‘s Private Blend Noir de Noir For Women and Men. It is a scent that is as rich, baroque, lavish, and earthy as the bawdy, gourmand Henry VIII himself. Noir de Noir is not the delicate flower of Diana, Princess of Wales, whom Elton John called England’s Rose. No, this is Henry VIII’s prime rib to Diana’s scones and clotted cream. It’s rose turned rich and decadent, spiced and meaty, with an earthiness that hints at faintly musky intimacy. It is a scent that I think rose lovers will absolutely adore.

Fragrantica categorizes Noir de Noir as a “chypre” eau de parfum. You can read more about chypres on my Glossary but, in the most basic nutshell, a chypre perfume has a foundation consisting of oakmoss, or oakmoss in conjunction with certain other notes (like patchouli). On his website, Tom FordTF Noir de Noir describes Noir de Noir as follows:

A dark Chypre Oriental, this scent opens with an earthy mantle of richly woven Saffron, Black Rose and Black Truffle, with hints of floralcy. Underneath, Vanilla, Patchouli, Oud Wood and Tree Moss soften the intensity, making the scent a sensual experience.

Noir de Noir opens with the darkest, blackest, most luxuriously rich rose possible. I should confess that I am not someone who is crazy about rose scents (I overdosed on YSL’s Paris when I was 13), but I was very impressed with the opening of this one. This is much more my kind of rose! It made me think of dark, damask Persian or Bulgarian roses with their much sweeter,

A damask rose.

A damask rose.

headier scent than some of their pale European cousins. It’s a very narcotically ripe sort of rose note and so plush, it’s almost boozy. I don’t get the red wine notes that many refer to, but that booziness is such that it actually verges into a fruity realm. To be specific, I have a very strong and distinct impression of Welch’s grape juice or grape jelly. Despite that, Noir de Noir evokes a dark, medieval world of baroque velvet, sumptuous fabrics, rich wood-paneled rooms hung with elaborate hunting tapestries, and tyrannical, grumpy Henry VIII in bejeweled robes striding to a long dining room table covered with ornate silver and mounds of red-blooded, meaty dishes. This is most definitely England’s rose of a different century than Elton John’s pale, blonde Diana!

The sweetness of the rich, damask rose is accompanied by what seems to be a faint flicker of oud but it is so light, I think I may have imagined it. It is definitely not the medicinal oud I’ve encountered in Montale or By Kilian‘s agarwood fragrances, nor the oud of YSL’s reformulated M7. In fact, I tried on Noir de Noir twice to be sure, and, the second time, I was convinced that there was absolutely no oud at all. Zero. Others, such as Perfume-Smellin Things, have reported the same, but Undina’s Looking Glass reported quite a bit of oud when she gave it a test run.

Oakmoss or tree moss.

Oakmoss or tree moss.

Equally undetectable to me: oakmoss. At no time did I ever smell the pungent, almost mineralised dusty grey-green bitterness of oakmoss and, again, I don’t seem to be the only one. Perfume Posse also found no oud or oakmoss in Noir de Noir. Given the IFRA regulations on oakmoss, Tom Ford would have had to use either synthetic oakmoss or have the real thing be in such minute proportions as to be basically nonexistent. Judging by the perfume, I would guess that he went with the latter route because this is as much a “chypre” on my skin as Welch’s grape jelly is….

Instead, there is a definite note of sweet saffron with its faintly woody hues and a strong note of black truffle. I’ve cooked with and eaten real black truffles, and its earthiness is profoundly fresh-black-trufflesapparent here. The richness of the black truffle adds heft and meatiness to the rose. It also adds an earthiness that creates a faintly bawdy, sensuous note of body funk to the scent. It is not always apparent and, by the end, it flitters in and out like a ghost. Sometimes, especially in the opening hour, it is stronger and I sniff my arm with a faint trace of concern; I smell a wee bit ripe. At other times, it’s delightfully subtle and just a faint whisper that adds a note of sensuality to the perfume.

The earthiness of the black truffle explains why Noir de Noir is consistently described as a “high-class” or elevated version of Tom Ford’s Black Orchid fragrance, another one of his perfumes which has black truffle at its heart. In fact, there may be more than just an unintentional similarity between the two scents. My best friend, who so kindly sent me my sample of Noir de Noir, was informed by a Tom Ford sales lady that Noir de Noir was apparently the scent that was initially supposed to be Black Orchid. I’m not wholly clear on her meaning, and neither was my best friend, but it seems that Tom Ford may have originally intended for Noir de Noir to be the scent called Black Orchid. The latter came out one year before in 2006, while Noir de Noir came out in 2007, so who knows the accuracy of that story. Still, it is indisputable that the two scents share a similar “Noir” or “Black” theme of florals mixed with earthiness and black truffle.

I haven’t tried Black Orchid but, judging by Black Orchid Voile de Fleur and several other Tom Ford scents that I have tested, Noir de Noir smells far more expensive and not very synthetic. It lacks that almost shrill screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech of the opening, that clanging, loud, almost nose-burning olfactory assault that can be quite brutal at times. I attribute the latter to a very synthetic quality in some Tom Ford’s fragrances: Neroli Portofino comes immediately (and painfully) to mind, followed to a lesser extent by Black Orchid Voile de FleurWhite Patchouli and Violet Blonde.

No, Noir de Noir is a much better perfume than any of those other scents. Luca Turin seems rather enamoured of it, too, giving it a four-star rating in his book, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. He also called it a “rose-chocolate,” as do legions of others. I assume Turkish delightthe combination of black truffle and patchouli gives rise to that impression amongst so many, but I’m afraid I can’t smell any chocolate. What I can smell, however, and what I am convinced Noir de Noir encapsulates more than anything else is Turkish Delight. If you’ve ever had a box, or if you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe from the Narnia series, you will know what I’m talking about immediately. Turkish Delight is a sweet dessert that is often made from rose water and covered with white confectioner’s powders. It smells strongly ofTurkish Delight2 candied violets and that note of candied, sometimes powdered and vanilla-y, violets is an enormous part of Noir de Noir.

As time passes, Noir de Noir becomes more and more like powdered rose-vanilla with a hint of candied violets. At no time did I ever smell rich chocolate, though I do get that faint earthy note of body funk from the black truffle from time to time. Commentators on MakeupAlley seem to share my rose-vanilla impressions for the most part, and one even noted the Turkish Delight comparison, too! In contrast, Fragrantica commentators seem to fall predominantly into the chocolate camp.

One area where I depart from the majority in both camps is sillage and longevity. Even for my skin, Noir de Noir is of very short duration. In fact, it may be the shortest-lasting Tom Ford I have encountered. It became close to the skin about 1.5 to 2 hours in, and lasted for a grand total of 4 hours. There have been a few comments on Fragrantica and elsewhere about the 2 hour mark, so it may not just be me but we can be counted on one hand (or maybe just under two). Contrary to us few oddballs, the vast majority of people report that Noir de Noir lasts eons and eons on them, with some giving 12 hours or more!

If Noir de Noir lasted anywhere close to that amount of time on me, I might be a little more enthused about it. As it is, the very boring dry-down of powdered vanilla rose and violets with ghostly hints of earthy bodily funk is really not fascinating enough for the very high price of the perfume. The smallest bottle — the standard 1.7 oz/50 ml size — costs $205. That’s a bit steep to smell like Turkish Delight, no matter how lovely (and it really was lovely!) the opening notes of boozy, heady rose with saffron. The steepness might be a little more tolerable if the Turkish Delight er… Noir de Noir actually lasted on me but, again, it didn’t.

It’s probably at this point that I should bring up the other perfume to which Noir de Noir is repeatedly compared and you’ll probably be very surprised by what it is: the celebrity scent, Queen, by Queen Latifah. According to Fragrantica commentators on both the Tom Ford entry and the Queen one, it is an almost exact dupe for Noir de Noir! I haven’t smelled it, so I can’t comment, but the reportedly striking similarity may be of interest to you given the price differential. A 3.4 oz bottle of Queen eau de parfum retails for $59 and is currently being sold on the Walgreens website for $28.19 and on eBay for $15.16! In contrast, that same sized bottle of Noir de Noir retails for $280. eBay sellers are also offering the smaller 1.7 oz size of Queen for only $8, whereas the analagous 1.7 oz bottle of Noir de Noir retails for $205.

If the comparisons are true — and at least 44 people voted that they were — then that is quite a spectacular price difference! To be honest, I’m rather tempted now to buy the Queen just to see if they’re right! I’m sure there will be a difference in quality, as even its critics admit that the Tom Ford Private Blend line is of high quality. Plus, according to the Scentrist blog, the reported perfume strength of the Private Blend line (26%) is higher than even the regular Tom Ford line (18%). But, despite that, I’m still tempted to try out the Queen Latifah perfume. Have I mentioned how much I love a bargain or how curious I am?!

All in all, I liked Noir de Noir, though I’m far from its ideal, targeted audience as I’m not usually a fan of rose scents. Still, I’m surprised by how much I liked its opening. As a whole, though, I would have liked the perfume better had its sillage, longevity, dry-down and cost been different. But its richness and earthiness make it something that I think would appeal to many people, men and women alike.

To be totally clear, this is definitely a scent that a man can wear. And, judging by the comments on Fragrantica, a lot of men really love it. Amusingly enough, two of my closest friends — one of each gender — had very opposite reactions to Noir de Noir. My male friend (someone who wears such masculine scents as YSL’s M7) adores it and succumbed to a full bottle after just a few sniffs of the sample. In contrast, my female friend found it a touch too masculine (and she loves Tom Ford’s Oud wood)! I think the dispositive factor will be how you feel about rose. My female friend is, like me, not a huge fan. If you are — and if you like heady rose scents in particular — then I absolutely recommend that you try giving this sniff. Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

But the Henry VIII lifestyle is not included….

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Noir de Noir is available on the Tom Ford website where it sells for: $205 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle, $280 for a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle or $495 for a 200 ml/8.45 oz bottle. In the US, you can also find it at fine retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and others. In the UK, you can find it at Harrods where it sells for £135.00 or £195.00, depending on size. Elsewhere, Tom Ford fragrances are carried in numerous different countries; hopefully, you can find one near you using the store locator on the Tom Ford website.
Samples: If you like rose scents and are intrigued, but are also sane enough not to want to spend such a large amount without testing it out first, I suggest ordering a sample. You can find them starting at $3 on Surrender to Chance, or on other decant/sample sites like The Perfumed Court. I think Surrender to Chance has the best shipping: $2.95 for any order, no matter the size, within the U.S., and $5.95 for most orders going overseas. (It’s a wee bit higher if your order is over $75.)
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39 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir: Henry VIII’s Tudor Rose

  1. I truly never would have considered a rose scent until I smelled this one. I’ve tried a few since, and nothing has compared. It helps that I don’t get the “powdered vanilla rose” because I think that would make me like it a lot less. I personally smell rich, dark rose and a little earthiness which makes it so perfect for me. Of course, the mention of the Queen Latifah scent makes me incredibly curious! At $20, it could be a fun gamble! That said, I probably don’t need it, as I don’t wear NdN very often, so it will probably take me a long while just to work through the bottle I do have. I agree this is a more Henry VIII rose than a Diana rose. There’s something very archaic about it to me that I love.Hmmm, maybe I’ll wear it this weekend!

    Unrelated, but I’m wearing Invasion Barbare today and I’m simultaneously disappointed and pleased. Disappointed because I don’t think it’s particularly interesting or great, but pleased because at the price, I’m glad I don’t feel at all tempted with this one! It’s not that it’s bad, but it’s not very memorable for me. The opening in particular smells a bit like Vitamin E to me (which is a smell I’ve always weirdly liked, ever since I was a kid) and it dries down to something a bit more enticing, but not by much. I’m perhaps more critical of it than I would be if it were less expensive, but it is, so I am! 🙂 Also, I think it’s funny that it’s listed as a men’s scent exclusively, because I definitely have known women who smelled very similarly to this scent. Again, it’s not terrible but at $250 for 60mL, I hold it to a much higher standard.

  2. Sounds exciting but probably not for me. I love rose but I’m a very fussy when it comes to this note in perfumery. There are just a few I truly adore. Anyway I have no access to TFPB collection.

  3. It’s interesting how differently we smell things. I will give Noir de Noir another try since I grew more tolerant to agarwood since I wrote my notes and I suspect I might like it more now (especially taking into the account that I’m a Tom Ford’s fragrances fan) but I doubt I’ll smell truffles better or won’t smell agarwood. Fascinating 🙂

    • I love seeing how perfumes manifest themselves so differently from person to person. There are often a few key commonalities, but the nuances can vary enormously. To me, that is part of the magic of perfume exploration, though obviously it makes it hard to get any one consistent review or conclusion about a perfume. It’s probably lucky for us perfume bloggers since it means that someone curious about a scent needs to read at least 5 different reviews to get even a faint idea about it. LOL! Which brings me to your review.

      After a plethora of comments about no oud and quite a bit of funkiness from the black truffle, I read yours and thought, “Ah, a very necessary different perspective!” Thank you for that (and for a lovely review, by the way). It was also interesting to read how brief its longevity on you too. I was starting to feel rather like a weirdo. 😉 Let me know if further testing makes you smell more truffles. By the way, I noted you compared it to truffle salts which, in my experience, have a slight difference from truffle oil or actual truffles. But if you couldn’t smell even something close to the salts, then I fear you won’t smell it period. I certainly couldn’t find any black truffle in the TF Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, and quite a few people did! 🙂

  4. I tried this and it is way better than Black Orchid. I dont think I would pay $200 for it, but its still nice. I get chocolate, a tamed oud note( like in Bond No 9’s NY Oud) beautiful fragrant roses, vanilla and truffle. I like the fact that you can sense as it transitions between the stages with some of the notes fading and others coming forth. Again, nice fragrance, but I would have to think dark about springing for a bottle. Nice review K!

  5. Noir de Noir is absolutely awesome scent. It lasts on me quite a while and gets lots of compliments. It’s my going out scent and I often compare it with Bond no 9 West Side, although WS is not as dark and opulent. It’s funny but I don’t smell any similarities with Black Orchid(except for the black truffle).

    • I’m glad you like it, Ross. It seems to be a huge hit amongst male fragrance wearers! And you’ve given me a comparison to a second Bond No. 9 scent. Interesting. So, is Noir de Noir your favorite “I want to feel sexy” scent? 🙂

      • I feel incredibly sexy in NdN. Mainly because its my night time scent and it gets me noticed all the time. It’s has this “seductive” quality and sophistication that I love.Sometimes I like to add a touch of Japon Noir to NdN which makes it more enigmatic.

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  9. Wearing this one tonight as I take in the latest episode of MasterChef…Loving it so far. I have been searching for a good masculine rose as a summer scent. I have samples of Noir de Noir, 1740, and Une Rose lined up over the next few days…A true War of the Roses!

    I’m still in the opening period, but so far I’m getting a blast of devil’s food rose dipped in heroin. The oud is very present to my nose as well, though not nearly so prominent as in Black Aoud by Montale. Where the Montale is airy, expansive, volatile, Noir de Noir is presenting itself as a denser, more sensual fragrance.

    Vanilla is strong, too. I’m not normally one who leaps to sexual imagery when it comes to perfumes, but this is pulling up some pretty steamy memories. A mocha skinned beauty I once knew in New York with long, long legs and a Marie Antoinette complex. Lots of fun. Glad she doesn’t have my current address.

    Projection is startlingly powerful. I applied to pulse points on my arm and I’m getting a dense fog of Noir de Noir as I type.

    So far, so good…(although at this price, it’s going to have to last longer than it did on you, Kafkaesque).

    • Hilarious. The woman with the long, long legs, creamy mocha skin and a Marie Antoinette complex (!!!) sounds like a real story. *grin* As for Noir de Noir, I think more guys should try it. It’s very good, though I didn’t like the Turkish Delight ending too much. It sounds like you got a lot more oud than I did. I barely got any on my skin! I wonder how much you applied to get so much oud? Let me know how it works out in the end in terms of projection or whether you will succumb to a full bottle. You can get some good prices on it on eBay, I believe.

      Oh, and I’m a Masterchef fan, too, though my latest obsession is the BBC’s UK Masterchef version for professional chefs that is on BBC America. Most addictive, hypnotic, fascinating and truly HIGH CALIBER cooking show I’ve ever seen. Blows everything else out of the water with the focus on Michelin starred food and no unnecessary dramatics or theatrics. Just hardcore professionals and food. Simply amazing. It’s a pity that the whole season just ended and that it’s not available on BBC America On Demand, or I’d urge you to look it up. Truly addictive television!

      • I’ll have to check out the BBC version of Masterchef. Sounds wonderful!

        Noir de Noir is a no-sale for me. Like you, I just didn’t get any longevity out of it. I’m 4 hours in and it is almost gone. Compare that with Jubilation (my current fave), which runs 10+ hours.

        Of course. even the mighty Antaeus (new) only gave me 5 good hours. I have a sample of M7 vintage on the way–high hopes for that one. Up next is Histoires 1740 or L’Instant de Guerlain Extreme…

        BTW- What do you think of Aramis Havana. I sniffed it on paper the other day and was FLOORED. Spectacular, rich tobacco and patchouli with underlying vetiver. It has a reputation for strength.

        • I haven’t tried Aramis Havana but it sounds gorgeous!! BTW, much as I adore M7 and find it to be (almost) my favorite oud (after Ormonde Jayne’s Nawab of Oudh), I should warn you that M7 vintage has the sillage and longevity of a squashed gnat on me. Seriously. If your skin is like mine — and it sounds as if it is similar in terms of longevity issues — be prepared to have your heart broken as it disappears into a surprisingly soft, quite fleeting cloud……

          Haven’t tried L’Instant Extreme, and I really should give Histoires’ Marquis de Sade a thorough going over. My brief, temporary exposure to its opening was … er… interesting. Perhaps once I finish my Serge Lutens marathon — if it doesn’t kill me first. LOL.

          So, what was Noir de Noir’s drydown like on you? Sweet violet, candied powder at all?

          • Candied powder–yes, that’s a perfect description. There is also something sensual/animalic there in the drydown. Very subtle.

            I do like it, but not enough to pay Mr. Ford $250+. This quest for a summer masculine rose is starting to feel a little Quixotic. I’m not sure it is meant to be.

          • The starting price is $205 for the smallest bottle, but I agree, it’s a lot given the duration issues. As for your Quest, heh, I don’t envy you. Summery as well as masculine and rose? And that actually lasts on you with good sillage and a price that isn’t crazy? Hm. Yeah, good luck with all that. 😉 Joking aside, you should try Amouage Lyric for Women. A lot of men actually prefer it a LOT more than the men’s version. Seriously.

          • A lot of guys thinks it’s better than Lyric Man and it’s often a choice for a spicy rose fragrance. The Non-Blonde herself said that guys often prefer Lyric Woman because it’s bolder and stronger. I liked Lyric Woman, a lot, but I had an atypical experience where it was very little rose on me and primarily a ylang-ylang fragrance. A very beautiful one, but not the spicy rose that I had expected. Lyric Man, in contrast, was some sort of rose, but extremely muted and hidden behind a ton of other stuff. I wasn’t very bowled over. I think you should try the Women’s version, Ferris. I think you’d enjoy Lyric Woman. Oh, and you’d probably LOVE the new Fate Woman. Check out my reviews of both, and then you can decide.

          • I am DYING to get my hands on a sample or decant of Fate! Do you know of anyone whi is stocking it yet?

          • Samples, no, not yet. It’s available for order and restocked on the Amouage site, but that’s obviously for a full bottle.

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  14. I know this is a old entry, but I have to leave a comment here. After slumberhouse Zahd had disappeared from my wrists yesterday, I tried Noir de Noir for the first time. I’m in love!

    Now, that’s not a real review, but I thought, “Now, *this* is the smell of deep red silk velvet,” which is what Zahd was aiming for. I searched your site to see if you had reviewed this, and see you have. I love the scent of roses in the wild and in the garden, but most rose scents are a miss for me. Not this one!

    I work with figure and I’m always trying to find fiber that evokes scent and taste. I would use deep blood red silk velvet to evoke Noir de Noir. Absolutely. And I shall!

    • I’m so glad you found a rose scent to love. Noir de Noir is a hugely admired fragrance, primarily for the reasons that you describe. That rich, lush, velvety, beefy rose. Do you get the powdery aspect later on, or does it remain as a deep rose scent for you?

      • I’m wearing it again today, and it remained rose throughout. However, it disappeared from my skin in less than three hours, which was surprising. I will try it again and pay attention. Today was not a day to do that, and yesterday I was really layering on top of the remains of Zahd.

        • AH! I was wondering about the longevity issue, since it was surprising low on me for a perfume that had such a massively rich beginning to it. I’m starting to think that you may have perfume-eating skin as well, though 3 hours seems exceptionally low for Noir de Noir. Quantity may make a difference, but perhaps only by a few hours if your skin is really that voracious.

          • I did not apply liberally (two smears?), as I often find rose suffocating. I was surprised. Rose usually lasts way longer on me than I’d like it to. I don’t think of my skin as being “perfume eating” but I’ve been unwell this week and maybe having a low grade fever changes things. It certainly would make sense.

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