Someone needs to tell Narciso that it is okay to switch things up in his men's fragrance lineup. Since the release of the original Narciso Rodriguez for Him all we have been getting is different variations of the same musky fragrance favoured by men with bad taste or in equally bad mood.
The key point Narciso is missing is that you need a "superstar fragrance". Narciso Rodriguez for Him was only an okay perfume. Tania Sanchez called it "a well-made fragrance for mean, forgettable people". Then, she turned around and gave it a generous 3-star rating. She is a merciful person.
Arguably, the flankers were often better than the original in the case of Narciso Rodriguez for Him. The perfume version has tempted me many times to buy a full bottle. Narciso Rodriguez for Him Musc (Amazon) was also a much much more seductive rendition of the broody original.
Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir follows the tradition set by the previously released Narciso flankers and outpaces the original by miles. I'd even go as far as saying it is probably the most interesting take on the same worn-out theme Narciso has released in 10 years.
What perplexes me and disappoints me about Bleu Noir is that it is original in the context of what is popular today, but in the context of men's perfumery as a whole, it is a total dud.
Bleu Noir is like a hyped-up remake of a song from the 90's, which leaves you shaking your head saying - "I've heard this before".
Despite the obvious similarity to Cartier Declaration, Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir has the potential to be a great fragrance. Yet, it fails to be one. Its projection is average, its longevity is poor (3-4 hours on me) and, ultimately, it leaves me wanting more. The more I think about it, the more I feel like Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir wasn't finished. There needs to be another piece in there to complete the picture.
To better understand what is missing, let's have a look at what Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir smells like.
What Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir Smells Like
Think of Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir as the bastard child of Narciso Rodriguez for Him and Cartier Declaration. From the very beginning you meet Bleu Noir, you recognize Cartier Declaration in it. You'll be correct if you call Bleu Noir a Cartier Declaration with a musk base.
Just like Cartier Declaration, Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir opens with strong spice notes - cardamom and nutmeg. There is a sharp citrus presence in the opening, even though the note list on Fragrantica doesn't include any citrus. I suspect it may be the cedar and vetiver notes, which could give some dry sharpness to the composition.
The dry notes in the opening are well-balanced by the softer cardamom and musk notes. The musk is not the dirty, raunchy one. I suspect it is a white musk, which gives the fragrance a clean, almost soapy feel.
The initial blast of spices (my favourite part) slowly dries down to a creamier (cardamom at play) cleaner heart notes and slightly resinous base.
Some reviewers compare Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir to Bleu de Chanel (Amazon). I can also detect the resemblance in the fresh, clean musky character of the fragrance in the opening. Yet, Bleu de Chanel is characterized by stronger citrus presence and has a certain elegance Bleu Noir doesn't have. If Bleu de Chanel is the polite gentleman everybody loves, Bleu Noir is his third cousin who is a bit of a rough neck but still presentable.
Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir is determinately a synthetic fragrance. It is fresh but is not reminiscent of summer and doesn't share the natural freshness of citrus or water many other summer fragrances aspire to. If you love fresh fragrances that remind you nature, this one is not for you. If you like to smell clean and a bit unorthodox, Bleu Noir might be a good choice.
Where to Rock It
Because of its spicy-musky character, Bleu Noir will do well in the colder month. This is not a warm fragrance,however, and I haven't used it in the winter. My experience is Bleu Noir works great on a cool fall or summer day. I wore it during the summer heat of Spain and it didn't do as well as when I wore it in a cooler weather.
The projection and sillage of Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir are average at best. You get an initial blast of spices in the opening, which quiets down within the first 20 minutes. The remainder of the fragrance (white musk and cardamom) remain close to the skin.
Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir would work well for casual or semi-formal events. It is elegant and would work equally well with a white shirt and dark dress pants as with untucked linen shirt, chinos and snickers.
What the Frag Heads Think about It
Kevin from Now Smell This finds Bleu Noir "likable and wearable", with good lasting power. Ultimately, however, the fragrance fails to engage him.
He also explains that "Déclaration and Terre d'Hermès do share some "moments" and notes ... but Déclaration and Terre d'Hermès are, to my nose, different (and better) — Déclaration is livelier/raunchier than For Him Bleu Noir, Terre d'Hermès quirkier."
Kevin also brings up something very odd, which I've noticed myself: Narciso Rodriguez's official website doesn't mention the Bleu Noir release at all. The customary product page with the marketing materials is completely absent.
Read Kevin's full review: Narciso Rodriguez For Him Bleu Noir ~ Fragrance Review
Carlos from Brooklyn Fragrance Lovers doesn't find anything "particularly groundbreaking" in Bleu Noir. He says it is a nice fragrance and that it would be a nicer one if the longevity and projection were better. He gets three to four hours lasting power.
Watch Carlos's full review:
Sebastian from Looking Feeling Smelling Great was disappointed with Bleu Noir. He detects a slight B.O. note but it is so faint that it leaves him asking for more.
The slight dirtiness he is talking about it very characteristic of Cartier Declaration where it is pronounced a lot more. Bleu Noir hints at the dirty note but not enough to make things interesting.
Overall, Sebastian likes Bleu Noir and finds it elegant and classy. He is disappointed, however, that the longevity he gets out of it is under five hours.
Watch Sebastian's full review below:
The Bottom Line
Would you buy Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir?
If I had not already bought a bottle, I probably wouldn't get one. The poor performance outweighs the interesting aspects of this fragrance.
Would I get compliments wearing Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir?
Probably not. Bleu Noir doesn't last very long and doesn't project very well. If anyone can smell it on you, they will probably think that you smell clean.
What rating would you give Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir?
I think Bleu Noir is a 3-star fragrance. It is different among the modern men's offerings but not original by any means. Its performance also detracts from its star rating.
Cedar, Vetiver, Ebony Wood, Amber
What do you think of Narciso Rodriguez for Him Bleu Noir? Share your thoughsts in the comment section below.