The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


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Vintage Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

WHAT I SMELL:  This particular vintage L’Heure Bleue (why do I say it that way?  you’ll see below) eau de toilette opens with a bright and sweet bergamot and spicy anise which first goes on cool to the touch, but then warms considerably and quickly.  It smells mysterious and serious and rather mature and slightly medicinal.  This is not your Britney Spears of perfumes, but is a perfume that instead dazzles and sings with wisdom and grace.  There’s not a great deal of development as the perfume settles in to reside in a floral meld with a spicy carnation and tuberose center that is dusted with a violet powder that wraps the perfume in mysterious wisdom.

The top notes are opening with spicy-sweet aniseed and fresh bergamot that gently lead to the heart of rose, carnation, tuberose, violet, and neroli. The soft and powdery floral notes are resting on a base of vanilla, Tonka bean, iris and benzoin.

Blue silk floral applique gown by Valentino.

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: A romantic blue silk evening gown.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE L’HEURE BLEUE:  mild, measured, solemn

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT L’HEURE BLEUE: Kafkasesque, Bois de Jasmin, Monsieur Guerlain

BOTTOM LINE:  The review above it based on a 1980s sample received from the wonderful Undina.  It’s bright, yet serious and very powdery.. and I love it.  I recently found a 1980s unopened EdT bottle on eBay for next to nothing.  The bright top notes seemed to have faded away and unlike the version I’m writing about, it’s pretty, but much darker has much more rounded florals.  It’s nice, but it doesn’t carry the fresh feel like the sample I reviewed.  Then a couple of weeks ago I was in an antique store and found this massive Bacarrat bottle (200 ml?) of extrait from the 1930s/40s.  There was a sale at the store and I got the 1/2 filled perfume bottle for a great price.  The stopper was stuck and thanks to Mr. Freezer, I was able to dive into this treasure.  Again, after all these years, the top notes have faded, but the heart is glorious, deep, rich and very serious.  So three different versions and 3 very different perfumes.  I have to say that the light and pretty 1980s version is a dream and probably my favorite of the three.  But overall, none of the versions project on my skin.  Maybe it’s me that’s the problem?

IMG_0799This story just keeps getting longer…so about a week after I started writing the above, I felt compelled to purchase a bottle of the current version in the eau de parfum formula.  A great price added with a coupon I couldn’t refuse right?  Actually, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to like it… but to my surprise I adore it.  It’s not quite as sunny as the vintage Undina sample, but it’s lighter and sweeter than my vintage EdT and parfum.  There’s a little incense in it and a little powder as it’s completely understated.  But what it defined for me, is that no matter what formula the perfume is in…my skin just eats it up and that means it has a pretty short lifespan on me.  That’s unusual for me, but I’m OK with it because I love to slather myself in any and all versions.   BTW, the new EdP layered with my old vintage EdT is divine!

  • Bone Rating:  4 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Oriental Floral
  • Nose: Jacques Guerlain
  • Classification: Marketed as feminine but to me it’s very unisex
  • Expense: Prices vary for vintage versions, but the current EdP can be purchased for as low as $60 for 100 ml.


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Vintage Guerlain Vol de Nuit

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.

Night FlightWHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  A romantic night flight above the clouds.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE VOL DE NUIT:  positive, subdued, dreamy

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT VOL DE NUIT: Bois de Jasmin, The Non-Blonde, The Black Narcissus

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 toillette 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.


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Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

WHAT I SMELL:  Sushi Imperiale’s opening is decidedly not sushi like as it opens with a warm crunchy bergamot and sugared orange.  The perfume is sweet, but not sugary sweet; instead its sweetened naturally as if it’s tinged with brown sugar.  Soon enough, the natural sweetness begins to give way for a more flattened floral spice.  The perfume is slightly gourmand, but that quickly moves away and the perfume begins to unleash a warm, shimmering radiance and a lovely warmed sandalwood comes to the forefront.  At this point, Sushi Imperiale becomes enveloping and rapturous…the base notes are a light blanket of comfort that don’t weigh down the perfume, but instead add just the right amount of security.  After this, Sushi Imperiale doesn’t transform much, except when it finally settles in with light and soft patchouli that feels tufted with light cotton.  In other words, it’s comforting and reassuring.

From Bois 1920:

An intense beginning where the citrus notes blend harmoniously for an eau de toilette that speaks of love.  The heart releases its spicy personality:  the vibrant and exotic luminosity of Pepper, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.  The fragrance develops into a brilliant and almost nonchalant wisp of woods and Vanilla of Madagascar.

Top notes are bergamot, mandarin orange and lemon; middle notes are pepper, nutmeg, jasmine, rose, star anise and cinnamon; base notes are sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, tonka bean and madagascar vanilla.

Italian Crown Prince Umberto II

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  To me this is less “sushi” imperial, but it is indeed more italian imperial, meaning that the perfume is fit for a prince.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE SUSHI IMPERIALE:  shimmering, comforting, contented

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT SUSHI IMPERIALE: AustralianPerfumeJunkies, EauMG, Kafkaesque

BOTTOM LINE: Sushi Imperiale is a wonderfully wearable and elegant perfume that has surprising projection and longevity and is rather beefy for an eau de toilette.  This is a perfume that is perfectly elegant without being snobbish.

  • Bone Rating:  4 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent:  Oriental Spicy
  • Nose: Enzo Galardi
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense: Approximately $140 for 50 ml EdT