Leaves turn into dreams
Sky falls up into the stars
The hour of the night.
What can I say? Thierry Wasser manages to turn another old classic into a modern classic.
I suppose that getting to smell this fragrance tonight, in the early moments of a clear, cool, November night, under a full moon, was some kind of divine conspiracy. It was most certainly a moment made for this fragrance. And how fitting, as l’heure bleue faded gently into the sunset.
I almost don’t want to say anything. I’m almost afraid to compliment his brilliant modernizations, for fear that THOSE people – the ones who think that everything new is trash – will somehow recant their newfound love of his faux-retro stuff, once they find out that it ain’t your grandmother’s Guerlain.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the oldies. But I have to be truthful – it’s more out of respect than out of desire.
I respect Après l’Ondée. I admire Shalimar. I marvel at L’Heure Bleue.
But I want to wear Shanghai. I want to smell Vetiver Pour Elle. And I want to dream in L’Heure de Nuit.
The first time I smelled L’Heure Bleue, I recognized immediately the odd quality which people had told me about – the way that the scent feels like a certain moment in time – the sort of blue twilight when night is about to fall.
L’Heure de Nuit takes the trick further in both time and space, and it does so beautifully. It creates the exhilarating feeling of cool, dark, expanding space, as night has fallen, and the sky itself has literally fallen outward into space. It is that moment when the stars and moon tell you that there is a whole lot of cool, clear nothing between you and the universe. Suddenly you feel both very naked to eternity, but also very intimate with it. It’s a beautiful sensation – simultaneously reassuring and frightening. My wife and I both noticed this same strange feeling with our first sniff of L’Heure de Nuit. There is an odd familiarity to it – less disturbing than dèjá vu, but just as intriguing. It turns into the realization that the fragrance on the back of your hand is playing distance tricks with you. It’s almost like the fragrant source is either closer or further away than your hand would seem to indicate to your vision. It’s something of an olfactory illusion – and a very beautiful one.
While there is only passing similarity to Creed’s Silver Mountain Water and Millesime Imperial (Guerlain purists may now reach for their barf-bags), I find those fragrances very useful to describe what’s going on here, in terms of the olfactory “appearance” (if you will indulge my use of that word, in lieu of the rather overused word “structure”).
There is a very high-pitched note in SMW, and a similar one in MI, which are pretty much the whole beautiful point of those fragrances. Those notes are like a whistle – clear, sharp and attention-getting. Well – there is something like that in L’Heure de Nuit, but it is much thinner, finer, quieter, and far more precise and detailed. It is not as cold as the corresponding sensation in Silver Mountain Water – more like a slight cooling. If you pay attention, you can sense that it is this thing which gives one the odd feeling of nightfall. But if you pay closer attention, you can feel the texture of it – like a woven gold wire. Less golden in color than L’Heure Bleue, if that makes any sense – closer to a white gold. And this vanishing of color – just one more part of that sensation of night.
I can smell certain components and accords in L’Heure de Nuit, but you know what?
I’m not kidding. You see, I think I’m finally buying into this Chandler Burr anti-material-reductionism thing. So if you want notes, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.
You do not buy L’Heure de Nuit because it smells like citrus, flowers and incense.
You buy it because it smells like nightfall.