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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chanel : No 19

19 is one of those rare beauties that come out once in a blue moon. Some perfumes borrow ideas from other people and build on them, and once in a while, someone comes out with an entirely original creation of such abstract beauty that once you experience it, you will simply sigh.

I must qualify, of the three concentrations, Parfum, EDP and EDT, all reflect different part of the personality.

The parfum version is the only version I feel reflects truely the main intention of the creator. The green galbanum top note is carefully controlled to reflect the grassy note of a very expensive extract of irises or tuberoses. It does not overpower the fragrance, in many ways, I feel the green note is not the defining moment in the fragrance but the beautiful interplay between the roses and the irises.

There were many perfumes full of irises before and after I guess, but the real iris root butter has a smell which is a bit creamy (you would say buttery), sweet, powdery, woody (or rooty, earthy, some would put it) and has this sweet violet note which distinguishes it. When introduced into fragrances, many believe it will smoothen out any rough edges and give it a suede like effect, a bit fuzzy yet soft.

And 19 is really about irises, boosted with a very beautiful rose note, the same rich blood red roses present in the No. 5 parfum version, rich and beautiful. Two very expensive and noble materials combined to give something wonderful, rich and elegant.

In the base, a leathery mossy note, probably built around Isobuty quinolenes (like in Bandit), which has both a leathery and mossy smell, and also a strong sweet spicy anise like effect, gives the whole base of 19 a chypre animal effect. It introduces something interesting, because not, it is not some fuddy old grandmother's floral, but a sensual animal dressed up in a soft floral tops. This duality is again something I have explored in Shalimar and Anais Anais, and would be exploring further in L'Heure Bleu.

To top off the rather heavy and sweet floral construction and dark and heavy leather mossy base, a light jasmine note has been added that is both the idea behind a chypre as it strives to lighten the whole fragrance and gives it diffusion and lightness. The jasmine then link to the citrus in the top note and the iris link to a raw, elemental galbanum green note. These additions of jasmin, citrus and galbanum brings a spring like youthfulness about the fragrance. This deceptive youthfulness lends 19 to be generally perceived as a fragrance for the younger market, the daugthers of the Chanel mothers, and generally serve to initiate these younger ones into the club.

In some ways, I am once again reminded of the the earlier theory that Coco wanted No. 5 to be uncopieable given the richness of its homegrown jasmines and roses coupled with the raw energy of aldehydes ie. only such soft richness of the jasmines and roses can tame the powerful rough aldehydes. In 19, the raw energy of galbanum (you only need to smell Vent Vert to feel its raw energy) and the quinolenes can only be tamed by the iris and roses to make a fragrance of such polish and yet such uncopieable originality.

The parfum smells really young and youthful in the first 15 minutes, thereafter the iris notes begin their effect, which makes you feel as if a lady has stepped out of her initial girly outfit. Then after a full 2 hours, the leather moss note is apparent and the whole picture starts to get a bit dangerous and mature. So I think the parfum will be as suitable for a mature lady as it would a younger lady.It is really an interesting fragrance to watch as it evolves.

The EDP and EDT are another story altogether. The EDT is so strong on the citrus and green notes, the initial spray, and I feel I am walking through an overgrown grassyard, stomping and falling every step of the way. The EDP is no better, the green galbanum overtakes the whole fragrance for a good hour, before the heart is to be heard. However, perhaps these two will appeal to an even younger crowd that likes the green outdoors and the citrus vibrancy of the fragrance.

These 3 versions are somehow like different manifestations on a same theme. One is like an evening gown, and the other two like short dresses but on the same theme.

Photo from Biblioparfum.net

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