At the height of the Roaring Twenties in all their creative flair, Louis Vuitton launched its first ever perfume — the Heures d’Absence. Unveiled in 1927, the fragrance was named after the country home the Vuitton family acquired in the Seine-et-Marne region. It captured the spirit of the day, and its design was one that celebrated the new modes of transport that were then emerging: a triumphant airplane was engraved on the bottle, whose box was shaped like a kilometre marker.
Behind this singular, memorable name, one divines a resolutely optimistic message, an invitation to travel that’s at once introspective and emotional. The chance to break free and let go, shake off the blues and seize the day. Heures d’Absence evokes great escapes, suspended moments of grace in which one plunges into daydreams and the body surrenders to a frisson of eternity.
The name could hardly fall into oblivion: it was destined to be reborn, nearly a century later, to take on new life and prolong the dream. On the other hand, no one knows what the original perfume smelled like – the formula has long since been lost. This presented the Maison Louis Vuitton’s Master Perfumer with an ideal occasion to reinvent it according to a very personal vision, with complete freedom.
The Soul of Flowers
Inspired by its dream-like name, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud wished to interpret the perfume with a profusion of fresh flowers, an ode to the blossoms from Grasse that he so loves—allegorical figures of joy, love and getaways. With this eleventh women’s fragrance for Parfums Louis Vuitton, he reinvents the composition of a grand, sophisticated bouquet in a resolutely contemporary way. It is like a figurative musical score, in which each element of nature seems identifiable and palpable, culminating in a high degree of abstraction.
Instantly, flowers seem to spring forth and take shape in an exhilarating whirlwind. Jasmine from Grasse reveals itself majestically, thanks to CO2 extraction—a Maison Louis Vuitton exclusive—that gives it incomparable purity and delicacy. Underscoring this opalescent whiteness are a few touches of Sambac Jasmine from China, a variety that joyfully evokes the scent of the Pittosporum that flowers along the French Riviera in springtime. And the jasmine embraces its constant companion, the May Rose. Extracted using CO2, they achieve their full expression—fresh and radiant, down to their most carnal instincts. The gesture is precise and meticulous, always generous, to better etch out the petals’ delicate contours and coax an idyllic landscape from the bottle.
As if to further elevate this alliance of eternal flowers and in order to accentuate their contrasts, Jacques Cavallier Belletrud added the green, powdery facets of Mimosa from the Tanneron, a marvel that illuminates the hills of Provence with a radiant yellow at winter’s end. Here and there, a staccato of raspberry makes it possible to accentuate its downy, cheerful character. “Everything is done in service of the flowers, there’s no element to rein them in or disturb their message,” the master perfumer explains.
As proof, warm vanilla notes of Peruvian balm amplify the sophistication of the fragrance. A floral apotheosis with, as a finishing touch, a hint of Sri Lankan sandalwood and musk to prolong the flowers’ powdery nuances while enveloping them in sensuality. With a colourful burst of laughter, all these elements compose a melody that feels never-ending. Like the hands of a timepiece set against an infinite dial, the fragrance carries a promise of eternal renewal.
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Indonesia.