Noir films seethe with danger letting you perceive a heavy atmosphere made up of hidden truths and half-stifled criminal impulses. They offer thrill, adventure, omen, fear, but also style with a capital S. Some are more disquieting than others, some more haunting than others. Some impose themselves thanks to the contrasting luminous presence of an Angel of Mercy. Upon the dark shadows of a film noir are cut the figures of bright butterflies of the night, possibly blondes, often dressed in white...
To play upon the illusory game of appearances, femmes fatales are endowed with child-like faces, angelic traits, porcelain skins. Only the scent of a heady flower potted nearby one that as spectators we can't smell and can only guess at can betray their true nature and ambivalence.
To suggest the back-alleys and sombre twists of a cavalcade conducted through the city at night, hints of putridity and stagnant water are welcome. The city is trying to drain itself of crime, but not quite there yet.
Rotting flowers suggest moral corruption and neglect. Steam escaping from the subterranean world below the urban landscape hints at hell being a metaphor for smoke screens, lies and deception.
Noir films abound, but the ones you remember most vividly offer an indelible mix of symbolic darkness and luminosity illustrating the eternal fight of good and evil.
In neo-noir films, the black light has been replaced by a dark, black-blue light, a choice apparent in the upcoming short for Encounter by Calvin Klein, but also in the Martin Scorsese-directed commercial for Chanel Bleu.
A perfume composition is intrinsically destined to becoming a film-noir scent when pushed to its limits. A perfume can be moody, changing, shifting thanks to light and darkness. When this plasticity is fully captured, hints of poison added, and dark long shadows cast upon it, it becomes a perfume suggestive of the fearful aura of seedy detective movies, which in the end is a return to the biblical tale of the fall. Here it lands in the gutters of an urban man-made world, a reenactment of the myth of Eve, and tied to it, the unsettling danger that women represent.
Some film noir viewing suggestions:
The Naked Kiss
Les Diaboliques (still above)
The Blue Dahlia
The Postman always Rings Twice, the 1946 version.
Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud
La Mariée était en Noir
Arsenic and Old Lace - a humorous film noir -- we smell heliotrope or violet with a hint of anise
The Big Combo
Some perfume suggestions to accompany your viewing program:
Black Dahlia by Givenchy edp
Black Orchid by Tom Ford
Ange ou Démon by Givenchy edp - a bad girl, authentic bitch scent, at one level
Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens
Douce Amère by Serge Lutens - wistful wormwood
De Profundis by Serge Lutens - Jeanne Moreau in La Mariée était en noir could have worn it
Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens
Datura Noir by Serge Lutens
Nuit de Tubéreuse by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens - for a city of fogs and spiritual smoke at dusk
Habanita by Molinard - the relaunch is closer to the "thick" vintage version
Fleur de Cassie by Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums - a very 40s perfume
L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain - as moody as it gets
Après L'Ondée by Guerlain - for the angelic side of the film-noir femme fatale
Poison by Dior - all that is suggested without being said.
Prada Absolue - a sly carnal floral
Narcisse Noir by Caron - it was even featured in Sunset Boulevard
Fragrance notes to privilege:
Durian - never featured to our knowledge - it's waiting for a creator.