Givenchy Dahlia Noir ~ perfume review

Givenchy Dahlia Noir

A fantasy flower—The first fragrance developed under the creative direction of Riccardo Tisci, Dahlia Noir embodies the mysterious, singular radiance of a woman's graceful power. Dahlia Noir is both feminine and sensual thanks to its floral and powdery facets, but also powerful and captivating with its woody base notes. A Couture fragrance all in pure lines, a return to supreme luxury. The quintessence of the Givenchy Style.1

At times, it is almost too perfect (or just boring?) how neatly fragrance brands — and my tastes — stay inside their boxes. As I've said here umpteen and a half times, I don't follow fashion, but I do think nearly anybody who pays any attention at all to perfume could smell yesterday's subject, Prada Candy, and today's, the new Dahlia Noir from Givenchy, and say which was the Prada and which was the Givenchy, even if they'd read nothing whatsoever about either fragrance. And I'm just as predictable to anyone who reads here regularly: I didn't expect to like the Prada, but I did, and I didn't expect to like the Givenchy,2 and I didn't.

Likewise, I loved the silly Prada Candy commercial, but the commercial for Dahlia Noir left me mostly cold — the shots of Mariacarla Boscono's dress billowing in the wind are mesmerizing, but most of the rest of it looks like it's trying way too hard to be sexy. The parts that weren't trying to be sexy (those long moments when she's just walking across the floor) struck me as plain dull.

I might say the same for Dahlia Noir's juice. It's a modern chypre (aka woody oriental). The opening is a short-lived whoosh of tropical fruit (guava?) and citrus. The heart is a medium weight fresh peppered floral; in keeping with the references to the fantasy flower, perhaps, it doesn't smell like any flower in particular (the notes: pink pepper, mandarin, mimosa, rose, iris, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla and tonka bean). The base is a dry woody-musky patchouli, very clean and smooth, and made even more of-the-moment by a soft, powdery finish. There is something in the dry down, I don't know what, that smells ever-so-faintly medicinal; sometimes I noticed it and sometimes I didn't.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate Dahlia Noir, not at all. I wore it for several days next to Prada Candy, and I found it wearable and pleasant enough. It's competently done, and it's not unsophisticated. I wouldn't mind smelling it on someone else. It just didn't move me, and I liked it better when I wore it on its own— it couldn't compete with Candy. Candy smells fun, and I like to think that perfumer Daniela Andrier had fun making it. The Dahlia Noir is more conventional. It smells like the perfumer was ordered to include elements from all the latest successes (fruit, we need more fruit! make it powdery! give it a masculine side!) and to make it sexy, but keep it clean — nothing skanky enough to justify Boscono's suggestive writhing and bondage-wear in the commercial. (Whatever happened to the notion that Americans like clean, but the French like a little skank? There's no skank in anything on department store counters these days). Oh, and they were told to make it smell expensive, but not to spend too much on the materials. And then, somebody did what they were told, and they did a good job of it. It most certainly doesn't smell like a Prada, but it could as easily be from Gucci, or Yves Saint Laurent, or any of the other same-y mid-to-upper "luxury" designer brands.

If you liked it better than I did, do comment! Would also love to hear comments from anyone who has tried any of the new fall fragrances we haven't covered yet. It's going to be hard to keep up with all the new launches this year.

 Givenchy Dahlia Noir

Givenchy Dahlia Noir is available in 30, 50 ($90) and 75 ($110) ml Eau de Parfum. If you really want to blow a wad of cash, there's also the Baccarat bottle (while they last). In the US, as of this writing it is exclusive to Neiman Marcus.

1. From the description at Neiman Marcus.

2. By way of explanation, I thought I'd add that I didn't expect to dislike Dahlia Noir because of anything I'd heard about it, or anything in the press materials. I expected to dislike it because I like so few Givenchy fragrances. Eau de Givenchy (1980) and Organza Indecence (1999) are big favorites, but for the most part, their modern output leaves me cold. They do a great job with the Harvest series, admittedly — I wish they'd do a harvest version of a fragrance I liked.

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  1. PekeFan says:

    Thank you for a great review Robin. I’m looking forward to trying Prada Candy. (Your review yesterday was great too!) A perfume that smells “fun” sounds wonderful for the dark days of winter. I haven’t tried any of the new fall fragrances, but I finally got a chance to try Parlez-moi d’amour by John Galliano during a recent trip to Rome. I thought that it smelled just like berry kool-aid. I was expecting something edgier I guess. The Italian sales assistant even said it was “very sweet”. I still LOVE his original fragrance and wish it were easier to find it in the USA, despite the fact that he has had “issues” (to put it mildly).

    • Robin says:

      I saw that Vogue (I think it was Vogue?) had a short piece about Galliano online; I assume it is the beginning of what will be a long and painful reintroduction into fashion? But can’t think that those Galliano fragrances are long for this world. Totally agree about the berry kool-aid — first one was better.

  2. Rosagreen says:

    Thank you for the great reviews from yesterday and today.
    It sounds like it doesn’t have a soul and was just assembled from trends? I’ll try it when it comes to my country. Out of the new fall fragrances, only Chanel no. 19 Poudre made it to my country till now. I like it a lot, I think it is well done, elegant and charming and warm. It will be perfect for autumn. I haven’t properly sampled it yet, I don’t remember the middle phase very well because I was in a hurry, but I got enough Iris to make me happy. But I like the dry down, it’s a very nice and “spicy” vetiver. Can’t wait to try Candy and Elie Saab.

    • Robin says:

      Soulless might be going too far — at any rate, there are others that are more soulless than this — but to my mind, it could use more personality. Will be curious to hear what others think!

  3. Morgan says:

    good review, you are hyping us all up for Candy. I tried Bang Bang for the first time today, I liked it okay, it’s sweeter, and longer lasting on me than the first one (though I think I am anosmic to something in Bang). Bang Bang becomes generic after a few minutes but I can imagine a lot of people liking it.

    • Robin says:

      Ah, where did you find Bang Bang? I could not find a tester anywhere last weekend. Is it still peppery?

      • Morgan says:

        it was very peppery but not for long. I didn’t smell pepper again after the first blast had worn off

        • jonr951 says:

          Hi Morgan! Oh PLEASE do tell where you tested Bang Bang?! I simply ADORE the original and can’t wait to try Bang Bang! I’m really digging the blue bottle too! Thanks! : )

      • Owen says:

        I don’t like pepper, so obviously I don’t like Bang because it’s just pepper. but I saw Bang Bang in Debenhams today and only sniffed the bottle because I didn’t think it was worth smelling on skin, it’s peppery taken over by a shrieky aqua body.

  4. Janice says:

    Thanks for the review! I have tried exactly none of the new fall launches, but I will eventually get to at least some of them—maybe not this one so much, but Candy does sound like fun. (And from my assumptions based just on its name, it probably wasn’t one I would have gone out of my way for until I read yesterday’s review.)

    • Robin says:

      I think it’s going to be a good fall for mainstream. Elie Saab is great, Candy is great, and even this — Dahlia Noir is better than so many other things! And it looks like fruity florals might finally be over.

      • jonr951 says:

        Robin, how’s the Elie Saab?! I HATE that I didn’t pay much attention to it when I was at Nordstrom last month. It’s been a MONTH since I’ve been to Nordstrom! I can’t even make it down to my fav stores often anymore. It’s very sad. Haha. What’s it smell like?! It’s great?! I’m jealous! I have to get down there soon!

        • Robin says:

          I think it’s gorgeous, but that’s based on walking around with it on a card for a few hours — I need to get a sample and try on skin.

          • jonr951 says:

            Oh WOW I definitely need to too! : )

  5. Merlin says:

    I agree totally about the adverts: the silly one was tongue in cheek and made an impact, the other was mostly blah.

    • Robin says:

      I will usually prefer silly to “trying to be sexy”.

      • Merlin says:

        since ‘trying to-‘ suggests failure I can see why! Also, the ‘sexy’ is annoying for those of us who love perfume in itself, rather than as an instrument of seduction.

        The candy ad is actually ENJOYABLE, it puts a smile on the viewers face, which is what we want out of a scent. The actress had a personality rather than being a generic-coat-hanger model and we want a scent with character. Also, all the details of the room were wonderful and refreshing, detailed and old fashioned while having a kitch sort of ‘post-modern’ angle. The Givenchy was really bare in comparison. Sorry, this has turned into an essay!

        • Robin says:

          Exactly! It is very hard to do a really sexy ad without it looking forced.

  6. Elaine says:

    I tried Dahlia Noir during a recent smell-a-thon at Neiman Marcus and have absolutely no recollection of it so apparently I neither liked nor disliked it. Candy, like it or not, is much more memorable and DH is suffering for being launched at the same time, I think.

    • Robin says:

      Ouch — forgetting it entirely is telling! Did you smell anything else good?

      • Elaine says:

        I tried TF Neroli Portofino (“that’s very nice. Wait, how much? HAHA HAHAHA!”), Acqua de Parma Gelsomino Nobile (not nearly as good as Iris Nobile but it’s a work-friendly jasmine, which is hard to find), then I tried the new Inekes at Anthopologie (was underwhelmed but I was tired at that point so I should give them another try) and then I went home and ordered L’Artisan Dzongkha (sp?) and Candy on-line.

        • Robin says:

          That would be about my take on the Neroli too — and on lots of the Private Blend line, for that matter. You made good buying choices, IMHO!

  7. moore says:

    I thought the model was Kate Moss. Now I see that she doesn’t have that charming squinter eyes. Some brands really have their signatures and you don’t need to see to know what you’re smelling. Robin wich feminine fragrances do you think that have a masculine side or wich ones would you tell they’re masculines being selled for woman?

    • Robin says:

      It became popular a few years ago to say a feminine perfume had masculine elements. All they usually mean is that it has a dark, dry woody base with patchouli (Gucci by Gucci) but sometimes it’s just plain nonsense (Gwen Stefani LAMB). And there have been feminine perfumes with dry woody bases since forever — it isn’t really anything new.

      • moore says:

        Was it in a review? Could you send me the link? I’ve never tried the ones you told (Gucci and Lamb), but I’ll try them. Feminine perfumes with masculine notes usually are very interesting: Le Baiser du Dragon, Montana Parfum D`Peau, Kelly Calèche (for me the woman’s version to Terre d’Hermès), Eau du Soir… wonderful exemples.

  8. RuthW says:

    I honestly dislike the bottle so much that the juice would have to be praised to high heaven for me to even try it.
    That evidently isn’t happening. Will try the Candy instead. : )

    • Robin says:

      Gotta ask why? It looks so plain to me.

      • RuthW says:

        It’s a negative gut reaction, really not something I normally have over a bottle! The balance between the cap and bottle is off. I don’t like the silver banding contrasted with the way the glass is formed and how WIDE the bottle looks – very masculine and slightly cheap to me. Add the pink juice in and it feels like a total mishmash.

        • chaise says:

          I also had a very negative reaction to the bottle. It looks so generic, cheap and forgettable. No effort made. I haven’t smelled the juice but if they’re going for feminine and sexy it doesn’t work at all with this bottle. I also agree it sounds formulaic based on recent trends and for me the dead giveaway to that lack of originality is pink pepper which has been done to death!

      • Robin says:

        Interesting…thanks both!

    • Meg says:

      I hate both this one and Candy!! This one looks like an ugly eighties bottle and I can’t stand the sort of clashy kitshy appeal Candy is going for. It’s looks like an outdated R4 from Starwars. ugh.

      • moore says:

        Really?? I liked Candy’s bottle!!! It’s so distinct!! Givenchy’s is in the middle of the road. You’ll be disappointed seeing man’s bottles…

        • Meg says:

          It is distinct, I will give it that! Distinction counts for something

    • pyramus says:

      That bottle is virtually identical to Euphoria Men by Calvin Klein, with perhaps a vague nod to Oscar de la Renta’s Intrusion. I don’t know what they were thinking. It’s awful.

      • thenoseknows says:

        Actually… it looks nothing similar to Euphoria for Men… The Edges on the Euphoria bottle are soft and rounded and not the Vertical Lines of the Front and Back Sides of the bottle are not Bevel Faceted as Black Dahlia is… nor is it wrapped in Flexi-Metal as Euphoria… the top on BD is wider and Sleeker and not as Squat and Masculine as Euphoria…

        as for Intrusion… well… That had a top and bottle that were of equal length, not a top that was shorter than the bottle and it was far more slim and sleek than the top of BD. as well the Inner Vessel of the bottle of Intrusion was not so Bottom Heavy and was more Curvilinear…. BD has a HEAVILY Weighted Bottom that does not Curve more than partially up the sides… A La Intrusion….

        That Is All…

        • thenoseknows says:

          When i Say BD I MEAN Dahlia Noir… Just in my head i keep hearing it in English, which is Black Dahlia! LOL! SORRY FOR THAT! *EGG ON FACE!!!*

        • Merlin says:

          The Nose sure Knows her bottles!

      • Robin says:

        I don’t care for it, but it’s too plain for me to hate it.

        • thenoseknows says:

          talk about damning with faint praise! LOL! LOVE IT! :-) it’s too plain for me to hate it… GENIUS! Et, Voila!

  9. debbie says:

    I tried Dahlia Noir, yesterday, and while a few people, I ran into while out, asked me what I was wearing, it wasnt the Dahlia it was my Brit Gold they all liked. It smelt nicer sprayed on a paper card than on skin-my skin at least.

    • Robin says:

      Brit Gold was a nice one…and a really great bottle.

  10. thenoseknows says:

    I Agree with you robin about the modern Fragrances from Givenchy… those Very Irresistible Horrors are truly far, FAR From Irresisitble… they REEK! Ange Ou Demon I have heard is pretty good and i love the bottle and name, But Still i am sure it is far from Memorable…

    I am keeping my hopes up for this one though… I LOVE the Bottle and the Advertising… Think it’s a little Dark and Perverse, all things i like in small doses… so i’ll have to try it and let you know… but i have to most VEHEMENTLY disagree about the Gucci Fragrances… they seem to so unfairly and unjustifiably get so much Crap thrown at them for being Popular and Easy to wear that it’s almost as if they have sinned because they make scents that are Enjoyable and Pretty! I ADORE Gucci By Gucci, Flora, and Guilty in both the Women’s and Men’s Version (where applicable) and find them all EXCEPTIONALLY Well Done and Beautiful Smelling… Guilty for Women and Flora just BLEW Me away really, but there seems this constant derision heaped on them… I am a fan of Frida Giannini’s Directives for her fragrances (from what i hear she is closely involved with the evolution of all the fragrances, Very TF) and not that i am trying to change anyone’s mind nor does the House of Gucci need my Defence, I just felt like i needed to get that out in the open… Thanx! :-D :-*

    • Robin says:

      I liked Gucci by Gucci and Flora — neither for me, really, but they were both well done. Guilty — we will have to agree to disagree! I think what I mean is NOT at all that Gucci only does crap, but that I don’t think any of those brands — Givenchy, YSL, Gucci — has a recognizable style. They just make whatever seems like it will sell at that moment. But do think that of those 3 brands, Givenchy, for the moment, is bottom of the heap.

      • thenoseknows says:

        LOL! I Know i am the lone voice on here that Truly Reveled in Gucci Guilty (Donna and Uomo) and i am ok with that… i don’t have to convert anyone to it’s charms to justify my love for them… so i will courteously agree to disagree on that one, My Muse, Ms. Robin! ;-)

        Btw… did you like Parisienne or did you think it a cheap and synthetic Violation of the Original Paris Fragrance as i did? Hoping Saharienne is going to be good!

        • Robin says:

          No, I liked Parisienne — I thought it was interesting. Not so interesting that I wanted to own it though! And would not be surprised if it didn’t sell. AND, it certainly wasn’t much to do with Paris, which is a masterpiece. AND, gosh, it was better than the Belle d’Opium ;-)

          I hear Saharienne is nothing…an Eau de Cologne sort of thing.

          • thenoseknows says:

            Well, Thank you for alerting me… now i don’t have to hysterically seek out Saharienne and have Fever Dreams about it like Elie Saab and Bottega Veneta and Kokorico! ;-) Thank You, My Muse!

          • Robin says:

            Well, bear in mind I haven’t smelled it yet — that’s just what I’ve heard.

    • Merlin says:

      Flora is very pretty and I also like eau de Parfum ii, the pink one. Personally, I didn’t like Guilty – and at least partly cos of the hideous gold bottle! Also it just didn’t smell good on my skin. But, it smelled lovely on a friend of mine so…

      • Bonbori says:

        When I’m on the fence with a purchase (especially unsniffed), I bookmark it in my browser — Gucci II’s in there. Sounds like you would recommend it?

    • moore says:

      I liked Absolutely Irrésistible so much…

  11. Flora says:

    I have several problems with this, not the least of which is Givenchy’s approach to the PR -not what I would expect from this house at all!

    Does no one at Givenchy know that the term “Black Dahlia” is associated with one of the most horrific murders ever to make the front pages? Yes, it happened in the U.S. but it was a well-known and sensational news item, and a few years ago the whole thing got raked over in a major film.

    Also, Dahlias are an odd choice for a “fantasy flower” since they don’t have a fragrance. I know, perfume and reality are rarely in sync, but still.

    That said, I am curious and I will definitely try it when it hits the stores!

    • Robin says:

      I think they are counting on most young people of today having no sort of negative association w/ the term at all…and I would not be surprised if they’re right.

      • MCocteau says:

        They first have bought the name ROSE NOIRE . And probably somebody from the team realised they abused too much with the rose in Very Irresistible…

        • OperaFan says:

          Very interesting cmments from both you and Flora.
          If they wanted to use the name along with such an outlandish outfit on the spokesmodel, the least they could have done was to make a dark and somewhat disturbing fragrance to match instead of “floral, powdery” as advertised.

          • Meg says:

            here here!

  12. smartylicious says:

    Robin, you’re my hero for reviewing these new releases, they’re very helpful ! Looking forward to Prada Candy, as I usually love a nice gourmand. Please review the new Burberry Body as soon as you get the chance, I hear the testers are already on counter in stores. I hope it’s nice!

  13. Tama says:

    I smelled this on paper the other day (also in a smelling marathon) and was very disappointed. I tend to do quite well in Givenchy, even some of their marginal ones, and this one looked promising. I’ll be spending my money on 19 Poudre and Esprit d’Oscar, and already did spend some on Baiser Vole. And G of the Sea, lol, which I loved enough to get a big tester bottle for peanuts on ebay.

    • Tama says:

      Ohm, also tried those 3 Dozen Roses (or whatever they’re called) scnets and they were super-meh.

      • Robin says:

        I forgot to look for those, drat. If my NM had them though, they were not prominently displayed.

  14. abazemore says:

    dahilia stinks when it dries. prada candy is nice

    • Emma88 says:

      very interesting point of view… joking…But Prada has no brand territory and Givenchy Couture rocks! At least Dahlia Noir smells flowers and not some sugary whatsoever

  15. antonpan says:

    The perfumer of Dahlia Noir is Francois Demachy.

  16. Mrs.Scents says:

    I checked this fragrance out last year when it launched, and then recently revisited it. Love the name and the advertising and I really want to like the fragrance …but I just can’t! Really reminds me of cheap air freshener and old ladies. Boohoo.

  17. CML says:

    All I know is that I sprayed some Dahlia Noir on yesterday in the department store and a few hours later my husband asked me what I was wearing and said he loved it. I usually wear Amarige or Ange ou Demon. I agree that it is a little bit boring, but it is also delicious. I will be buying it soon.

  18. Veronika says:

    I find Le De Givenchy (les mythiques) to smell a bit skanky. A bit indolic jasmine… a touch of lily with some vase water it was standing in… It is everything I hoped Diorissimo would be for me…but sadly wasn’t. I bet the vintage Le De was perfection!

  19. marmalade says:

    I’m surprised to find that Dahla Noir has grown on me – I like unusual fragrances which have a bit more ‘personality’ usually (L’Air de Rien, Bulgari Black, Philosykos, Ninfeo MIo among man) so this was a surprise.

    I didn’t buy it, it was given as part of a swap, it took about 3 wearings, then I realised I couldn’t part with it! It’s rather soothing, and maybe because it’s summer I want something light, but this has a pleasant dry-down, ose, touch of baby lotion, dry subtle patchouli, comforting in a whole new way I’m not used to. Maybe I’m regressing, oh well!

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