Chanel Les Exclusifs, Reconsidered

My post last week on Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere got me meditating on Chanel´s Les Exclusifs, released earlier this year. I need to make a confession, because it´s something I do all the time with fragrances, and it drives me nuts. Remember when Les Exclusifs came out? And how Luca Turin raved about how great they were, and it was a bright new day for Chanel and perfumery etc. etc. etc., and we all blogged on them obsessively? You remember, right? That was February. At first sniff I was impressed by their fidelity to the Chanel brand (elegant, if a little more streamlined and modern-feeling); some of them I really liked.

And then … well, that was that. Haven´t touched them since. I´ve had generous decants of six of them sitting there in my closet getting dusty while I run around looking for my next fix. I do that all the time. I´ll sample some hot new fragrance or line; I´ll blog enthusiastically; and then I´ll pretty much forget it exists. It embarrasses me. Yes, there is an onslaught of new product, but why do I forsake something I already know is good for the thrill of the chase?

So. In the spirit of changing my fickle scent ways, and having discovered (news flash!) how great No. 5 is, after the other, hmmm, 98% of you, and feeling new love for the brand, I went back and retried Les Exclusifs without peeking at my review from February, giving each one a more leisurely second time around than my frenzied sampling earlier this year.

28 La Pausa – a dry, warm, woody iris. It´s simply lovely, and if it were even 10% stronger I´d likely own it. After applying 12 sprays to my upper body, including my shirt (yes, I counted) I enjoyed 45 minutes of gentle sillage. My favorite part is 20 – 30 minutes in, when the slightly bitter, thin top note dissipates and the warmth of the orris really shines. At that point it´s a great skin scent, suitable for something discreet in the office. But anything that disappears in under an hour (and I´m the person who clings to fragrance like a limpet) isn´t worth it in my view.

Coromandel – huh. I liked this a lot the first time around, but now the raspy, sour sandalwood-spice of the first half-hour is kind of offputting; also, given where the fragrance starts off it´s surprising how sweet it is when it dries down. Exceptional lasting power, though.

No. 18 – I know the fans of ambrette seed are legion, but I am not one of them. I appreciate its pickled-musk smell in theory, but in practice … no. It´s not an offensive or unattractive smell by any means (and who am I to judge, given some of the nasty things I wear?) But I defer any further comment on No. 18 on the grounds that it´s not going to appeal to me no matter how well done it is.

31 Rue Cambon – um, why have I not been wearing this all year? This is amazing. Am I at the start of some weird Chanel obsession? Hmmm. This is troublesome. 31 Rue Cambon is the non-chypre chypre that was invented to replace the traditional oakmoss base. The weird thing that´s happened with this one in the summer is that it´s become less chypre to me in the heat, rather than more. You´d think it´d be sort of too much, but you´d be wrong. I get peppery goodness along with all the delicious sweet bits – but sweet a la Chanel – which is to say, like a good champagne, somewhat dry at the same time. I´m putting this into regular rotation for the fall.

Eau de Cologne – it´s a very nice cologne, from the mildly peppery opening through the drydown that smells lightly of vetiver to me. I like it because it tilts a little toward the masculine woods rather than the citrus/petitgrain. But if this is priced similarly to the others, I can´t see that it´s worth the money. If you´re the sort of person who wants a signature scent, and you want it to be a status version of traditional cologne, maybe to wear to work where you need something really subtle and inoffensive, then here´s your fragrance. But if you are that person, you´re probably not reading this blog. OTOH – for something that wears as lightly as this one, I can smell it on my skin even at the end of the day.

Bel Respiro – Sometimes those green sap/crushed leaf scents rub me the wrong way, and I never know until I try it whether it´s going to be love or a scrubber. The first 20 minutes of Bel Respiro is, for me, some rough road. After that it settles down, the bitterness recedes, and you´ve got some gentle florals laid over a light grass and crushed-herbs base. I like it a lot at that point, and it´s got surprising lasting power for something that doesn´t wear very heavily.

Refreshing my memory reading my original post, the changes in my feelings seem somewhat seasonal. Coromandel and Bel Respiro are more overbearing in the summer heat (and it´s still in the upper 80s/low 90s here). 28 La Pausa is even lovelier than it was in the winter – I think it blooms in the heat a bit. But like the new Prada Iris Infusion, whether the problem is longevity or anosmia on my part, it´s not quite strong enough for me. The major surprise was how awestruck I was by 31 Rue Cambon this time. It garnered lots of blog raves on its release, and while my first time around I thought the drydown was really nice, the opening seemed harsh. No longer. I´d now put it up there with Bois de Iles on my Chanel Lust List, and that´s saying something. Although, now that I think about it … is it my imagination, or is there more than a passing resemblance between the two? What do you think?

For any of you who dabbled in Les Exclusifs – for the purpose of scientific study, talk to me. Did you try them early on? What did you like then? Did you buy any full bottles? Are you still wearing any of them? Did your preference change over the last six months? How would you stack them next to the older Chanels?

image: The Secret Lives of Iris IV, Diane Wilson,

  • fulltilt says:

    The only one I’ve tried so far is 28 La Pausa. It went on metallic and carrotey and dry in the extreme. I didn’t like it for about 3 hours. And then I loved it. I could smell it on myself for maybe 10 hours after, but no one else could. And in the anti-perfume environment I seem to be living in, that’s actually kinda perfect.

    I’m going to give #18 a shot on Monday.

    • March says:

      Carroty! There’s the perfect word for rooty old iris. And those stealth fragrances are perfect when it needs to be really light. I keep giving it another whirl, seeing if it will stick./:)

      Have fun with 18!

    • Divalano says:

      Thank you for “carroty” as an adjective for iris. I’ve been trying to understand what note is the iris when I smell it in perfumes. I totally get the carroty bit of 28LP … will think about that when I look for iris elsewhere & see if it helps.

  • Gina says:

    Interesting post. I remember the frenzy when these came out. I bought a little sample set from the Frip, decent sized little spray bottles. I put them in this little ceramic box (I’m big on odd, pretty boxes found in thrift stores – it’s where I store my samples) on my bedside table. Because of where I put them, I’ve visited them pretty often, trying out one or the other, and really enjoying them. I’ve really been playing with samples and decants lately, because of the restriction I’ve put on myself when it comes to buying perfumes. I haven’t bought anything in ages, but the samples have really helped with the jonesing. I find the Chanels lovely – but lucky for my finances, I’m not dying to own a full bottle of any of them.

    • March says:

      Ooooh, I bet your decants look just like my decants!;)

      I’m cleaning out some samples. I think that would help my, uh, performance. So be on the lookout for some odd giveaways on here soon.

      • Gina says:

        Do you keep your decants in little boxes, too? For some reason that has me singing the opening song to the show “Weeds”, “tiny boxes on the hillsides, tiny boxes full of ticky tacky”, ha. I’m a weirdo.

        I’ll be all over your sample giveaways, for sure. Since I’m not buying I must WIN. ha. Or steal. Which I haven’t done. yet. ha

        • March says:

          Little boxes, big boxes, glasses, bowls, drawers, my purse, shelves … all over the house. Generally I can find what I’m looking for, but it’s chaotic. It would drive any truly methodical person nuts.

  • Billy says:

    I was in NYC over the weekend and absolutely DOUSED myself in Eau de cologne at the Soho boutique, becuase I’ve only had a small sample so far and LOVED IT BEYOND BELIEF, and I knew that it would all but dissapear in about 10 min on me. As soon as I went into the Burberry boutique next door, a sales associate started to hover near me and then approached to ask “I just have to ask, what are you wearing??” I told him, and he said it reminded him of a scent he had bought a long time ago in Spain that was all citrus notes. Beautiful, he said. I agree. If only it had SOME lasting power!!!

    My second fave is definitely Bel Respiro. Something about it just makes me sublimely happy.

    I must say I enjoy Coromandel more than 31RDC, but I have never worn them personally–only smelled them on others. I think I may have some kind of anosmia to 31, becuase it almost smells like nothing to me. I must try it again though.

    • March says:

      Yeah, the Cologne is gorgeous, absolutely. But I like a light fragrance on occasion, and you’re right, you’d practically have to carry the bottle around with you.

  • Divalano says:

    Re the big bottes.
    Was in Bergdorf’s today (it’s near my dentist) & asked at the Chanel counter. SA said it’s b/c you’re supposed to spray the juice all up in the air & all over you like a cloud. And then she demo’ed, spraying big cloud of Cormomandel all over everything. She went to Chanel school for that technique, mind you.

    “Honey, you just spray it all over. In your shoes, your sheets, everything!”

    Uh huh. Color me not convinced.

  • minette says:

    tried them fairly early on… and no. 31 was the only one that captured me. it is so beautiful and has the same sort of effect on me as iris poudre, which is saying a lot. i also loved the no. 22, but don’t need any right now, so didn’t buy it.

    • March says:

      And ANOTHER vote for 31!!!! I really didn’t think it would be that heavily weighted toward one favorite.

  • Pam says:

    Hi, March.

    Long time, no post b/c my old computer just about kain’t take it. I so enjoyed your article today. Recently I also got out my Chanel Six (actually, Four) and retried them. My initial favs were 31 rue Cambon and 28 La Pausa and I use my decants of them often. Yes, the 28 is fleeting, so I spray it on my clothes. Normally, I dislike iris when it’s the starring role, but here it’s subtle and the rose takes over nicely. But 31 is by far my favorite and one day I’d like to own a big old honkin’ full bottle. If they’d relax the “exclusive” bit and sell this on dept store counters, Chanel would have a new No 5 on their hands.

    At first I disliked the EdC, but now I like it quite a bit, so my opinion there changed. But my least three favs now are the same as my least three favs back in the spring—the big C, 18 and Bel R. They just don’t work well on my cranky, crotchety, pre-menopausal self.

    The older Chanels I wear often are no 19, Cristalle EdT, Bois des Iles.

    Carmencanada, BTW is one lucky lady. Talented, too!!

    And, Patty, if you read this, it was a thrill to read about your upcoming Paris trip. Have a blast. If you could see how slowly my computer is typing this, you’d know why I rarely ever post.

    Take care, all. Great post, March.:)

    • Pam says:

      Clarification here—I said I revisited Four of the Six b/c I wear or sniff 31 and 28 often enough that revisiting those two wasn’t an issue. It was the other Four that I went back and re-tried. 😡

  • ering says:

    I think you’re right about the de-aldehydification of the Chanel scent in the release of Les Exclusifs, March, and since the classic end of the Exclusifs line are predominantly, well, aldehydic classics, I find this puzzling. (As an aldehyde lover, I cannot comprehend why people seem to find my beloved notes so difficult, but I know they do.) As for winners of the line, 31 Rue Cambon is by far my favorite (what a shock that must be), probably because of its classic feel. 28 La Pausa is also exquisite, if fleeting; the others I’ve tried of the line have been nice, but not grabbing me where I live. I gave my samples of No. 18 and Bel Respiro to a friend who adores them, though.

    Can anyone shed any light on the rationale of releasing Les Exclusifs exclusively in the ginormous bottle? Granted, many of the line are rather transient (particularly the new Cuir de Russie, heartbreakingly), and I could see going through a bottle of 28 La Pausa or CdR (or any of the Beaux classics), but why not just release smaller bottles of more concentrated, longer-lived juice? I’ll even reapply throughout the day with favorites that dissipate, but it’s not like I’m going to cart a shampoo-sized glass bottle of perfume around (although the idea of it tickles me).The two I’ve purchased sit there, looming over my other perfumes like giant, menacing factice bottles. I am terrified of breaking one, as I would have to move out of my apartment if that happened. What were they thinking? Aren’t tiny, super expensive bottles the soul of exclusivity?

  • 2scents says:

    The psychological impact of group releases is that I keep going back to them thinking, “There’s got to be one of these that I want to buy…” Like I *must* pick one! I never feel that way about an individual fragrance. With the Exclusifs I find myself comparing them each to another, trying to find my “favorite” that I will buy because I “must” have at least one of them. Anyone else find themselves similarly wacked?

    • March says:

      That is … that is an EXCELLENT point. If you’re considering them as a group, rather than evaluating on individual merits, it tends to prompt comparison and disguise flaws. Sneaky. Veery sneaky.

  • Lee says:

    Robin has spoken for me.

  • Robin says:

    So interesting to read your post and all the comments, because was just thinking recently how the Les Exclusifs seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth — you almost never see them mentioned on the boards. Same thing seems to be happening now with the Tom Ford Private Blend scents. I really think these big multi-scent releases are not a good idea long term — you’d get way more mileage out of releasing 2 or 3, then following with 1 every 3 months or so.

    To my mind, the set as a whole is interesting but Rue Cambon is the only “masterpiece”.

    • March says:

      I thought you’d like Bel Respiro as well? But perhaps not up to masterpiece level…[-(;) And there you have it. I don’t visit the boards much but it’s that general reaction that prompted a revisit. I think we’re getting buried in the avalanche of new scents, we will never ever keep up. And I’m never going to dive into a set like the Tom Fords again. I’ve sort of given up on the Parfumerie Generales at this pt too. Can’t keep up.

      • Robin says:

        I like Bel Respiro, and very much like 28 La Pausa (although as you say, who’d pay for just that 1 hour?), and liked the ambrette one too. Just don’t know that they’re masterpieces, no.

        But also — when I started reading fragrance boards, which was not all that long ago — a really cool fragrance could dominate a board for months on end, some even for years (POTL, for example). I’m not sure *any* scent can do that now. Too much competition. Even the Serges come & go…the Louve talk has already died down to a trickle.

        • March says:

          That is sad … and true. Where have our individual cult fragrances gone? Will there be an end to the deluge? I am thinking not.

  • violetnoir says:

    I said it in February, I will say it again: 31 Rue Cambon is the best one of the six. However….it smells very much like MDCI #3, which is in an EdP strength and is drop dead gorgeous.

    I will hold out for a parfum of this marvelous fragrance.

    A darling friend sent me a bottle of my second fave of the bunch, No. 18, but I don’t find myself wearing it as much as I thought I would.


    • March says:

      Hi, hon! I think my version of No. 18 is Sous le Vent, which also has that weird pickle thing on me. And I really love that one, but it’s never the right occasion somehow.

      • carmencanada says:

        That’s weird, March, to me Sous le vent is the solar sister scent to 31 rue Cambon’s urban smell…

  • Maria says:

    Want to hear the wildest confession of the day? I haven’t yet tried Les Exclusifs. What kind of perfumista am I? One who’s a few decades behind. I did take notes on Louise’s comments when the Exclusifs came out. Rue Cambon has been on my to-try list for a long time. I guess I should get around to it. I may love it. I love No. 19. Okay, I really must include it in my next Perfumed Court order. Ouch. Stop twisting my arm. /:)

    • March says:

      Your comment made me laugh, thanks! I sniffed Louise’s many parts today. You need to try that cardamom amber thing she had on, it was EXCELLENT. Also she tried Andy’s incense mod and that was mighty tasty on her as well. It is amazing what she can kill off. Dang … what else was good on her? Trying to remember, there was something on her ankle… oh, the leather/iris one just turned into leather, but it was a nice leather.

      • Maria says:

        LOL about you smelling Louise’s ankle. Andy’s frankincense mods are AMAZING. They work great not just on me but also on the DH.

  • Gail S says:

    Well, good grief, chalk up another one for Rue Cambon! I adore this one and have been trying to find someone to do a split with for months. Even though I love it, there is absolutely no way I can use up one of those huge bottles in my lifetime and I won’t buy it alone. I do feel that there’s a similarity between this and Bois des Iles. Love that one too! I like Bel Respiro, particularly that first sharp green blast…but not enough to buy. The rest of the new ones I can take or leave. Of the classics, other than the aforementioned BdI, I’ve been wearing nos. 19 and 22 since, ummm, junior high school just a few short years ago :d

    • March says:

      Yeah, a few months ago when I was finishing 10th grade :-” I tried 22 again and it was love at first sniff. Although I think part of the reason is it has more incense in it than before.

      Rue Cambon clearly sweeps the winners’ list, doesn’t it?

  • Patty says:

    Let’s see. I can’t remember my favorites for sure, but I do know I”m less enamored of Coromandel, which was the early favorite for the top spot, it does go a little too patchy on me to wear with any regularly. 18 and Rue vie for that spot, but I haven’t been wearing them over the summer at all. It’s fall, and perfect for both of them, so Rue is what I put on today.

    I agree that rue will be the long-term winner that will be around 30 years from now, and more especially if they do a parfum in it. La Pause, while it just doesn’t work for me, is the other one that I think a parfum strength would be awesome in, and I suspect it will endure because it does seem to work on a lot of people, and objectively I find it beautiful, until it hits my skin.

    • March says:

      “…. until it hits my skin.” And were there ever truer words written by a jonesing perfumista longing for some fab scent to work on her? ITA about your comment, though. In a stronger concentration it’d be amazing. Maybe we’ll get one.

  • Silvia says:

    Sorry, muppet here doesn’t seem to be able to post comments properly…

    • March says:

      Hahahhaa!!! It always makes me feel less inept, seeing other people do that. Although I do wonder whether something goes kerflooey with our threading periodically?:-? I can’t catch it doing it, though, it’s sneaky.

  • Silvia says:

    Oooops, was supposed to be added on to Donanicola’s comment…

  • Silvia says:

    And what a good sniffage that was !:d

    • donanicola says:

      aha let’s see, can I get this right? Silvia, it was a fabulous sniffage! Will contact you soon re another. Hope you enjoyed the wedding. I’m hating being back from Dorset but perfume helps!

  • Marina says:

    Oh March, you were impressed the first time round because you were discombobulated by all the brouhaha. Now your mind is finally free and you can evaluate them objectively. 😉

    Seriously though, the three that were my favorites then, 31, 18 and Bel Respiro, are still favorites now.

    • March says:

      Well … I was impressed the first time around because they’re impressive, and I still feel that way. I don’t like the same scents in the same order. But even including the ones I don’t particularly like, the overall effort still gets a solid A from me.

      In terms of evaluating them objectively … har har har. That’s the one area of blogging I’m a complete dud at.;):-w

  • donanicola says:

    Apologies for another bout of silence recently. This post came at an opportune moment. Funkly and I gave the exclusifs a good sniffing a couple of weeks ago. I’d sniffed them when they came out and as I expected fell for 31 and bought a bottle more or less on the spot. I haven’t regretted it as I find myself reaching for it at least once every week and this morning when I was in uncharacteristically indecisive mood re what fragrance to wear, there it was and it’s perfect.The pepperiness is so right whatever the weather, it seems to adapt. I love Cristalle edt and 19 and Cuir de Ruisse too. Those 4 are my ultimate Chanels. The other new exclusifs I found more or less lovely but not FBW.

    • March says:

      31 has the lines of a classic — another commenter up there at the top said it will be the one that endures, and I agree it’s the standout of the truly new ones (as opposed to the reissues in the line). Now that I’ve rediscovered it I’m looking forward to working through my decant.

  • Sariah says:

    Confession here – have not yet tried a single one of the new 6 exclusifs. When I saw they were releasing 6 at once, I had a Bah-Humbug reaction. Ditto with the Tom Fords which I’ve avoided up to now.

    • March says:

      And I think that’s a legit response too. It’s not like there aren’t a million other new things to smell. At some point you’ll probably run across them anyway, whether you want to or not. And then you can decide!

    • Silvia says:

      I feel exactly the same about large multiple scent releases, you read about them everywhere and they just seem so many: overwhelming ! Tried the Chanels a couple of weeks ago at long last, the Tom Fords are still pending…

      • March says:

        Unless you like your scents really rich and heavy, honestly? No big fat rush on the Tom Fords. Go ahead, people — flame me. The bag of all the samples together, with the smell of the Tom Ford base coming off it, still makes me gag. My opinion.

  • Louise says:

    Durnit, March, can you retrieve my comment out of the garbage filter? I am beginning to think that the user of this PC may have left some improper cookies behind…

    • Louise says:

      That the “other” user…

      • Louise says:

        Gee Whiz, March, you are sure working hard. First, some high-class literature yesterday, then this great re-visit of the Exclusifs.
        You oughta take the afternoon off and hang out with some home-girls 😉

        I just re-visited my Chanel Exclusifs samps and decants the other day, and, along with most other commenters, agree that Rue Cambon is exceptional. I’ve worn it to work, even gotten compliments with that brutal audience, and feel both lady-like and a tad earthy wearing it. Carmencanada described its chameleon nature beautifully-I love guessing what facet of Cambon will emerge next.

        I do like Coromandel, and it settles nice on my skin. But, I have to admit (no, I will not be ashamed), I like Prada on me, and won’t buy more than a decant of Coro.

        Needless to say, it doesn’t matter how much I love the others (La Pausa especially)-they’re gone by the time it takes me to make coffee. My preferences in the Exclusifs hasn’t changed after playing with them for several weeks when they arrived. Since I am only a BdI fan (and closet Sensuelly wearer), I can’t compare these with other Chanels, other than to prefer the lack of aldehydes. Just me, I know…

      • March says:

        Yeah, right. For awhile there I was going straight to the spam filter, so don’t lose heart. Now I only go to the filter when I reply to you.;) I know nothing about the way this system works, but oddly it seems to delete me more often when I entered a different email address. Try making up a new email address and see if that helps? Not sure if that really makes a difference. All the IT people are probably reading this right now and laughing, like I told you to hold your breath when you hit “save” or something…

        I’m with you on the Prada, hon! Feel no shame there. And I can’t see most of these lasting on you at all. Another vote for 31RC then.

        See you later –;)

  • Rita says:

    31 Rue Cambon is also my favorite of the new Chanels, my decant is almost empty:((. I find myself longing for a full bottle, but a bottle that big is such a commitment, I guess I’ll buy one more decant before I do such a thing. I also tend to forget how much I love it until I wear it. I have tried again and again to love the others, but they do not work for me. Eau de Cologne and 28 La Pausa both smell lovely, but do not last more than half an hour on my skin. Bel Respiro is nice and green at first and just when I think I like it, it takes an evil, soapy turn. Coromandel smells of mold and mildew on my skin, which was disappointing, as most reviews I read promised that wonderful hay…I do not even want to talk about No. 18. Let’s just say that it does not like me. I am now going to locate what’s left of my 31 decant and ponder whether I can justify purchasing 6.8 oz of one perfume. Yes, it does smell good. Good enough to wear every day? Yes. Good enough to wear every day for the rest of my life(because that’s how long that %&#! bottle will last)? Not so sure about that. I have been having this argument with myself for months now!

    • March says:

      Those bottles are so huge … only you know how you wear your fragrance, but for me the 31 might be the exception to my rule that if I finish an entire decant it’s time for a bottle. I can’t see working through a bottle of anything that size, even over the rest of my life./:) So another decant might be in order…

  • Juliaforsberg says:

    I’ve not tried all of the Les Exclusifs yet. My thought so far is that Coromandel is too similar to Prada for me to like it. I prefer my patchouli drier, not sweetened or sparkling. Tove wrote an excellent piece on these

    La Pausa was very ‘meh’ to me. This fragrance is only ‘breath’ and no ‘body’ on my skin. Next please:-w

    31 Rue Cambon is great! From the tart and peppery opening to the green and spicy drydown, this is heaven. It was 31 Rue Cambon that got me into chypres in the first place. Where No 19 failed, 31 Rue Cambon won my heart.

    • March says:

      I think I killed off all the sweet notes in the Prada, and I get a great, dry (but not especially earthy) patch out of it. I am going to get a bottle this fall. The Coromandel also got very sweet, but less so at the opening — more dusty. But too sweet in the drydown.

      Breath and no body is a good way to describe 28’s lightness; and another vote for RC, I see — clearly the hit of the group.

  • carmencanada says:

    March, I always think that very anxiously awaited releases make for disappointments, and should be reconsidered in a cooler manner after a while (this goes for books and movies too). I think that this will apply, in a while, to Kelly Calèche. Luca Turin may have actually harmed these scents by praising them to the skies.

    I have all the Exclusives in sample bottles (a lovely Chanel SA gave them to me as a birthday gift when I bought Cuir de Russie). I now also own a full bottle of N°18, which was kindly sent to me by Jacques Polge himself, as a thank you for a long article I wrote about the Exclusives for a French art review (half the article was about the “art” of perfume critique and the evolution of niche perfumery, which is why it ended up in a contemporary art review). My line of reasoning about the Exclusives was that 1/ they were Polge’s answer to the current, minimalist, Ellena-inspired trend in perfumery;
    2/ they were also a de-construction of Chanel’s perfume heritage, minus the aldehydes: if you consider them you’ll find they pull strands of different classics in re-interpret them in a pared-down, post-modernist way.

    Now, to answer your question: I think 31 rue Cambon stands out as a very remarkable and original composition, and jostling to be on top of my full bottle purchases, along with N°22 and Bois des Iles. It’s a bit of an illusionist, with streaks of cinnamon and burnt tar appearing in flashes.
    N°18 actually reacts wonderfully to my skin and displays many surprising facets as the day goes by — I often raise my head and sniff around to find out who else is wearing perfume, only to find out that the floral/musky/powdery/boozy smell comes from me!
    Bel Respiro I’d buy in a blink if it weren’t so fleeting. The greenness is so bracing: to me it would be the replacement to vintage Vent Vert if it were more tenacious.

    • March says:

      OMG, someday I want to write a sentence that includes the words, “was kindly sent to me by Jacques Polge himself…” 😉 man, that’ll be the day :@) fly (and I have been waiting FOREVER to use that emoticon, so thanks).

      It’s a difficult-to-resist temptation, particularly for the bloggers. On the one hand, part of my (non)job on here is to get out and smell the scents that are the equivalent of the new It Bag. On the other, you are precisely right — careful reconsideration at a later date is a better way to assess things. I particularly dislike group releases for that reason. It is very hard (at least for me) to consider 6 or more (hello, Tom Ford!) fragrances at a go. I’ve given up keeping up at this point. The new PGs and Etats and various other things? Nope, haven’t smelled them.

      That’s a wonderful observation about the scents being deconstructed aspects of the Chanel heritage – and losing the aldehydes is (IMO) a way to enlarge the audience, because it seems to me that aldehydes are one of the commonly disliked aspects of a fragrance. And I have the same favorites! — 31RC, 22 and Bois de Iles! Bel Respiro — lord, if only it had been more fleeting on me…:-j

      • carmencanada says:

        About reviewing new releases, of course we expect it from you! But it was a wise decision to come back to them. I’m also a bit overwhelmed by 1/ group launches and 2/the brands that keep tossing’em at us. I can’t help but feeling that compositions can’t be that interesting or complete, if the composers can just churn’em out. I don’t think it’s the case for the Exclusives though.
        As for Jacques Polge, I made damn sure I got a reaction by sending him the article with a covering letter, and having a friend of mine who sees him in his shop from time to time do a little fluff for me! And we had piggy lift-off!

        • Louise says:

          CC-Do you have a link to your article? I’d love to read it!

          • carmencanada says:

            No link, this is on actual paper — real dead-tree stuff. When they have a moment I’ll try to get them to put it on a pdf file. But hey, wait a minute: I’ve got your email, I’ll send you the Word file. It’s in French, but I think you can manage?

          • Louise says:

            Ben, oui!

          • March says:

            Louise and CC — I read this first in my inbox and thought you were asking ME if I’d like to read it in the french.

            To which I was responding mentally — riiiiiight.

            Glad to see you’re talking to each otehr, maybe Louise could translate for me…

  • dinazad says:

    The thing is that we always expect the earth to move and the stars to rain down when we finally smell a long-awaited fragrance. And then we’re massively disappointed when they don’t(didn’t everybody diss Villoresi’s Alamut, which is actually a gorgeous, harmonious, centered comfort scent? Or Mugler’s Alien? Some new Lutens scent which then crept in from the back and became a favourite?). And we only really see/smell a fragrance when we’ve got rid of all that pressure…..
    I thought the Chanel exclusives were perfectly nice but rather unexciting in the beginning. But now I own a bit of Coromandel (an elegant, ladylike patchouli on me) and hope to get some of the incredibly refined Rue Cambon soon. The others I need to smell again.
    I’ve never liked Chanel much, but since I was presented with No. 5 in perfume and got a bottle of vintage 5 cologne I’ve started to admire it. Very grudgingly! I’ve loved 19 for ages, though. And Coco as well. And I’ll happily admit that Coco Mademoiselle and Allure may be boring on me, but they do smell great on a friend of mine. And Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie are wonderful, even if they do do a mean disappearing trick and vanish within seconds.
    22 and I, however, just don’t get along. She makes me smell as if I hadn’t washed in ages – and had spent those ages in very unsanitary environments, such as sewers and garbage dumps.
    Ah well – maybe we’ll try to get together again in 10 years or so. Skin chemistry does change, after all!

    • March says:

      We like the same Chanels, except I’d reverse the comments about 19 and 22! 22 is all incense on me, probably my favorite along with Coco, although now I need to try the No. 5 parfum… it is hard for something to live up to the raves, that’s true. I think some of the things I’ve really loved were things I just sort of stumbled across, without much prep one way or the other.

    • AngelaS says:

      D, thank you so much for defending Alamut! After initially dismissing it, I have rediscovered it and for me it is–as you say–a wonderful comfort scent. A regular cashmere blankie of a scent.

  • Divalano says:

    Let’s see …
    31 Rue Cambon was a scrubber for me. Bergamot. Made me choke.
    28 La Pausa I’m still thinking about. It’s a bit too austere & dry & somehow brings to mind the scent left behind on some fancy lady’s accessories where her scent rubbed off. Whoever she is, I don’t think she’s me.
    Coromandel, also still deciding. Your review describes it pretty well for me, tho I also get a bit of patchouli dirt now & then & an ambery dry down.
    No 18 I love. Really love. It’s winey & then sort of sweet & clear. It makes me feel fresh, sophisticated, elegant, lovely. I don’t think I like the smell of ambrette … I sniffed from a bottle of pure ambrette at Le Labo to see what the note was & it smelled like a harsh cognac. But in No18 it works for me. I have thought more than once about owning a bottle but am intimidated by the pricetag.

    • Divalano says:

      hmmm I see I’ve not actually answered your questions.
      Older Chanels: I used to wear Coco, Cristalle & No5 in the 80s. I’ve tried recently & they’re just not me. At all.
      I got No18 as an extra in a sample bag from Nancy at Fishbone early on & went back to buy a larger decant. I still like No18 as much if not more than when I first tried. It seems to fit me better than the rest of the Exclusifs or the rest of the Chanels.
      Coromandel I liked at first but it’s losing its charm, I think.

      • March says:

        PS Having a rocky relationship with bergamot must be a drag in perfumery. It’s difficult when there’s that one note lurking, isn’t there? And … well … maybe Chanel jest ain’t you. At least not right now.[-( And that’s dandy, too. Lots of other fish in the sea.

        • Divalano says:

          Try having a rocky relationship w bergamot, lavender & rose. Sheesh! They all make me choke & sneeze, with the exception that now & then I can handle rose as an ensemble player in a well done blend – it’s probably why No5 turned on me. Was ok, now it’s not.

          Chanel … I absolutely appreciate the artistry of most of the scents. I just can’t wear them.

          • March says:

            I think rose and lavender can be problematic for lots of people. Not naming any names.:-” I like lavender in things like Encens et Lavande but not in some other things.

    • March says:

      That is such a great description of La Pausa!! I feel what you’re saying exactly. The 18 I think is one of those fragrances that people feel strongly about — if it’s good, it’s GREAT. And I, like everyone else, wish they’d issued smaller bottles. Those sample sizes would have been perfect!;)

  • Tigs says:

    I loved 31 Rue Cambon at the beginning, have worn most of my decant, and continue to love it. I think it will be the one that endures. I do find myself thinking about the No. 18 a lot, and I ordered a small decant recently. It was the *weirdest* to me, and for that reason, haunting. I keep remembering this gorgeous whiff I got about half an hour in, but the whole scent disappeared on me not too long afterward. Definitely a longevity problem with these ones. I think sometimes of the Bel Respiro, too, but I also disliked the opening.

    • March says:

      Tigs, I’m wondering (don’t tell anyone!) whether I got my samps of 31RC and Coromandel mixed up in the initial excitement, I feel the reverse about them now. OTOH I can see Coromandel working better on me in cooler weather. 18 is definitely the weird one, but still an interesting smell. I think lasting power is an issue for quite a few people.

      • Tigs says:

        I should point out that I liked the Coromandel best the first time, when I tried the scents in Paris. Then, on our way back home from our trip, we stopped in London and the 31 RC won me over. My husband still really liked the Coromandel, but I found the sweetness and particularly the benzoin (I think) a little grating after a while.

        • March says:

          That sweetness?!?! Did my skin chemistry change? I don’t remember that at all from the first time around. It’s a bit much. Ah, well. Maybe it will change again./:)