I have been familiar with Estee Lauder classic fragrances for decades now, but I am unfamiliar with the newer ones such as Sensuous, Sensuous Nude, Sensuous Noir, etc. As Sensuous Noir has been discontinued, I decided to purchase a bottle of it as I love Orientals, and I love deep, dark, sensual fragrances.
My first thought upon initial application was "this is very light for a fragrance called 'Sensuous Noir.'" I expected something of an Oriental bomb along the lines of Chanel Coco or Shalimar to name but two legendary Orientals. My second thought turned to the notes. I do detect a lovely pine note, but I hasten to add that SN is in no way a copy of Lutens Fille en Aiguilles as some reviewers have suggested. They both share a pine note, but the resemblance begins and ends there. I also detect a good bit of well mannered patchouli, so if you fear patchouli in general, you need not fear the patchouli in SN. Aside from the pine and patchouli notes, I can detect a very mild mannered oud and a smidgen each of both warm amber and sweetly resinous benzoin mainly in the deeper dry down. There also seems to be a shy, sweet frankincense note in SN. I cannot distinctly pick out any of the other notes.
Overall SN is a quite nice fragrance. It is both gentle and warm, and softly sweet. It could be worn both day and night. Projection and sillage are moderate at best, so I believe it could be worn in an office environment without offending anyone. Longevity is also moderate at best. It wears close to the skin on me, and it is readily detectable for three to four hours. I think it would be perceived as sensuous and feminine on a woman, but I also think a man could wear it, too.
All in all, SN is a quite lovely fragrance, but there is absolutely nothing about it that makes it "extraordinary" or "legendary" in the way that Chanel Coco is both extraordinary and legendary (in my opinion), and I am somewhat disappointed in this fact as Estee Lauder has produced one of my most beloved fragrances of all times, Private Collection, as well as another much admired fragrance, Cinnabar. SN does not compare with these two classic Estee Lauder fragrances, but for anyone who likes SN's notes and who prefers a relatively light fragrance that is unlikely to offend bystanders, then SN could be for her/him. I truly do like it, and I am happy to have it in my collection.
As for the value to price ratio, I feel SN is over priced at $69 for a 50ml bottle just as Lutens Fille en Aiguilles is over priced at $150 a bottle. Even at half the price, I feel SN is still a bit overpriced for my money. There are several vintage chemist shop Oriental fragrances that are equally as impressive SN, e.g. vintage Ciara, Chantilly, and Emeraude. I also have some vintage Avon fragrances that I find equally as impressive as SN, e.g. Rare Rubies, Timeless, Charisma, and Rare Gold to name a few. As for performance, once again my chemist shop, Avon, and even some of my B&BW fragrances perform every bit as well as SN for a much lower price point. I wanted SN to be deeper, richer, and to have better performance, but I can say the same of many contemporary fragrances, including many that retail for far more than SN.
In the end, I can say that SN is a very pleasant fragrance indeed, but it is not the stuff of which legends are made, and for those who insist upon comparing it to Lutens Fille en Aiguilles, I think the Lutens is more impressive even if more expensive, but Fille en Aiguilles also has moderate performance at best. Test before you buy if at all possible. If you enjoy this type of fragrance, and if you love these notes, I think you will like SN very much indeed. Just do not expect SN to be in the same league as Chanel Coco, Guerlain Shalimar, Piguet Alameda, or Chanel Allure Sensuelle.