Total Reviews: 74
Typical Guerlain. I think I don't like Guerlinade.
LIDG, Habit Rouge and Vol Nuit smell similar to me.
Not bad but nothing to get excited about
I definitely do not have the advanced nose of most reviewers here, but hopefully this review is still of use.
I find the initial spray of the most recent EdT to be quite sharp and green. It reminds me of being in a cool rainy forest and crushing the leaves and stem of some sort of evergreen ground plant or shrub. If it persisted, it would be overwhelming, but it calms itself into the very lightly floral note that I suspect is the narcissus (it does remind me of daffodils). The green stays, but is mellow, and the soft powdery guerlinade starts to appear. I know this is considered one of the more linear of the classic Guerlains, but I find it almost switches back and forth based on my body temperature. Sometimes it is a soft floral powder, then it switches to a warm green crushed stem, then light vanilla and spice. It persists this way for hours, and is really a delight to wear. This is my kind of green floral, never going sour, never cloying. For some reason, the current EdT has excellent staying power on me. I love this as a fall / winter fragrance, or even for a summer evening (perhaps dining at a French bistro!).
Although I can appreciate Guerlain's Vol de Nuit as a landmark in perfume; I cannot say that I like it on me. I get the green notes which are laced with the sweetness of the narcissus but it is barely an on skin fragrance for me and it has completely vanished within 20 minutes or so. I am referencing the current EDT and all I can wish for is that Guerlain made Vol de Nuit in an EDP formulation. I also get the very lovely drydown of the spice and vanilla but it is all so fleeting on me. I cannot see purchasing this and wearing it if I can't even enjoy it. So, although this scent is a true beauty, I am fairly neutral about it. I give it a thumbs up simply because it is from Guerlain!
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Another Guerlain's milestone. A classic landmark opening with a sort of fleshy classically chypre mossy (oakmoss-galbanum) vibe combined with luxuriant hesperides and with a traditional Guerlain's smooth "edible-silky" amber not so far in consistency from the one we are historically used to admire in Shalimar and L'Heure Bleue. An enormously beautiful narcissus laces its languid sophistication with musks, floral powder (iris-rose) and balsams. All sounds infinitely classic, soapy-chypre, restrained and familiar inhaling Vol de Nuit. The following development evolves gradually towards a multifaceted spicy-floral-vanillic soapiness of immense classic french "Grandeur". Another giant which unfortunately does not last on my skin (all this beauty faded after 45 minutes, a real pity).
EdT: A sharp, mossy blast upfront with a slight ammonia-urine tinge—a byproduct of materials such as silver fir and black spruce. It’s a dramatic, melancholic way to start a scent, but the darkness breaks a little as spiced citrus notes begin to assert themselves. A uncomplicated sandalwood undergirds this one, and it’s all seamlessly integrated to a point where I want something about it to snap. Although I’m turned off by it’s perfection (nature—which the scent is clearly attempting to reflect—simply isn't this polished or polite), Vol de Nuit is one of the handful of Guerlain scents that I look at as something I might wear myself rather than simply admire as an artifact or a stepping stone for modern perfumery. I think there are far more evocative foresty scents available than this, but it’s still a solid candidate when exploring the genre.
Parfum: A greater emphasis on the bitter galbanum at first that’s then tempered by a noticeably sweet fir balsam. The pissy facets of the EdT have been replaced with something that, while deep and intriguing, feels overly saccharine and out of sync with the scent’s maudlin nature. The citrus and the spices are still there though, and I’d say that the overall experience of the Parfum in relation to the EdT is that the Parfum feels pressurized whereas the EdT allows for subtle dynamics. Furthermore, there’s a rooty and slightly metallic orris peeking through, yet it’s kept subtle so as not to destabilize the sharp galbanum opening. As it dries, the Parfum leans more soapy than the EdT and the array of floral notes (violet, lavender?) surface as more substantial players than in the EdT. The main issue that I have with this version is that it’s loud and therefore lacks any of the subtlety and space that existed in the EdT. While there’s perhaps more to look at here, and it’s rendered more people-pleasing through the use of a sweet fir balsam, it’s all a bit full-on whereas the EdT unfolds in a graceful way.
(Review of vintage cologne)
I've always loved the imagery around this perfume - the adventure of air travel, with a hint of the aviatrices of the 20s and 30s - as well as the notes that seemed to compliment it: the intellectual dryness of oakmoss and iris, underpinned by an animalic base, suggesting a woman hiding a passionate nature under a cool exterior.
Alas, after repeated tries, I have to say, the longevity on this is pretty weak, meaning I only catch the top and heart notes, with very little of the warm base notes coming through. I get a clear citrusy note to begin with, a bit of powdery iris, and a teensy bit of oakmoss, but that's it. It's elegantly pretty, but because I miss the growl of base notes, I can't say it's much else.
The version of Vol de Nuit I originally came to love was the parfum available the 90s. My reference now is the modern EDT. I haven't smelled the reformulated extrait as it's kind of a lose/lose proposition for me - if it's drastically different and diminished, that will make me sad; if it's not drastically different and diminished, I'll want to buy it!
Others have captured this one-of-a-kind scent beautifully in their reviews, and I'd only add that even the modern EDT manages to be interestingly "fat" while objectively light. Like long-simmered stocks, duck confit, heavily reduced sauces, truffle oil, Vol de Nuit is a perfume equivalent of French cuisine in its depth of "flavors", contrasts, and earthy funk.
Genre: Woody Oriental
Vol de Nuit is an odd experience for me, especially in light of other Guerlain classics like Mitsouko, Shalimar, and Apres l’Ondee. I love the sharp galbanum laden opening, and the transition to plush, semi-sweet iris and vanilla is a delightful surprise. The drydown of lingering vanilla with dark spices is a treat as well. What’s so funny, you ask? The whole thing zips by in less than half an hour on my skin. And that’s in pure parfum concentration! Am I anosmic to most of Vol de Nuit’s development, or is this time lapse perfumery? I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.
Ephemeral as it is, I give Vol de Nuit a thumbs up because, like a rainbow or a butterfly, it’s beautiful while it lasts.
This is the ultimate balsamic green oriental chypre. It opens up with a fleeting note of bergamot, the same stinky grade of bergamot used in Jicky and Shalimar, but it is gone before your brain even registers it properly. Then, the greenness comes. Let me be clear about this type of greenness. It is not green as in the sappy, spring green of scents such as Le Temps d'Une Fete, or sharp and citric as in Cristalle. It will not put a spring in your step or keep you awake. It is not a shot of vitamins to your arm. The galbanum here is not used to create that ice-picky sharpness and unfriendliness you get in the opening of Chanel No. 19. Rather, it is the homely smell of winter greens simmered long and slow on the stove. It is the gray-blue green of the shadow cast by an oak tree in the middle of a forest. It is all softness and collapsing warmth. Oakmoss adds character, but it is not the inky, bitter blackness that provides other chypres with their backbone - here it is a sprinkling of woodiness and salt in the gentle green.
The heart is a shimmering accord built mainly out of narcissus absolute, specifically the jonquil type, or common daffodil. The smell is earthy, green-gold, and slightly animalic. The jonquil is supported by a smattering of aldehydes, just enough to provide a subtle lift to the general earthiness, and a sprinkle of spices (I would guess a gentle warming spice such as nutmeg or clove). Interestingly, the narcissus absolute itself can throw out little shoots of what feels like jasmine and hyacinth. It is not an overwhelmingly floral smell, to be honest. Vol de Nuit is always quite earthy, mulchy, brown leaf green and gently spicy/woody.
What's more, despite the small shifts in tone owing to the jonquil absolute, Vol de Nuit remains essentially the same from top to bottom - a gentle, earthy green balsamic fragrance. It doesn't evolve much. I see what Luca Turin means when he says that Vol de Nuit is a somewhat boneless fragrance, because it seems to be entirely composed of heart and base notes, all of which rise to your nose pretty much at the same time. The chypre dressings here are either too brief (the fleeting bergamot) or too soft (the gentle use of galbanum and oakmoss) to provide much of the traditional iron rod backing to the fragrance. This is a positive, to my nose - the inky bitterness of traditional chypres is not missed here. But is it an oriental? I am not entirely sure of its oriental credentials either, to be honest - the supposed vanilic amber and sandalwood in the base is not at evident to my nose at all.
Anyway, enough about the notes. I don't want to miss the woods for the trees. The moving parts of Vol de Nuit don't matter, it's the total effect and feel that's important. This fragrance, out of all the great Guerlains, is the most "me". It is not as challenging or as shape-shifting as Mitsouko, but it is nonetheless complex. It is not as sweet or as smoky as Shalimar, but it is still sexy in its own earthy way. It is outdoorsy and natural, but at the same time, impossibly grand. It is gently green-grey, calming, grounding - almost motherly in its embrace - and therefore acts an a magic elixir on frazzled nerves. It feels ancient and modern at the same time, both co-existing with everyday activities and zoning out the white noise of life. I love it and don't ever want to be without it. I have small samples of the EDT and the parfum, which is use layered with each other for body and longevity, and I plan to get larger decants when I run out.
The story behind this perfume is as beautiful as the fragrance is. I believe the makers at Guerlain were inspired by the book Vol De Nuit (Night Flight) by Antoine de Saint- Exupéry. The book poses Man's omnipresent dilemma, "We don't ask to be eternal. What we ask is not to see acts and objects abruptly lose their meaning. The void surrounding us then suddenly yawns on every side." Like the book, Vol De Nuit by Guerlain is a masterpiece. It is so feminine and intimate, and I marvel and the opinions below that Vol De Nuit is unisex. I wear it only to bed, as there are some things that are too beautiful to share with anyone but your loved one.
This is one of my go-to scents, and it sits out in the open with my regular rotation of scents. This is not a novelty for me. When I cannot decide on what I "feel" like wearing, I dab on some of this perfume. (I don't use the EDT.) It's green and fresh with the galbanum but warm with the vanilla notes in the drydown. There are also hints of something leathery. Very much a classic Guerlain, so if you prefer citruses and fruity florals, this may not be for you. This is truly a unisex, and it is warm and elegant.
01st December, 2013 (last edited: 26th March, 2015)
Austere beauty, perfectly balanced
I received a sample of the vintage formula from a friend and it's so lovely that words can't really capture it's beauty. Every stage of development is so smoothly blended and balanced, so well-rounded, that sampling is really an interesting experience.
The opening is green but not sharp; the sweetness of the orange keeps the fragrance soft. (As a comparison, I think of Chanel #19's bitter galbanum, these 2 interpretations of the note are worlds apart.) The heart notes are equally soft and feminine; the iris adds a slightly powdery touch but what really comes to the forefront is the narcissus, sharpened by a touch of aldehydes. I had to sample this four times before I could really pick out the aldehydes, they're subtle but add a touch of brightness to the sweet florals. The drydown retains the sweetness of the orange and narcissus, but develops into a mossy, woody delight with great lasting power.
I can't compare this to anything else I've ever tried, it's one of a kind. Vol de Nuit has an austere sort of beauty that's similar to Mitsouko in a way but is warmer, more approachable. So subtle and elegant that I think of Grace Kelly when I wear this; it's the perfume equivelent of that kind of graceful perfection.
Sillage is low (for the EDT) longevity excellent, about 8 hours if sprayed generously. I want to find the EDP or the perfume, I think the sillage would be much improved. I'm not eager to try the newer formulation; Mitsouko has been ruined over the years, and I wonder if this frag has suffered as well.
Pros: Soft, well balanced, elegant, cool and austere.
Cons: Not a "statement" frag, but all that much better for it."
Warm, vanilla-amber infused leather
This is a reaction to the vintage edt. It goes on warm and inviting, vanilla and amber-infused leather are swirled in a very light sandalwood mist with the green of galbanum just peeking through.
It is a very comforting fragrance and very subtle. If you spray an arm, you can't detect it unless you bring that arm to your nose -and there it is, lovely and re-assuring.
The cons are that it has that poor sillage and that the longevity is no more than an hour on me. This would certainly be a negative for those of us who want to smell our scents, to have them make a statement on our skin.
This strikes me more as a lovely base upon which to build a scent, not a scent in and of itself. I detect its notes as the base of my favorite masculine Guerlain, Heritage.
Notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Petitgrain
Jasmine, Daffodil, Spice
Sandalwood, Orris, Vanilla, Amber, Oakmoss, Benzoin, Musk, Ambergris, Castoreum
Pros: The original warm amber and woods combo
Cons: Poor sillage and longetivity, better as a base than a finished scent"
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This is my soul's scent in the way that Arvo Pärt plays my soul's music.
Here I am laid bare: spartan resilient resins, warm generous vanilla, spare beautiful florals flying out beyond prettiness. This vibrates celestial, best viewed from the perspective of 10,000 feet.
Whereas I remain endlessly curious for other scents, they are just that: other. They beckon with the intrigue of difference, the enchantments of conversation, the beguilements of beauty - the jar, seduction and stimulus of traits not native.
Here is my essence, my effortless source.
The silence between my heartbeats.
*Review For Vol De Nuit Parfum
It opened with Bergamot, I got a faint lemon note and Orange Blossom was prominent.The Galbadnum got lost in the other opening notes. Within fifteen minutes it had quickly moved into an Aldehyde accord for a a few minutes at best and then a burst of Iris came forward along with a faint vanilla note as if it were waiting to pounce.
After thirty minutes the iris was still wafting around and the vanilla had pounced in, but not too strong. Three other notes started to make a strong presence, the orris root, musk and sandalwood were becoming strong to my nose. The moss got lost in the strength of the other top notes or my immature nose missed it.
As more time passed and the orris root, musk. spices and sandalwood with just a hint of vanilla were the stars of the show and the sillage was still pretty high. For about 3 hours and slowly dropping off from there, the parfum remained a linear orris root, musk and sandalwood. After 3 hours the longevity and sillage had given in and Vol De Nuit Parfum was a skin scent and becoming a beautiful memory for me.
Vol De Nuit in any concentration could very well be unisex because it's not a floral monster or overly sweet and reminds me somewhat of Shalimar which I think is very sensuous on a man. Vol De Nuit Parfum is one of those fragrances that, for me, are very alluring, sexual and I would highly recommend it!
15th March, 2013 (last edited: 27th March, 2013)
Vol de Nuit is one of my favorite Guerlains, A green chypre that has a green bitter and animalic oppening that evolves to a powdery floral with lots of iris and sandalwood and then to the classic guerlain base just Glorious! It evokes to me lost hollywood glamour from the 30´s and 40´s, rich women wearing furs and diamonds to go to dinner parties and al sort of stravagant luxury.
My favorite bottle is a vintage edt (late 80´s) that i got on ebay. You can smell the difference right away. Its much more animalic (i guess because of animal muscs), greener and mossier and I also think it used to have real sandalwood cause the scent blends with my skin. The new edt is much more soft and plush, I get more aldehydes its cleaner, but its still wonderful.
If you cant find a vintage edt go with the new parfum. As for me, I wear some drops of the new parfum and a couple of sprays of the viintage edt. It cant get better than this! (actualy it could if I find a good vintage parfum bottle!)
15th January, 2013 (last edited: 18th January, 2013)
Is my mind playing tricks, or did so many women really wear this when I was a child? On first spraying, this perfume greeted me like a long lost friend – instant familiarity and comfort.
Regardless of the (un)reliability of olfactory memories, this is my experience of Vol de Nuit. It beams out of the bottle with such glorious springlike radiance, everything transparent, sunlit and shimmering, resistance is futile. Even though this phase is fleeting, with the solid Guerlain base of sandalwood and vanilla becoming noticeable very early (this time with a pinch of the smoothest spices in the mix), the perfume doesn’t lose its light character, with glimpses of narcissus peeking out now and then. Given, projection is subtler than Guerlain heavy-hitters, but it’s still worth every penny when it sets the senses waltzing the way it does (this from someone who couldn’t waltz to save his life). Absolutely the touchstone of perfection – and of joy.
From the start, this is clearly a very retro fragrance, classically dense with florals, bitter galbanum & animalic notes. Over the first hour, the florals become smoother & creamier, with hints of the forest floor beneath. ln the heart, salty moss & ambergris come out to join the flowers, & this is the part l most enjoy. After this, l begin to get the same "doughy" note that l disliked in Dans Tes Bras, & this persists in linear fashion, fading out around eight hours after application.
This certainly a very serious & grown-up perfume, & l must admit that it doesn't really feel like "me". l sense, however, that this is one of those that may reveal different aspects of it's character on subsequent wearings, & so l will revisit it at some point.
Whether you like Guerlain's style or not, this brand had, have and will unquestionably always have an incredible relevance in perfume history. Guerlain is, no more and no less, french perfumery personified and Vol De Nuit is one of the highest examples of all this.
I could go through the usual notes explaination but, in front of such a beauty, it would be an oversimplification. Seriously. Everything has been already said, analyzied and dissected. Comparisons bewteen different diluitions, batches and reformulations but, as a matter of fact, this is one of the best 100 fragrances of all times. This is perfumery.
Open your wallets. A masterpiece.
Vol de Nuit is a monument in perfumery and there is a 'mystery' around this creation. In fact, it is not an 'easy' fragrance and one reason may well be that I perceive it both as chypré style and 'powdery oriental' (as jdt put it in this review) at the same time. This interplay and phases of different emphasis really is something I needed time to interpret for myself. I also think Vol de Nuit is a fragrance that is very prone to 'distraction' if there is still another fragrance faintly lingering on your skin. I have found the subtle interplay and transmission of chypre and oriental can be disturbed and Vol de Nuit sort of falls apart in nothing. What you want to experience when wearing the extrait (which is IMHO the only way to experience Vol de Nuit due to longevity and the perfumes' subtle facets) is exactly what sean-dt described in his beautiful review, when he states that a 'unbelievably' delicate aura seems to appear out of nowhere just when the perfume seems to fade.'
Experiencing this is truly the magic of Vol de Nuit! It will always have a very very special place in my heart. It, both, comforts me and complements me by creating an aura of mystery and allure. At least, that's what I like to think...
ADDITIONAL comparison vintage vs. current extrait (June 2011):
The overall mood I think is more dramatic in the vintage, whereas the new is simply beautiful, if that makes sense. I also think the vintage jus demands your emotional involvement, whereas the new is again breathtakingly beautiful AND contemplative. The vintage has a spiciness that reminds me of the Parfum de Toilette of L’Heure Bleue. It is very French, very Guerlain and vintage (although mine here is only 10 years old, but that ensures the floral notes are well preserved as some claim Vol de Nuit does not age well.) smelling. I think that the vintage extrait of Vol de Nuit is even more the quintessential Guerlain to me than L’Heure Bleue. The new jus has a more pronounced floral heart (I like to think it is the jonquil absolute as core accord) with its edges rounded off with the help of the Guerlain vanilla and benzoin (?), which I absolutely adore. It is less spicy, less complex or is it complicated ?, less powdery and more fragile (I have found that it can sort of collapse into nothing on you when distracted by your skin chemistry – e.g. faint remainders of former fragrance) than the vintage. It also does not produce as much sillage as the vintage and is more 'unisex' to my perception making it clearly an amber-emphasized fragrance, in particular in the drydown.
In the end, I think the new Vol de Nuit is a sort of "modernization" and I like it at least as much as the vintage. It is the best reformulation I can think of, but I could see the loss others might feel compared to the vintage, too.
31st May, 2011 (last edited: 10th June, 2011)
Eau de Toilette
Vol de Nuit is a gorgeous, gorgeous green-floral with a distinct "brown" or "autumnal" quality to it, as described by sean-dt. It is never too strong or overbearing; simply smooth and comforting, like a sunset, or.... a night flight. :)
Like Mitsouko, I find Vol de Nuit to be beyond time and gender, but still smelling damn good.
The Bottle is beautiful the artistry and
craft they painstakingly created with it's
Topaz cut and ruched glass cut with
gold insignia inside a circle with gold
metal Vol de Nuit is the hight of Art Deco
and liquid from the fragrance is pure gold. Channels the playboy aviator & eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes with
his planes and women of course women!
numerous of them well know actresses
you can think of had an affair the most
well know was Katharine Hepburn Jean Harlow
and Ava Gardner.
Squiring jean Harlow on the red carpet
of the Lavish Permire of Hells Angels
beautifully reenacted by the Pop Singer
Gwen Stefani from the Martin Scorsese's
Or Walking though a Brown Smokey Quarz art deco nightclub
where the smoke stains the mirrors and the women whearing
skin tight Golden Dresses And Men with italian Suits
And the feeling of sex Is every where and the sound of a
single Saxophone Playing though the night.
the scent which i agree with Kastehelmi
it does fly off your skin there is no silage strength and if you compared
to shalimar it is obvious that Vol de nuit is an icy sphinx not letting know
her life nocturne introverted Elegance
compared to shalimar with allmost an
more of a masculine yang presence aggressive and yet like Vol refined.
I love perfume but sometimes I simply can’t analyze a scent and identify its constituent parts. This seems to happen in two particular instances. I can’t deconstruct the fragrances that I wore when I was young. Each exists as a whole, like an object. I would have trouble analyzing Antaeus or No 5 beyond saying that one is huge and the other is aldehydic. The other instance is the early Guerlains. I love Vol de Nuit, and I recognize it the instant I smell it, but other than saying it is a powdery oriental, I’m adrift.
But I do love it. It is clearly complex, and the complexity reads as a richness that even I get. Although I can’t break VdN down in my head and look at its bit parts, I can describe it. It feels lush and unhurried. It is soft in feel. Not weak and vague, but deliberately diaphanous, ethereal. This softness gives VdN an atmosphere rather than an edge. VdN doesn’t cut or strike, it haunts.
Sean (Ireland) described Vol de Nuit wonderfully. I use the perfume for years now. Sometimes I try something else, but quickly return to the lovely scent of Vol de Nuit. When the first notes faded away, it reminds me of warm sand in summertime.
Vol de Nuit is often described as a green perfume, but for me it's more autumnal, like brown leaves. Once the opening fades, the sweet suede-like vanillic base takes over, until what remains after several hours is a glorious dry resin. While this in itself is wonderful, it's not the most amazing thing about this perfume. The real magic is an unbelievably delicate aura that seems to appear out of nowhere just when it seems the perfume is fading. This happens very quietly and without any drama -which makes it all the more breathtaking. It's like glancing across a room to discover someone who is utterly ravishing but doesn't know it. No histrionics, no posing, just pure understated loveliness.
I have always been a lover of both chypres and orientals. Every time a great aunt or older lady in my family or extended family would come around when I was a child, I would adore the perfumes they would wear. I know the moniker "Old Lady Perfume" is supposed to be an insult, but in truth these older women lived before the era of mediocrity slowly started to creep into fragrance. Vol de Nuit is everything I love about classic perfumery. It is at once a chypre and an oriental. From its green opening through its narcotic floral center and into its dark, rich and full bodied vanilla, oakmoss and spice base it is complex, balanced, and unashamed of its own opulence. I know that many consider Vol de Nuit a unisex scent, and I can certainly see why; but in my memory this perfume always will carry associations of strong women who lived through so much and still came out strong, lovely and filled with grace, poise and dignity.
Wearing the extrait right now, I can't help but be blown away every time I put it on. I recall first trying this in the winter, and somehow it picked up a winter-time association, but now it just has the association with luxury and elegance. My mission upon going to the Guerlain boutique in San Francisco was: return with a bottle of Vol de Nuit! Instead, I returned with a bottle of Jicky parfum. How could I not? At least, both are required for me. Smelling this now makes me lament; why don't they make things like this anymore? The leathery floral aspects are simply haunting, and I love the green/narcissus. This still isn't something I actively wear out in public, but I think I would like to once I get a bottle of EdT to layer over the parfum. It's just too special to walk out of the house to the corner bar or the grocery store wearing, but even in the privacy of my own home, I'm often sitting in a chair, smelling the small dab I've applied, and closing my eyes in ecstasy.
This perfume is absolutely wonderful. I consider this my Holy Grail of orientals. Every other perfume in this category seems to pale in comparison to Vol de Nuit. It is smooth, warm, dark, rich, and sensual from the initial moments through the long drydown, and it lasts for hours. Someone mentioned aldehydes, which I do not find objectionable, but I do not smell any in Vol de Nuit. (I believe the Guerlain fragrance which was meant to compete with Chanel no. 5 is Liu--it is an aldehylic floral.)
There are many perfumes I like, but this is one of only a handful that have affected me so strongly that I HAD to own them. It is also one of a very few which I own in extrait. Usually the price of extrait deters me from buying, however much I would like to, but this one I had to buy! If I could rate this two thumbs up I would.
House & Fragrance: Guerlain, Vol de Nuit
Formulation & Concentration: Vintage, EdT
Type, Source, & Method: 1 ML glass vial, The Perfumed Court, Skin (Inner Wrist)
I've got to give you a brief & concise bit of background so I can effectively explain my point. Please bear with me.
I had the fortune/misfortune to be raised as a Hare Krishna. We would get up early in the morning, go to the temple and chant and dance in front of an altar. Every day, someone would come around with a Q-Tip dipped in Indian oils and wipe them on everyone's inner wrist. There were only a variety of maybe 5-10 different vials in constant rotation. They were these little glass bottles, about 2 inches tall with a plastic cap coated in gold metallic paint. When you opened the bottle, there was a white, semi-transparent plastic rod that was attached to the inside of the cap that reached to the bottom of the bottle and was, of course, used for application (sort of like the tube in an atomizer, but not hollow). All of them contained one or more of the following ingredients in varying concentrations: Jasmine, Vrindabana Flower, Amber, Patchouli, Gardenia, Champa/Nagchampa, Sandalwood, Saffron, Musk, Rose, Lotus, Magnolia, Radhey Shyam, Myrrh, Sage, Bergamot, Lavender, and other (hard to pronounce) essential oils.
I am extremely accustomed to these smells. Each one was either a single oil, or a combination of some of the above ingredients. Each one had a distinct character.
Are they all natural? Yes, the Indian manufacturers generally won't use alcohol for several reasons. Are they imported from India? Yes. Are they common in the USA? No, not really, but you can sometimes locate them at new age stores or head shops. Do they cost a lot of money? No, they are very cheap; you can buy them as singles for around $6 per 20ml glass vial or in lots. Does Guerlain's VdN smell EXACTLY like one of those vials? Yes---EXACTLY. Upon application, I do smell alcohol, but as soon as that evaporates, it's a dead-on replica of one of these cheap and, to me, common vials of imported oil. There is no distinction whatsoever. Once the alcohol is gone, I detect no change from the scent's top notes to the dry down to the base. One of the most linear perfumes I've ever smelled, but it actually does smell good---the problem being that it is entirely unoriginal, and lacks the character and depth that so many fragrances have (even the cheaper ones!).
My experience with Frederic Malle's Noir Epices was similar; the immediate and distinct recognition of a very familiar fragrance (those oils from childhood) with no trace of anything else! To my relief, though, NE eventually changed, shedding its top notes to reveal something much more elegant and mysterious---a shy, bashfully aroused girl in eastern garb.
VdN smells great to be sure, but I'd rather buy 15 little vials (approx. 280ml) of the Indian oil than spend the same amount of money for a 50ml bottle of this.
So many sparkling reviews, and not only here either. This fragrance was one of the few that got a 5-Star rating from Turin in "Perfumes: The A-Z Guide". To quote Turin, VdN "is by Guerlain's standards a somewhat shapeless perfume, lacking a legible structure". And it got 5 stars? Whatever. I think I know why, but this review is already long enough.
It makes me wonder what the rest of the Guerlains will smell like to me. Hopefully nothing like this one. The only Guerlain I own, L'Instant de Guerlain PH, blows VdN out of the water as far as an in-house comparison goes. It's like standing Leonardo DaVinci next to Bam Margerra. There's no comparison to make! I'll try this again sometime down the road just to get some closure in case there is some factor involved here that I have not taken into account.
It boils down to something quite simple: VdN smells great, but it's not a perfume. It belongs on cotton balls stuffed into the back of kitchen cabinets for a gentle, pleasing house scent.
An absolute marvel. Soft, woody in the drydown, fantastic sharp galbanum opening, perfect creation. Poetic and original. Try the extrait, the EdT fades away too quickly. Beautiful in fall/winter. One of the VERY best Guerlains.