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Fragrance talk

Hidden Gems vol. 4: The marvelous Encre Noire line

It’s time for our fourth hidden gem entry in our new series, Encre Noire by Lalique. Lalique released Encre noire in 2006. It was one of their best releases to date, and it launched one of the most successful lines in the world of perfumery. In this article, I will express my thoughts about Encre Noire and draw a brief comparison to the whole line of flankers, namely Encre Noir Sport as well as Encre Noire A L’ Extreme.

Encre Noire

Imagine this, an oriental wooden traditional Japanese house amidst a green calm forest on a drizzly day, with puddles of rain water softening the soil and grass around the house. This picture is highly reminiscent of Encre Noire. It is a woody and earthy masterpiece that sparks mystery and sophistication along with originality and wisdom. Someone who wears Encre Noire shall know more than you expect and you can bet there is more to him than meets the eye.

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Encre Noire’s officially listed notes are very simple, yet when you smell it, you will get bedazzled by its sophistication and oddity. The listed official top notes are cypress, which acts as the opening, a mix of Bourbon vetiver and Haitian vetiver, while the base notes are comprised of cashmere wood and musk. Having showered it with praise already, I want to admit that I find Encre Noire to be pretty linear with no clear distinction between the fragrance phases and it is only recognizable by the skin of your teeth.

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As far as wearability, I will mention two facts about Encre Noire. The first one is, the way Encre Noire is composed leaves the fragrance with different reactions to different types of skin and body chemistry. It might smell divergent from one person to another, so do not expect the sillage to be the same on everyone wearing it.

The second thing is that you easily go nose blind when you wear it, leaving you under a false impression regarding its performance. My advice is to try smelling it on someone else and you will find the sillage to be very satisfying. In terms of reformulations, I own two batches, one from 2016 and another from 2021. I honestly cannot find any differences in any aspect, neither in the smell itself, nor in the performance category.

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After the substantial success of Encre Noire, Lalique decided to release two more flankers, Encre Noire Sport and A L’Extreme. Encre Noire Sport made its debut in 2013. It manifested a fresh take on Encre Noire.

In Encre Noire sport, Lalique introduced some fresh notes in the opening, like grapefruit, bergamot and Lavender, deeming Encre Noire sport the summer version of Encre Noire. Furthermore, and to put some emphasis on the darker and more intriguing aspect of the scent, Lalique released Encre Noire a l’Extreme in 2015 as the oriental incense-inspired version of Encre Noire. Encre Noire a l’Extreme incorporated incense, Patchouli, and Sandalwood into the Encre Noire DNA, flaunting a formal and more elegant vibe.

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I believe Encre Noire to be the perfect blend of the other two flankers. It has the best performance in terms of both sillage and longevity altogether, whereas Encre Noire A L’Extreme has the best longevity among the three, also its sillage is rather tuned down. Encre Noire Sport has the least longevity, but on the other hand, it has the highest sillage for as long as it lingers. For the price it is sold for, Encre Noire and all its flankers are a great value for money. They have such a unique DNA that other big designer houses started imitating it in their private collections.

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Tell me what you think about Encre Noire in the comments. Which flanker do you like the most among the line?

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