Sycomore by Chanel (Chanel 2008) is like taking a breath of clean mountain air in late spring, early summer. The florals (violet in particular) are sweet and noteworthy but they don’t take center stage. Rather, it’s the cypress and sandalwood with their sincere, crisp beauty that shine. Also, of course, (almost cigarette tinged) vetiver. But I think the pink pepper and juniper and almost just as important as the vetiver… I see a comparison between Sycamore and Guerlain Vetiver though, especially vintage Vetiver. But Sycamore has that definite Chanel stamp and its utterly pristine, nearly transformative charm is unique. I can’t think of a better fragrance to wear or review on this snowy early spring day…
Notes: vetiver, spicy notes, pink pepper, juniper, cypress, sandalwood, aldehydes, tobacco and violet.
Nose: Jacque Polges
How do you properly review this iconic beauty? It’s near impossible. And, shockingly, I haven’t tried yet. But now I’ll say that in a word Chanel Cuir de Russie (Chanel 1924) is: remarkable. Really, the very animalic leather note is downright scandalous, especially given the way it plays with the sharp, cigarette-like smoke. And the florals? My goodness… They’re tangy, dainty, well blended (of course) and perfectly vintage. The woods are elegant and slightly austere and remote, which is just as they should be – mysterious and alluring. Truly this fragrance is torrid and yet accessible in the most lovely Chanelesque way. Absolutely stunning!
Top notes: clary sage, mandarin orange, orange blossom, lemon and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, iris, vetiver, ylang ylang, rose and cedar. Base notes: leather, amber, vanilla, heliotrope, birch, musk and tobacco.
Nose: Ernest Beaux
Easily one of my top three favorites from the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line, Bel Respiro (Chanel 2007) is a bright, glorious beauty. The note of grass perfectly flanks what seem to be a mix of watery flowers and a lily tinged, buttery soft rose. It’s as if Bois Des Îles is playing in sunshine with vintage Ivoire de Balmain. Absolutely, astonishingly pretty. And then, into the drydown, you smell a violet-like leather. Or is it hyacinth and leather? I don’t know… But it’s light, airy and yet has Chanel charm and lots of depth. I love Bel Respiro!
Notes: grass, green notes, flowers and leather.
Nose: Jacques Polge
Chanel Beige (Chanel 2008) is perfectly named. The image of beige colored Chanel shoes or handbags certainly come to mind with this beauty. Smooth, sweet, luminous and delightfully tangy frangipani and freesia create a fruity cocktail with honey and hawthorne. And, the effect is, as many have commented, reminiscent of honeydew melon. But it also reminds me of banana, pineapple and perhaps even pear. There’s a cerulean tinged green quality to it too. Very green. Matter of fact, it even reminds me a bit of vintage Estée Lauder Private Collection. I also am reminded of the tremendously popular cucumber melon combinations of the late 90’s. Still, it’s frothy, rich and so Chanel – irreplaceable and very pretty.
Notes: hawthorne, frangipani, honey and freesia.
Nose: Olivier Polge
Writing about this one is scary. It reminds me of a class I took in my junior year of college. I went to a private religiously affiliated college and for one required Biblical studies class I had a professor who insisted that by the end of his class we would be amazed by an interpretation he had of a particular book in the Bible. Our final grade would be based largely on this intrepretation and a presentation involving it, but the catch was that we had to guess what his interpretation was based on what we had learned throughout the course. As luck would have it in my innocence and trust I believed him and began to look for something astounding. In my assigned group for the presentation everyone else found and tended to believe the most obvious answer, but I kept looking for that (as he literally put it) “life changing” nugget of wisdom.
At the time of our presentation I decided to take a risk and differ from everyone else in the group. Of course, they were right. And I got harshly yelled at in front of everyone in my group… I was hurt, confused and shocked. Apparently my “crazy” answer was sacrilegious and deeply offensive. But again… (and I say this very seriously) I was looking for something you could think was “life changing.” 😂😬🤔😆😂
Anyway, one thing I learned from that rather traumatic experience was that what one person sees as “amazing” to someone else can be… painfully, pathetically obvious. You truly have to interpret many opinions in life with a humility rooted in the knowledge that all of our experiences are wildly different. There are facts but how things affect you is so incredibly personal and beyond objection.
I love Gabrielle (Chanel 2017). To me, on my skin, this Olivier Polge beauty is magnificent.
Gabrielle is utterly melancholy, almost sad. Actually, if a perfume could cry I think this one might. But it’s ethereal, moving and subtle. And sure it’s glamorous, but in a quiet, polite citrus, jasmine and orange blossom way. The warm base notes are present but airy and reserved. And there is that Chanel tuberose (also found in Chanel No. 22) that on my skin is different than any other tuberose – very demure and nearly a different note.
This is also a very vintage-like scent. If there’s any awkwardness I read it’s because it feels like Chloé Love Story gave one of my very old floral aldehydes a modern makeover and she’s stunning but maybe she didn’t need it… Still the heart of Gabrielle shines brightly through and feels marvelously alive.
Top notes: lemon, black currant and mandarin orange. Middle notes: jasmine, ylang ylang, orange blossom and tuberose. Base notes: musk and sandalwood.
Nose: Olivier Polge
Lavender, musky, sweet lavender comes through with the smell of an herbal, lovely grass note (Chanel 2011). Then more herbal beauty floats about the skin laced with that burning, glowing, musky warmth. But it’s the very vintage-like florals that perfectly flank the lavender. It’s as if lavender threw a party for her closest friends and they ate a big, fluffy cake. It’s a tremendously lovely… I adore Jersey.
Notes: lavender, vanille, musk, wildflowers, grass, tonka bean, jasmine and rose.
Nose: Jacques Polge
A deep green, woody chypre with a wild amount of warm leafy loveliness, Chanel No. 46 (Chanel 1946) is rich and potent. A prominent bergamot, heady jasmine, charmingly complex orris root and a very vintage rose (almost reminiscent of Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose) create a multilayered and truly bewitching scent. And, there’s a dash of cumin into the smoky, powdery and Chanelesque drydown. It’s an endearing fragrance with its robust and yet uniquely elegant earthiness, but it’s also quite haunting.
Top notes: bergamot, orange and neroli. Middle notes: rose, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang and jasmine. Base notes: vetiver, orris root, sandalwood, cumin, vanilla and musk
I was very excited to receive this rather rare bottle for my birthday… It’s better than I even imagined. 🙂
The current eau de parfum of Chanel No. 5 (Chanel 1921) is actually a bit different than the old edp (no surprise there I suppose). It’s lighter, sweeter and sadly maybe has a little less depth in my opinion. Frankly it reminds me more of the vintage eau de cologne than the vintage parfum. I also think there’s less of a shock of aldehydes than in any of the vintages… Yet, it’s still a masterpiece. There’s nothing quite like it (not even Liu).
Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, neroli, and ylang ylang. Middle notes: jasmine, rose, lily-of-the-valley, and iris. Base notes: vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, amber and patchouli.
Bois Des Iles is luscious (Chanel 1926). It’s one of the most beautiful if not the most beautiful fragrances I’ve ever smelled. Bois Des Iles is perfection with classic florals wrapped in a gorgeous aldehydic embrace. It’s earthy yet totally elegant, and utterly alluring – as if wind and light are playing with sweetly scented flower petals.
Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, neroli and peach. Middle notes: jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, woody iris and ylang-ylang. Base notes: vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin and musk.
Totally opulent, sweet and fruity floral notes make Coco (Chanel 1984) simply lovely. Coco is spicy and warm with a lusciousness that’s noteworthy. The peach and rose notes swirl in a dance with civet and vanilla. This fragrance is ladylike without being austere or removed. It is quite distinct…
Top notes: coriander, mandarin orange, peach, jasmine and bulgarian rose. Middle notes: mimosa, cloves, orange blossom, clover and rose. Base notes: labdanum, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, opoponax, civet and vanilla.