Guerlain Vol de Nuit: The Perfume of Perfumes


Vol de Nuit (Night Flight), was created in 1933 by Jacques Guerlain himself. It’s a very hard fragrance to review because it does not fall nicely into a specific genre.  It is however, utterly classic and vintage and beautiful. If I had to explain perfume to an alien visiting our planet, I would just let them smell Vol de Nuit. It kind of explains what perfume is and should be.

The opening is spicy and aldehydic, with a nod to bergamot and a passing wisp of citrus lemon. You can tell that Vol de Nuit is related to Jicky. They are first cousins, at least during Act One. Then old fashioned powdery notes sidle in, followed by sandalwood and spicy carnation. Finally this marvellous radiant symphony calms down into iris, sandalwood, violets and musk, but still hangs on to the carnation spice and slightly bitter orris root, so earthy and pungent.

This lasts and changes and evolves. It has been on my wrist all day and never left me. It is, quite frankly, a classic of the fragrance world and to leave this out of the Greats would be like leaving Mozart out of a classical music Hall of Fame.

You can tell that Vol de Nuit comes from the same family as the other Heritage Guerlains, Jicky (1889) and Mitsouko (1919). I sometimes have problems with both since I haven’t yet trained my modern, sanitised nostrils to adjust themselves as necessary. Both need to be smelled within the context of their time in order for their greatness to be appreciated. However the slightly later Vol de Nuit (1933), is instantly accessible today and by far my favourite Guerlain.

You could call it Oriental as it certainly has spice. You could call it an Aldehyde: after all, it’s green and soapy. You could call it a Floral: replete with Narcissus,  iris, carnation and violet. Or you could call it one of the most beautiful and versatile fragrances of all time, if you are me.

There are a lot of perfume houses around today that could learn a thing or two at the knee of Grande Dame Vol de Nuit. When I wear it, I want to don fox fur and red lipstick and smoke cigarettes, but being a kind non smoker, I will just have to settle for the red lipstick. Wearing this transports me from stressy normal life and makes me want to be enigmatic and silent at the the bar of the Hotel Meurice until handsome men buy me drinks.

Vol de Nuit. Night Flight. The scent of your dreams.


You can buy Vol de Nuit from and  John Lewis


12 thoughts on “Guerlain Vol de Nuit: The Perfume of Perfumes”

  1. I so totally agree.
    It’s astonishing, isn’t it? One that you can fall in love with at first sniff, wear for years and yet find something new about it to love years later.

    1. It’s stunning. It keeps me interested as it never stays the same. The fragrances that can do that always have my admiration whether I like them or not. With Vol de Nuit, I sniffed throughout the day and had about four different and beautiful scents, all related. It’s like an archetype. All perfume should be measured against this. So many would fail though!

  2. Dearest Iscent
    I cannot adequately convey how thrilled I am that not only have you flown Vol de Nuit, but you have come to the same conclusion as The Dandy and will not now wish to fly any other way.
    Exquisite and incomparable.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Dear Mr Dandy

    I am so pleased, but not surprised, that you love it too. The only thing that troubles me about it is that many of my other fragrances now smell inadequate in comparisons. It’s as if I always loved fish fingers until the day I tried Lobster. Nothing’s the same now.

    Your friend

    1. Thank you Jan and welcome. I’m so glad you like the blog, it means a lot to me. I’ve popped over and seen your blog and shall be following it from now. I like the cut of your gib!

  4. I love Vol de Nuit, I don’t wear it too often, because it’s too precious, but when I do, it smells amazing. I got a 30ml atomiser of the parfum quite a few years ago, and I have about 20ml left <3

    1. My dear Barry, what a pleasure it always is to hear from you.I love that you wear this and that you don’t think it’s for women. Please have a word with my sons! xx

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