Agent Provocateur Petale Noir ~ fragrance review

Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir advert

I'm definitely not someone who purchases fancy, expensive lingerie (and that is all you'll know, and all you need to know!), but I do like Agent Provocateur's fragrance line. It's a relatively small product range, and the fragrances all seem to be targeted at the over-25 demographic, two refreshing changes from the current norm. Maîtresse has been my favorite since it was released, although I also like and respect the original Agent Provocateur's saffron-rose chypre effect.

Now we have Pétale Noir, "a deep floral scent with a hint of oriental mystique" and top notes of mandarin, water lily, bergamot, violet leaves, hyacinth and magnolia; middle notes of rose otto, rose absolute, ylang ylang, muguet, orris, osmanthus, neroli, cassis blossom; and base notes of ginger, leather, sandalwood, vetiver, tobacco leaf, amber, musk and sandalwood. Agent Provocateur's description for this fragrance warns us that its "soft petals make way for dangerous prickly thorns." However, I experienced Pétale Noir's development in reverse: for me, it begins as a modern chypre, with dark rose framed by vetiver and patchouli. It's not a skanky-dirty rose, but it's more roughed-up than most florals you'll find at the average department store.

An hour or two later, Pétale Noir smells less "thorny" and more "petal"-like. The rose softens and is joined by creamy white florals that fall neatly midway between soapy and lush; the magnolia and muguet (lily of the valley) and some orange blossom seem particularly noticeable. There's also a nice dusting of spice, but nothing that tips into holiday potpourri territory. Petale Noir's dry down is a little more muted and less interesting than the earlier stages, but it's not bad: just a warm ambery-musky floral, neither deep not bright. And those potentially fruity-airy top notes of mandarin and water lily and so on? They're so discreetly tucked behind that floral-chypre opening that I barely notice them. 

Pétale Noir's central and later phases remind me somehow of the fragrances I wore in the era of the late-1980s and early 1990s — not the heyday of designer knock-outs Poison and Obsession, but the slightly later moment when sophisticated-yet-wearable feminine florals were much easier to find than they are today. Despite the slightly flat dry down, Pétale Noir has good longevity, and I'd describe it as sexy in a not-trying-too-hard way.

Agent Provocateur Petale Noir bottle

Pétale Noir's "juice" is tinted pink, which I'll forgive in this case, especially since the rest of the packaging is so pretty. The bottle is Agent Provocateur's usual sensual shape (it really does sit well in the palm of the hand), and it's decorated with delicate white roses and golden thorns and ornamented with a teensy black chain. All in all, perfect for a dressing table or a boudoir! Agent Provocateur, once again, knows its audience well.

Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir is available as 50 ml ($87) and 100 ml ($118) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for Agent Provocateur under Perfume Houses.

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  1. missyl says:

    Hey Jessica!, Yay! I’m going to town tonight and I’m hoping this is for sale in our area…I’m looking for a rose scent. Could you compare this to anything I might have tried out at Macy’s DIllards or Sephora? I’ve tried anything that might be floral or rose centered at all of the above. The only mail order/niche rose frag I’ve tried is SSS Velvet Rose. Do you like this and does it smell powdery, sour, or foody/sweet?

    • Jessica says:

      I do love Velvet Rose! It’s a natural-smelling, dewy rose without any gourmand notes. It does have some subtle woods.

      AP’s Petale Noir doesn’t have that “true rose” feeling—and the opening is a little woody-sharp, but the drydown has a bit of a powdery feeling. No gourmand notes here either, though!

    • Absolute Scentualist says:

      Velvet Rose is exquisite! Probably one of my favorite rose frags ever, and I love many.

  2. Absolute Scentualist says:

    I’ve liked everything from AP so far that I’ve tried (still have to try Strip) enough to want a bottle in most cases, and the original AP is a favorite bedtime scent. Thanks for reassuring me, Jessica, that this isn’t too soft and rosy as I’d worried it might be. Even Maitresse, which I think of as a beautiful white floral, has a little bit of bite to it that makes me love it even more. Love AP. :)

    • Jessica says:

      AS, I do wish that the vetiver-patchouli-spice parts lasted a while longer! but at least they’re there. The fragrance is almost gender-neutral before it turns more floral, which surprised me. I wonder who the “nose” was.

  3. 50_Roses says:

    Which particular fragrances of the late 80s/early 90s did you have in mind?

    • Jessica says:

      I’m still trying to figure that out… I *think* I’m thinking of the orange blossom in Ralph Lauren Safari and, weirdly enough, of Camp Beverly Hills, all grown up. Don’t laugh—it was a nice, creamy-crisp white floral! ;)

      • 50_Roses says:

        I’m not laughing. I can’t, as I have no experience with either of those scents, so I have no idea what they smell like. I was hoping it might be something I did know, to give me a point of reference. “Sophisiticated-yet-wearable feminine floral” sounds very appealing.

  4. katrin says:

    It’s sounds nice, and the bottle is beautiful, but I’m really put off by the skeletal model.

    • Jessica says:

      I have to say, I’m so distracted by her toilet paper-like lingerie that I barely noticed her body!

  5. Shoebaloo says:

    Accidentally (or not) there was a scent strip in my Nordstrom catalog that I happened upon this morning. I was pleasantly surprised, although maybe I shouldn’t have been, since like most of you, I’ve appreciated the fragrances AP has put out. But how timely to get notice of this review just a couple of hours later! Sounds lovely and promising. I’ll be sure to try this out on skin. I agree it brings to mind late eighties, early nineties scents – it made me think of Cassini in particular, if there’s anyone around who remembers that one! Oh, and if I may, I don’t agree the model is skeletal. She is just very young and normally built: I was like that, and never made any effort whatsoever (these days are gone!). Cheers!

    • Jessica says:

      Shoebaloo, do try it out on skin when you can! I don’t remember Cassini, but now I”m going to look it up…

      • dolcesarah says:

        I wore Oleg Cassinni to my Junior Prom, I loved it. Felt it very sexy at 17. Or either that was me trying to ,”fit,” into the cutest snapper dress of all time. It was orange girls. It had little o shaped dangly things as beads, made by Casinni himself and I wanted the perfume too. The shoes were either a nightmare or perfect. They were those see through pattern silks that you could dye. I got them the same color as my orange dress. Everybody noticed. I was hoisted up in the air to dancing queen. Having the punch of my life.

        • Jessica says:

          That is exactly the kind of memory you should take home from a prom! Cherish it. :)

  6. poodle says:

    I like the AP scents and I really like that bottle so this is one I want to sniff.

  7. eminere says:

    That bottle looks gorgeous.

    • Jessica says:

      It’s really, really pretty in person. I’ve always liked the feel of their egg(?)-shaped bottles, and the etching-like floral design is lovely.

  8. hajusuuri says:

    I have never tried any perfumes by AP! The scent strip inside the Nordstrom’s catalog gives me hope that my favorite SA will ply me with samples :-)

    That picture though is a total turnoff! It looks like a pile of picked over chicken wing bones.

    • Jessica says:

      hah! Poor skinny thing. I would have liked to see a more voluptuous woman, too.

  9. farouche says:

    Love the original AP, and this bottle is to die for. Must give it a try!

    • Jessica says:

      That original AP is a good one. Hope you’ll enjoy this one too!

  10. TheSnailsPajamas says:

    That model looks terribly cramped up.

    • Jessica says:

      Well, she *does* have thorns wrapped around one leg, poor thing. ;)

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