Mod Noir is the latest fragrance release from designer Marc Jacobs (through a licensing deal with Coty), and it's being billed as "bold, modern, unique – a chic juxtaposition of classic and contemporary." It was developed by perfumer Jean-Claude Delville, and its composition includes clementine, yuzu and green notes; waterlily, magnolia, gardenia and tuberose; and musk, orange blossom and nectarine. It's supposed to balance "sophisticated" and "lush" aspects with "dewy" and "sparkling" notes, just as its bottle contrasts black against white.
I don't think I've ever reviewed a Marc Jacobs fragrance here — Robin usually does the honors — but I've smelled most of them in stores, and I find them pleasant enough, but too safe and youthful for me to covet. Mod Noir, with its white-floral concept and its graphic bottle design, seems to skew a bit older than Lola or Dot, or most (if not all) of Jacobs's recent fragrances. It opens in a way that will seem non-threatening to the average perfume-shopper, with a splash of sweet citrus and some transparent green notes.
This dewy-fresh, fruity-leafy effect reminds me of various shampoos I've used, but fortunately it's not the entire story. It's followed by a honeyed floral that reminds me of mimosa (the kind also known as "pink silk tree"), which is a nice surprise. Mod Noir's heart is an airy duet of gardenia and tuberose; the tuberose isn't indolic, and the gardenia isn't particularly lush or creamy, but they're there, and not just as a generic swirl of "flowers." Mod Noir bloomed nicely on my skin on a warm, humid day, when the florals were most identifiable and the whole thing eventually wrapped up in a drop of vanilla cream and a very sheer musk. On another, cooler day, it felt a little flatter overall.
Mod Noir seems smartly positioned for women who used to wear Bath & Body Works scents like Butterfly Flower or Rainkissed Leaves and are now ready for something a little more perfume-like. Personally, I must admit that I just can't pull off a full-bodied tuberose or gardenia; I tend to choose mid-weight white florals like Guerlain Terracotta or Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia (or even the sadly discontinued Madonna Truth or Dare). Mod Noir is just enough gardenia, etc. for me, although it might seem flimsy to a devoted Fracas-lover.
One last thought about the packaging: according to Coty, Mod Noir's bottle "is inspired by Marc’s quirky, striped fashion prints and interplay of black and white in his iconic runway collections" — and, I'd add, by the decor of Sephora, where this fragrance is an "exclusive." The bottle is really the most "mod" thing about this product, and the Mod Noir ad visual is actually a throwback to the Op Art movement of the mid- to late-1960s. Back in the 60s, there were perfume ads that seized upon Op Art immediately — for example, Helena Rubinstein's Emotion — but the Mod Noir photo manages to avoid looking dated.
In short: Mod Noir is neither "mod" nor "noir," but it's a pretty white floral for warm-weather wear.
And here's a quickie poll question: What perfume do you think the mod girls were wearing in the 1960s? Something from Yardley? or Mary Quant or Yves Saint-Laurent? Feel free to imagine and comment!
Marc Jacobs Mod Noir is available in 30 ($70) and 50 ($90) ml Eau de Parfum and as a rollerball ($28).