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I have some 200+ commercial perfume samples awaiting testing and Mignight in Paris has caught my attention whilst sorting through them recently. A recent addition to Van Cleef & Arpels' 'Haute Parfumerie' line together with female fragrance 'Feerie', Midnight in Paris promised 'A modern and elegant fragrance. Strength and intensity of a leather sublimated by bright notes of a masculine lily-of-the-valley'.
The round, deep blue glass bottle is adorned by a constellation of stars and crowned with a silver stopper pictured on the card inside. I immediately took a liking to this thought-out, high-end and refined packaging that surely stands out from mass marketed designer releases in terms of creativity and design.
Top notes: holly, juniperberry, bergamot, lemon, leather
As first impressions, I'm getting a light and transparent, yet strong and aromatic combination of fresh, tart and lightly bitter lemon and a touch of leather. The fleeting bitter - green lemon soon gives way to a strong, smoky leather that reminds me of galbanum, a precious essential oil used in many classic chypre fragrances.
Middle notes: styrax, tea, lily-of-the-valley, woody notes
Soon enough, the leathery accord deepens and develops a distinct, tarry aspect softened by a fairly non-descript light and powdery background that adds a touch of sweetness to the somewhat harsh, rubbery bite of leather. At this point the blend reminds me of violet, probably because of the burnt plastic effect violets can have. Perhaps it is there to signal a subtle connection with Feerie the female counterpart of Midnight in Paris?
The gender-bending leathery - violet is also a nod to Rykiel Woman without the pepper. The fairly powerful plastic violet goes away shortly leaving behind a gentle, candied violet mixed with a fresh, lemony undertone that never completely disappears. A deeper, smokier tea-like leather note on a creamy, floral background finishes off the heart that projects lightly and stays close to the skin for a good 4 - 5 hours.
Base notes: frankincense, benzoin, tonka bean, almond, amber
Sweetened leather incense all the way is how I would sum up the drydown. Accentuated by vanilla-driven amber and soft, aromatic tonka beans, the leather effect is still there though it has become quiet and balanced. This leather is silky smooth and fits the skin like a glove.
From fresh and bitter to warm and soft and finally settling on sweet and vanillic, the leather in Midnight in Paris is like a chameleon transforming itself. I don't find it too harsh or overly gourmand, it's more on the aromatic and almost herbal, incense-y side tinged with a fair amount of vanilla. The gentle and low projection skin scent prevails till the end and wears close to the skin in the final 3 - 4 hours.
Midnight in Paris has been compared to Bulgari Black by perfume aficionados and I can see where they are coming from. However, Bulgari Black is a statement leather - burnt rubber fragrance heavy on the vanilla that largely dominates the fragrance throughout. Less heavy on the iris than Dior Homme but right on the modern masculine floral trend I find Midnight in Paris subtler and lighter initially as well as more nuanced and less aggressive from the heart onwards.
Its major drawback is that the usual application of a couple of dabs / spritzes only last halfway through the day and side but that's standard for an eau de toilette. What saves it ultimately is that it's complex and versatile enough to maintain the attention and never gets linear or boring.
Modern and classy without compromising on quality, I can see why Paris has been chosen as a namesake. Well, could the fragrance's warm odour of rubber tyres be reminiscent of the still hot tarmac you're walking on on a balmy summer night? Warm, spicy, elegant and refined it could well be but it's just as nice, romantic and rounded in colder weather as an evening fragrance.
Initially hesitating between a 'very good' and 'excellent' rating, based on the budget-friendly price, excellent value for money and availability, I think I can get past the staying power issue and award full stars for this lovely, unusual and well-put together balmy leather composition. The beautiful starry night bottle makes for a wonderful gift too.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Widely available in stores and online in formats of 40ml, 75ml and 125ml Eau de Toilette from £27, £32 and £36 respectively to suit occasional or regular users.
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