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.
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”
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
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.