Guerlain Vol de Nuit

Guerlain Vol de Nuit


112 reviews

75% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$$

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$$


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on 3/2/2011 8:57:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, Fair-Medium, Cool

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

Much is made of its romantic association with aviation and adventure, but a kind of stasis grips the heart of Vol de Nuit, anchoring it firmly to this blighted earth. Even the metallic vitriol of petrol fumes, recreated by the corrosive, medicinal sulfuric, terpene-rich galbanum, hints at a cthonic origin. In one respect, the name is entirely just; it is best worn in the chill winter night, not to comfort as Shalimar would, but to belong. No other perfume so perfectly captures the very substance of darkness itself—opaque, vague, and lonely. There is only starlight in Vol de Nuit, a brief twinkle of bergamot and mandarin, quickly shuttered by a bitter cloud of galbanum, poor illumination against the dense backdrop of resinous woods and earthy aromatics: an abundance of narcissus and iris (these are not actually floral), agarwood, cinnamon (though perhaps more accurately a spice), rosewood, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, oakmoss, benzoin, and tonka bean.

Vol de Nuit serves is the prototypical bittersweet, caught between attraction and repulsion, and counts in its lineage perfumes such as Bandit and Vent Vert (themselves very influential), as if Cellier dehydrated the sepia-toned original of its Guerlinade and then split it in two halves, one black, the other green. Bittersweet is a common enough theme in art—the grit and heartache in Billie Holiday's voice, that sinister tendency behind Kubrick's films, Hamlet generally screwing everyone up with his eloquence, the Amazonian custom of cutting off a breast to ease archery, Goya's black paintings—it is a little more unexpected from a perfume. If a spirit of adventure guides this composition, it is not, as the name may imply, informed by the rash heroism of youth, but by a mature confidence, leading us on an inward journey, deeper into the heart of darkness.

I often think that Guerlain's perfumes are essays on human frailty, and this is what makes them so fascinating. But Vol de Nuit is a homage, not to frailty, but to human strength, the only one we have, the ability to weather horrible, mindless, meaningless adversity, to face that endless night, know it is there, and still live. If that isn't bittersweet, I don't know what is.

32 of 35 people found this helpful.

on 1/14/2010 1:54:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Medium, Cool

Hair: Silver, Straight, Coarse

Eyes: Green

(UPDATE: 2/22/2016: Just bought a new bottle of the EDT from NEIMAN-MARCUS, after not having smelled this fragrance for about 7 years. Yes, there it is, that simple but gorgeous smell that is so nice. Aldehydes are HUGE and nose-prickling in the opening spray. I am gratified to see that the leather component is still highly indolic, ie., very slightly mothball-ish, in the oldschool fashion. I love that note, though I'm aware it's precisely what today's under-35's hate in vintage numbers. I agree with everyone here that the EDT is quite evanescent, yet the signature jasmin/leather/Guerlinade accord does linger recognizably for several hours. I observe that the "cherry" almond component of the Guerlinade is rather prominent in the current EDT formulation, reminding some of LHEURE BLEUE.)

VOL DE NUIT is a gorgeous green chypre, with some warming amber, leather and spice elements afoot. But it is by no means an Oriental, and it bears little comparison to SHALIMAR, as some have claimed. VdN is warm, yet never sweet.
That initial hit of galbanum, bergamot, petitgrain, neroli, aldehydes and "Guerlinade" is so refreshing. You'll detect that salty heliotrope/PLAY-DOH note that seems to balkanize smellers. Then an indolic jasmin begins to gently creep out from under the brilliance, tinged with musk and the faintest hint of civet.
May rose, patchouly, frankincense and oakmoss begin to bestow a solidity and identity to the mix; cassia and santal, some warmth.
Au fond, you have a pleasantly "dirty" leather--- like fallen autumn leaves mulching in the mud--- and you begin to feel that VdN is like a cherished pair of old comfortable shoes, or a well-worn, loved brown leather aviator's jacket.

No fragrance incorporates patchouly so deftly.... It is pronounced, yet never once "headshoppy" or heady. VOL DE NUIT is a warm lovable leather, decidedly outdoorsy...almost sporty. Perhaps it could be worn to a formal occasion, yet VdN's real beauty and usefulness is as a friendly, unpretentious daytime companion. Probably most at home with jeans, boots and a leather jacket. VdN is flawlessly blended and balanced; so many things are going on "under the hood", yet individual notes never stand out.... Like the other Guerlains, all one smells is the Gestalt, the totality. Perhaps no perfume house manages this "Gestalt"-type blending as well, so completely, as Guerlain.

VdN is indeed an old-fashioned type smell--- the notes of galbanum, orris, peach, and a nostalgic "TABU-like" accord of patchouly/rose/amber hearken back to the first half of the 20thc.---- but I mean this in the very best way. People who truly know perfumery will cherish this one, and sadly there are probably some twenty-somethings out there who will never even give it a chance. VOL DE NUIT never once pretends to be anything it's not. It will occupy a most special place in your wardrobe... always as a good, chummy friend.

I believe it can be easily Unisex.

29 of 31 people found this helpful.

on 6/7/2005 2:35:00 PM

Age: Unknown

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I spent much of my childhood climbing in and out of airplanes - not jets, mind you, just old rickety air crafts, as they were being examined and repaired in a huge hangar, which seemed like heaven to me. The dear test pilots were very nice about it, always happy to explain to me about steering, navigation, and what the different clocks in the cockpit were all about. But they knew where to draw the line, and to my everlasting disappointment refused to take off on a test flight mission with me on board! I was fascinated and completely charmed by aviation, and to this day remember the particular smell of that hangar - whatever the time of year, by some kind of magic it always had a whiff of autumn about it, I can't think why. I recall the eager anticipation for the first drop of rain that never came, and the sense of adventure, fear and hope all mixed up together in a heady blend of courage and faith. This was very palpable to me, all the more so after I had read The Little Prince - I was so thrilled I resolved to learn French just so I could read every word this wonderful, mysterious Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ever wrote! Years later, I got a chance to sample Vol de Nuit and was overcome with emotion. Never to my knowledge had a fragrance encapsulated a mood, a memory, an atmosphere, as well as this one. Many of you, reviewing this scent, wrote in poetic terms; it must be that the ghost in the bottle has not escaped you, either. I always feel blessed and privileged wearing this scent, and it also has a certain bracing effect, almost an inspiration. I would not classify it as a feminine nor necessarily masculine fragrance but rather a scent for the soul. It operates like a sort of benediction, hearkening back to the times when aviators were modern knights in shining armour, having a code of honour and chivalry of their own. I heard that every French flying cadet is presented with a flacon of Vol de Nuit, upon graduation.
I hope this is still true.
I never did learn to fly, alas, but I did study French and will always be grateful to Saint-Exupéry for holding out his hand and being the first gate through which I entered a language, a civilization, a country which were to become of the utmost importance to me in later years.
Vol de Nuit is my treasure, but I do not wear it every day. It would be sacrilege. I wear it only when the occasion warrants it, and it still smells like the anticipation for rain that never comes.

22 of 27 people found this helpful.

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Green

The most beautiful thing I've ever smelled, and that includes rain, lilacs and hockey rinks. A sexy, seductive, intelligent, mysterious, aloof, hypnotic, animalistic, bombshell, come-hither, ballsy broad perfume.

17 of 18 people found this helpful.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Red, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Hazel

I get very little sillage from Vol de Nuit. In order to smell it I really have to hold my wrist to my nose. This goes for both the Parfum and the EDT. This and the exorbitant price are the main reasons why I wouldn't buy a bottle, but it is still a beautiful fragrance.

Vol de Nuit in the EDT form starts out with a really funny bit of Jean Nate mixed with Aliage (the real stuff from the 80s). This is funny only because the true character of the fragrance couldn't be any more different from either, so if you smell this at first, don't judge it then. Wait 5 minutes, and you will get an absolutely magical heart of oakmoss, soft leather, roses and vanilla. This lasts for an hour or so, and then melts to a creamy, powdery doll's head, gingerbread spice and incense scent that is to die for, if you happen to have your nose buried into your skin.

Of course it would be much more intoxicating if it could be smelled at a greater distance than three-to-five inches from the application point (this goes for EDT and parfum both), but at least to my nose, it's not strong or effervescent enough to grab the senses unless you're actively sniffing for it. It's a base-note scent top to bottom, and so it's subtle, which would be a very lovely thing if only it weren't extremely pricey. As much as I love the parfum bottle and the story (I had a small obsession with St. Exupery as a teen), this is in the same vein as Caron's Nuit de Noel and Habanita, both of which came out about ten years prior to Vol de Nuit and represent opposite ends of Vol de Nuit's spectrum. They also cost far, far less, also have great stories and gorgeous bottles, and are quite a lot stronger and more distinctive scents blending rose, oakmoss, vanilla and spices -- Habanita is also has green, tobacco, leather and incense, while Nuit de Noel is a creamier, sweeter scent with aldehydes and a distinctive nuttiness.

There are so many Guerlains that I would love to love, but ultimately they've priced their best ones way out of my market, and the only way that I could ever justify a purchase like that is if it really did hit every mark. But with subtle reformulations over the years rending their best fragrances tame, I would much rather stick with those few classic scents from other lines whose reformulations still have the same spirit and big distinctive presence that just about all fragrances had in the golden era of perfumey perfume.

15 of 16 people found this helpful.

on 3/17/2013 3:04:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Normal, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

For me, Vol de Nuit is distinguished and made exciting by its juxtaposition of disparate notes. Chalky, bitter galbanum and sour citrus smoothly interpenetrate a subtly-orientalized, earthy accord of oakmoss, benzoin, vanilla, and powdery orris. The perfume straddles the divide between oriental and chypre. Where orientals stand gooey-thick up to their knees in a tar-pit of rich, sweet, heavily ambered & balsamic winter-cozy accords, Vol de Nuit merely sticks a toe into this dark territory while keeping her other foot anchored in the lighter fields of chypre with its brown, autumnal, leaf-litter basenotes. Murmurings of vanilla and benzoin tease the primary woody-oakmoss structure, as together they trip through withered, flaxen fields. I get little to no florals, personally. But that's okay. This isn't that kind of a party.

The strength of the EDT is notoriously abysmal, but the vintage parfum is a bit more rich. This perfume vibrates with natural essences; the chlorine twang of modern synthetic fragrances is completely absent here. If one thinks this perfume lacks pizzazz or zing, it's only because that person was - most likely - weaned on modern chemicals substituting for quality essences. Vol de Nuit was the real deal, lovely quality stuff. I can't comment on the current parfum as I haven't tried it, but the vintage is exquisite work. A very calming and grounding fragrance.

13 of 13 people found this helpful.

on 6/28/2006 8:06:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Green

This is not a happy, uplifting, energizing fragrance, and I probably won't ever get it. I wouldn't know how to wear it, where to wear it. I gave it 5 lippies because I feel kind of the same about it as I feel about the second movement of Beethoven's 7th, a piece of music I always felt evokes emotions more complex, better maybe, than mere happiness. It's mysterious, spiritual maybe; a misty, still fog that wraps around you instead of an unrelenting sunshine that beats down on you. (OK, I know someone out there is laughing at this.) But tuff. Some people don't get it; there are other things about us that can be celebrated beside energy, happiness, sweetness, prettiness, sexiness, and all that. We're so conditioned to be all of the above too. Vol de Nuit brings in something altogether different from those more socially acceptable traits; it's just so complex, unique, and interesting.

12 of 14 people found this helpful.

on 10/29/2011 3:55:00 PM

Age: Unknown

Skin: Very Dry, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Blue

Mitsouko and I simply don't get along. Shalimar is lovely but a bit too opulent on me, and besides, it's my mother's fragrance. Apres l'Ondee is a stunning floral, but I'm more of an oriental gal. L'Heure Bleue stays cold and aloof and never quite settles on my skin. But oh, Vol de Nuit is perfection.

It smells so similar to L'Heure Bleue at first that I get a little nervous. Then the magic happens. While L'Heure Bleue stays one-dimensional, Vol de Nuit warms and turns polished and golden and epitomizes pretty much everything I love about older classic perfumes with their powdery amber and vanillic benzoin and complexity and nostalgia. It also gets bonus points for having the most beautiful parfum bottle in the fragrance world. I would encourage fans of Caron's Nuit de Noel to also try Vol de Nuit, because they have a lot in common, both in scent and in overall feeling.

11 of 11 people found this helpful.

on 5/22/2012 1:01:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Red, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Green

Vol de Nuit, you were worth every hard-earned and carefully-saved penny. Created in 1933, the top notes are bergamot, galbanum and petit grain; heart notes are jasmine, daffodil and spices; base notes are earthy woods, iris, vanilla, amber and woodsy notes. Like so many perfumes I love it is an old and deep scent, sitting close to the skin -- but not so close as to make it not worth my while.

I'll have to add more later.

10 of 10 people found this helpful.

on 7/24/2011 12:27:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Black, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Green

I absolutely adore this perfume, and it's my signature scent. It's a very sophisticated, adult scent, nothing prissy or girly. It's full on W.O.M.A.N. On my skin it's a warm, soft, woody, oriental-ish floral. I have no problem with it's sillage, as I often get compliments on it in the afternoon, long after I have initially put it on. A lovely, classic fragrance.

10 of 10 people found this helpful.

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