All too often, there is a trend of fragrance houses, whether they be designer or niche, discontinuing quite arguably the best perfumes in their portfolios. Some people see this as just a marketing tactic to create and further strengthen the desire to want the product in the future, but this warrants a discussion best handled elsewhere.
One such fragrance is the shimmering gold masterpiece Sahara Noir by Tom Ford, a designer house featuring fragrances that could very well be categorized as niche. Notable and popular highlights from their lines are such fragrances as Tobacco Vanille, Noir Extreme, Ombre Leather, and many others. Sahara Noir, a redolent creation nosed by the lauded perfumer, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, debuted in 2013.
The defining accord around which all the other notes revolve around in Sahara Noir is incense. To put it simply, this is a fragrance for those who love incense, as it is one of the prominent gems of the genre.
In the opening of Sahara Noir, it is quite arid and woody, all underscored by bitter orange. To my nose it is not so much as bitter as it is cold, frigid like the stones of an old church or perhaps an ancient tomb in which some arcane rituals are about to commence, replete with antique wooden furniture. Ever so gradually warmth creeps into the scene through lazy tendrils of smokey incense and the quiet glow of beeswax candles being lit one by one.
The beeswax has a marked animalic tinge to it, but I feel it imparts somewhat of a human touch to an otherwise ephemeral, otherworldly scene, as well as a touch of sweetness. Bit by bit the smokiness increases as thuribles swing to and fro throughout the dark edifice while the sweetness of the beeswax is enhanced by the subtle presence of Moroccan rose and Egyptian jasmine paired with the intriguing woody piquancy of cinnamon. Still, the floral components remain very much in background, primarily acting as a bridge or buttress for the other elements of the fragrance.
The aridity of Sahara Noir persists into the dry down, despite the presence of the rich base notes. From the middle stage to the dry down, I notice a subtle leathery quality peeking through the texture here and there, accompanied by some accord reminiscent of old book pages. This is probably due to some interaction between papyrus and labdanum, as they are both known to exhibit leathery facets.