Wings of the Night- Vol de Nuit Guerlain

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice calming yet scrumptious perfume to wear to sleep; a fragrant lullaby which will make your dreams sweet and your sleep restoring?

I know that it might be more obvious to think of French impressionists composers like Fauré, Debussy or Chausson with regards to the classic Guerlains, but for me quite a few vintage Guerlains I associate with the music of Richard Strauss. Composed around the same time as some of the most famous fragrances produced from this house, his music is lush and has a certain ‘die Welt von Gestern’ sigh to it. The poems he chose would often depict nature antropomorphed, and proving himself no stranger nor indifferent to the power of fragrance, in one of his most famous opera ‘Der Rosenkavalier’, at the presentation of the rose, a silver rose filled with drops of Persian rose oil we are told, smells like from the heavens, like nothing on earth, almost unbearable with beauty. As is the music at this exact point.

A good night-perfume makes me sleep like an angel. However, not the wings of angels but the wings of airplanes inspired the Guerlain classic Vol de Nuit.

One of Strauss’ most beautiful songs is ‘Beim Schlafengehen’ ( poem by Hermann Hesse) from his ‘4 last songs’ , it’s climax is the soul rising, anticipated by a violin solo, then for real by the melisms of the voice on the three words ‘free’, ‘wings’ and ‘waft/ soar’. To me, the soundtrack of Vol de Nuit is this song.vol de nuit2

My favourite night flight is ‘Vol de Nuit’. I embark some time before getting ready to sleep, this way I can enjoy the jasmine and daffodil indoles, which smell soft like dew drops, resting on a soft bed of moss and they can slowly descend into a the heart and base, like the mind that equally slowly turns away from the world.

Vol de Nuit’s night chilliness is oddly warm and embracing, like the cool side of a pillow, it calms the soul with orris and spices. You sense the sweetness from vanilla and the restoring powers of the lucid green galbanum to shine through the darkness, which lingers on your skin, but wants to rise, ready to take off from it and rise with the woody notes and the whole distant symphony that makes this fragrance, at the same time as the body finds sleep, as your mind descends to quiet, your Vol de Nuit ascends on “wings into nights magic circle to live a thousandfold”

Sweet dreams


Nun der Tag mich müd gemacht

Soll mein sehnliches Verlangen,

Freundlich die gestirnte Nacht

Wie ein Müdes Kind empfangen.

Hände lass von allem Tun

Stirn vergiss du alles Denken,

Alle meine Sinne nun

Wollen sich in Schlummer senken.

Und die Seele unbewacht

Will in freien Flügeln schweben

Um im Zauberkreis der Nacht

Tief und Tausendfach zu leben

(Herman Hesse)


Now that day has wearied me,

May my ardent desire,

Friendly embrace the starlit night,

Like a tired child.

Hands, refrain from all work

Brow, forget all thinking

All of my senses now

Long to sink into slumber.

And the soul, ungarded,

Will soar on open wings,

To live, profoundly and thousandfold

In the magic circle of night.

13 thoughts on “Wings of the Night- Vol de Nuit Guerlain

  1. Oh my goodness. You’ve really done “our” perfume more than justice here Asali.

    Vol de Nuit and Hermann Hesse? A wonderfully inspired pairing.

    Loved it all but particularly “…soft like dew drops, resting on a soft bed of moss and they can slowly descend into the heart and base, like the mind that equally slowly turns away from the world.” Fabulous!

    I’m going to look for an old VdN ad to go on my wall, then I’m off to “the magic circle of night”. Sigh.

    • I’m so glad that you think so, Tara, since yes, this is *our* perfume. It’s daunting writing about something one likes so much, and also about something of which so much has already been said, but that doesn’t mean one can’t keep trying. I am away at the moment so couldn’t do something for the visual side myself, but I really like the vintage VdN ads, so I prefer it this way. I’m looking forward to hearing which one you get/ choose.

  2. Vol de Nuit and Strauss/Hesse, Aasli, what a great choice! I had to go through my music collection and listen to the 4 Last Songs right away. 🙂 It’s a beautiful piece and the perfect match for the VdN.
    It would be a real fun to couple up more perfumes and music pieces together!

    • I’m so glad you agree on the match-up, Strauss’ four last sings are mesmerising. Sometimes the choice of a scent-track to a piece of music is obvious, if it isn’t i don’t try to force it, but for me, the best perfumes have a musical counterpart. Well, I didn’t give it much thought before, but perhaps you could say that generic fragrances have their musical counterparts too…

  3. That is such a beautiful poem. 🙂
    Now I need to find my decant and put some on.

    • Yes isn’t it just 🙂 and I envy you, I left for performances without my VdN, and now it feels like the only right thing to wear.

  4. I know next to nothing about Strauss (aside from coupling that name to waltzing music), but I loved your line, “Vol de Nuit’s night chilliness is oddly warm and embracing, like the cool side of a pillow…”

    What concentration of Vol de Nuit do you wear, Asali? I have tried the edt, and it didn’t really hook me, but I have a feeling the parfum version might. That’s usually the way it goes with the Guerlains. 🙂

    • Thank you Suzanne. I should have clarified that Richard Strauss has nothing to do with the waltzer Strausses, it’s a very common misconception though 🙂
      And yes I understand about the edt, you should definitely try the parfum then. I have vintage versions, but really love the new version just as much. I also have a vintage cologne, that I think you might prefer over the edt.

  5. I love this review. 🙂 Such beautiful and new mental images, and they fit perfectly with the way I experience Vol de Nuit, too. And regarding the lyric, do we add translation to your skillset now, as well? 😉

    Speaking (sort of) of St. Exupery, I am in the middle of a novel called “Studio Saint-Ex” by Ania Szado. If you are also a fan of his work, you might find it interesting.

    • Thank you very much N, I’m so glad that it echoes your experience of VdN. Writing about icons is always daunting in that regard, and especially when likening it to other things dear to you.
      He, translation, well- more or less. There are translations out there, but none that I like 100%, so I do my own in certain cases. I like words, and translations are a bit like word games to me.
      I will look into the book you suggested immediately, I was really looking for new literature, so thanks a lot.

  6. Oh wow, only the other day I came *this close* to wearing the remains of my Vold de Nuit sample, then decided to go with something a bit more summery. But now I am thinking I should try to use it to help me sleep, something that is a nightly issue…

    And thanks for that poem – Narziss and Goldmund is one of my all-time favourite novels, which I had forgotten all about till you mentioned Hesse there. And ‘schweben’ always reminds me of the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, which I passed again in March. 😉

    • I never read Narziss and Goldmund, I should, so thanks for reminding me.
      I don’t know if VdN can actually help insomnias, but why not… Give it a try, at least if you can’t sleep after applying, you will have something nice to smell 🙂

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