Sensuous Noir is one of two flankers from Estée Lauder this summer, the other being the Pleasures Bloom that Angie reviewed yesterday. I have always had a soft spot for Pleasures: whenever I smell it I am brought up short again by how great it smells, and it's so much better done than the many other squeaky-clean florals of its ilk. Still, I have absolutely no desire to own or wear it. Sensuous is another matter. I would not argue with anybody who said Pleasures was the better fragrance of the two, but Sensuous was the one I bought. The pale honeyed amber works perfectly as a casual, not-quite-oriental (and not particularly sensuous) fragrance and wears well in almost any weather; it is one of my (many!) "what to wear when you don't want to think about what to wear" scents.
Sensuous Noir, I take it, is supposed to be the sexy, evening-wear version of Sensuous. Estée Lauder is calling it a woody chypre, but prior to the recent fashion of calling anything with a clean patchouli base (and this patchouli base is very clean) a chypre, it would surely have been classified as an oriental. It's darker and woodier than Sensuous, and a bit spicier and creamier. The florals seem more prominent, and the honey less so, although it's only marginally less sweet than Sensuous (think less honey, more candy). It's heavier — and less casual — but I don't find it any sexier than the original; if the reviews at the Estée Lauder website are to be believed, many consumers disagree with me on this point.
I don't mind Sensuous Noir — it's perfectly wearable, and as usual Estée Lauder has done a good job — but it doesn't really appeal to me: for one thing, it feels less distinctive than Sensuous, given that there isn't exactly a shortage of these sorts of modern (clean) woody chypres floating about the last few years. Still, if you need such a thing, it's worth a shot.
Estée Lauder Sensuous Noir features notes of purple rose, jasmine, black pepper, melted woods nature print, creme noir accord, patchouli prisma, spiced lily, benzoin, vanilla, honey and amber. It is available in 30 and 50 ml Eau de Parfum ($48-60).