Beautiful Black Perfume Bottles - and Smelling Black {Scented Thoughts & Perfume List}


By Kasimir Malevich

I have finally come up with a list of Beautiful Black Perfume Bottles. Writing down those names and comparing the bottles amongst themselves made me realize certain common traits that they share and some of the ideas regarding the treatment in black of perfume bottles. I will pick a few to see if the contents match the aesthetics of the flacon.

I have already come up with the thought that some perfumes should be dressed in black to convey the full impact of their personalities like Dzing!, Femme, Youth-Dew, Royal Secret, Réglisse, Sables, Patchouli Antique, or Lonestar Memories (yes, Andy!). This brings me to think that Coffee scents as I see it would be enhanced by black flacons for containers although if that became a dictum it would soon become boring.

When I try imagining a coffee scent held captive in a pink bottle, it somehows makes me feel ill in the stomach...

I suppose that intense scents, suggested by a black coffee note belong in black bottles. The interesting question for me is to see whether a not-so-intense scent gets to be perceived as more of something because it is coded in black like Nocturnes Parfum by Caron.

Some scents are dark yet remain of a very dark brown rather than veer to a credible black in my perception of them, like Ambre Russe, probably because in my mind amber and davana remain just on the edge of black. However notes like tar, coffee, licorice, patchouli or Immortelle easily build associations with the color black.... or do they all the time? We'll see. Some green notes have a lot of black in them like galbanum.

I am wondering what is the blackest perfume by the house of Serge Lutens? Is there even one such by him notwithstanding his debut fragrance Nombre Noir (1981) launched under the Shiseido label? How would a perfume made up of only naturally-occurring black ingredients smell like? Very intensely and disturbingly black?

Note added in 2014: Yes, since then, the house of Serge Lutens has come up not just with one but several "black perfumes": Five O'Clock au Gingembre (2008); Serge Noire (2008); Fourreau Noir (2009); Une Voix Noire (2012).

This reminds me of an experiment that was conducted at a dinner at the Palais de l'Elysée where only white food was served over the entire course of an official dinner. It turned out to be grossly unappetizing despite the high quality of the cooking. Doing it with black food would probably have the same effect.


By Pierre Soulages

Lately, I have come to realize more forcefully how the sense of sight contributes to the sense of smell as now it happens often that when I see a picture of a flacon or a flower or fruit I start smelling what I am seeing. If I take the image away the smell fades away and when I set eyes again on the image source the smell reappears. It is not exactly the same as reacting to the color black but it shows that olfactory memory/perception can be effectively stimulated by a visual signal.

More on black in perfumery to come.

And the nominees, in no particular order, are (for perfume bottles that are still available - not antiquities):

Arpège Parfum by Lanvin

Arpège for Men by Lanvin

Bandit by Piguet

Gala Loewe by Loewe

Black Orchid by Tom Ford

Kisu by Tann Rokka

Joy Parfum by Patou

Asja by Fendi

Fendi Men by Fendi

Nocturnes Parfum by Caron

Black by Bulgari

Chaos by Donna Karan (my favorite of the black DK bottles)

Zen by Shiseido (non-export line)

Opium Collector Edition by YSL

Balahé by Léonard

Ferre by Ferre

Kölnisch Juchten

Habanita by Molinard

Wall Street by Bond no 9

Silences by Jacomo

Scent Intense by Costume National

Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso

Ombre Rose Parfum by Jean-Claude Brosseau

Narcison Rodriguez edt by Narciso Rodriguez

K. Cole Black Woman

K. Cole Black Man

Rive Gauche Homme

Salvador Dali for Men

Encre Noire by Lalique

No 1 by Clive Christian

Nuit de Noël by Caron (thanks AnneE)

L'Arte di Gucci by Gucci (thanks to Anna)

Photo: Black Square by Kasimir Malevitch from

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7 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Great list - I've forgotten about many of these.

    For the beauty of the bottle alone, I would have to go with Arpege. And I would add Caron's Nuit de Noel for runner-up. Both gorgeous classics.

  2. Oh yes, completely forgot about Nuit de Noël! Counting on you guys to complete the list.

  3. Chicane de Jacomo, I believe, was black, along w/Septieme Sens by Rykiel [a great leather favorite of mine years ago].
    These were simple, but the jus within were marvellous....and discontinued, alas.

    Helene, I've been remiss, and I've missed you !

    [Beats breast a la Catholique and repeats soullessly-"C'est ma faute, c'est ma faute, c'est ma plus grevieuse faute"]

  4. I blooped !
    Mea culpa...


  5. The Armani Prive bottles are black wood, and they are quite lovely in person.

    Hmmm. Fragrances that would be black, if they conveyed a color:

    Bvlgari Black
    Black Cashmere
    SMN Nostalgia
    My Sin
    Armani Prive Bois d'Encens

    Are there others?

    To me, the Serge fragrances are ... too vivid? Mostly red. Or green.

    Deep blue is unusual in a fragrance, but light blue is common. (Not the actual color; the feel.) L'Heure Bleue is perhaps deep blue. Inky.

    My apologies if I sound nuts. It was fun to ponder.

  6. Mimi!
    What about L'Arte di Gucci? First - it's black. and second - it's very beautiful :)

  7. Anna,

    You are so right. The bottle is wonderful and the scent too, except that now that I have experienced Soir de Lune by Sisley I have to say that the latter smells even more refined and expensive.

    Thank you for the reminder.


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