Today I reached out to my three samples of Chanel 22.
One is a vintage version parfum, the other a modern parfum from a 5 sample parfum set by Chanel and the last is an Eau De Toilette bottle which is about 10 yrs old. I am frankly amazed at how different these 3 fragrances smell, even though they are all supposed to be the same thing, same theme, and same raw materials.
The vintage parfum is like a ghost, a whisper on my skin. As I put it on my skin, it drapes like a transparent veil on it, and I almost cannot smell it initially, because it was so smooth, there was no rough edges to catch hold in my nose, no distinct notes that you will notice, nothing like a serrated blade cutting painfully through the skin like many modern fragrances, but it was something so smooth that, in fact, you did not notice how much of it you inhaled, until you are quite so drunk on it, like a fine brandy, you get drunk even before ou know it.
Top Notes Aldehydes,Middle Notes Jasmine, Tuberose, Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Base Notes Vetiver, Vanilla, Incense. (Basenotes.com)
And so, it is the same thing for many of the vintage Chanel fragrances. They are so smooth, that the notes are well blended and subtle, you take sometime before you make them out. I read from BaseNotes that some people do not like the modern No. 22. I could not agree more, because compared with the vintage versions, the modern version is just plain roughness. Immediately I smell an overdose of PEA, sharp and piercingly green, and the harsh terpineol notes! I know a perfumer who told me once that the rose and jasmine bouquet of Chanel 5 and other Chanel perfumes are uncopyable (unmatchable) by GC, because their richness and bouquet is simply so complex, so subtle and so beautiful.
Apparently, in modern remakes, they may have cut back on these beautiful naturals specially grown in the Grasse fields for Chanel. They also would have switched from naturally derived rhodinols to switch to synthetics. I believe these naturals, and especially the rose note in No. 22 is most critical to its success, even more so than in No. 5, which tends to depend more on the fineness of the jasmine and ylang extra, to moderate the aldehydes.
In No. 22, the rose soars above the iris/vanilla accord to form the pillar around which the other white flower notes surround. The rose melds everything together, and gives the powdery flowery accord a theme. Within this, a spicy carnation note, similar to Bellogia (Caron) fixes the rose to the musky woody base. The aldehydes play a rather subdued role than in No. 5, so it is more elegant, less shocking. Many have speculated that the original intended volume of the aldehydes was just perfect in No. 22 (no overdoses here!). One could have mistaken that it was the original choice of Coco, the abstract yet uber feminine floral. But alas, perhaps it did not have as much character until someone mistakenly (allegedly) overdosed the aldehydes in No. 5.
An infinitely refined fragrance, only the finest raw materials will do justice to this fragrance. Anything less and it will begin to smell a bit vulgar. Yes, perhaps it is only a perfume for those who are in a bygone era, where it is not polite to scream. No. 5 was a scream, an advan garde peice of artwork, edgy like a cubist painting, chosen for its shock value, while No. 22 was like a classical painting, smoothed until no edges showed, like a Monalisa or a madonna on the rocks.