Serge Lutens Datura Noir: For The Ingénue Death Siren In You

This fragrance is a sexily ambiguous, complicated kind of beautiful that in some moments evokes delicate amaretti cookies, and in others, it’s a diabolical waft of smoke.
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This fragrance is a sexily ambiguous, complicated kind of beautiful that in some moments evokes delicate amaretti cookies, and in others, it’s a diabolical waft of smoke.

I love a good botanical backstory. I can usually tell you if a certain plant was referenced in Shakespeare or can alleviate the burn of a wasp sting. Basically, if I were on Jeopardy and a category called “Flowery Crap” came up, I’d demolish. 

Datura Noir immediately spoke to the flower-nerd in me, because of all the fascinating vegetation out there, datura (comprised of languorous, trumpet-shaped blossoms that lavishly drape from their shrubs in tropical climes) is an ultimate favourite.

You can't hear it, but it's speaking to me.

You can't hear it, but it's speaking to me.

I first read about datura in a book by Wade Davis, an ethnobotanist/anthropologist I was weirdly into circa grade 10 (I didn’t go to a lot of parties, and not because there weren’t a lot of parties, y’know what I mean). In the book, Davis explores datura’s use in Haitian Voudu--namely, the administration of botanical derivatives to “zombify” victims. Fundamentally, datura was slipped to a person, whose vital signs would then slow to imperceptibility. Presumed dead by loved ones, the victim would be buried, then dug back up later by whoever poisoned them.

But it’s not like they woke up feeling refreshed (like the way you’d expect them to feel after being buried alive). Datura does some serious brain damage, so all these resurrected folk would be a little, you know, slow. A little zombie-ish--delirious, spacey, inarticulate husks of their former selves.

Currently, the biggest threat datura represents is its use as the key ingredient of scopolamine, a drug criminally used to induce a terrifying waking unconsciousness in victims, who are rendered helplessly suggestible and either come to days later with empty apartments and drained back accounts, or die.

Also sometimes teenagers try to trip off of datura, but the resultant hallucinogenic experience has been classified as “maddening” and is 100% a bad idea.

It’s a really pretty flower, though! It can’t help that it’s responsible for death, extortion, and zombies! And what’s more is it smells incredible: like almonds and honey and the breath of angels, all unfurling softly as it night-blooms (night blooming is inarguably v. in character for datura). 

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Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir perfume attempts to capture the heartbreaking gorgeous/deadly dichotomy of the innocently terrifying datura flower (see also: Rappaccini’s Daughter). The fragrance melds creamy top notes of tuberose-y datura plus tonka bean, almond and coconut, with a slight citrus blossom/sultry humid twilight dry down. It’s a scent that melds a million paradoxes by being somehow both soft and seductive, light and lingering, demure and dominant. 

Datura Noir is a sexily ambiguous, complicated kind of beautiful in some moments evokes delicate amaretti cookies, in others, it’s a diabolical waft of smoke.

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Recommended for those nebulously caught between naïve and seductive, like an unwitting siren humming songs to herself on a pretty seaside cliff while, unbeknownst to her, hypnotized men below crash to their deaths.

Datura Noir: for when you don’t even understand how dangerous you are.