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Messe de Minuit – A celebration of darkness and light (November 14, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Image - Duomo di Milano -

Launched in 1994, by Etro, Messe de Minuit is a real swooner and, to my mind, the best frag in the line.  

Etro is a family-owned fashion and fragrance house started in 1968 and based in Milan - one of the fashion capitals of the world and home to the Duomo di Milano. Ahh, the Duomo di Milano - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. At 515 feet by 302 feet, it’s huge! But for all its size and heaviness it has a lightness about it that comes from the intricate carvings, curlicues and spires that reach up and seem to pull the building up with them. On the roof they create a tracery from which you can see the sky. A study in contrasts – but what about Messe de Minuit? Huh? Where does that fit in? Keep reading…..

Messe de Minuit, or Midnight Mass, is the second Mass in the cycle of four masses in the Catholic church that celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus. The first mass, a vigil Mass for Christmas held on Christmas Eve, is celebrated at sunset, followed by Midnight Mass celebrated at midnight, then there is the Mass at Dawn, celebrated at daybreak and lastly Christmas Day Mass.

Midnight Mass is a transitional mass. It takes place at the heart of the night, just before the start of a new day and celebrates the passage from darkness to light, both spiritually and physically. It is this passage that Messe de Minuit captures in scent.

It opens with notes of incense, bergamot and orange. Surprisingly, the incense is not the star here, its smoky woodiness balanced by the sweet citrusy orange. At the middle, rose adds a floral facet while labdanum gives it an animalic, uriny, herbaceous, leathery dimension. Cinnamon and clove add spiciness and warmth. At the base, patchouli brings an exotic mustiness to the juice, while myrrh adds a bitter note. Musk softens them both and honey adds a touch of sweetness.

At the beginning, Messe de Minuit smells like being in a church and has all the familiar smells of the christmas season – incense, oranges, spices, myrrh. But as it evolves on the skin, the floral, herbaceous notes vibrate back and forth through the dark patchouli/myrrh base celebrating the passage from darkness to light as the nights get shorter after the winter solstice and we move towards the rebirth of life in the spring. A gorgeous study in contrasts anytime of year.

I don’t know why – new distribution strategy perhaps? - but Messe de Minuit is getting harder to find, but it isn’t hard to love.

Messe de Minuit is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml.