Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Nuit de Noel
The gorgeous song of love Zliey Dukhi translated from the original Russian, composed by Alexander Vertinsky, reminisces of the haunting nature of love lost so intrinsically tied to perfume. I adore Marc Almond, and this is perhaps my favorite recording of his achingly beautiful voice. This so embodies the ethereal yet riveting nature of perfume, yes?
Well, it does for me, anyway.
Nuit de Noel is an Oriental Floral fragrance launched by Parfums Caron in 1922. Top notes include rose, ylang ylang and jasmine, heart is sandalwood and oak moss, and bass notes are musk (synthetic, almost always, these days) and amber.
NdN has about it the air of an antiquated fragrance at first. The descriptor "old lady perfume" is one hotly debated amongst fragrophiles, and many a topic thread has been deleted from perfumista boards because the discussion became so contentious. We are creatures of habit and we follow trends in the herd-- it is known. "Old lady" is a poor descriptor, because today's 20 something co-eds will smell like little old ladies to coeds in 40 years when they wear their Juicy Couture or Fruitbomb trendies. It's a cycle. What you find new and fresh now will one day be a reminder of yesteryear. Very fine and compelling formulations may fall to the wayside, but some among their ranks endure, and only for the very good reason that enough of a market remains passionate about that perfume through the years.
That said, there is an air of Grand Dame about Nuit de Noel. The person who demands instant gratification will not likely be satisfied with this scent, and I have to say I very nearly gave up on it before it revealed its full magic, and this would have been my loss. The opening is rather harsh and loud. Jasmine can be a tough sell for me, and ylang ylang can be overpowering, so coupled with the rose the opening is a bit cloying and borders on too much bang with not enough ooh-la-la! I urge anyone trying this to wait out the opening. For me, the dry-down takes at least an hour, and then there is the hot, racing heart of oakmoss and sandalwood to ground the high-flying florals and rein them in superbly. Finally, the base of amber is always wonderful for me, and though musks can be overly powdery to my nose, in this one it really works.
Perfumes very much evoke moods for me, and none moreso than antique formulations such as this one. I can't put on a perfume from 1922 without thinking of the tenor and tone of that glorious jazz age. Girls with too-short skirts, rouged knees, brazenly bobbed hair and too too too much lipstick! Scandalous! This was the sparkling moment of Gerswhin, Stravinsky, Jolson. The world was in a big hurry to have too much fun, too soon, the dark perils of The Great War now shrinking in the rearview mirror. Now was a moment to marvel at the flickering image of moving pictures, to marvel at radio and be entranced as the sinuous lines of art nouveau morphed into the sleek form of art deco. It's all so jazzy, baby! So modern. So new.
The link I've provided above is to the impeccable fragrance shop Lucky Scent. I can't recommend them enough for their wonderful service and superb selection. The site includes an expensive parfum but I use the eau de toilette and don't find it lacking in any way. I would like to have the parfum, one day, though. The great thing about Lucky Scent is that a sample may be purchased for just a few dollars, so you don't have to commit to a full bottle to try it out.
Here is the original in Russian: