Les Exclusifs are “based on the complicated trajectory of the founder’s difficult and flamboyant life. They are also the scents she cherished, outdoors and at home” (Allure, Feb. 2007, page 178).
No.18 is an homage to Chanel jewelry consisting mostly of diamonds and platinum. Jacques Polge was inspired by this to create No 18, building it around the ambrette seed.
The opening notes are confusing, raw and seems like I was smelling a raw accord rather than a completed fragrance. Notes of ambrette, musk, irises, carrots and strangely cumin! waft up from my skin. This strange arrangement, with the ambrette and cumin forming an uncomfortable arrangement which is both of startling originality and arresting.
The olfactory imagery I immediately get is that of cold on hot. The cold polished glare of diamonds and platinum, with fresh and sparkling initial notes, set on the warm of l’peau, soft skin filled with a soft glow of silky muskiness and its like the owner of this diamond necklace was oozing sensuality with the soft spicy notes of cumin, spices and geranium. The contrast brings the fragrance to life, not a piece of jewelry on display, but one that is worn, adorning the wearer, making her alluring, desirable, sensual… This whole fragrance effect links me to a very recent range of fragrances, Le Parfum, by Thierry Mugler. It reminds me of the accord found in Virgin. Virgin pulsates with virility, tenderness and such vulnerability.
Immediately, this spicy floral note brings to mind several fragrance precedences. I realized the main structure took reference from the great classic Dioressence (Dior) and the more recent Gucci Rush. Indeed, Dioressence was made from a great accord between Ambergris (which has a very similar profile to Ambrette Seed) and a soapy aldehyde woody accord.
The ambrette seed took it into another direction. While the smothering sensuality of Dioressence might have overwhelmed many, it would seem that the clever exploitation of the Ambrette seed element brought to the foreground a more innocent and ethereal note. That of carrot seeds, which then links to a iris background (ala Hiris of Hermes, which is an accord of carrots and irises). The musky background is made more powdery, like the soft glow of the platinum reflecting off the skin. The musky background is simply so special, one of the best I have smelt so far, a natural extension of the key ambery musky component of ambrette seeds (ambrettolide, which is one of the most expensive musks known to perfumery). This brings to me again the duality theme again, at once innocent, cold and aloof, but then suddenly sensual, with the smell of human skin, the elbows, the navel and all places sexy.
Overall, I really love this fragrance. If many people say that 31 rue Cambon is one of the best, to me No. 18 simply is simply then transcendent. Bellissimo..
A Blog about my love in perfumes, the aesthetics, the hedonism, the greatness of these artistic creations of the olfactory world. It is about my wish, my dream to create something like this one day.