Guerlain Vol de Nuit : Perfume Review (New and Vintage)

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A gem of Guerlain’s classical collection, Vol de Nuit is a miniature universe. Smelling it, I am transported to a wood-paneled library. The gilded leather bound books, the honeyed scent of beeswax candles and the warmth of the fire are evoked by its balsamic and leathery notes. The baroque oriental base of Vol de Nuit cradles a luminous orange blossom and narcissus.

Vdn

Perfumer Jacques Guerlain created Vol de Nuit, “night flight”, in 1933 as an homage to the brave aviators of the 1920s. The French company Aéropostale was one of the first operations to fly the mail from continent to continent. The chief pilot of Aéropostale’s operations was Antoine de St. Exupéry. After serving as a French combat pilot during World War I, he wrote several books, among them Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight and The Little Prince. He disappeared during World War II while flying a reconnaissance mission in 1944. Vol de Nuit was named after a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The bottle is emblazoned with the shape of French Air Force wings and has a dark amber color.

The extrait de parfum is my preferred concentration for the richness of its accords. The eau de toilette is thinner and fresher, but still excellent.

On Reformulation (added 12/17/10):
Vol de Nuit is a shadow of itself, from the rather flat citrusy start to the pale musky-mossy drydown. While the original is tinted in dark greens, rich browns and ochre, the new one is grayish-brown. In the late drydown, the sweet cinnamon note provides most of the tonality. Will update later with a review of EDT which is somewhat differently balanced than the parfum. The interesting thing about Vol de Nuit Eau de Toilette is that while thin, it gives me a better sense of the original Vol de Nuit structure than the parfum. All of the elements are in place, and while they are lighter, the beauty of Vol de Nuit is evident. In any case, I have a hard time liking the new Vol de Nuit because it is so far away from what it used to be. Given the new restrictions on materials, I can only imagine what an impossible task this reformulation must be.

Guerlain Vol de Nuit includes notes of orange, mandarin, lemon, bergamot, orange blossom; jonquil, aldehydes, galbanum, vanilla, spices, oakmoss, sandalwood, orris and musk.

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16 Comments

  • mreenymo: Hello, lovely Victoria!

    I read your entire blog last night, and loved every word of it! But, I wondered where your review of my beloved Vol de Nuit was. You must have read my mind, because here it is in today’s posting!

    You know, I love Guerlain, but I “hate” Guerlain, too. I am so tired of them discontinuing historical parfums like Apres L’Ondee. I get entirely disgusted, with a capital “D,” when they refuse to make the entire fragrance range. How about an EDP version of Vol de Nuit or Parure (my other favorite) or any of these other classics? A body lotion, maybe? How about some soap, folks? I have Mitsouko and Jicky in EDP strength, but as far as I know, those are the only two classics that you can find in EDP. What a shame! I suspect that I would like Chamade and L’Heure Bleue a heck of a lot better if I could get my hands on an EDP. Plus, parfum is very costly. Not all of us “working broads” can afford the extraits, even the 1/4 oz. size.

    Anyway, back to Vol de Nuit. I do have a small decant of the extrait, which is divine. Otherwise, I use EDT. I admit it smells more alcohol-y (is that a word? ha, ha!) to me, but I love it. I think VdN is one of those fragrances that a woman has to grow into, as it is a very mature fragrance. I would not have worn it, even liked it, in my twenties. But now being, shall we say, of a certain age, I can appreciate its timeless beauty, depth and voluptuousness.

    I can’t wait to read what you have in store for us tomorrow! Hugs!! May 26, 2005 at 3:44pm Reply

  • Diane: Hello, dear N, V, and R!! *huge triple wave* Dear R, ITA with your sentiments re: Guerlain. They are quite an annoying lot, aren’t they?

    BRING BACK APRES L’ONDEE PARFUM!!!!

    On a positive note, they do provide Nahema as a PDT and L’Heure Bleue as a EDP. I have both and like them very much. May 26, 2005 at 5:25pm Reply

  • N aka parislondres: Love VdN parfum – yummmmmm. It is soft and gentle and just wonderful… May 26, 2005 at 1:28pm Reply

  • mreenymo: Where did you find L’HB EDP, dear one? I would love to try it, but have never seen it locally. Hugs!! May 26, 2005 at 6:03pm Reply

  • mreenymo: $39.??? I’m there! Thanks, darling. I have never, ever seen L’HB in EDP at any of the upscale department stores that carry Guerlain. For example, last time I checked, Nordstrom has the EDT and parfum. That’s it. So this information is very helpful.

    And, thank you for saying that you will review Parure tomorrow. I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    Hugs, rsj May 26, 2005 at 7:02pm Reply

  • LaureAnne: Vol de Nuit is incomparable. Even in my turning-away-from-Guerlain phase, I never left Vol de Nuit. I think of it almost as my signature scent. May 27, 2005 at 7:14pm Reply

  • Woodcock: Love that galbanum! I got the edT of Vol de Nuit in December, and have been saving up for the parfum since then, and how annoying to find out over the weekend from Saks and Barneys that Guerlain has pulled this scent from US distribution. Luckily, Bergdorf still has a few bottles left. Big thanks to NST for the tip. May 31, 2005 at 4:17pm Reply

  • julien: I adore the old guerlain.
    Vol de nuit is one of the hardest guerlain to wear even though it is very sophisticated as it evolves in many directions…
    Nevertheless,its first notes are hard to me,too “green” and spiced…
    But a great guerlain….
    Does anyone know the new guerlain like Rose barbare,Cuir beluga and angéliques noires?
    I have had the opportunity to smell them many times and i must confess they are quite disapointing,except CUIR BELUGA which is so sweet,a white leather,very powdery,creamy,gourmand…a background à la SHALIMAR….
    mmmm,guerlain my love!:) June 27, 2005 at 8:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, interesting to hear your thoughts on new Guerlain fragrances. I have not had a chance to sample any, but Cuir Beluga and Angéliques Noires were the ones I would be most interested in. What was Angéliques Noires like? June 27, 2005 at 9:05pm Reply

  • julien: Well…angéliques are flowers very difficult to put in a fragance because they are too fragile.
    In the new guerlain,it’s a spiced flower perfume,with a lot of amber background.
    Recalls me something like EN AVION of CARON.
    Not bad,but already seen,that’s why i was disapointed about it. June 28, 2005 at 6:06am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you. I will make a point of sampling it soon. I always love the scent of angeliques, but I agree that they are difficult to capture in fragrance. June 28, 2005 at 9:43am Reply

  • Karin: VdN is one of my favorites. I’ve worn it for years. I usually start out with Chant d’aromes or Chamade, then as the day goes on, layer with Mitsouko and end with VdN or end at Mitsouko or skip the Mitsouko and go directly to VdN. I like it late in the day into evening. I don’t object to the edt, but that may be because it is layered when I wear it and not alone. October 12, 2005 at 9:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, Guerlain fragrance layer really well, as almost anything from a line which is created by the same artist. Serge Lutens is another example. I shall try to follow your lead and experiment. October 13, 2005 at 4:35pm Reply

  • ken: is it just me? but i find VdN rather similar to miss dior… May 28, 2012 at 3:14am Reply

    • Rafael: yes, very much so, though Miss Dior makes you happy to be sad, Vol
      de Nuit makes you sad to be happy. both deep thinker perfumes. not for the frivolous. i made love to a man who wore eau de rochas once and it changed my life forever. i don’t think Miss Dior can do that, Vol de Nuit could. November 16, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

      • Annie O: I’m late in reading this review, but just have to say that I love these words from Rafael. Brave fellow, and true. April 29, 2016 at 6:03pm Reply

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