Patricia’s reading of Tender is the Night via scent, Majda Bekkali’s Tendre Est la Nuit.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of my favorite authors in high school and later as an English major in college. Tender Is the Night, begun in 1925 but not published until 1934, is the story of Dick Diver, an eminent psychiatrist, and his wife and former patient Nicole. Nicole was modeled after Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda, who suffered from alcoholism and recurrent bouts of mental illness. Fitzgerald himself wrote, “Gatsby was a tour de force, but this [Tender Is the Night] is a confession of faith.”
Tendre Est la Nuit by Majda Bekkali was created with perfumer Delphine Thierry as homage to Zelda, who lived in the shadows, first of her famous husband, then of her own deteriorating mental state and subsequent institutionalization. Majda Bekkali “wanted to tell what may be the opposite of the noisy and turbulent world where we live…but when we extract ourselves from the noisy world, some danger lurks around and reason falters, the animality emerges.”
While I have some issues with a perfume that romanticizes the very real darkness of mental illness, that does not alter the fact that Tendre Est la Nuit is an exceptionally lovely fragrance in a stunner of a bottle. The top notes of immortelle and ambrette open a little roughly with a wine-laced fizz that almost immediately settles into a wood-rubbed leather worthy of such predecessors as Robert Piguet’s Bandit and Chanel Cuir de Russie.
With moderate projection, this fragrance continues to please relatively unchanged for a good five to six hours, gradually becoming increasingly woody in nature, reminiscent of the inside of an empty cedar spice chest. I don’t get danger from this perfume, it is all warmth and comfort.
The fragrance, though beautiful, is not especially innovative, but the quality of the ingredients is impeccable and the balance of them, perfection. I would love to have on my dresser the elliptical brown glass base with its oval rosewood cap, like two stones situated in a state of grace, one on top of the other. It is a true work of art.
Majda Bekkali Tendre Est la Nuit Eau de Parfum includes notes of immortelle, ambrette and carrot seeds, cabreuva, davana, pepper, Sichuan pepper, benzoin, leather, labdanum, oakmoss, incense, patchouli, castoreum. Available at LuckyScent. 120 ml/ $230