Perfume Directory

Messe de Minuit (1994)
by Etro

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Messe de Minuit information

Year of Launch1994
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 262 votes)

People and companies

HouseEtro
PerfumerBertrand Duchaufour

About Messe de Minuit

Messe de Minuit is a shared / unisex perfume by Etro. The scent was launched in 1994 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour

Messe de Minuit fragrance notes

Reviews of Messe de Minuit

I’m always surprised when people describe Messe de Minuit as a gloomy fragrance, but that’s probably because I own the most recent iteration, by now long denuded of all the “damp cellar” nihilism that originally scared the bejeezus out of buyers.

What’s it like now? Well, imagine a gloomy Italian cathedral with the flood lights suddenly turned on and the doors thrown open to let the fresh air in. It’s an incredibly cheerful smell – bitter orange peel and lemons mixed with the lime-peel and pine brightness of unlit frankincense.

The older version, of which I only had a tiny sample, was quite different. There, in the drydown, the dour, fungal dampness of myrrh mixed with a powdery, spicy benzoin to produce an aroma that recalled very strongly the scent of mildewy paper and the slightly metallic, inert air of a closed-up sacristy.

An incredibly evocative smell, I can see why ETRO might have wanted to tone it down for their customer base – not everyone wants to wear the smell of books whose pages are sodden and green with rising damp. There is the unsettling suggestion of familial neglect about it. Pity, though, because I rather like perfumes that sacrifice wearability and overall pleasantness for the gut-punch of effect.

29th August, 2017
Myrrh, incense, labdanum and patchouli, what a beautiful combination. Messe de Minuit smells like a church right after the mass. There is some citrus but I get more of a woody, resinous smell. It is very warm and comforting. I love it!
15th April, 2016
As described by the generous Basenoter, who provided me with a sample, Messe de Minuit is "dry incense with a candied-lemon twist, gets less fruity as time goes by,but remains soft and smoky. Good projection and longevity."

I had feared from the reviews and Turin's description of it as "incense pomander," that the orange/clove note of the traditional pomander ball would prevail. Not so. I know frankincense and myrrh, as for years I was associated with a monastic order, who made their own incense blends. This is quality, beautifully blended and quite unique to my nose.

Incense blends in the perfume world tend to come on too strong for my enjoyment, but the layering here of incense. myrrh, neroli, petitgrain, patchouli, lemon, cinnamon and musk is superb.

A true masterpiece!
23rd November, 2015
gimpy Show all reviews
United States
Over the years, multiple new incense scents have been released (many to much fanfare), but Messe de Minuit remains my favorite incense scent. I own all three versions so I will give some brief thoughts on all three.

Original version (round label): This is the driest version of the three, by far. Frankincense resins, dusty stone, and remnants of candle smoke. I do not get any orange in the version. Lives up to its reputations as the most gothic version. Longevity is good despite being an EDC.

Second version (square label-gold cap): While you can still tell this is the same scent as the original, this version is more sweet with the added pronounced orange note. However, other than this change, this smells of almost pure frankincense resin oil. Not quite as dusty or dry as the original, but very nice. Longevity is superb.

Third version (square label-silver cap): This version picks up from the second version, but the honeyed orange pomander note is much more pronounced. It does eventually dry down to the resinous character of the previous versions. Despite the naysayers, I also love this version--it's extremely comforting in cold weather, and always puts a smile on my face.

No matter what version you choose, you can't go wrong. You wont get the (somewhat artificial) smokey frankincense effect that Avignon and Cardinal offer, but the effect and imagery is still incredible. MdM remains my favorite incense scent, slightly edging out L'Eau Trois and Cardinal.
08th September, 2015 (last edited: 07th September, 2015)
Preamble: I own the second formulation, with the square label, red paisley box and golden cap. It is a total changeling of the first formulation and they are fundamentally different. I can’t speak to the third formulation’s character but have read that it heavily diminished the smokiness in favor of an uncomplicated bright citrus/wood/oriental character.

Discrete rays of sunlight filtered through rising smoke.

Think of it as an olfactory chiaroscuro, with this contrast most perceptible in the opening. The citrus accord’s exact members are indefinite---I detect bergamot most prominently and can’t be sure of the rest. Its effect is an opening that is both uplifting and searing. (The furthest thing from a clean, mild-mannered orange blossom you can imagine).

While the citrus is winsome in its own way and hardly unpleasant, its own character is heavily colored by the eminence grise of the fragrance---the incense accord. Myrrh, cinnamon (a delicate, almost floral Ceylon cinnamon, that is) and amber combine to yield a smoky sweetness that I cherish each and every time I wear this fragrance. Calling it “sweet” isn’t exactly a faithful or exhaustive description---nothing about the sweetness here is edible or conventionally comforting (though I confess I find it so). These heart notes are compelling and hold on like a vise. In this second phase, this newly-dubbed ‘eminence grise’ incense accord comes into its own and is not thrown in such sharp relief as it was formerly.

The drydown is satisfying and languorous, and sees the small presence of various earthen notes increase. (e.g. sandalwood and patchouli) Those who miss the pungent mustiness of the scent’s first formulation might find its semblance much diminished here.

Messe de Minuit’s longevity is wonderful, lasting up to a half-day on me. Its projection is surprisingly restrained, given the power behind some of the ingredients (Not full-throated, its projection feels weaker than average but much stronger than a skin-scent).

While it is intense and somewhat serious, I find Messe de Minuit's interplay and nuances sprightly and consequently wear it whenever I want to feel privately, lucently happy.
04th July, 2015
ln the opening l get a dense accord of bittersweet candied citrus peel with spices, soon joined by dark woods & patchouli. Over the next couple of hours, a thick, labdanum-rich amber comes to the fore, dominating the rest of the drydown, & reminding me of heavy, sweet ambers like Anne Pliska or Ambre Precieux. Projection is low, but it's still going thirteen hours in.
l am sure this is the most recent formulation, but l still expected to find something of the meditative, damp, cold stone vibe that l've read about, or at least some incense. This, however, is a warm, rich winter scent rather evocative of Christmas, & nicely done.
01st April, 2015

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