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Hot on the Scent February 9, 2014

Posted by Alex Sawit in Stuff in General.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Alex Sawit

February 09, 2014


According to my blog stats, my post about Claire de la Lune (“Light of the Moon”), the signature perfume of deadly assassin Mrs. Mary Watson in the BBC television series Sherlock, has been drawing a steady stream of visitors from all corners of the globe (I noticed it upon spotting a referral link from the Czech Republic shortly after uploading the post). Based on the search engine terms being used by incoming traffic, I can reasonably assume that these are fans of the show who have been stoked and want to know where they can get the fragrance.

As I mentioned in that post, regrettably the brand is fictitious. But the question has been lingering in my mind ever since. I ask, “What other lunar-themed fragrances must be out there?”

People have been mad about the moon since time immemorial. So there must be a lot of fragrance brands in the real world that have taken inspiration from its beauty, some with more success than others.

I decided to do some detective work.



Let’s start with Cartier de Lune, the perfume most observers believe is the real life inspiration for the one in the show. Launched in 2011, this moonlit Cartier is adored as a smooth, charmingly soft floral scent – the kind of prettiness that encourages women to kick off their shoes at a picnic and lie on the grass to gaze at the sky, day or night – and it has found commercial success with its wide appeal among mainstream customers.

Interestingly, it is also described as having the persona of a young woman in bloom. This is most relevant to our detective case because it’s the exact personality of our fictional Claire de la Lune. Recall the scene where the villain Magnussen patronizes Lady Smallwood for wearing it, telling her, “A bit young for you, don’t you think?”

Kudos to the show’s writers for making a subtle twist to the name – enough to vividly differentiate this make-believe perfume from the confusing array of similarly named brands in the real world. As it turns out, the altogether different name Clair de Lune (“Moonlight”) isn’t just Debussy’s famous title for his classical piano piece; it’s also been used and re-used as a moniker by various perfume labels that have come and gone.



Antonio Visconti, Marbert, Olore…these are just some of the brands that released competing Clair de Lune versions yet didn’t leave a lasting impact on consumers. At least Visconti boasted an opulent bottle, whose design we are told is “inspired by the perfect shape of the lunar circle…intersections of crescent moon phases that are filled of light…”



Speaking of impact, Sun Moon Stars grew a following during its nearly 20-year presence on the market. Launched by the house of Karl Lagerfeld in 1994 (with actress Daryl Hannah as its endorser), this assertive celestial fragrance in its distinctive cobalt blue bottle has apparently been discontinued. Nevertheless, devotees will continue hunting through retail shelves and online fragrance shops for as long as the remaining supply lasts.

I did come across Dolce & Gabbana’s 18 La Lune but I disqualified it. Its name specifically refers to the 18th trump card, “The Moon”, in the fortune teller’s deck, which is a subject matter that really has no relevance to our discussion about the romance of la bella luna.



But of all the evidence I gathered, the most provocative one is a review about Soir de Lune written by fragrance journalist Victoria Frolova (posted on her blog Bois de Jasmin, dated August 5, 2006). Soir de Lune loosely translates as “Moonlit Evening” and is only the third perfume ever created for the luxury fragrance line of Parisian house Sisley.

Victoria reveals the secret:


    “If one were to take the English translation of Soir de Lune literally, a fragrance capturing a moonlit night could only be mysterious and dark. Its smoldering form is shrouded in enough floral sweetness to temper the sensuality of spicy, woody notes. Soir de Lune will seduce, yet it will not lend a clichéd sexy image to its wearer, and this is one of its most appealing qualities. It is an olfactory version of lacy lingerie under a classically cut dress.”


Moonlit evening, eh? Now that’s the kind of scent for my kind of woman…especially if she wears it for me as figuratively as has been “classically” imagined.

So what have we learned from our investigation, my fellow detectives? Nothing we didn’t already know, honestly. For as long as the moon inspires romance, perfumers will never rest from trying to distill this heavenly beauty into one sensory pleasure after another.

As Cumberbatch’s Sherlock might put it, the game is on for them to stay hot on the scent.





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