Chanel : Pour Monsieur

Created by : Henri Robert

Date : 1955

Genre : Masculine chypre

Concentration : eau de toilette

If other perfume bloggers are like me, they avoid writing about their favourite perfumes because they’re afraid that the review might take away the mystique.  It’s a little like “the making of” extras on a DVD.  I don’t want to know how they created the film, it might take away the magic.

But I’ll review Pour Monsieur anyway which is chypre to perfection… not bitter, not sweet, not tart but all three and all at the same time.  Although what makes a chypre today is up for debate, what made a chypre before oakmoss got caught in the crosshairs of IFRA’s guidelines was a perfectly-proportioned accord of oakmoss, labdanum and bergamot.  Some perfume historians add patchouli to the base but I don’t get patchouli from pre-1970s chypres so I’m thinking that patchouli came along later.

As with most accords, they’re difficult to describe when done well because what you smell is the combination effect of the different notes however, pushed to describe it, I would say that Pour Monsieur is a citrus scent with a mossy base.  There’s a slight bit of powder in there but it’s the sour oakmoss and sweet labdanum combo that’s so beautiful.  The longevity is incredible… it seems to last most of the day with the sillage being excellent.

Now I know I was pretty hard on Jacques Polge with his latest launch, Chanel Bleu, but Mr. Polge gets all the credit for this one.   Although he didn’t create it, he oversees its production today and Pour Monsieur (like so many other legacy Chanels) are superb because he works hard at sourcing quality raw materials and mixing them just the right way.  Pour Monsieur is the only fragrance I would ever wear to a job interview… it’s so classy, it could never be wrong.  And if I was refused a job because someone didn’t like PM, well I wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

So if all perfume sits somewhere in the pantheon of Greek gods with résumé-perfect Apollo (god of light and sun; truth and prophecy; medicine, music and the arts) being at one end of the spectrum and everyone’s favourite bad-boy Dionysus (god of wine, wine cups, wineskin, grapes, theater, and fertility… yeah baby) being at the other end… then Pour Monsieur is Apollo… intelligent, young, beautiful and joyful.

This blog is not about making purchasing recommendations but if you can afford only one fragrance, then buy Chanel’s Pour Monsieur.  And if you want a second just for variety, buy Stetson.  You’ll get a go-anywhere chypre and a basic amber for around $100 (Cdn).

Image : Apollo from Simon Vouet’s Apollo and the Muses (1640)

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