Guerlain Nuit d’Amour : Fragrance Review

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Nuitdamour4_2

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Nuit d’Amour is the latest limited edition from Guerlain, which follows the 2005 launch of Plus Que Jamais. The fragrance was inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Lady with Hat and Feather Boa (Dame au Chapeau et Boa de Plumes). I am rather at a loss as to what about the flat floral oriental blend is meant to evoke a beautiful Art Noveau painting depicting a flushed redhead tightly wrapping a dark feather boa around her shoulders. Although Plus Que Jamais was a level below the classical Guerlains and their depth and complexity, it nevertheless captured the opulence and romance marking the house’s creations. Nuit d’Amour, on the other hand, veers too far into territory that has already been well explored and exploited. …

The pink fruity sparkle of the top notes in Nuit d’Amour gives way to peach tinged rose, a combination that recalls the plush sweetness of Lancôme’s Trésor. The bright fruity note remains obvious against the florals, offering a rather disconcerting contrast. The heart itself does not develop beyond the murky arrangement, where one glimpses a hint of rose, a powdery touch of violet, and a shrill murmur of an indistinct white floral. The musky woods of the base do not lend anything else interesting to the composition other than a significant heft. While Nuit d’Amour is plush and thick, it is more akin to synthetic carpeting, rather than a handmade Persian masterpiece.

I have been wearing Nuit d’Amour on and off for the past couple of weeks trying to decide what I feel about it and what it means to me as a Guerlain fragrance. If I were to make a list of my favorite fragrances, Guerlain’s creations would make up the bulk. I find everything about the house fascinating, from its history as a perfumery inspired by the elegance of English fragrances to its signature accord of iris, tonka bean, rose and vanilla. I can appreciate the commercial pressure to offer fragrances that play with successful modern themes. I do not blame the house for reformulating its masterpieces (even if the very thought of this pains me), because new regulations and the disappearance of raw materials have left them little choice in the matter. Yet, the scent of Nuit d’Amour does not even conjure shadows of Guerlain’s classical glory. It simply feels vacuous and passionless, as if it is far too exhausted for the night of love it promised.

Nuit d’Amour includes notes of pink pepper, lychee, rose, violet, iris, sandalwood, musk. It is available from Bergdorf Goodman and directly from Guerlain boutique in Paris. Nuit d’Amour Baccarat Crystal Flacon will be priced at $2600; the 60 ml size is $390.

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30 Comments

  • Nick: Dear Victoria,

    I have a story to share with you. At the start of my love affair with Guerlain, I bought an ounce of Mitsouko which had sat in a little perfumery for a long time. Alas the topnotes were slightly damaged. Not aware that this didn’t really matter, I had them swap it for a brand new bottle. I still have a small amount which I decanted from the old parfum. It is breathtaking – the animilic notes in the base, the ambergris, civet and the iris… The tantalising base notes which can only feel that special when they are the real, if not completely hypoallergenic, ingredients. People who lean closer, are simply spellbound! I am glad to have known this once than to have never experienced it. And to think I swapped this for a new bottle in all my youthful ignorance!!! October 25, 2006 at 12:11am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Nick, what a story! I have a couple of those, such as passing up an opportunity to acquire a bottle of Apres L’Ondee parfum for $20. I agree with you on the beauty of vintage Mitsouko–it is warm, complex, animalic, yet it retains subtlety. My friend and I were near the Guerlain counter last weekend, and she tried Shalimar parfum. It was flat, sharp and high pitched. The animalic notes that formed the soft, opulent backdrop were thinned out, and as a result, the fragrance lost its allure. If I were to try this Shalimar for the first time, it is possible that I would not have appreciated it. October 25, 2006 at 1:56am Reply

  • Nick: I couldn’t agree more about the subtlety of Mitsouko, in fact that is part of Jacques Guerlain’s genius – the admixture of richness and a certain lightness.

    Today, in modern perfumes, this attribute may be described as a transparence, which seems so all important these days. October 25, 2006 at 3:54am Reply

  • chayaruchama: I can only second your sentiments.
    This is why I cling to my carefully protected vintage bottles…
    I was off to work the other day, and my DH noted that there was a large wad of bubble wrap in my backpack- to which I replied- “I’m protecting my investment ! If men can put brassieres on their cars, I can prevent this costly, precious essence from breakage.”
    Nota bene- he agreed… October 25, 2006 at 7:09am Reply

  • March: Weeping. No, seriously. Eyes tearing up over here. Not so much for this particular fragrance, although I WAS looking forward to it, and I DID have doubts about anything with the word “Amour” in the title (my own weird alarm bell). But as I noted (in a snarkier fashion) on the blog today, I’m beginning to lose hope for Guerlain based on the most recent releases. First off, what they lack in appeal they’re making up for in quantity of releases. Second, they seem to be appealing to the bottle snob market as a way to make money, rather than getting busy and wowing us with the juice. Although your comments on Ina’s post about Voilette give me faint, faint hope. October 25, 2006 at 7:47am Reply

  • Judith: I agree with you completely. This is oversweet (for my tastes), flat, and boring. But in Guerlain’s defense–they did a good job bringing back La Voilette, which has a wonderful vintage feel to it (even if the affordable version only exists in small quantities). And I do like Bois d’Armenie a lot, although it’s quite different from their classic scents. But I treasure my vintage Guerlains:) October 25, 2006 at 8:19am Reply

  • Marina: Flat, boring, such a disappointment. Although I am glad! This is one lemming I cannot afford at all :-) October 25, 2006 at 9:00am Reply

  • luccia: I tried both la Violette and Nuit d’Amour at the Sniffa first thing Saturday, but neither one really sent me, they seemed pleasant but not special, so it’s interesting to have
    a little of validation of my instinctual opinion. I was wondering if it was simply my own chemistry that did not react well with them but now I see I am not the only one…
    Also it seemed like the Guerlain people were practicing the most hard of sells that day that I experienced from anyone we visited, but perhaps that was just because I went to them first, it was maybe that first contact of the day thing… October 25, 2006 at 10:28am Reply

  • Christina H.: How heart breaking to hear! I am expecting my bottle very soon and I so desperately hope that it appeals to me more than it has you.Regardless, the bottle is very beautiful. I just hope it’s going to be more fulfilling for me.It better be , or I’ll quietly go in a corner and cry! October 25, 2006 at 10:42am Reply

  • luccia: Yikes! Sorry for the sloppy proofing — I hit the post rather than preview… October 25, 2006 at 10:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nick, you pointed out the differences nicely. Transparence, radiance, lightness are the main qualities that mark the contemporary fragrances. Even rich blends have them. October 25, 2006 at 1:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Chaya, you should have seen me sealing my vintage bottles with parafilm the other day–it was quite a production. Anything to protect them! October 25, 2006 at 1:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I do not think that Guerlain has fallen completely in my eyes–Bois d’Armenie, reissuing vintages, etc. were all good moves. It is just that Nuit d’Amour has a potential to be something interesting, and it turned out anything but. Will a teenager buy a $300+ bottle of perfume? No, it should be something that might appeal to the existing Guerlain fans. Yet, nothing about it is even remotely interesting. That just made me sad. Perhaps, they are just trying to catch the bottle collectors, who do not care what is inside the bottle. October 25, 2006 at 1:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, yes, there are a number of wonderful releases from Guerlain. I also do not want to overlook Attrape-Coeur, Metalys and Guerlinade. I suppose that I expected Nuit d’Amour to be at least on the same level as PQJ, and it simply did not live up at all. October 25, 2006 at 2:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I agree–the price is rather steep. I should feel a sense of consolation, but I am just so disappointed. October 25, 2006 at 2:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Luccia, while I love La Voilette de Madame (it is a kind of fragrance that requires a courting period, however), nothing about Nuit d’Amour appeals to me. I wore my samples for almost two weeks, almost not wanting to conclude that it has failed me. October 25, 2006 at 2:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, I hope that your bottle will arrive soon and that you will enjoy it. At the very least, the Baccarat crystal bottle is quite striking. October 25, 2006 at 2:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Luccia, no worries! We are just chatting. :) October 25, 2006 at 2:32pm Reply

  • sariah: whispering – I liked it. Luccia, you may too, I certainly wasn’t the only one. Granted, I didn’t give it the 2 weeks of testing that you have Victoria, I just smelled it on paper and on the wrist of my neighbor. I found the start to be bright and pretty, sweet but not too sweet. As I mentioned over on the posse, to me it is a perfume that would be perfectly suited for a beautiful woman – not edgy, just beautiful. The person I was smelling it on is a guy who was testing that on one wrist and Attrape Coeur on the other wrist. I liked them both very much at the start, but much prefer the deeper dry down of the Attrape Coeur. Nuits de Amour is definitely a lighter feeling fragrance, not particularily Guerlain-ish in that regard.

    I really liked the Bois d’Armenie as well. I need to give these all a proper test drive. October 25, 2006 at 3:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sariah, I also love Attrape Coeur. I also agree with you that Attrape Coeur gets deeper and richer in the drydown. That aspect is just so beautiful! October 25, 2006 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Robin: Synthetic carpeting, oh dear! I wanted that big bottle, too :-) October 25, 2006 at 4:25pm Reply

  • cynthia: I thought that it was too sweet but I also didn’t like PQJ. I bought Cuir Beluga this weekend instead. :-) October 25, 2006 at 5:54pm Reply

  • violetnoir: All I have to say is: Well, at least the bottle is lovely.

    Actually I have something else to say: Shame on Guerlain!

    Hugs! October 25, 2006 at 10:38pm Reply

  • Elle: I sampled this repeatedly, trying to find some magic in it. However, the thing that kept running through my mind as I tried this was Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s that expectation that something this expensive and w/ such a magnificent bottle from the revered house of Guerlain HAS to be good…but…it’s not. I still adore Guerlain and I loved PQJ and I’m probably the only person who is a fan of all of the L’Art et la Matiere collection, but this just was a mystery to me. A totally unremarkable scent. October 26, 2006 at 8:35am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I knew that you would be disappointed. :) October 26, 2006 at 3:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cynthia, do you find Cuir Beluga less sweet? It struck me as rather more vanillic than what I envisioned when I first heard of it. October 26, 2006 at 3:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, the bottle is slightly less lovely in person, but only when compared to the last year’s edition. Still, the perfume inside should at least match it. October 26, 2006 at 3:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, I cannot but agree with you completely. I also gave it more trials than I would in a similar situation, thinking that I must be missing something. One must conclude that the price is reflecting only the container, not the perfume. October 26, 2006 at 3:53pm Reply

  • Donald: So happy to read you. You are right completely. Finally, most beautiful inspiration guerlain are elsewhere, at Frederique Malle in particular. The king is port, lives the king! But there, I exaggerate ! I think that Jean Paul Guerlain wants to take along his house with him in his tomb! I exaggerate again !
    Donald October 27, 2006 at 10:31am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Donald, so true. This was definitely the case of Emperor’s new clothes, just as Elle pointed out above. October 27, 2006 at 12:28pm Reply

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