La Nuit de Paco Rabanne ~ fragrance review

La Nuit de Paco Rabanne

Some perfumes are a bare wisp that register more emotionally than physically. People around you sense something light about you but can’t quite connect it with perfume. Other fragrances are more insistent and complement your day like a pleasant soundtrack. Sure, people smell your perfume, but it’s a natural accompaniment to who you are.

And then there are the thugs like La Nuit de Paco Rabanne. La Nuit doesn’t waste time with seduction. It slips on brass knuckles and tells you and everyone else within noseshot how it’s going to be. And how it’s going to be is your trashiest 1980s nightmare come true. You just might love it.

Paco Rabanne released La Nuit in 1985. Its notes include basil, bergamot, Amalfi lemon, tangerine, artemisia, jasmine, rose, peach, pepper, white honey, oak moss, woodsy notes, patchouli, leather, Virginia cedar and civet. In short, La Nuit smells like a hot mess of honey, rose, leather, moss, and urine, amped up with creamy aldehydes.

At first smell (and here with a wince I reapply La Nuit for the fourth time today anticipating the crinkled nose of my poor movie date later on) La Nuit is a frenzy of waxy aldehydes melting into the same kind of dark rose that inhabits Gucci L’Arte di Gucci and Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum. But besides patchouli, moss, and leather, La Nuit's roses swim in honey, musk and tarry civet. Once La Nuit has set its course, it doesn’t veer, and the freaky animalic rose chypre leers and bullies its way through a solid eight hours on skin with minimal change.

Take the come-hither honey-rose-civet of the original Schiaparelli Shocking, add BDSM gear, and return at four in the morning. La Nuit is what you get. Keep La Nuit far away from work, unless your work involves bondage or cleaning kennels. It doesn’t mix well with cubicles. This is not a fragrance to wear when the sun is out, unless you’ve been out all night already. In other words, La Nuit is for big girls.

And boys. To my nose, La Nuit is firmly unisex. It’s forceful enough to suit anyone who doesn’t give a damn, regardless of gender. As long as you don’t need a fragrance that’s eager to please, and you’re willing to have heads turn your way — and not always with satisfaction — La Nuit is worth a try.

Those of you who have been following perfume blogs for a while might remember La Nuit from Luca Turin’s review on his defunct blog, Perfume Notes. He called La Nuit the “warmest, sultriest perfume imaginable,” and wrote “Spray Tabu on a horse and you get the idea.” (Romantics like me will note with a warm heart that one of the commenters on the post was Tania Sanchez, his future co-author and wife, who astutely remarked that now his readers would long to smell like a horse sprayed with Tabu.)

Although it can’t be beat once in a while, I can’t take La Nuit’s wallop on a regular basis. Good thing, since La Nuit is discontinued. For those of you made of sterner stuff, La Nuit de Paco Rabanne is still readily available online.

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62 Comments

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  1. ggperfume says:

    Sensational review, Angela! I like some loud ’80s perfumes, but this probably won’t be one of them. I have been warned!

    • Angela says:

      It’s hard for me to imagine you living happily in a cloud of La Nuit, but you never know!

      • ggperfume says:

        So true, one never knows. So often people fall in love with that completely “out of character” perfume (or person)!

        • Angela says:

          So true!

        • Merlin says:

          For the longest time I only wore orientals, often gourmands and then suddenly it dawned on me that my olfactory equivalent is actually Infusion d’Iris (original edp). Go figure: /

          • Angela says:

            Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to get it right!

  2. Abyss says:

    It’s been on my To Try list ever since I came across that LT review in his blog archive. I never, ever buy unsniffed so I’m hoping that one day I’ll finally manage to pick up a reasonably-priced miniature somewhere. It sounds like it would be tonnes of FUN.

    • Angela says:

      “Fun” is a good way to describe it! I stumbled across my La Nuit just like you hope to–it was a miniature included as part of a swap.

  3. platinum14 says:

    Wow! You have outdone yourself! …. and I now have an urge to search for La Nuit so that I too can smell like a horse sprayed with Tabu!

    • Angela says:

      Whose horse would it be, I wonder? Mae West’s? (Clearly I’m remembering the Mr. Ed episode where he goes to live temporarily with Mae West.)

  4. ringthing says:

    I couldn’t handle La Nuit, and my clubbing party days were in the 80s; I remember thinking that it was just too strong. I was deep in the throes of infatuation with Coco at that time and much preferred the more elegant spice. Somehow I ended up with a bottle of La Nuit that I swapped away years ago. Love your review Angela; as always, you are exactly on point! Now I want to revisit PP Mon Parfum, I remember liking that one.

    • Angela says:

      Coco and La Nuit are two different animals, that’s for sure.

      I really like Mon Parfum! Do find yourself a sample and see what you think these days.

      • ggperfume says:

        I”m waiting for cooler weather so I can try my sample of Mon Parfum. I remember liking it at the perfume counter back in the ’80s, but I’ve never worn it.

        • Angela says:

          It has an assertive personality, but I do like it. Tell me what you think when you get to it!

  5. bjorn says:

    Angela, did you try the EdT or Edp? I have a bottle of the EdP and I think my skin tames the civet or maybe the EdP is just creamier overall. I get a whiff of cumin at the start but after that it’s pretty well behaved. It’s not office friendly, for sure, but on me it’s a warm and spicy oriental.

    • Angela says:

      From your description, I wonder if I have the EdT. Mine is a miniature, and I can’t find anywhere on it what its concentration is.

    • Erin says:

      I’ve always wanted to buy a bottle, but the samples and decants I’ve had over the years have been radically different, so I’ve never been sure what concentration I want. I had an older sample that was quite rich and creamy, with the honey dominant – I wonder if this was the EdP. My current decant and an EdT tester bottle at my favorite local store for discontinued treasures has a much sharper character, emphasizing the aldehydes and what smells to me like galbanum. I kind of assumed that this might be the effect of it having a turned or evaporated a little, in the way of vintages — but now I’m thinking I might have to spring for the EdP. *sigh* The EdT is so much cheaper….

      • Angela says:

        It does sound like the EdP might be the way for you to go, dang it.

  6. Absolute Scentualist says:

    La Nuit, how I love thee! Fun and fairly accurate review, Angela. I, being very bookish, shy and rather introverted, seem to gravitate toward these wrecking ball perfumes as if to make myself the most interesting smelling wallflower where ever I go. I haven’t tried the Paloma Picasso you mentioned, but I think I’ve carried on at length for my love of L’Arte, Rochas Femme, Kingdom, Angel, Muscs Koublai Khan and other perfumes that can be clearers of lifts and small rooms if not cautiously applied.

    I came into my perfume wearing teens in the 90′s when everything was androgynous, crisp, clean and aquatic, so these big 80′s perfumes are the antidote to the breath of fresh air I wore back then and into my twenties. I love them!

    Does anyone know the differences between the edp and edt of La Nuit? I want to invest in a bottle but don’t know which I should buy or which is in my decant. Thanks.

    • Angela says:

      Have a look at Erin’s comment, above. That might help. I hope someone can chime in, too!

      Have you tried Absolue le Soir? You might like that one, too.

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        Absolue Pour Le Soir is one of my favorite discoveries of 2012! Surprise surprise. :) But funny enough, I can’t handle all the civet in Jicky yet. I’m working on it because under all that is a lovely vintage floral. But it just punches me in the nose as soon as I dab some on.

        Seconding the love for SL A la Nuit and also Fleurs d’Oranger with all their endolic/spicy goodness. They’re just what I usually save for reading or watching a movie alone because they do love to muscle their way in on company and polite conversation with flowery innuendo and sultry propositions. But they’re so unabashedly bawdy and proud in the best way possible, like the Mildred Baileys of my perfume collection, as is La Nuit, that I can’t imagine not having them around to make a statement.

        • Angela says:

          I love how you describe them! Yes, those “intimate” fragrances are good for alone time, or time with someone who can take it. That’s how I feel about Jubilation 25, too. I love it.

    • Emily says:

      “most interesting-smelling wallflower” — love it.

  7. Merlin says:

    I’v had a cold for a while, and though my nose isn’t blocked any more my sense of smell is even more numbed out than usual these days. In any case, I did come across La Nuit lately – the EDT version. To me it was not as powerful as many describe it: this could be because of my cold and also because my skin seems to dull most perfume (Others cant smell perfume on me either – unless I shove my wrist under their noses.)
    In any case, I remember a soft, berry-like scent with a marked (but still soft) skanky undertone. Looking at the notes though, I wonder where my impression of ‘berries’ came from. Could the blue tinged bottle or box have made me imagine blue-berries???

    • Angela says:

      I’m not sure where berries came from, unless it’s the mix of honey and rose that did it. I can imagine thinking “fruit” with that, especially if influenced by a blue box!

      • Merlin says:

        Its the funniest thing – every time I see a blue box I am suddenly sure I’m smelling berry! I think it started with Armani code for woman…

        • Angela says:

          Oh yes, I can imagine that kicking off a berry association.

  8. OhLily says:

    Lol, I love your description of her, Angela – She really is a thug in a cocktail dress! :D

    Calandre and Metal are two of my favorites, but this minx has always turned her nose up at me. According to her, it’s not that *she* is too sweet for me, but rather that *I* am not sweet enough for her. She wasn’t malicious about it, she just really needed a cig and was still trying to figure out whose underwear she came home in. ;)

    • Angela says:

      Well, that does it. I guess you didn’t have to ask for ID, she was definitely La Nuit all right!

      I love Calandre, too. Too bad it’s so hard to find these days.

      • OhLily says:

        I know, it’s pretty depressing. I wish I could help in the edt and edp comparisons, but I just don’t remember which one was released first. I had a girlfriend who wore it when it first came out, and that’s also the one I tried. The honey was just too much for me, but I don’t know how pertinent that is since I really amp up any sweet notes.

        • Angela says:

          Skin really makes a difference for some fragrances.

  9. mals86 says:

    I love L’Arte but can’t manage Paloma. Hmm. I don’t know where I had gotten the idea that La Nuit was “skanky jasmine,” but I did have that in the back of my mind, and I’ve never smelled it.

    • Abyss says:

      SL À la Nuit is, according to TS, “death by jasmine” :D perhaps that’s where the idea came from?

      • Angela says:

        I bet you’re right!

      • mals86 says:

        Well, I remember that, but I think that there was a review written by somebody else… Perfume Shrine? Cant’ remember.

        • Angela says:

          Perfume Shrine did do a review, but I don’t remember the particulars. Maybe that was it, though.

    • Angela says:

      Skanky, yes. Jasmine, not so much. Gosh, now I’m in the mood for some jasmine. The power of suggestion…

  10. thenoseknows says:

    Somehow, Mon Angel Angela…. All i want now is a Bottle of “La Nuit De Paco Rabanne!!!!” I can’t Help Myself… you’re Review was just too Lustily Good for it’s own Sake… you have wooed me to the Dark Side, Darth Angela! I am Forever Transformed Now! ;-) HUG AND KISS to another BRAVISSIMA Review, Mon Angel! :-)

    • Angela says:

      If you do try it, watch out! You just might end up chased down the street by feral cats.

      • thenoseknows says:

        ROFL!!!!! NOW…. I MUST TRY! LMAO! :-D

        • Angela says:

          Bring some sardines you can toss to keep them off your scent!

  11. poodle says:

    My trashiest 80′s nightmare come true? Sign me up! I used to wear Calandre but that was hardly a loud scent. Somehow I missed this one. As usual, Angela, you have created another lemming. On my skin this would probably be great. I love the scent bombs.

    • Angela says:

      If you ever do try it, do let me know what you think!

  12. nonnanina says:

    Great review of La Nuit. I have a bottle, EDP, and when I am feeling particularly loud, I will anoint myself. It is a big, busty fragrance and for the novice user, proceed with caution!! It’s funny how many fragrances I have in my drawer and on my shelf are old, original formulations. Very lucky and I have my mother to thank. She was a perfumista from way back and introduced my sister and I to many fragrances.

    • Angela says:

      You are so lucky to have that! I know lots of us envy you. Enjoy.

  13. Marjorie Rose says:

    I wish I could have 2 ml of this to try just for fun. Somehow, I suspect that’s all I’d need! :)

    • Angela says:

      It might be! I know you live in Portland–I may be able to fix you up with a sample.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Thank you, Angela!
        Certainly not a necessity, but it’d be fun to try some time! What’s the best way to contact you?

        • Angela says:

          I’ll get in touch with you.

    • mikeperez23 says:

      I have 2 mls of it, I’ve had it for several years now, and I still have some left. It’s That Strong. But Fun too. I am a bit sensitive to aldehydes so this one just **burns** my nose hairs it’s so aldehydic – and that particularly buttery sort of aldehydes that was so popular in the 80′s (I smell boatloads of it in Cinnabar). It is so ‘not me’ that of course I’m drawn to it…and as Angela has already it’s bombastically unisex. Noone would mistake this for a feminine fragrance IMO…it’s more like Knize Ten than say…Calandre.

      • Angela says:

        Great mini-review! It’s hard to say who, exactly, it would suit 100%, but it might suit a lot of people 5%. And when that 5% itch needs scratched, La Nuit is just the ticket.

  14. nozknoz says:

    Great review! And now I know exactly what to wear to those bondage and kennel cleaning job interviews. Previously, I was at a loss for how to strike exactly the right tone. ;-)

    This also reminds me quite a lot of Nina Ricci Fille d’Eve.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      HAH! Good luck with those interviews! :D

    • Emily says:

      Let us know how the new career pans out, Noz. :)

    • Angela says:

      Fille d’Eve is much more innocent, to me. No bondage or kennels for her. Just lots of work in the baby nursery.

  15. Emily says:

    As soon as I read the line about the brass knuckles, this went on my to-sniff list. (Both the EDP and the EDT … go big or go home, right?)

    • Angela says:

      That’s the attitude!

  16. Mrs.Scents says:

    Awesome review, Angela! It’s such an enticing description of something that sounds very forbidden that I can’t help but want some!

    • Angela says:

      It’s worth trying, just to have the experience, I think!

  17. ggd says:

    A horse smelling Tabu? La Nuit was a extremely elegant and complex scent. Shalimar was always much more direct, as much as Nu of Saint Laurent, and all of them remained elegant. I know it well because I used them for a long time.

    Throughout the day, you keep smelling your own perfume on your skin, it was a second nature. After the shower, like a far reminiscence, the smell remained yet. This was nothing vulgar, it were the features of a good quality perfume…….

    Nothing to do with the animal instinct. The first impact was that of a forest at dusk, when the resins spread their scent, intense, immersive, fascinating. An invitation to freedom, to dream, to an intellectualized sensuality and absolutely free…The woman who dares to dream master of herself and whith the world at her feet

    • Angela says:

      What a beautiful description, thank you!

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