Midnight in Paris…. The name is like a never-ending romantic cliché that has captured the imagination of artists from Hemmingway to Woody Allen. It is the cliché of love found and lost in the city where love learned to spell its name in French. It is beyond even that for, this midnight is something special. It is more than an evening in Paris; this is a religious conversion into all that is Parisian, a fall from grace into erotic abandon. And it all begins in church.
There is the forbidden love where the lips of star crossed lovers can only meet on the rim of a communion cup. There is the lost love of the soul that can only find a fleeting quantum of comfort in a midnight prayer.
There is the fever love that lives in the heart alone and untouched by reality. The unforgiven unrequited love that is so sweet and deadly that it is irresistible to some poor souls who know not how to love in any other way. This opiate of love is whispered in Gods ear in hopes of just one returned smile. It is a drug and there is no cure but to die. These loves hang heavy in the incensed air and swirl slowly just above the heads of the faithful in one church in Paris, L’église de la Madeleine, the church of the Madeleine.
From the street it looks like a pagan temple to Venus. But when you enter in the late afternoon it is bathed in golden candle light of hope. The heavy perfume of the lingering incense from morning mass is oriental and comes up over the eons from ancient Rome. That very incense held over from the worship of the old gods and in it you can feel that it has embodied the intertwining war of lust and redemption for millennia.
Lovers meet in this church, some to go off into the midnight in ethereal newness of love. Some meet here to marry love and some to burry a lover that is lost. And a few come to pray for an ending to love. No one leaves the Earth without dying a little from one touch of Venus.
For me, this is Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef and Arpels. Opening with leather, ringed in holly, citrus, rosemary like a pagan wreath on a temple wall. This wreath of scent is set on fire as it touches the skin only to smolder with the incense that comes at once from the base to hold court throughout the life of the perfume. The mid notes of lily of the valley, tea and the balsamic smoky leather of the styrax only add to the soft powdered evolution of the incense. When the dry down comes the transformation is subtle on the wings of amber, benzoin, bitter almonds and a lingering of that pagan eastern incense that is supported by the vanillin charms of the Tonka bean.
If you wear Midnight in Paris to church the nuns will notice for the silage is sinfully bold. The whole event from first spray to the death of this lovely thing is around seven hours. Some may say it leans toward the feminine but I say it is daringly oriental and deeply erotic. Be warned, wearing Midnight in Paris on a Friday night may land you in a confessional on Saturday morning.
FIVE GOLD STARS *****