Vol de Nuit is a perfume classic from Patrimoine collection of the French brand Guerlain that dates back to 1933. This collection, made up of very original and peculiar perfumes, has a unique composition that has been developed by five generations of Guerlain’s perfume makers for more than a century, ever since the founding of Guerlain house in 1828. Centuries passed, and thanks to the efforts made by Guerlain today, we have the opportunity to smell and admire this olfactive formula. An experience that only a few perfume houses in the world can offer.
The inspiration for this perfume, as well as the name itself, Vol de Nuit owns to the eponymous novel by writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery, known by his ubiquitous story of the Little Prince. Antoine was a friend of Jacques Guerlain, and they often discussed the man’s desire for adventure, his fragility compared to the magnificence and the power of nature. These meditations Antoine translated into a book Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), a dramatic story of a plane caught in a cyclone somewhere over the Andes, while Jacques turned them into a bottle of perfume that blends the raw power of nature, human spirit and a thirst for flying and the sky.
Vol de Nuit is perhaps the easiest to understand as an attempt by Guerlain to make its own perfume modeled by the famous Chanel no 5. A fragrance that will float in mysterious territories between light and dark, between the purity of the spirit and carnal passions. The genius of the Guerlain perfume makers succeeded in that, of course. They made the perfect amalgam of recognizable chypre Chanel compositions with beloved vanilla chords of Guerlain perfumes. Vol de Nuit is the fruit of the platonic love of Chanel and Guerlain, and this seemingly incompatible blend has influenced the creation of many other perfume legends like Miss Dior, Chanel No 19 and Vent Vert.
Perfume composition of perfume Vol de Nuit is an oriental chypre. This category is very easy to understand. All you need to do is to imagine a classical chypre base, made of oakmoss, patchouli, labdanum and bergamot enriched with high doses of vanilla, which are characteristic of oriental perfumes. The fresh, citrus opening of the Vol de Nuit was made special by adding galbanum, a complex fragrant raw material. Guerlain could have done it in a much simpler way, adding synthetic green notes, but instead, they added natural galbanum, which in addition to green notes gave the perfume a mild rift and musk character. Grand opening! Followed by an even more magnificent floral cocktail of daffodils, violets, carnations, roses, and jasmine. The very base is very sensual and emphasizes the natural sexiness of your skin’s scent, with the dominance of vanilla and amber notes.
I try to always avoid, as much as possible, to determine for whom some perfume is best for. However, in the case of Vol de Nuit, I have to emphasize – Vol de Nuit is a perfume for strong, charismatic women full of character. Women of piercing eyes and personality. Women who have to offer more, far more than just a pretty face and lady-like manners. Not that they do not have them, but their power lies in their spirit. And Vol de Nuit, in a fragrant, non-verbal way, perfectly illustrates their spirit, and as such is their perfect companion. An anecdote from The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove perfectly illustrates this:
[Fragrance notes] top notes: bergamot, galbanum, orange blossom; middle notes: jasmine, narcissus, violet, carnation, rose; base notes: iris, vanilla, amber, woody notes, spices. [Fragrance group] oriental chypre
Years ago, when Vol de Nuit was not available in Britain, an American customer walked into a large perfume shop, dressed in mink and covered with diamonds and asked for Vol de Nuit. When a salesman told her they don’t have it and offered her to try something else, she quipped “Honey, I didn’t get where I got today wearing anything but Vol de Nuit, and I am not changing for no-one!”
Perfume maker is Jacques Guerlain.