A la Nuit: my reference jasmine

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As I already have mentioned before, A la Nuit by Serge Lutens is a kind of reference jasmine to my nose (or may be better to say one of the references). Especially in the beginning I can clearly smell all the components of the jasmine scent I have mentioned before: a fine euphoric note of the white flower, a deep and dark narcotic note of indole and an exotic fruitness of benzylacetate. At the very first moments I can even clearly smell the green notes I wanted to find in the jasmine smell so much. All those components are not only easy to separate in this fragrance, but they also looks a bit magnified or emphasized. Probably this slight exaggeration was the reason for Madame Turin to call this fragrance a “jasmine jasmine” or a “death by jasmine”.

On my skin A la Nuit can behave differently. Yesterday it was very capricious trying to protrude its aspects one after another until all of them had found peace and started to behave as a whole. But today it was very kind. A la Nuit even showed me its green notes I wanted to find in jasmine but couldn’t. It opened on my skin as a jasmine blossom slightly glimmering in a darkness and whispering me about the fantasy worlds full of mystery, miracles, love and passion. It was trying to seduce me to reveal my deepest desire and to surrender myself to the jasmine fantasies.

How does Christopher Sheldrake made this fragrance? Was he attempting to recall and recreate the essence of jasmine based on the thoroughly composed mixture of absolutes? Or did he want to approach a kind of jasmine image from his own perception? What I mean is that I think that there are three main ways to create a soliflor. The first one is when a perfumer tries to approach a live blossom. Like Lys Mediterranee by Frederic Malle with all its nuances of even nuances of stalk and blossom dust. Another way is to approach a kind of image of the flower that is an interpretation based on the individual perception of the flower. Like Un Lys by Serge Lutens. It doesn’t have the nuances of the live lily, but emphasizes its essence on the vanilla background. There is another variation of this way when a perfumer gives some new nuances that don’t even exist in the live flower to make it more a fantasy fragrance. The third way is when an essential oil or absolute is taken as a base (or a mixture of them or even different species of the same flower) and analysed to recognize its basic aspects. Than each aspect taken apart can be developed, emphasized and decorated. I guess that a lavender accord at Kiki by Vero Kern and incense accord at Incense Extreme by Andy Tauer might be build this way. But, it´s only a gues…

It´s interesting to notice that three sorts of Jasmine are mentioned to be used in A la Nuit – Jasmine from Egypt, India and Morocco. Formerly French Grasse was the main source of Jasmine where they bottled the smell of Jasmine by mean of enfleurage. But now Egypt, India, China and Marocco are the main suppliers of Jasmine absolute. The last one can be also a standardized blend of jasmine absolutes from the different sources. Even if a perfumer used just a drop of it in her or his perfume he may write about “thoroughly selected jasmine from Egypt, India, Maroco etc.” used to create the fragrance. But I still do believe that Christopher Sheldrake did really work with three different absolutes to create The Jasmine for his A la Nuit.

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