Datura Noir Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens Review

Collage of Datura Noir by Serge Lutens and its notes, including vanilla, almond, coconut, tonka, heliotrope, and apricot.

Even after several wears, I’m still figuring out my feelings about this one.

My first thought upon sampling was oh, Datura Noir… thou art ruined by coconut.

There’s an accord in here that leans faintly suntan lotion if you focus on it. On subsequent wears, though, I’ve realized it’s balanced by the sugary lilac-y sweetness of the heliotrope, fruity apricot-like osmanthus, and tuberose.

As others have noted, the appearance of the coconut in Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir seems to wax and wane with every wear; sometimes it’s a prominent sunscreen lotion, while other times it’s a fresh, almost-fruity suggestion.

There are moments as the florals begin to fade away that the coconut dominates the fragrance along with the gourmand almond-vanilla-tonka. These moments are my least favorite part of the fragrance, where the gourmand sweet notes can get a touch doughy and stale as that moderately unnatural coconut nestles between them.

A cluster of majestic purple heliotrope flowers with white and yellow centers.

Something about the coconut-heliotrope vibe here reminds me a lot of Pacifica’s French Lilac, although coconut isn’t listed as a note in that one and lilac isn’t listed in Datura Noir. This one is a bit more tempered and less sugary honey-sweet, but that delicious heliotrope is still prominent.

I wanted this one for the lemon blossom, as the smell of my lemon tree in full bloom was the most dizzyingly beautiful scent in the world, and somehow I can’t find the note featured prominently in any fragrance (or essential oil) anywhere.

I wasn’t really expecting it to be prominent here, and it isn’t; I can imagine where the lemon blossom might lie hidden among this floral bouquet, but it hasn’t risen up and introduced itself to me.

I ordered this 1 ml sample when I was practically falling asleep in my chair, so I accidentally added two of them to cart without realizing. I’m still unsure whether I want to hold onto one, let alone two.

Its heliotrope-sweet similarity to my little bottle of French Lilac makes it something I don’t really need, but I’m going to keep wearing Datura Noir and exploring its nuances more.

A small white bowl of light brown almonds.

The subtle nutty sweetness of the almond is a welcome one; it mostly isn’t too doughy or cloying here as almond sometimes is, but a soft suggestion of something warm.

The apricot and osmanthus fruity floral whisper in here is another; I’m often cautious about pomaceous and stone fruits in fragrances because they often feel artificial and out-of-place, but these feel delicious and real enough to me.

In the tradition of such hits like Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and Hugo Boss’s Deep Red, let’s examine the name of this perfume. Does Datura Noir feel like a black datura flower?

Well, the real datura flower doesn’t have much of a scent to it. At least, not during the day. Datura is a genus of nine highly poisonous flowers in the nightshade family commonly known as devil’s trumpets. Every part of the plant is toxic, so going in to get a good idea of its smell or taste probably isn’t a good idea.

But at night, angel’s trumpets bloom and let out a rich, heady sweet scent that’s not unlike that of honeysuckle. Their primary pollinators, night-flying sphinx moths, are attracted by the sweet scent.

A white bloom of datura, also known as the devil's trumpet.

Datura is a plant whose sweet scent has been recreated synthetically. But this isn’t it. Though the perfume is inspired by the datura flower, it isn’t listed as a note. And this Christopher Sheldrake composition inspired by the flower doesn’t lean enough in the pure-yellow-summer-honeysuckle-sweet direction to be realistic, in my opinion.

No, Datura Noir leans too much in the direction of buttery heliotrope and coconut and fruity osmanthus-apricot-mandarin-orange sweetness, all on a sugary bed of almond, tonka, and vanilla. It’s a pretty floral for sure, and it feels like the soft, deceptively innocent white color of datura flowers. But it isn’t at all like the scent of datura.

Is it noir? Not at all. As the color of the liquid in the bottle and of the white datura flower itself suggests, this is a light, sweet, buttery pretty sort of floral. Even though there’s only a few truly white floral notes in the mix, the feel of datura noir at large is a light, creamy off-white.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy more of this; it feels like a much more expensive, moderately more nuanced version of a sugary-coconut-heliotrope sort of fragrance I already own, Pacifica’s French Lilac.

Botanical illustration of a vanilla flower, leaves, and bean.

Yes, that’s a dramatic oversimplification. Of course Datura Noir is more nuanced, more complex, more textured. But personally, I don’t necessarily like it more.

However, if the notes really are your thing, coconut included, then Datura Noir won’t let you down. A white floral spray of tuberose and lemon blossom. The fluffy, buttery sweetness of coconut, heliotrope, and almond. A warm base of vanilla and tonka. A fruity sprinkling of apricot, osmanthus, and mandarin orange. A hint of myrrh and musk.

It’s a compelling mix, and delivers a richer take on the sweet heliotrope-vanilla-coconut creamy floral perfume.

For me, Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir is definitely enjoyable, and, but for the volatility of that coconut accord, entirely delightful. It’s a vanilla heliotrope floral with almond and coconut, light and fluffy and sweet.

But a honeysuckle-like realistic datura floral this is not. Neither is this a sexy, mysterious, deadly dark flower of the night.

No, this is a layered floral mix for lovers of vanilla sweet cream. It’s a hypnotic vanilla floral that really feels like a Keiko Mecheri sort of scent, an unapologetically feminine mix of gentle floral and sweet gourmand notes.

A white lemon blossom with yellow pistils, stamen, and pollen.

Keiko Mecheri scents like Loukhoum and Ume won my heart with their unique and delicate pink-and-golden sunset gourmand mixes. On that front, Datura Noir is a little too plain for me, not warm and golden and unique enough to really catch my eye. This is a little like sunscreen, but it isn’t super sunny.

On me, it really is a pricey vanilla-almond-heliotrope-coconut sweet perfume. It needs something a little more to really compel me. Like a nice heavy dose of lemmon blossom. Mmmm. That would be nice.

As it were, Datura Noir is a pleasant creamy vanilla floral. If you don’t like the smell of warm coconutty lotion, it might not be for you. But if you like coconut, vanilla, and the occasional splash of florals, this is a hypnotic dream.

It’s hard to believe Datura Noir came out in 2001. This beachy white floral still feels contemporary and entirely new.

Tall square glass bottle of Datura Noir Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens, a yellow liquid perfume with a round brown cap.

Where to Find Datura Noir Eau de Parfum by Serge Lutens

You can find samples and decants of Datura Noir EdP at Scent Split.

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