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, April 5, 2007

Chanel Exclusifs : 31 Rue Cambon

31 Rue Cambon was inspired by Chanel's legendary boutique.

Chypres, known in its present form since the creation of the great La Chypre (Coty) has been taken in all directions due to the ease at which a chypre can be defined. But ultimately, chypres find its core in the mousse de saxe (oakmoss) note, which smelt by itself is one of great wonder.

The moss note is at once dark, with an algae & tar note, a bit sticky. Enveloped within this is the ripen fruit note of sometimes prunes, berries or peach. The tar note sometimes extends to a burnt note or a tabac note, and the algae note extends to a slightly floral effect accorded with a resinous effect, reminiscent of rich heavy florals, with lots of styrax, myrrh or frankincense.

From this theme, the basic chypre accord is defined eloquently by La Chypre, building on the moss note upwards would be a jasmine note, which in its happy top notes of benzyl acetate link really week within a citrus accord. Downwards, the mandatory woody and resinous/balsamic notes, with a touch of dark chocolaty patchouli. Within this, the moss completes the fruity and mossy background to the chypre accord.

Variations of course stem from this, the earliest was to take the fruity note of oakmoss and accentuate it, and accord it with things like peach aldehyde (undecalactone) in Mitsouko (Guerlain), with gamma methyl ionone plus patchouli in Femme (Rochas), jasmine in Rumeur original (Lanvin), citrus / green in Miss Dior (Dior) to finally the modern strawberry/chypre accord in Miss Dior Cherie.

It is from this heritage, the 31 rue Cambon is conceived. It is the rich jasmine aspect that has been greatly accentuated in this case. Reminds me of Rumeur or My Sin of Lanvin. The jasmine is very classic and very rich, full of indoles and built on a classic base of woods and resins.

What is modern about it, is that it also reminds me of Miss Dior Cherie (Dior), although rue Cambon is vastly superior to Cherie in its execution, the fruity notes at the top of peach and berries is similar, but much more toned down, less in your face.

Downwards, in the base, a good, subtle patchouli note, pushing the rest of composition up, more so than Cherie, giving it a oldish, yet very opulent, very sensual, and faux oriental feel, reminding me always of Femme (Rochas).

The fragrance is quite interesting. It does not smell pungent up front, rather, it is friendly and refined. But take a step back, 3-5 centimenters from the skin, and immediately the opulent jasmine, fruity and patchouli accord explodes to its fullness. I think the sillage of this fragrance will be great, and quite unforgettable.

In this fragrance, I see the opulence and haute couture of Mme Chanel. I also see stubborn, dominant character of Coco, defiant and very independent. At the same time, something sexy and dark and sinful right in the core. Really very complex, very well put together.

While it is not of great originality, since it takes its precedence from so may other greats and not so greats, it is wonderfully executed. I think the fragrance signals another great era of chypres (in its more classical sense) making a comeback. Great…

Photo from Chanel.com

Chanel Exclusifs : Coromandel

This fragrance was inspired by lacquered Coromandel screens.

On initial smell, it reminded me of cinnamons and patchouli, forming the central accord and signature theme of the fragrance. The patchouli forming the woody theme of the wooden Coromandel Screen, the cinnamon giving it a much eastern twist.

To support the lacquered screen them further, this accord is further supported by a slight aldehydic note (something like Lipstick Rose from Frederic Malle) which gives it a waxy and plastic feel, coupled with a resinous benzoin note which completes the lacquer like feel. I must say this aspect is really subtle and not really in the forefront, which is good, its meant to hint, not reek of lacquer. Although I would have wanted it to be slightly more pronounced. The overall effect also reminded me of Old Spice so a rather masculine opening, it also reminded me of Opium (YSL) to a much lesser extent, with the mellis accord of spices (cinnamon), labdanum and benzoin.

Just as I was being transported into the mystical east, I was gently reminded that a hot vanilla coco drink wafting into the slightly old, slightly avant guard European apartment, filled with bouquets and bouquets of red and white roses.

Running underneath this accord is a typical floral note of roses, jasmines and the likes, which gave a very delicate floral bouquet, filling what must be a harsh accord of cinnamons, patchouli and aldehydes. The overall impression is one of an oriental like the classic Shalimar (Guerlain) (the rose, vanilla & rose accord) or like the sweet gourmand Angel (Thierry Mugler) (the rose, vanilla, chocolate and patchouli accord) or the light radiant powdery Prada (labdanum, benzoin and vanilla). In any case, this theme switches between an ancient classic Shalimar and a modern Angel. It is quite interesting, the oscillation between the two or three fragrances.

The fragrance is like a mélange of well connected ideas, the chocolate building on the patchouli theme, the vanilla building on the chocolate, leading on to an oriental theme, then the mellis accord, leading back to the spices and wrapping it all up with flowers. It is a well thought out fragrance, full of skill and refinement. Yet, strangely, it is rather forgettable, rather same, rather familiar.

If the waxy, resinous, lacquer like note was stronger, it would be a fragrance of such distinction.
Photo from Chanel.com

Chanel Exclusifs : Eau De Cologne

Easily the most forgettable and unremarkable of the 6 new launches, the opening note is a classic eau de cologne note which is the standard neroli, bergamot blend. If you just took it at face value. I think it is like the duality of Shamilar (Guerlain), at first citrusy fresh, but in actual a alluring oriental.
This reminds me of a fragrance by Sacre Nobi, Sloth, which also had an opening note that is similar, orangeflower and neroli, easily dismissed until you take the time to appreciate it.

From the quick expected cologne top note, the fragrance settles rather unexpectedly into a more sweet spicy floral note. This distinctly reminds of that this is a very refined take of Cologne by Thierry Mugler. Although Cologne is rather rough around the edges, and a bit synthetic with its greenish tint and silver cap, Eau De Cologne is quite refinement of a very old Penhaligon bouquet and yet modernized with a sheer orangeblossom note.

Rather unexpectedly, a note something like L’Origan (Coty) or L’Heure Bleu (Guerlain) springs up, full of violets (ionones), sweet anise and spices and woods. Yet because of the overdose of EdC notes, is totally luminous and more airy and more atmospheric than L’Heure Bleu even.

I think the orangeblossom note is the most beautiful central note of EdC, it makes the fragrance logical, tying two halves which are totally unrelated. It ties the fleeting top cologne note and instead of leading it to some herbaceous musky note, it leads it into a sweet floral note, with flowers and woods.

Not exactly original, yet beautifully done, summery and dreamy, like a sun beam shining all the way from morning into dusk. Sadly, perhaps EdC was not a good name, it made me stereotype the fragrance, it should be L’Air or Atmosphere or something like that…

Chanel Exclusifs : No. 18

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..

Chanel Exclusifs : Bel Respiro

The name Bel Respiro, comes from a country house that Coco Chanel owned.

This vegetal fragrance starts off with a rather abstract green note, fresh and like a breeze, then settles down to an accord of resinous galbanum, reminding one of sap, broken twigs and even deeper still a earthy and leathery note.

Immediately, it reminds me of the great classic, the original Vent Vert, but that was not all, it also reminded me of Miss Balmain. The green top notes, merged with a herbal aromatic middle, and then an almost castoreum like leathery note in the base.

This fragrance is a leather fragrance in hiding within the green lushness. All this reminds me of an imagery of Coco taking a horse ride in her estate. When she walks out of her house, the lush vibrancy of the flowers, their tender spring green greet her. But then, she climbs onto her horse and decides to take a ride into the grassland, into the woods. The resinous hay (labdanum and salicylate accords (familiar in Miss Balmain(Balmain), but more famous in the smoky Je Reviens(Worth)) give way to the sap and dark green of lush undergrowth, trampled on grass and broken twigs. All the while, the subtle notes of the saddle of her horse keeps her grounded.

It is an almost impressionistic fragrance, with sudden abstract notes fleeting in and out. With a strong program to follow, you can really relive the times in that villa. However, the strong green vegetal notes will never allow it to be very commercial. Interesting to follow, but not easy to wear on the skin. I think I will smell like the incredible green hulk if I somehow wore this, or someone will mistaken me for someone who has just wondered out of a forest. Perhaps the twigs should have been toned down somewhat, and the floral salicylate and leather notes increased somewhat…the balance will still not be spoiled, yet making it immensely much more commercial.

Photo from Chanel.com