Notes: Cypress, Vetiver Bourbon, Vetiver Haiti, Woods and Musk.
I’ve never been one to wear ‘masculine fragrances’ or perfumes centred around veitver. However Encre Noire – black ink – has always held a certain fascination for me. I know a lot of women love it and I like the way the bottle resembles a bottle of ink.
A little while ago I got samples of the original EdT (released in 2006) and one of the flankers, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême EdP (released last year).
Encre Noire EdT
The first half of Encre Noire is focused on cypress which is like being dropped into the midst of a dense, dark green grove. It has the feel of an aromatic incense perfume, like Armani’s Bois d’ Encens. The veitver gently wafts up from underneath, like earth permeating a layer of pine needles lying on the forest floor. What’s great is that the cypress lasts right through to the base.
Swampy vetiver accords turn my stomach; a kind of grassy ditch water aroma that I can’t abide. Encre Noire thankfully doesn’t have that, even when the cypress eventually fades and the vetiver comes into full effect. It has more of the smoky kind of veitver, which is probably down to the inclusion of vetiver bourbon.
What I do like about vetiver is its strength. Wearing Encre Noire, you can feel that characteristic certainty – an unshakeable self belief that will get you where you want to go. At the same time, it has a head-clearing quality which would indeed make it ideal to wear while writing or whenever you need to focus.
Encre Noire à l’Extrême EdP
Encre Noire à l‘Extrême opens up at a much lower pitch without the deep green waft of cypress. It’s dark and dusty from the start, like an unexplored attic in a crumbling mansion.
While the original Encre Noire is centring yet expansive, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême is more intense. It’s also more intimate and rather seductive with its light veil of powdered musk. The hazy, dry woods present are just as soft and malleable.
The two iterations converge in the base where they are reduced to tones of grey, like a charcoal drawing.
Encre Noire à l’Extrême conjures up darkness in a way that is soothing and mysterious rather than alienating. Imagine being relieved when night falls because you can take off your mask and finally be your true self. It’s a sophisticated vetiver which has been polished and stripped of its vegetal harshness. More than ink, it makes me think of grey mist; the outline of a stranger in the gloom.
Both incarnations of the fragrance have bucketfuls of atmosphere, especially for mainstream offerings. I’d recommend giving it a try if you like intriguing, dry scents which feel grounding. It’d make a good choice for those who want an alternative to the sugary confections filling up the shelves in the high street.
How you get along with vetiver? Have you tried any version of Encre Noire?
25 responses to “Encre Noire and Encre Noire A L’Extreme by Lalique”
I heard of this perfume but for the life of me can’t remember if I ever smelled it. And I love vetiver! So I’ll definitely look for it to see how I like it. Sounds like I might enjoy it a lot – I love wearing masculine perfumes. 🙂
You totally need to try it, Ines! I think Victoria at Bois de Jasmin rates it highly and it’s often discounted. Let me know what you think.
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I am not a vetiver fan – I can very much relate to your swampy grass image (Hello, Papyrus de Ciane!) (sp?) – but I know a man who rocks the original Encre Noire. I am curious about the Extreme variant, precisely for its lack of cypress / pine foresty vibe. Always got time for anything mysterious, and a stranger in the gloom has to be tried (as it were). 😉
I don’t think I’ll ever own a vetiver dominant perfume but this is the closest I’ve come. I actually prefer the cypress In the original version but see what you think of the Extreme flanker. I did really like the mood it conjured.
I still haven’t tried Encre Noire which is clearly a mistake on my part, but I love a good vetiver. Sycomore is a real favourite of mine–even though it sometimes has a bonus trail of damp cardboard–as is Vetiver Tonka, and I frequently steal a spritz of the Guerlain Vetiver that my chap wears so well. But I’ve been wearing even the most “masculine” fragrances since I started–I was cheerfully dousing myself in Antaeus back in the sixth form.
You should definitely give it a sniff. I see it at TK Maxx from time tot time.
I wish I was the type of woman who rocked masculine fragrances. I always admire those who do. I believe Encre Noire is the signature scent of Caitlin Moran. Random fact for you 🙂
I’ll keep my eyes (and nose) open for it when I wander through. (And that’s a good fact, thank you! I am made oddly happy knowing that someone as fabulous as Caitlin Moran smells good too. i suspect Dylan Moran is less fragrant, however.)
The masculine/feminine split on fragrances confuses me a little, and always has done. I figure if it smells good, wear it. (I guess it’s tougher for men who don’t feel they can comfortably wear female-associated perfumes, given that their traditional choices are so much more restricted.)
Oh yes, the divide in marketing should be no barrier but I’ve never found a fragrance that’s aimed at guys that works for me. Except maybe for Dior Homme. I guess I have a pretty traditionally feminine taste in perfume which is a bit annoying 🙂 I love it when guys rock something others might find girly, like a big aldehyde or floral.
Great reviews, Tara. So well captured in your writing. I love both of these. vetiver classics.
That’s particularly nice to hear because you know both so well. Much appreciated!
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It’s a pleasure. Looking forward to more of your posts. R
Hi Tara, I tried the original when it came out and liked it a lot. Vetiver and I have a rocky relationship but I may just go and try to find it for another sniff. Lovely reviews. Sandra xoxo
It might be worth another try to see if it’s a vetiver that works for you. Could be a nice contrast for summer.
Vetiver is one of my favorite notes (never tried Encre Noir). My new favorite is the one by Parfumeur H.
I wonder what you’d make of Encre Noire.
Perfumer H has some really good frags. Some unusual ones as well as wearable.
these sound wonderful Tara. what a powerful combination. dark, mysterious yet enlightened? i’d love to try Encre Noire EdT. sounds like the medicine i need right now. beautiful post xx
Vetiver is really strengthening and grounding, Davina, so do give it a go. You should find Encre Noire in the men’s section of most places that sell perfume on the high street. I prefer the original edt and think it could be great for you!
I tried Encre Noire (from the sample) but I don’t remember what I thought about it – I will revisit it soon. But I don’t think I realized it was marketed as masculine perfume (does it mean that I’m gender-blind when it comes to perfumes? 😉 ).
I rather like vetiver but from time to time I get overwhelmed with vetiver-dominant perfumes. But then I wear them again.
I’m glad you did a review for these perfumes: there was so much hype about EN at some point – and now I never hear about it. I always feel bad about those perfumes that seems to loose their popularity 🙂
I know people are more interested in the new stuff so thanks for that!
It’s great that you are gender blind when it comes to perfume. I’m always reticent if something is targeted at men because the traditional masculine style isn’t my style The good thing about niche/indie and even the boutique collections of the big brands, is that they are not divided by gender.
If Encre Noire worked me in its entirety I wouldn’t hesitate to wear it. Just that bit too vetiver heavy.
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Guerlain Homme L’Eau Boisée is actually more vetiver-laden than the actual Guerlain Vetiver. Works great for young men and women because it’s so soft and smooth.
Never tried Encre Noire à l’Extrême but I’m definitely curious about it now, thanks!
Ah that’s interesting. I had it in my head that L’Boisée was a masculine Shalimar.
An attic in a mansion, the stranger in the shadow, gosh I enjoy this so much Tara. I do like Vetiver as well, I had bought my husband Guerlain Vetiver and I ended up wearing it. I also bought my son a vetiver fragrance in Rome by Niyo and Co. Again they don’t wear it! I just sprayed myself and its peppery?
They dont wear what I assume they would like mmmm..
PS: they like their Burberry, Hugo Boss and Jazz..
I think it can be very hard to pry a man away from his old favourites. At least you liked and wore them instead! Do try Encre Noire if you come across it. I think you might appreciate it as you are fond of vetiver.
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