Drill Sergeant – Review: Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire

Chambre Noire, the dark chamber of a photographer, is the darkest of the three Olfactive Studio perfumes, and maybe the most unusual.

“What happens in the darkroom? Mystery. In the darkroom, light is queen and darkness the heir apparent.  Light uses the closed space to cast shapes and contours. The darkroom is magical. In the darkroom, shadows are promises.  Isolated in this space, something from the realm of intimacy and secrecy occurs.

A lover’s ritual takes shape. Patience and attention are required for the enchantment to happen, for the dark to illuminate.
The darkroom re-wakens focus and contemplation and keeps speed and haste at bay. It is a temple for the eye to meditate; a temple, for it shelters as much as it reveals; captures as much as it delivers.”

– from the Olfactive Studio press map

Chambre Noire was created by Dorothée Piot and includes notes of Schinus, Jasmine, Papyrus, Violet, Incense, Prune, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Musk, Vanilla, and Leather.

Chambre Noire has a very sharp top note, Schinus. Since I had never heard of it, I didn’t think I had smelled it before. It is a sharpish, spicy, strongly peppery and actually quite familiar note (which is what I wrote down initially), a quick Google search revealed the mysterious Schinus to be nothing else than pink pepper, so that mystery was rather quickly solved, and my nose was happy having been right.

This top note, strong and clear, is juxtaposed with the rest of the fragrance that lies in shadow. A dark, mysterious scent where dried plum and patchouli on a dark leather base are engulfed by smoky tendrils of incense.

A perfume that comes to mind immediately is Histoires de Parfums Marquis de Sade, the two are similar although the most marked difference, is the interesting counterpoint provided by the singing top note that illuminates the perfume like a ray of light. An hour into the development the pepper is mostly gone, so are the harsher elements of the scent and I am left with a wonderfully soft and comfortable warm leather scent that proves to be very long lasting, if close to the skin.

I like Chambre Noire, especially the drydown is totally my thing. The first hour is harder to get used to. I felt myself a bit irritated by the insistent pepper during the first few wearings, but I learned to appreciate it and by now I am almost addicted to its bracing stringency.

What I perceived as a bit alarming and screechy in the beginning, has morphed into something like my personal drill sergeant, who with a loud and rough voice and no outward friendliness whatsoever gets me to do what is best for me, having my best interests at heart. Believe me there are many moments when I crave such an engine that gets me going.

Chambre Noire by Clemènce René-Bazin

So don’t let that difficult top note fool you, after an hour of commands and orders, you are allowed to sink into that soft and smooth leather arm chair, put your feet up and take a little nap in front of the smoky wood fire.


This review concludes my Olfactive Studio week. What do you think? I am impressed with this launch, as those posts have shown, and I am glad that in these days of plenty (or rather: way to much) releases there are some in the crowd that really focus on art and on the product itself more than on clever marketing and empty promises. Also, you will have noticed, there is not a fruity floral in the lot. 😉

Please share your thoughts about the new brand, or what you think about the current state of things when it comes to new releases.

Image source: press kit http://www.olfactivestudio.com

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29 Responses to Drill Sergeant – Review: Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire

  1. Undina says:

    I liked all three reviews. If I have a chance, I’ll try them all. But visually this one is the most appealing to me.

    As to the new releases… Everybody: please, just SLOW DOWN! Nobody needs 1000 even greatest new perfumes per year – let alone most of those creations that are unleashed on us.

    • Olfactoria says:

      They will launch in the US in early 2012, as I have heard.

      I’m so with you regarding the onslaught of launches. Take a page out of Vero Kern’s book, three fabulous perfumes and the wisdom to let them sink in, not be forgotten by newer ones.

    • deeHowe says:

      I’ll second that: these reviews have me wanting to try the whole line… 🙂

      There HAVE been a lot of new releases over the past few years, haven’t there!? Not too many that have lead to FB, or even decant, purchases though…

  2. Ines says:

    I was waiting for this review. 🙂
    It really sounds good (and I enjoy pepperiness in my perfumes).
    Actually, you’re right, they all sound good. 🙂

    I don’t want to go into the current state of releases – it frustrates me too much.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I almost had a heart attack when I saw Octavian review Chambre Noire last week, I had this review written and ready for a few weeks already. I thought my credibility will go right out the window if he stomps this perfume into the ground as he is known to do, when he doesn’t like something or finds it not up to speed, but thankfully he loved it too. Phew! 🙂

  3. civava says:

    It quite a relief that there is no fruity floral there ;-). Chambre Noire sounds very interesting as I like scents with leather.

  4. Marie says:

    I could definitely do with a drill sergeant myself! In fact I think I neeeeeed one 😉

    This fragrance is the one that attracts me the most and I would not hesitate to buy it unsniffed based on your description.

    They don’t seem to be available online yet but hopefully soon – I’d like to walk leisurely through their website..

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, that is a huge compliment, Marie.
      Sadly, Céline informed me that the website is a little late, it will probably be live only in about two weeks. 😦
      Should I hear any news on the matter, I’ll let you know.

  5. Tara says:

    I always want to try a leather perfume so this sounds good to me, although I didn’t “get” Marguis de Sade 1740 and I’m not sure why. Of the three, I most want to try Autoportrait as I like the idea of a base-heavy perfume. None of the new releases have lived up to expectations for me but I’m still really excited to try Bottega Veneta, it sounds utterly fabulous.

    • Olfactoria says:

      My favorite is Autoportrait as well. Funnily I have read that this is the one perfume that appeals most to European sensibilities, Still Life is for the Americans and Chambre Noire for Middle Eastern perfume lovers.
      We seem to fit in that designation.

  6. dremybluz says:

    Your reviews are like reading a painting by one of the great old masters.
    Of the 3 perfumes, I will have to admit that my favorite would probably be the Still Life

  7. jedennard says:

    Of the three fragrances you have reviewed in this line, Autoportrait seems like it would be the one I would enjoy the most. The pepper note is one that I have a difficult time with. Great reviews, all, Birgit 🙂

  8. deeHowe says:

    As you already know, I love the Marquis de Sade 1740 fragrance—enough to own a bottle, but since Mr. H doesn’t care for it, I’ve decided not to buy it (eeking out the last few drops of my sample—maybe it will grow on him! fingers crossed), so mentioning a kinship between the two has me firmly in the “I need to try this” boat!

    Three lovely reviews… thank you so much!

  9. angie Cox says:

    Oh don’t worry about Octavian ,he didn’t like Chanel 19 Poudre but I did. I am quite sure he wouldn’t expect agreement and I love his very strong feelings and honesty . I love your reviews too. I don’t think this range is for me but it’s hard to tell just from a review. The latest releases are nothing great but I don’t have access to many . I love L’essence and Chanel 19 Poudre .There are just so many Birgit I couldn’t keep up. I would love someone to review Floris’s new leather . I might phone them for a sample but you know I can’t take notes apart well . I know what I like and am getting better and better .

  10. dee says:

    I wore this as my SOTD (part two, post errands and shower!) and have already gotten two compliments on it! One of which led to a discussion about perfume with a total stranger… so much fun!!! 🙂

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