Skip to main content

Vol de Nuit EdT– Inhale and enjoy the moment - November 18, 2011


Photo - Wikipedia - Night Sky in Death Valley

On her website, Kim Pittaway calls herself a Girl Reporter,  but the fact is that she’s one of Canada’s top life-style journalists and publishing consultants, and is a superb writer – she really knows her way around a blank word doc. The December 2011 print issue of More magazine features Kim’s article called Scents and Sensibility, which is the story of how her sense of smell was awakened, how her friends Gwen (my BFF) and Kay (yup, yours truly) converted her from a “... ’fume phobe into a scent slut” at one of our sniffing parties,  “...that night, my nose was like a starved guest at an all-you-can-inhale buffet..."

Kim’s sense of smell was not just awakened, it was ignited at white heat and took off like a rocket, and it's been soaring in the scentosphere ever since. She now collects perfumes, and points out that her daily life has been touched with true luxury, and is so enriched. She's learned to stop, and inhale, to enjoy life's moments captured in scent.

After reading Kim’s thoughtful article, my thoughts landed on Vol de Nuit by Guerlain. It’s a fragrance that I just love to inhale. Along with Après l’Ondée and Timbuktu, it’s one of the great scents that zoomed me into the scentosphere almost a decade ago. Vol de Nuit was created by Jacques Guerlain, introduced in 1933, and is regarded as a classic. The name translates as “Night Flight” and comes from the title of a novel by Antoine Saint Exupéry who was a close friend of Guerlain’s. The romantic novel is about the early days of the French Aeropostale Service, and  Exupéry himself was a pilot in WWl and WWll who disappeared while on a combat reconnaissance mission. The solidly square face of the Vol de Nuit bottle carries an art deco design of a whirring propellor. 

Vol de Nuit EdT is a woody Oriental that smells cool and dark, rather than warm and dark, as one expects from an Oriental fragrance. To my nose, it seems to unfold as notes rather than accords, which is probably why it conveys such an airy, ethereal, almost haunting quality. The listed notes are orange, mandarin, lemon, bergamot, orange blossom; jonquil, aldehydes, galbanum; vanilla, spices, oakmoss, sandalwood, orris, musk.

The scent opens with a rush of green and lemony citrus, immediately followed by sweeter orange and mandarin notes. It feels lush, and this lushness is amped up by the aldehydes as it starts to move into the heart, then the lovely florals and vanilla are detected. The scent feels soft and clear, and darkens as the dry-down progresses, the spices, sandalwood, and iris adding an interesting dryness, and musk adding softness at the bottom. The Vol de Nuit EdT scent line flows like a smooth river in the dark of night, creating an atmospheric rather than edgy quality.

On first wearing Vol de Nuit EdT, the scent seems to be somewhat subdued or vague, but don’t be fooled – Vol de Nuit is very complex, and very sensual. The note isn’t listed, but I can smell civet very distinctly as the heart develops, strongly animalic but which smoothly segues into a leathery vibe after two or three minutes, and then fades away slowly into the base. The florals are like velvet, the sandalwood edged with iris has an incense waft, the amber melts into my skin. Just beautiful.

Vol de Nuit EdT isn’t a scent that features weird notes or strange accords, or is shocking in any way. In fact, it has a quiet, kind of seamless meditative quality to it that I find very calming. It is simply a beautifully composed perfume.  Luca Turin in Perfumes the A-Z Guide says that he and Tania Sanchez use Vol de Nuit to “ recalibrate their olfactory apparatus” after a hard day of perfuming, and says “God bless Guerlain for still doing this stuff”.

I agree with him wholeheartedly. I purchased a bottle of  the eau de toilette, which is now half empty, and I am dying to get a little sniff   - no, make that a big INHALE - of the pure parfum, which is said to be extraordinary, but is hard to find.

I’ll give Kim Pittaway a call. Perfumistas, even newbies, often have hard-to-find perfume gems in their collections.

Vol de Nuit EdT is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Update: Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait is also listed in our Decant Store - $20.00 for 1 ml.