In its original, Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido conception (above*), Rose de Nuit was as much about the idea of rose as that of oakmoss, conjuring an impression of crimson petals strewn on bitter-dark soil.
Whilst the name cues us into a nocturnal setting, the story in fact begins at dusk, an early, peachy blush reflecting the rays of a setting sun. It’s a clever narrative device that simultaneously references the world of classic Chypres, most obviously Mitsouko.
Yet quickly the rosy fingers withdraw, and the dry, woodsy-earthy characteristics are left to develop atop a leathery, resinous (esp. labdanum), honeyed base that’s pleasantly animalic.
Comparing a more recent formulation, the mossy facet is less earthy more Veramossy, the rose slightly paler, though on paper it has greater substantivity. There’s a distinct sour note too that I find wanting in the vintage.
Nose: Gilles Romey
House: Serge Lutens
Release date: 1993
Notes (per Fragrantica): Turkish rose, yellow jasmine, apricot, amber, musk, sandalwood, beeswax.
*Photo-credit and sample thanks to my good friend O.