Chantecaille, maker of the seemingly discontinued, but maybe back (at a higher price point and for less fragrance?) Frangipane, has three new scents up for Fall 2010 – Kalimantan, Petales and Vetyver.
They are showing as a pre-order at Neiman-Marcus, but no ship date yet. I know that Sylvie Chantecaille is due at some event at Bergdorf in late September, and I’m going to assume that will be the launch of the three new fragrances.
Chantecaille isn’t know for its ground-breaking fragrances, but the ones they have created have been nice, pretty, even lovely in some cases. So my expectations are set for that fragrance genre (!pretty!) smelling these three samples, which I got as a free gift by ordering something or another Chantecaille. I think I picked out a pretty bronze eyeliner.
Vetyver has notes of citron, pepper, nutmeg, bergamot, vetiver, musk and sandalwood. It does have vetiver in it, and you can tell, which I really was worried about, afraid they would dust so much !pretty! around it that you couldn’t smell the vetiver. It’s a soft vetiver, just lightly spiced with pepper, but the pepper persists through the entire drydown, for a very nice effect. It’s really very nice and no hint of frilly florals or tropicals anywhere around it. If you like vetiver to have some punch, it’s probably not going to be for you – there’s no roughness in it, it doesn’t growl when you put it on. Men or women could wear this, it’s not feminine. If you’ve ever had trouble wearing vetiver, thinking it’s too earthy or swarthy, Chantecaille’s version may work for you.
Petales has notes of gardenia, balsam, jasmine, tuberose, cedar, ambergris and sandalwood. I’m definitely expecting feminine, and they’re not going to disappoint me here either. It’s much more floral than woodsy, but it’s not as lush as the other fragrances they had before, the tiare, wisteria and frangipane, which were way lush to the point of, well, I needed them to not last as long as they did. Petales skews to the white floral tropical area, but does not face plant in the gardenia like some of these things do. I’m surprised at Chantecaille’s restraint on this. It’s well done and pretty much what you would expect from a restrained, feminine cosmetics line, but with more interest and nuance than the first round of pretty feminine fragrances they did. It’s lighter, more delicate, which is sometimes a very hard thing to do with this list of notes. I’d wear this a lot for when I want a white floral, but I don’t want to put on my full Blanche DuBois.
Kalimantan is the one whose notes had me the most interested, but also the one that I knew had the biggest shot of making me sigh and be sad that it didn’t live up to its billing. Still, I’ve tried to keep my expectations low – well, for the reason above, it’s a feminine cosmetics line making a fragrance based on Borneo. Okay, the notes, and I’ll skip over the marketing materials – Incense , Cistus Labdanum, Indonesian patchouli, Thyme, Rosemary, Bergamot, Vanilla, Styrax, Agarwood, Cedar, Sandalwood.
Okay, before I uncork the sample, I’m projecting this to be a feminine oriental vaguely incensed laced with too much vanilla. Actual sampling says: hey, they put some incense and patchouli in this! and not too much vanilla. Nicely spiced with the thyme and rosemary, which brings the heavier labdanum and styrax back from the edge of oily indulgence, reigns in some of the more virulent aspects of patchouli, and it has some nice wood floating around in it. Can’t find the vanilla – at least not in any way that smells gourmand, which is what I expected, if at all – it’s just all dry, there’s no soppy wetness from an of the notes. There’s a really lovely balance between the incense and patchouli. It never veers over too far into a patchouli pit, but it keeps a distinctive patchouli feel. It also doesn’t go careening over the cliff into chanting and om’ing on the incense side either, but has enough incense that it feels very meditative. I have to hand it to Chantecaille, and maybe it was because my expectations were so low, this one far exceeded what I expected. It’s beautifully done and not what I thought they’d deliver – and I mean that in a good way. Take away any preconceived notions you have about the Chantecaille name on it, it’s a great fragrance.
$175 for 2.5 ounces. Hey, didn’t they use to sell their scents for $90 for 100 mls? Charge more, less fragrance, but all three of these are better fragrances than the first round, so we’ve made some kind of tradeoff here. I won’t even comment on whether the price uptick is worth it or not. Anyone else smelled these, and did you smell the first round of Chantecaille fragrances? Surprised? Disappointed? I think I have enough in my sample vials to do one or two sample sets of the three to a commenter.