The world's first incense fougère? Someone is going to write an angry letter contradicting me on that. I don't care. Listen up, ladies, because I am writing this for you. Sombre Negra is written about as one of the standout incense fragrances of the genre. There's no issue with the incense part of the equation. The promised blackness' is all there a gorgeously sooty, dusty frankincense seemingly swept out from under the censers and grates of Europe's most commanding cathedrals with the sole purpose of putting the fear of God in you and making you repent. It is dour. It is suitably sturm-und-drang.It's an acrid, ashy thing.
However, and really, women, listen up because I am slowly but inexorably getting to the point the other half of this fragrance is your brother's shirt collar circa 1985. Remember the male aroma of shirts soaked in enough Drakkar Noir to scour the bath? Remember the posturing and the putting on of that older male skin' to be able to face the world in all their pimpled, trembling glory? Have you ever had to lie in the bed of a young male relative while a-visiting and known the horror of those clammy, Brut-soaked sheets that made you wish you could disassociate from your own body? Ladies, I have three brothers and four male cousins. I do not mock. I am merely reminding you.
I've had a sample for awhile now, but really didn't think about rating Sombre Negra until I received my bottle yesterday. As some have mentioned there is a bit of a "dull" feeling that accompanies this scent, but not in a bad way. I feel like it's somehow the mushroom note (however it was done). A dark earthy/dirt like quality lingers for the entire life of this fragrance for me. But, it also has a hidden clean feel as well, which may be from the vetiver/patchouli combination. There is just a light pepper at the initial stage, however the tobacco note is lost to my nose. The faint smoke like a campfire in the far off distance goes really well with the development of a mostly cedar dry down.
Longevity is slightly above average, but not too much projection with Sombre Negra. Overall I feel it's very unique and supremely well made!
Note: Review is based on a fresh sample acquired in 2017.
Sombre Negra, on my skin, has two distinct phases: the first half is all dark, smoked woods, and an array of dark, spicy notes that hint at incense. The elements move in tandem, creating a layered, complex accord that also has a slight oily aspect at times (which I love). I do not particularly detect tobacco, while the composition is never quite leathery to me, presenting only faint nuances.
Unfortunately, this first phase lasts for about two hours, before the fragrance unravels significantly to reveal a faintly sweet woody dry-down that hints at vetiver and cedar. There is a significant reduction in the body, with sillage becoming quite thin at this point. There is still a nice peppery-incensy touch, but it's almost imperceptible due to a lack of strength. In this phase it is sometimes reminiscent of Frankincense & Myrrh by Czech & Speake. This bare bones second phase persists all of three hours before becoming silent on skin.
Sombre Negra, eventually underwhelming, is reminiscent of other dark, woody fragrances such as Memoir Man and Bois d'Ascese. I also spot a relation to Jacomo de Jacomo. While differing on several aspects, any of these are more worthwhile and engaging than Sombre Negra.
Wandering aimlessly around a perfume counter, seeking something original to stop me dead in my tracks, this is what did. A brilliantly successful blend of campfire embers with what might otherwise be a first rate stand-alone masculine fragrance based on dry florals and vetiver, Sombre Negra is evocative, addictive, and just a bit abrasive in the best possible way. Dark, autumnal; no fruit or candy for the kiddies here.
Another example of that "revival" (especially among niche brands) of classic fougère schemes as we already saw with Roja Dove Fetish Pour Homme (Moschino pour Homme) and Puredistance M (Bel Ami). Sombre Negra may in fact be easily re-bottled and rebranded as a '70s/'80s fougère, as it has them all: the austere masculine look, the aldehydes, the dark and heavy woods, the "masculine" flowers (lavender, carnation?), the tobacco, the (fake, evernyl-ish) oak moss, a bold and humid herbal side rich in hay notes and rural nuances, and some vegetable-fruity juicy notes, like red pepper or pimiento. The only couple of things which are a bit more "new" and different are this sort of rural-vegetable accord, and a (kind of pale and plain) incense note. A nice scent overall, nothing exciting mostly because it reminds me so many old scents but nice, sounds like a fun tribute more than else. Plus it has that slightly depressing "pale" and restrained personality many scents have today, especially niche, I don't know if that's about decreasing quality of ingredients, of the infamous and alleged "bans" on some components, or simple laziness or lack of talent. Not saying it's a bad scent, it's elegant and pleasant, but also just a (tiny!) bit, well, dull perhaps.