What can one expect from a fragrance inspired by Billie Holiday’s gardenia, called Une Voix Noire (Black Voice) and created by the dream team of Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake? Heady, dark, convoluted, perhaps? Well, Une Voix Noire is none of these things. It has a surprising combination of softness and warmth. Its presence is generous, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s dramatic without being heady or dense. Une Voix Noire feels velvety the moment you put it on, and it gracefully moves from one stage to another. Frankly, if Lutens said that he was inspired by ballerina Maya Plisetskaya’s Black Swan, rather than by Lady Day, I would have believed him.
I admit that this Lutens wasn’t love at first inhale the way Bois de Violette or De Profundis have been for me. I anticipated the heady, the dark and the bittersweet, and I missed them in this soft perfume. Nevertheless, I’m glad that I went along for the ride, because Une Voix Noire forced me to take our courtship slowly and to fall in love with it one layer at a time.