An ad from Parfums de Coeur? Nope, a bona fide endorsement of one of the most beautiful (and apparently readily available online) discontinued perfumes I've run across in a while. Who said the '80s was all about screeching Giorgio or Amarige? Don't get me wrong — demure is not how I would describe La Nuit; this honeyed leather beauty is intensely sensual/erotic/animalic perfume. But instead of knocking you over the head with its sexiness, its deep voice whispers naughty come-ons in your ear, and you might have no choice but to surrender. Well, I couldn't resist anyway; this thing is bewitching.
Top notes: Citrus, basil
Heart notes: Rose, honey
Base notes: oakmoss, woods, leather, patchouli
The 80s, it seems to me, for all its excesses, must have been the last decade in perfumery that was unselfconscious about continuing the tradition of grand perfumery. La Nuit is just as good as the kind of vintage perfumes that we all now trip over each other to win on eBay.
La Nuit's initial impression recalls vintage Narcisse Noir to me, in effect if not in actual notes. (I am having a hard time tracking down the actual notes, but I will update this when my Haarman and Reimer Fragrance guidebook finally arrives.) The first thing I get is indolic flowers and spice — a solid, sexy floral chypre. About fifteen minutes in, this is where the Rumeur similarity comes in, and the real fun begins.
There is just a rush of honeyed woods (sandalwood?), leather, patchouli, and what smells (in effect, anyway) like creamy benzoin or Costus root — something that turns the usual chypre spicy dryness into buttery softness. La Nuit is the closest thing I've found to that decadent perfume Rumeur: its drydown is reminiscent of Rumeur's voluptuous melange of dark vanilla, peach, plum, tobacco, leather, civet, and the sebumy/Costus oil scent so uncannily reminiscent of skin and unwashed hair.
The perfume's movement from sophisticated chypre to come-hither animalic makes me think of a somewhat comical image from a James Bond film. I imagine the femme fatale luring some hapless guy into a room, and just as he begins to realize what's going on, smoke engulfs them, obscuring his vision and allowing that bad girl to have her way with him: that is La Nuit's final act.
La Nuit is not gourmand in notes, but in its incitement to the wearer to commit all kinds of crimes against nature, first off, like wanting to consume it. In an email discussion I had with perfume historian Octavian from 1000fragrances about Rumeur and its sensuality, he put it succinctly: "It's fruit made flesh."
That's La Nuit: perfume made flesh.
Image source: Mes Parfums