The day - 12th of February 2007 - has something mythical. For me it's the day when Chanel won the luxury battle against Dior !
60 years ago, on the same day, Dior launched the New Look, a collection that made history. Today Dior has lost some of the magic of the past and what makes the true luxury today: exclusivity. You can buy on every airport a Dior travel version with 30 euros - Dior Star, For ever and ever, and so on….products that are both cheap visually and olfactory.
So, I think that this day was not randomly chosen by Chanel, but, let's speak fragrance !
While reviewing fragrances I recommend to all of the readers to forget all the marketing stuff (mostly on how expensive some ingredients are) and focus more on the fragrance itself.
A general remark - all the fragrances are very well constructed, being both minimalist and rich, somewhere between Ellena style and Fmalle atmosphere. They are all loyal to Chanel style and have a strange family air, both vintage (!) and modern.
No 18 is a beautiful rendition on a not so often used raw material - ambrette seed. Its smell is nothing compared to its effects. The sparkling composition recreates the idea of ambrette on top - quite amazing - an accord that is both fresh citrusy, rosy fruity and powdery musky. That ambrette idea is constructed on a light green - rose accord. Its smell recalls some well known type of green tea - bamboo - light rose accord very modern that you can find these years in many places (from Yves Rocher to Stella Mc Cartney and Kurkdjian niche rose perfumes).
Eau de Cologne is a full bloomed neroli type. I understand the quality inside because doing a high percentage neroli type in an EDC is not easy without avoiding the soap effect or its bitterness. On the dry down you can detect the light jasmine Hedione and traces of indol.
Bel Respiro - the vegetal fragrance is truly to its inspiration. At least top and middle. Green in a modern way it turns in a musky - lily note. The bottom note is in my opinion to dry like when you have problems in Lyral - Lilial or the muscs are to earthy.
28 La Pausa is divine, is orris and slightly ambery. It's a new Dior Homme in a feminine version. This idea doesn't surprise me because Lagerfeld and Hedi Slimane are friends and close in style.
Coromandel reproduces for me a smell that you could notice since a long period in the Chanel Parisian shops. I was stricken by the smell inside the boutique and never know if it was an airfreshner or a fragrance created and tested on purpose. Coromandel has also affinities with Amber 83 de Laire - that old base that inspired also GuetApens (Guerlain). But it's a modern amber note with ambroxan, patchouli and a lot of coumarine.
31 rue Cambon. It has the name (31) of an old Chanel fragrance. The smell is indeed divine. The chypre leathery notes remind me the leathery and revolutionary fragrances from the beginnings of the 30's (from Houbigant, Guerlain, Lanvin, Coty) I smelled at the Osmotheque. That kind of smell was based on jasmine chypre type with ionone b, castoreum, civet, sandalwood. 31 is strange, vintage, of an unusual beauty. A fragrance from 1920's I redid, Contessa azzura and also the floral En visite (Houbigant) had something in common with this new one.
The renditions are examples of excellent reformulations of old fragrances.
Starting with Chanel No 5 all those old formulas had to be updated for so many reasons. And it's marvellous when not the price is the reason.
When you are at Chanel even a reformulation process is a masterpiece.
Chanel No 5 - some Hedione, some synthetic sandalwood (bacdanol ?), perhaps cis-jasmone, no more musk tincture, less nitromusks….
Chanel No 22 - the Beaux's version of Quelque Fleurs - bye bye musk tincture !
Cuir de Russie - when you are not allowed to use birch tar oil or styrax and a lot of other products that make a leather note you must be a genius to succeed. And Polge is !
Gardenia - the classical type of gardenia with styralil acetate ! So trendy in the 20's !Bois des Iles - with it's overdose of sandalwood (20 %) is still a masterpiece.
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art