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.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chanel : Cristalle

Sometime ago, a perfumer friend taught me a lesson about accords. An accord, in simple terms, is a harmony of perfumery notes, that forms an idea or gives a distinctive perfumery note.

I used to think that accords are huge things, like the most obvious smelling things that makes up the idea of the perfume. Like woods, amber and vanilla can give oriental accord. I used to think they have to shout out loud, be made of materials that smell hideously strong, that paints everything the same shade of colour.

But when he presented me with one of the little secrets behind Cristalle, a well known secret in the industry, one that Henri Robert spent many months trying to get just right, I was just blown away.

Four little materials formed this accord, one smelling like raspberries, one of pineapples and violet, one of roses, and the last, of just some light chemical. Even when you combined them together, they did not really smelt like anything, it was just a chemical smelling mixture. An accord that is indestructable, even though it is present in the final formula in less than 1%. Its like a sequin flower pattern sparkling on a perfectly made yellow dress.

When we put this accord, which he liked to call “Sparkle” in one of the trial formulas, wow, the sleepy little composition took on a little life of its own. It was as if, on top of the faceted faces of the diamond little bits of light began to dance. The twinkle, sparkling effect floated above the structured cut stone, lending an air of magic and charm.

Cristalle opens with a lemon citrus with a smart green and herb note. Then the peach/raspberry/melon(helional?)/jasmin accord starts to show itself, carrying on from the citrus opening. It is very sweet, but only for a while, when suddenly the whole thing is over, and all you smell is the lingering woody note, light, woody and powdery ghost of a dusting on your skin. A very befitting end, clean and dry.

And so it is with Cristalle, such a beautiful composition that was somehow a little overshadowed by its bigger sisters No. 5, No. 19 and Coco for a while. While No. 5 was into classic heritage, No. 19 into haute parfumerie elegance, and Coco into heavy duty seduction, Cristalle had a much simpler calling, a summer sprizz to refresh its wearer on a hot sweltering day, it was launched in a time where light summery chypres like Ma Griffe (1946) were the rage of the day.

Had a Chanel perfume been launched as a man’s perfume, like the immortal and much higher profile Eau Sauvage, which I much believed it has evolved from, lemon, herbs, jasmine heart (hedione!), moss and musks, I think it would have seen the profile that it deserves.

Some 20 years later, a EDP version was launched by Jacques Polge, which tried to revive this. Unfortunately, I did not think it was a very good job. The top notes were not green and tart and refreshing, as I would have liked it to be. The heart notes, simply brutal, too much tangerine and peaches, and it smelt like someone rubbed overripe fruit on the skin. The delicate, shimmering citrus chypre accord was destroyed!

In my view, Cristalle EdT stays true to its calling, the original calling that Eau Sauvage set out to solve, prolonged freshness.

H&R states that Cristalle has top notes of bergamot, lemon, basil, cumin, hyacinth, peach, middle notes of jasmine, melon, narcissus, cyclamen, muguet, tangerine, and bottom notes of oakmoss, musk, civet, patchouli and sandal.

The citrus notes is given a spring fresh with a taut note of hyacinth. This leads, after a while, seamlessly lead into the herbal / jasmine heart notes, with a lively jasmine / hedione dance, with the sparkle accord topping it off. Try it, you will smell it, try to look for a sweet crystalline raspberry note floating on top of the citrus/jasmin base.

As the heart note carry on, honey and other phenolic notes (narcissus) provides it the essential hint of girlish sexiness in the heat of summer, oakmoss gives it depth and longlastingness, and musks for the diffusion.

Voila, like a sip of a perfect lemonade in an hot summer afternoon in Chanel haute pre-a-porter, of course.

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