Nuit de Cellophane was released by Serge Lutens in early 2009 as part of the brand's export collection. The press release for this fragrance includes a typically Lutensian snippet of prose-poetry and dialogue, but the sample-vial card offers a more concise description: "The night embodied in scent and sight. Chinese osmanthus." Nuit de Cellophane's list of notes includes jasmine, osmanthus, carnation, lily, almond, honey, sandalwood, and musk.
I hope my "perfumista" credentials won't be revoked when I reveal that I'm not a Serge Lutens fanatic. I admire the line's artistic philosophy and many of its fragrances (and I did own the original Shiseido Féminité du Bois years ago), but although I can appreciate the scents in an abstract sense, I somehow don't enjoy wearing most of them. Even Sa Majesté la Rose, the rose soliflore of the line, which would seem to be a good fit for my tastes, rubs me the wrong way. (Is it the geranium that bothers my nose? the honey? I've never been able to figure it out.) Long story short, I respect Serge Lutens from a distance, but the house's aesthetic just doesn't fit me. On the other hand, Nuit de Cellophane sounded like the type of sweet floral that usually appeals to me, and if it turned out to be a non-Serge-like scent, as many diehard Lutensians lamented, then I would probably like it.
Nuit de Cellophane starts with a rich bouquet of osmanthus and just a hint of cinnamon-like spice. The osmanthus is an apricot-like note that seems to convey both a velvety skin and a juicy pulp, and in the fragrance's opening stages, it's lush and vibrant. As it mellows, it's met by the creaminess of jasmine and lily petals. The dry down of Nuit de Cellophane, however, with its pale musk and sheer woods, feels somewhat thin. I'd forgive the fading of that delicious osmanthus note if a similarly sensuous note or accord emerged in the fragrance's base, but unless I'm missing something, there's no compensation. Despite its name, Nuit de Cellophane never really evokes night-time. It seems to dim, but not darken. Nuit de Cellophane has average staying power; as an Eau de Parfum, it should probably last longer, but at least it's more durable (and smoother) than other peachy white-florals like Angels of Florence by Santa Maria Novella or i Profumi di Firenze Florentia 22 (Pesca e Fiori).
Robin recently wrote that the squeaky-clean L'Eau Serge Lutens seems designed to be a top-seller for the brand and, more specifically, to capture the attention of the lucrative Asian market. The same could be said for Nuit de Cellophane. It's a very versatile, very wearable, high-quality take on the fruity-floral genre; it just didn't move me, emotionally. And, even though I can't carry off the weirdness of many Lutens fragrances, I still expected Nuit de Cellophane to have some kind of subtle twist that would mark it as part of the line. If there is such a twist, I couldn't detect it. Overall, I felt as though I'd walked into a Surrealism exhibition and found myself facing a wall of paintings by Renoir instead: lovely stuff, just not quite what I was expecting. I know, now I'm being difficult! However, if I were to invest in a high-end osmanthus fragrance, I'd probably opt for Ormonde Jayne's Osmanthus, which remains brightly elegant, keeping my interest throughout.
(For a few other reviews of Nuit de Cellophane that were written soon after the fragrance's release, you can look back to Patti at Perfume Posse, Marina at Perfume Smellin' Things, and Gaia at The Non-Blonde.)