The latest fragrance by Sisley, Soir de Lune (Moonlit Evening) was reportedly 7 to 8 years in the making. Philippe d'Ornano, son of the founder of Sisley Cosmetics stressed, "You can do a fragrance for a season, or a lifetime," (...) "We are choosing to build a fragrance that will last a lifetime."
The perfume comes 16 years after Eau du Soir (1990) and 32 years after Eau de Campagne (1974) the two previous perfumes introduced by the Sisley cosmetics brand established in 1973 by Count Hubert d'Ornano.
Soir de Lune is officially described as a floral chypre but it is just as much a fruity and animalic chypre to the nose. This new composition seems to embody the very Platonic ideas of elegance and refinement bringing those qualities to a new level and in particular making the scent appear significantly more sophisticated than the previous chypre found in the portfolio of the brand, Eau du Soir at the risk admittedly of cannibalizing the first.
The commitment to quality on the part of the d'Ornanos can be felt immediately upon inhaling the scent. You are struck here with a sense of accomplishment and refinement that makes you think that Sisley did not waste their time indeed as the fragrance has benefited from the extra attention and accumulation of experience. Soir de Lune is a great example of how perfumes can progress from one creation to another while paying attention to the same idea.
Sisley have thus taken the same concept, the idea of a luxurious chypre, but it has now gained further polish and elegance, further depth in other words, characteristics that would be hard to just improvise or simply will, it seems. One can well imagine the number of trials and errors, the number of suppression of unnecessary details and effects. And the result is outstanding...
The kinship with Eau du Soir is immediately apparent but as if Eau du Soir were the rudimentary draft of Soir de Lune traced with chalk bits on a sidewalk.This comes as an instructive experience because Eau du Soir up to now smelled to me like a very elegant chypre. But like in fairy tales where a beautiful young woman is made to suddenly appear ugly in the eyes of the hero by the apparition of yet another beauty, even more beautiful than the first fair lady, Eau du Soir is made to smell somewhat crude and unrefined in comparison with Soir de Lune. I will confess that now I think of a mix of artificial candies and aromatic herbs from my kitchen cupboard when I smell Eau du Soir and compare it side by side with Soir de Lune.
The ambition for Soir de Lune was apparently to create a classic chypre and to make it a masterpiece as in, say, the masterpiece crafted by a compagnon from the tour de France. And I think that Sisley have succeeded in attaining that goal. The jus is not so much original as classic as it integrates very well the sum of historical experience about chypre perfumes including Guerlain Mitsouko. There is for example a Mitsouko quote in Soir de Lune seen in the use of a fruity peach note; but it is so much more subtle here. If the perfume does not necessarily seek originality, it however does seek out character and distinction. Soir de Lune is both a fruity and animalic chypre with floral undertones supporting these two main atmospheres and the latter part adds quite a bit of character to the fragrance. The peach and the honey add a touch of the unusual as does the nutmeg. In the end, it conjures up the image of a woman in full command of herself with certain rough edges to her character that are adroitely hidden, une femme du monde, a woman who is at ease in a privileged environment.
The perfume officially includes top notes of bergamot, mandarin, lemon, coriander, nutmeg and capsicum pepper oils. Middle notes are May rose centifolia and mimosa flower absolute, jasmine, lily of the valley, iris and peach. Base notes are woody moss, musk, honey, sandalwood and Indonesian patchouli. The perfume is very well blended with a few notes being showcased.
The first time I tried the perfume I was immediately sensitive to the peach note supported by a well-blended bed of flowers and then to an animalic accord that I thought might be civet but it is not listed in the notes. This animalic accord prevents Soir de Lune from being an overly polite chypre. On second try I was more sensitive to a dry accord smelling in fact of dry moss mixed with the sharpness of nutmeg and coriander, the latter two not at all sweet, on the contrary presenting all the sharpness contained in those spices. It might be identified by some as a "feet smell"because there is a cetain "dirty" smell that emanates from certain spices and herbs; it is just a very dry plant smell which borders on the animalic. The honey sweetens the composition but not too much and I would say that it rather softens the composition than sweetens it.
I am most impressed by the texture of the perfume. I am especially struck by the feeling it gives me of a luxurious weaving comparable to a rich sparkly embroidery or better still, a starry night studded with myriads of stars. I find this shimmering quality quite remarkable, as if the perfume rested on thousands of points fine as pin heads.
At one point (the second time I tried it), my mind seemed to be hell-bent on tracing familiar connections: Mitsouko by Guerlain for the peachy chypre accord, La Rose Jacqueminot by Coty for the animalic rosey accord, 24, Faubourg by Hermès for the way the perfume fills the air around itself, Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso for its floral animalic and green accord, Divine by Divine for almost all of these reasons, etc. I needed to stop somewhere in this enumeration of chypres. But it is true that Soir de Lune undeniably belongs to this great tradition of chypres and is inspired by it, yet it also succeeds in offering something unique, epitomizing an agregation of qualities contained in other chypres. If I had to wear just one (classic) chypre, it would be this one.
I now represent to myself the next Sisley chypre to be born in 20 years and making Soir de Lune look pallid and coarse in comparison, I can think of it but I cannot tell how it would smell.
It makes me think of the scene in The Perfume by Suskind where the old perfumer Baldini after having smelled Amor and Psyche by Pelissier which he thought was a masterpiece then discovers the perfume created by Grenouille and realizes how the former was shaggy and inadequate. This is how, to me, how Eau du Soir feels as it is being dethroned, to my nose, by Soir de Lune.
The perfume is currently exclusively sold at Neiman Marcus but will be more widely distributed in September 2006.