When we were over to a friend’s house for dinner a couple of weeks ago, the conversation turned to perfume as their neighbor was talking about how she missed the old Opium from the 1980s. My friend had mentioned before that she loved perfume, but since developing allergies related to fragrance years ago she had to give up wearing it…along with now having to use fragrance free detergents, soaps, etc. She walked me up to her bedroom and said that her signature perfume was Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit. She pulled out an old bottle that was 1/2 full, a bottle that looked to be from the 1980s. I put a little on my wrist and it was heaven. She took a sniff and loved it as much as I did, but immediately she could feel it overtake her throat. I was thinking how horribly sad it was that she would never again be able to enjoy this perfume she loved so much. She saw how much I loved the perfume so she reached to the back of her dresser and pulled out a box that contained an unopened new bottle that she has been hanging on to since the 1990s and she proceeded to give it to me. I balked at first, but then she said that she would rather the perfume go to someone who would truly love and appreciate it as much as she did. An incredibly lovely gesture, I was humbled and still am by this generous and thoughtful gift. I have many perfumes, and a few vintage perfumes as well…but this perfume will always occupy a special place in my heart.
WHAT I SMELL: Vol de Nuit opens with a warm, encompassing dried galbanum and a subdued bergamot. The perfume is light, but it has a strange depth to it as it’s slightly spicy and lightly earthy. The perfume tingles my skin as it begins to powder and dry with a wonderful layer of oakmoss and dried flowers. After some time, the perfume begins to lighten to reveal a soft and tender, but earthy and lightly leathered iris. The whole composition is extremely subdued and it wears very close to the skin, but unlike the other early 20th Century nod to aviation, Caron’s En Avion that is thickened with the dirt spattered first flights, Vol de Nuit is ultimately more romantic and dreamy. The drydown is a slow and soft ride, but it’s the wait that’s worthwhile as the perfume glides in a hazy state of pure, but restrained bliss.
The top notes are bergamot, galbanum and petit grain; the heart reveals jasmine, daffodil and spices; the base combines earthy woods, iris, vanilla, amber and woodsy notes.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: A romantic night flight above the clouds.
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE VOL DE NUIT: positive, subdued, dreamy
BOTTOM LINE: Vol de Nuit isn’t about the grandeur of other Guerlain classics like Shalimar and Mitsouko. Instead, it has a quiet heart that sings softly. If the eau de toilette is this beautiful, I can only imagine what the extrait is like. Let the hunt begin. Thank you Paula for letting me fly above the clouds!
- Bone Rating: 4.5 out of possible 5 bones
- Scent: Woody
- Nose: Jacques Guerlain
- Classification: Feminine, but easily worn by a man
- Expense: Varied. Review based on the EdT version.