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A Midnight in Paris with Van Cleef & Arpels

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With a name like Midnight in Paris, a name harnessing two of the more beautiful concepts in the world, what else would you expect but a revelation?

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Years ago, when very young, we walked all night through the streets of Paris. Over the bridges and across the Place de la Concorde and Place Vendome, through the parks, past the cafés, inhaling everything we could as we sang Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” in the exhilaration of being young and free in the City of Light.

For years, Van Cleef & Arpels has been sheathing the necks, wrists, and ears of the world’s more beautiful specimens with their legendary jewelry. Fragrance is a natural extension of a jeweler, particularly when one considers that the placement of fragrance is often right next to the jewels: behind the ears, on the wrists, at the tip of the sternum.

Ever since the 1976 introduction of Féerie from its flagship on Place Vendome, Van Cleef & Arpels has solidified its place in the fragrance industry.

Harking back to the work of the great perfumers during the days of Art Deco, when fragrance vessels were created by artisans at Lalique, Midnight in Paris is packaged in one of the more stunning bottles in modern fragrance.

Inspired by the Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris timepiece with its map of the stars under a Paris sky on the watch face, Midnight in Paris is packaged in a box as indigo as the Paris sky in winter.

The midnight blue glass bottle, rounded like a watch face, is embossed with the constellations, while an engraved silver-plated rim encircles the bottle. As for the bottle top, its etched surface evokes the crown of the eponymous watch.

Opening with a burst of lemon and bergamot, the citrus top note is almost immediately mitigated by intensely aromatic rosemary. With leather and lily waiting in the wings – you can feel them pushing forward through the citrus – it’s as if you’ve slipped into your favorite banquette at La Coupole, just before midnight.

There’s a black lily on the table, next to your black leather agenda – a bequest from your godfather, which still retains his scent: incense and scotch. Wes Montgomery on the piano, playing “’Round Midnight” – and you reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, while sipping Courvoisier.

Everything has come together in this perfect moment. Hard to believe: your whole life, every experience, distilled to this essence.

That’s the genius of Midnight in Paris: one element building upon another, a linear progression moving from the darkened lily and leather into the base notes of amber and incense, with the warmth of tonka bean as soothing as the liquor.

Slowly the joint empties out until it’s just you and the bartender, the waiter reading Le Figaro at the bar. You and Midnight in Paris, enveloped in dreams and memories of the City of Light.

Small wonder then that people often inquire about the fragrance you’re wearing: everywhere you travel hereafter, Midnight in Paris clings to you.

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