La Nuit de L’Homme (2009) was confirmation of the success Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme (2006) had as an adequate replacement pillar for the Tom Ford-era Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2003), and although it wasn’t the first flanker (beaten by L’Homme Eau d’Été releases in 2007 and 2008), La Nuit de L’Homme was the first flanker to really do something different with the L’Homme DNA, and ultimately surpassed the pillar’s popularity. Many old school YSL fanboys may not have liked the L’Homme line at the time, because the throwback fougère nature of Rive Gauche Pour Homme was hoped to be a return to the familiar by many a vintage masculine fan, but La Nuit de L’Homme’s futuristic clean use of lavender tonka fougère accord abolished that hope in one fell swoop. La Nuit de L’Homme sought to rectify the “metrosexual office scent” lean of L’Homme by introducing some sensuality and heft to the formula, reuniting all three perfumers Ann Flipo, Peter Wargnye, and Dominique Ropion in the process. La Nuit de L’Homme is clearly in the same creative compromises ball field as the original three-way tango of the first L’Homme, but it’s sweeter, richer, more coumarin-heavy base is complimented with increased aromatics and spices. Out is the violet leaf and citrus apple accord of L’Homme, in is old-fashioned bergamot and lavender but treated more sparingly than in the old days. The results of this swap, plus a more paired-down note pyramid makes for a less synthetic-smelling scent (whether it is actually less synthetic or not), but also a more basic one that resonates better in a romantic setting.
La Nuit de L’Homme opens with cardamom and bergamot, with tendrils of a soft, round French lavender infused with calone creeping up from the middle almost instantly, bridging top and middle. We were in the very beginning stages of norlimbanol “karmawood” usage here, so expect it’s telltale scratchiness here, and it kinda creeps in like an olfactory glue alongside a real cedar note to pad things out in the wood department, but it’s not all that scratchy thanks to the sweet calone-inflected lavender and cardamom top/middle. The mostly-musk base of La Nuit de L’Homme does the bulk of the grunt work in the wear time of the scent, with an older-style amber composite note still in use instead of what would have been ambroxan if this released but a few years later, and a noticeable musk ambrette vibe thanks to ambrette seed, but thanks to the strong coumarin note present, hides somewhat behind the tonka to smooth it all over with a drop of oakmoss. La Nuit de Homme feels like the fougère version of L’Homme to wear out when attending an upscale sushi bar or gastro pub instead of a fine traditional steakhouse or five-star Italian cuisine joint. Perfumers Ropion, Flipo, and Wargnye made sure this retains all the sweet youthful appeal of the original L’Homme despite it’s slightly more-serious tone, so there really isn’t much air of formality to make this the kind of romantic scent you’d wear in an Eric Segal novel, but more of the casual kisses shmoo-shmoo that you’d see in a Nicholas Sparks book. My only complaint is how heavy the coumarin and amber is here, border-lining on syrupy grossness but never hitting the levels of Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Tonka (2016), which keeps this scent in the green for me. Simply put, this is to the dinner date what Paco Rabanne 1 Million (2008) is to the night club: a youthful low-risk option to replace many of the more-divisive venerated ones that could have served in years past.
The person who likes L’Homme will certainly like La Nuit de L’Homme, but the person who doesn’t like L’Homme may still enjoy La Nuit de L’Homme anyway because it’s almost a completely different set of notes creating a darker, more intense, less apologetic version of the original crowd-pleaser scent, which saw most of it’s criticism take the form of being too boring or weak. La Nuit de L’Homme shows what the L’Homme formula might have been like had it come out as a powerhouse in the 1980’s, but honestly even then it would probably be deeper and louder with tons of oakmoss or benzoin, so I mean this only in aesthetic. La Nuit de L’Homme is definitely no work scent unless you want to get fired for borderline sexual harassment by making everyone think you’re hitting on them when you walk past. Nights out or at home seem the best place for La Nuit de L’Homme, and if for some reason this dark horse isn’t strong enough for you, YSL even released an intense and parfum versions of it since this flanker has received it’s own line of flanker-flankers! Honestly, I wouldn’t think about this one too much past what it is: a darker and richer L’Homme with slightly improved performance taking it a notch up from the original in sillage, if not longevity. Thumbs up from me, but La Nuit L’Homme is definite try-before-you-buy, and another warning: there are some huge zealots out there claiming that pre-IFRA batches (with more oakmoss) are literally the only ones worth wearing, and this simply isn’t true, as oakmoss was never a huge player to begin with in this, and even though reduced even further past 2011, the remaining scent is still quite enjoyable for anyone liking modern fougères made to cut up a rug or sit by the fireplace and snuggle. Just classy stuff that would have made Yves Saint Laurent himself smile, had he lived another year to see it.