It’s practically mainstream now to like minimalist fragrances that are the equivalent of elevator music. Light and airy, they play politely in the background but you have to lean in for a good wrist-sniff to detect them. Louis Vuitton Heures d’Absence is the polar opposite.
It’s powerful, heady and – whisper it – a little old-school in its voluptuousness. Exactly how I like it. This perfume says ‘I’ve seen things, been there, done that’. And that’s because it has.
Louis Vuitton Heures d’Absence is a reinvention of the original, which launched in 1927. It was Maison Louis Vuitton’s first foray into fragrance and deeply personal.
Heures d’Absence was named after the family’s country home. Just 300 bottles were made, each engraved with an airplane to reflect the brand’s enduring love of travel and the golden age of aviation.
Nearly a century later, Heures d’Absence is back with a modern twist. The first formula has been lost so master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud re-worked a classic floral fragrance to create something much cooler than the usual inoffensive, dewy bouquets.
Louis Vuitton Heures d’Absence Eau de Parfum, £190 for 100ml
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We’ll be damned, because this one doesn’t smell like an actual garden of roses and jasmine. It’s more sophisticated and shape-shifting a scent than that.
Heures d’Absence features May Rose, native to Grasse, which has a peppery, honey-like quality to it. Together with jasmine and raspberry, it bursts through before being flanked by warm, powdery notes of sandalwood, vanilla and musk.
One or two mists is more than enough. At first spritz, my nostrils flare, hungry to breathe it all in.
Heures d’Absence is like the sweeping end score to a film. It calls attention to itself. It makes you want to walk taller rather than slink into work in ripped jeans.
Floral and interesting rarely meet in perfume. They do here.