Chanel : Les Exclusifs – Eau de Cologne

Created by : Jacques Polge

Date : 1929/2007

Genre : Eau de cologne (best in class)

Concentration : eau de cologne

Chanel’s über-class Eau de Cologne was on my radar a very long time before I decided to spend the money to buy it.  I knew it would be good… although I didn’t know that it would be THIS good!  You see, I had tested a sample which I received from a mail order service several years ago and I remember it being perfection… but then I tucked that thought away in my memory and kept waiting for the right moment.  I don’t know why I waited so long.  I guess I got distracted.

According to the Chanel website, this 2007 version is Jacques Polge’s reinterpretation of the original of 1929.  Then the marketing copy goes on to say… “The highest-quality citrus fruits have been used in the composition of this cheerful and dynamic Eau de Cologne. Mandarin Orange and Bergamot unite their zesty freshness with airy notes of Neroli. A generous and deliciously floral Cologne, for a radiant celebration of summer.”  All of this is absolutely not true… or rather, it is true but highly understated.  This is THE eau de cologne… every other eau de cologne which I have tested in the past pales in comparison except maybe Hermès’ Eau d’Orange Verte and the Guerlains (of course).  Chanel’s bouquet of quality citrus oils composed of lemons, limes, and oranges literally dance around in the top and middle notes… it’s absolute perfection.  The floral heart acts as an out-of-focus backdrop and the musk drydown smells cleaner than clean laundry.  There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about this one.  Even the timing is right… two to four hours, which is what one would expect from an eau de cologne.

I’ve been layering this one with Chanel’s Pour Monsieur Bath and Shower Gel. FiveoaksBouquet suggested it might go well with Chanel No. 19 soap and of course, she is so right.  And you could add Pour Monsieur eau de toilette to it at the end of the day for an evening or Chanel No. 19… or No 5.  In fact, I don’t think there is any Chanel product that couldn’t be added to that exquisite quality musk (probably Firmenich’s Muscone, according to Luca Turin).

Anyone can wear this one… men and women of all ages.  It’s timeless.

So.. while trying to find an image of perfection, the “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” number from the movie Follow the Fleet (1936) came to mind featuring a quartet… Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Irving Berlin for the music and Bernard Newman who designed the gown!  When I think of perfection, I think of this number (even though the image is reversed, it is still perfect).

Of deconstructed chypres and prismatic florals

If you’ve read even only a few of my posts, you know that perfume classification is a pet subject of mine.  I guess it’s the librarian in me which loves the challenge of creating a finite, controlled vocabulary which can describe everything in the perfume universe.  I love Michael Edwards’ taxonomy but I’d like to think that I might come up with my own one day.

Marketing is something completely different, as is blogging.  And so when I see new expressions to describe perfumes, they always grab my attention.  Here’s to uncontrolled vocabularies which pique the curiosity and feed the soul!

Let’s look at a couple of great examples.  Luca Turin describes Joy Parfum as a symphonic floral.  Right!  I get it.  A symphony of flowers.  And when Denyse Beaulieu described Estée Lauder’s Jasmine White Moss as a holographic chypre… YES!!!  Lauder’s fragrance is a holograph of a chypre… a sort of olfactory “trompe l’oeil”!  I guess that would be a “trompe nez”?  (But then again, isn’t ALL of perfume an expression of trompe nez.)

In contrast, I once read that 31 rue Cambon was a chypre-less chypre!  Ouch!  Not very satisfying.  Or how about Estée Lauder’s prismatic floral?  That would be Beyond Paradise. Symphonic floral, I get.  Prismatic floral?  Not so much.  But kudos to the Lauder marketing people for trying.

And very recently, I read on a little card next to Mugler’s Chyprissime, “deconstructed chypre”.  I’m not sure I get this one either.  What is a deconstructed chypre?

So let’s end this post with a trompe l’oeil of a trompe l’oeil. You see… people who attended the Alexander McQueen fall/winter fashion show of 2006 thought that they had just seen a moving hologram of Kate Moss. Well, the technology didn’t exist at the time (and still doesn’t) and so what they saw was a decidedly downmarket, low-tech trompe l’oeil trick of Victorian haunted houses called Pepper’s Ghost.

Although it’s not a hologram as we define a hologram today, it’s still very striking and impressive.  (Thanks to Denyse of Grain de Musc who first brought this one to my attention).


Mugler : Les Exceptions – Chyprissime

Mars and Venus of Cyprus Surprised by Vulcan (1827) by Alexandre Charles Guillemot

Mars and Venus of Cyprus Surprised by Vulcan (1827) by Alexandre Charles Guillemot

Created by : Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Hérault

Date : 2014

Genre : Fresh woods

Concentration : eau de parfum

Do you remember the advice teachers gave you when answering a quiz?  Do the easy questions first!  So… let’s get Chyprissime’s genre out of the way right off the bat.  This is not a chypre… not by a long shot.  It’s from the woods genre.  It’s not even chypre-ish!

You know… before I had my own bottle of Chypre by Coty, I had trouble with the chypre genre because the chypre family is so varied, it’s difficult for beginners to pick out.  I used to go by elimination.  When it wasn’t citrus or floral or leather or amber or fougère or wood… then it was a chypre.  But this one pretty well shouted woods to me the minute I sprayed it on my skin and it never waivered.

I’m not going to say much about this one because I didn’t find it very interesting.  Yes, it’s somewhat smoky.  Yes, it borrows a powdery facet (slight mind you) from the chypre genre and, yes there is a menthol or eucalyptus note in there to keep it fresher than fresh… but all-in-all, it’s a somewhat boring, two-dimensional masculine woods scent… nothing to write home about.  There are literally dozens of woods that are more interesting and so I’ll name just a few… Guerlain’s Vetiver, Chanel’s Sycomore, Creed’s Royal Oud and L’Artisan’s Parfumeur’s Premier Figuier.

I’m slightly to blame for this mediocre review because my hopes were probably too high. Buoyed by my review of Supra Floral which gives Chamade a run for its money, I was expecting an old-school, broad-shouldered feminine chypre.  Maybe even a leather chypre! Alas, no!

So… we move on.  Have a nice week everyone.

Addendum (August 10, 2014) : I just smelled Chyprissime on FiveoaksBouquet and I was totally taken aback… spices, patchouli, vetiver, some smoke… definitely a powerhouse and, yes, a chypre on her.  On my skin, it went all woods.  So… test this one.  I’m wondering if quantity might also make a difference in addition to skin type.  I remember now testing it from the store bottle a couple of times but I probably only sprayed once or twice.

Addendum (August 16, 2014) : Because Chyprissime smelled so wonderful on a friend, I decided to go back and retest it twice this past week.   I thought that perhaps I had originally picked up the wrong bottle (you see, the bottles are not identified)… or that maybe there was something there that I didn’t pick up the first time.  It was definitely the right bottle but after two more testings, it still didn’t come off as a chypre on my skin… more of a dark, patchouli-laced smoky wood.  That said, it’s quite wonderful… great longevity and it has a sublime smoldering quality about it that I loved.  So… this is the kind that you really have to try and judge on its merits but just don’t be surprised if you’re not getting the chypre accord either.



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