French designer house Lalique is famous for their glassware. In fact, they are known to design and supply other brands with perfume bottles, such as for Nini Ricci’s L’Air du Temps and even a special edition of Tom Ford’s Black Orchid.
But Lalique has its own excellent (and quite affordable) line of perfumes, several of which have become modern classics – Encre Noire, for example, Lalique Le Parfum, Amethyst, and Lalique Pour Homme.
Ombre Noire (meaning “Black Shadow” in French) a 2017 Middle Eastern exclusive release, is perfectly in line with Lalique’s long and storied history of making great perfumes.
Lalique Ombre Noire is a rich, boozy, and unique fragrance featuring tobacco, resins, spices, and woods. Offering high quality, excellent performance, a great bottle presentation, and good value for money, Ombre Noire is a fantastic option for lovers of oriental perfumes.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Lalique Ombre Noire.
Top Notes: fig leaf, mint, bergamot
Middle Notes: tobacco leaf, cinnamon, papyrus
Base Notes: cognac, myrrh, olibanum, cedar, tonka beans
Ombre Noire is, at least in my opinion, an incredible scent, a must sniff for lovers of booze, tobacco, and resins.
The mid and base notes of the fragrance are not overly unique; combining tobacco, spices like cinnamon, resins like myrrh and olibanum, booze, and wood has been done before, though here it has been executed with particular panache. However, where Ombre Noire differentiates itself is with the addition of fig leaf and mint.
This rush of greenery shoots through the fragrance like an electric shock. The mental image I get when I think of it is similar to a brick house overgrown with vines and creepers. A brazier of resins is burning inside the house, and you can vaguely smell it from afar. As you draw closer, you clear the vines away and open a door into a dark, dimly lit cedar room hazy with the smoke of incense and cigars.
That’s the experience of Ombre Noire for me. As the fragrance dries down, the resins, wood, and tobacco become more prominent, but the green element never fully recedes, keeping an otherwise resinous tobacco fragrance somewhat fresh and unique.
Finally, in the deep drydown you’re left with wisps of dry cedar, smokey tobacco, a melange of resins (which remain clumped together throughout the life of the fragrance; I don’t pick out myrrh or olibanum as individual notes, but rather as a blend), and a subtle hint of tonka sweetness.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the cinnamon.
Cinnamon is very prominent in the fragrance, but don’t think of your typical sweet cinnamon powder. This is a dry, dusty cinnamon bark, paired with papyrus (which has a papery smell) to create an accord that really does remind me of walking through the souk in Marrakech and the rich, mingled scents of spices in the air.
Some have compared the smell of this fragrance to garam masala, an Indian spice blend. I wouldn’t really go as far as that, but this is definitely not your holiday spice cinnamon candle kind of experience.
The blend of cinnamon bar and papyrus, burning resins, smoky tobacco, dry cedarwood, and vibrant green mint and fig leaf create an incredibly wonderful, unique, and appealing scent profile. This is one of the few fragrances that have made me audibly say, “Oh my god!” upon first sniffing and keep my nose glued to my arm for hours afterwards.
If I were to describe Ombre Noire in a few words, it would be: spicy, smoky, green, boozy, dry, rich, complex, and exotic.
This is a Lalique fragrance, and so the presentation is nothing to scoff at.
The box for Ombre Noire is nice, if pretty standard.
You get a simple black square box with shiny vertical black stripes, with a band wrapping around the whole thing reading, “Lalique” and “Ombre Noire”. There’s a little Lalique detail embossed into the top, but other than that, it’s pretty much your bog standard perfume box, which I have no complaints about.
The Lalique Ombre Noir box is simple, straightforward, and gets the job done.
Considering that Lalique is a glass company, it should come as no surprise that the bottle for Ombre Noire is a great piece of work.
I would describe it as clean, simple sophistication personified, in the same way that the Chanel Les Exclusifs or Dior Prive bottles offer no-frills but elegant designs.
The bottle is essentially a hulking (and darn heavy) glass cube. A paper logo with the name of the brand and the fragrance in gold lettering is plastered on the front. The cap is plastic, but the design of it is super cool – it reminds me of British niche brand Thameen.
Essentially, it has these ridges on it that kind of gives it a vintage analog feel that I find really unique. The top of the cap is decorated with the same Lalique medallion that you can find on the top of the box.
The cap pops off with a very satisfying pop and fits quite securely onto the atomizer. The atomizer itself is great, dispensing a strong, concentrated, rapid fire burst of fragrance with each spray.
Overall, the bottle presentation of Ombre Noire is fantastic – simple, clean, elegant, and perfectly apropos.
The performance of Ombre Noire is above average.
The longevity of Ombre Noire is pretty good, if not stellar.
Four to five sprays on my perfume-eating skin give me seven to eight hours of solid longevity, and more on fabric.
Usually, the Middle Eastern market demands powerful performance, especially where longevity is concerned. That’s because the Middle East has a strong tradition of attars, perfume oils which last for an enormous amount of time on skin.
Want to know more about attars? Why not take a look at this article for a deeper dive?
I was honestly expecting a little bit more longevity out of Ombre Noire, but I’m also perfectly fine with seven to eight hours, as that more than satisfies my perfume needs. This is a lot less hefty than the notes might suggest, and so the performance overall is a bit pared down compared to heavy hitters from Middle Eastern brands like Arabian Oud or Amouage.
Of course, though, you can always spray more for more longevity. Don’t know how many sprays are enough or too much? Don’t worry, I’ve got a guide here that can get you sorted out.
Projection & Sillage
The projection and sillage of Ombre Nomade, on the other hand, are quite good.
Four to five sprays on my perfume-eating skin give me two to three hours of arm’s length projection and sillage.
Ombre Nomade will also linger in a room after it’s been sprayed, always a sign of the quality of a perfume’s sillage. This is not a beast mode fragrance by any means, but people definitely won’t fail to smell you if you’ve got this on, and you might even get a compliment or two, too.
This will leave behind a rich, complex, and alluring trail behind you, without being too strong or invasive. To me that’s the best kind of projection.
Value For Money
Now comes something of a touchy subject – value for money.
Ombre Noire currently retails for $139 exclusively on the Lalique website. That’s $1.39/ml for a 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle.
I’ve read, however, that on launch Ombre Noire was priced at around $200, and available exclusively on the Middle Eastern market. If that were still the case today, I would argue that Ombre Noire didn’t have the best value for money (though it is still a high quality and worthy scent).
However, even for $139, I think Ombre Noire is worth it for its quality, uniqueness, presentation, and performance.
Ombre Noire also often appears on online discount websites like FragranceNet and FragranceX, sometimes for as low as $40 USD. For that price, Ombre Noire is a steal. I myself managed to find a bottle on Ebay for around $60 and am more than happy to have gotten it at that price.
The only downside to Ombre Noire is the patchy availability. It was never released in the US, and has only had a limited run in Europe. Sometimes it will be almost impossible to get hold of a bottle, while other times they’ll be plentiful.
Luckily, however, it isn’t discontinued, and you should be able to find a bottle for a few more years to come. If you see a bottle for more than $100, though, I would wait and see if you can find it for a lower price.
Overall, taking the quality, performance, and presentation into consideration, Lalique Ombre Noire has excellent value for money.
Who Would Like It
Although it was produced by a designer house, Ombre Noire is definitely niche in styling. Don’t know what a niche fragrance is? If you want to know about the difference between designer and niche perfumes, I’ve got you covered.
The fact of the matter is that dark, spicy, smoky fragrances like this one are not for everyone. I do think that Ombre Noire is a particularly appealing variation on the spicy/smoky/resinous theme, but nevertheless, a fragrance like this isn’t going to be for the Dior Sauvage crowd.
So ask yourself, do you like tobacco? Do you like incense? Do you like spices? Do you like dry woods? Do you like green notes like mint and fig leaf? If so, then Ombre Noire will be right up your alley.
I see this being appreciated by more mature crowds, 25+ – maybe even 30+, though I’m 26 and wear it with pride. I also consider it as a pretty solidly masculine fragrance. Sure, some women might be able to get away with it, but the dryness of the composition really strikes me as a masculine. Still, perfume has no real gender, so if you’re a lady and Ombre Noire strikes your fancy, go for it!
When To Wear It
Ombre Noire is definitely a fragrance for fall and winter only – in my view, more fall than winter. Personally, I prefer to wear dry, woody, spicy scents – like Tea For Two and Noir Exquis – in the autumn and my sweeter, richer scents – like Naxos, Bois d’Armenie, or Santal Royal – in the winter.
Ombre Noire is decidedly in the former camp rather than the latter – dry, woody, spicy, with just a hint of sweetness, rich but not too rich, which makes it a perfect autumn fragrance in my eyes. You could certainly wear this in the winter, though, especially on days where it’s cold but not bone chillingly so. It’s the perfect companion to a dark turtleneck, dark jeans, boots, a scarf, and a big ol’ comfy coat.
As far as occasions are concerned, I see Ombre Noire as a nighttime fragrance made for going out. I don’t think you should wear this to a club, no, but to your favorite bar, a cigar lounge, or a nice restaurant?
I think it’d also be great as a date night fragrance (go easy on the trigger, though) or paired with a suit for a more formal occasion. Art galleries, museums, concerts – yes, yes, and yes.
Of course, you could also wear it more casually, but the fragrance strikes me as a scent perfect for nights on the town. You could wear it to work as well, though I wouldn’t consider the office as the best place to wear Ombre Noire.
In short use Ombre Noire for cold weather, nighttime and going out.
Ombre Noire is a unique fragrance for sure, but there are others that hint at it, or rather that Ombre Noire hints at.
The first thing I was reminded of when I tried Ombre Noire was another amazing woody, spicy, green tobacco and incense fragrance: Amouage’s Memoir Man. I absolutely love that fragrance, and wouldn’t consider owning both of them to be redundant, but they are definitely in the same ballpark.
Memoir Man amps up the bitter, herbal absinthe/wormwood accord, however, throws in lavender for a more markedly fougère accord, and has a green rose hiding in the incense smoke, while Ombre Noire leans more heavily into spices, booze, and resins. Still, if you love Memoir Man like I do, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll like Ombre Noire.
It’s also reminiscent of the discontinued scent Carbone de Balmain by designer brand Pierre Balmain. That scent also contained fig leaf, incense, resins, and woods, but to my nose is more about the combo of vetiver, pepper, and fig, while Ombre Noire is less dry and more woody.
Finally, Ombre Noire has some similarities to the fragrance community fan favorite, Bentley For Men Absolute, a dark, woody, incensey, and quite cheap composition quite similar to the discontinued Gucci Pour Homme I. However, Ombre Noire is a lot suppler, less austere, and more inviting due to the addition of booze and tonka.
Bentley For Men Absolute also lacks the greenness that makes Ombre Noire so unique. Still, if you want a budget option in the same ballpark, Bentley For Men Absolute is your best bet.
Pros & Cons
- Unique, high quality blend of spice, wood, tobacco, resins, and green notes
- Good performance
- Good value for money, when it’s available
- Availability is patchy; you can mostly purchase this through online discounters or on Ebay if you’re located in the US, Canada, or Europe
- The niche character of the scent might not be to everyone’s tastes
- Although the performance is good, people looking for “Middle Eastern” longevity and projection might be disappointed
The Final Word
Overall, Lalique Ombre Noire is a fantastic scent that I’m absolutely in love with. I’m certain that it’ll be in autumn and winter rotation for years and years to come.
Offering a unique, high quality scent profile (that is still appealing), good performance, elegant presentation, and great value for money (when it’s available), Ombre Noire is a fragrance I can wholeheartedly recommend to lovers of spicy, smoky, boozy, woody, and resinous scents.
★★★★☆ 4.5 stars out of 5