Chanel No. 19 Poudré

By March

If you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, you know what time it is?  Time to put on some perfume.  So there I was at Nordstrom, in a massive hurry as usual, and I walked by the Chanel counter on the way out and saw No. 19 Poudré sitting there.

The original No. 19 is, in my opinion, a love-it-or-hate-it.  Those fangs of galbanum and thorny rose … I’m more in the hate-it camp.  So of course I picked that bottle of Poudré right up and sprayed it on generously; hey, why not?  Putting on perfume can be living dangerously in a very small, safe way.

Jacques Polge did this version, and to the extent that the job of any great modern perfumer is to dumb down a classic to make it more palatable to the huddled masses, he succeeded.  The fangs have been pulled, and it’s still green at the opening, but much softer and grassier, and the scent is focused on iris more than anything.  Despite the name, it wasn’t powdery on me at all, which is a good thing.

This scent would, I think, be a bitter disappointment to anyone who loves No. 19; the relationship is tenuous, and the reviews online are pretty mixed, trending toward negative.

And yet.

You know what you get when Jacques Polge remakes a galbanum-green scent into something more mass market?  You don’t get a pair of Uggs.  You don’t get a f’ing Snuggie.  You get nine miles of uncompromising orris butter underpinned by a hint of smoky leather and what their brochure describes as “the latest generation of the most sophisticated, beautifully soft and light musks” and which I will English-to-English translate for you as: not laundry musks.

I think it’s lovely.   I’d be delighted with a bottle, thank you very much, and unlike a lot of people who’ve complained about longevity I could smell it a day later on my wrists and forearms.  In fact, I’ve decided it’s the perfect scent for the new life I am emerging into right now – the suit’s a soft knit, but the tailoring’s impeccable, and it’s got that hint of aloofness I love in the classic Chanels.

Notes: Grasse neroli, mandarin orange, jasmine absolute, iris pallida, white musk notes, Haitian vetiver, tonka.

PS Don’t forget – Swapmania starts on Friday!


  • Kimberly says:

    On me it is definately powdery and green. People seem to love it. Some days I love it. And some days it is just to strong for my nose. But I think it is very nice in general.

  • BBJ says:

    I love No. 19 in all its incarnations, but I love iris and leather and musks, so this might work for me. Or not. The issue is going to be the powder. If I get powder, it’s all over. The Prada Iris had way, way, too much powder.

    But if I ever have any spendy cash again, it’s going to be 19, not a sort-of flanker. God, I love that stuff.

  • annemariec says:

    I’m that rare best – someone who loves both the original No 19 (EDP and EDT) AND No 19 Poudre. I wear them on completely different occasions tho’. Poudre is a scent for a summer evening once the cool change has finally arrived. I have a shower, slip into a favourite cotton top, and mooch around the house lazily planning dinner, and enjoying the cool air through all the newly opened door and windows. I also love it as a bedtime scent.

    I find it lasts about 3-4 hours, which is not impressive for an EDP, but the fragrance is very subtle. It’s warm, whispy veil of a scent. Maybe you can’t expect longevity as well.

    I’m always glad to see a positive review of this one, because it got a lot of stuff heaped on it when it first came out. Once all the annoyance over it not resembling the original has does down, hopefully it will find its place.

  • Holly F. says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t tried this one yet. I think I’m hoping for a bit more “Poudre” than you got from it, though!

  • Maureen says:

    I am wearing #19 Poudre today. I really like it, it is a perfect office scent. I LOVE Coco, but not a perfect office scent, more of a take me out to dinner and danceing then ravish me kind of scent.

  • nozknoz says:

    I was prepared to spurn this one on principle, but you’ve convinced me to give it a chance, March!

  • Suzy Q says:

    I was prepared to swap my decant of this on Friday. In honor of your post I tried it again today and liked it better. I hated it the first time I tried it. Subsequent tests were more positive. The first hour is lovely. Maybe I’ll hold onto the decant a little longer as a research project–I’m a Chanel fan, after all. The bottle is especially attractive.

    I love your courage in the face of scents unknown! I did the same thing at Macy’s the other day with Dune. It felt good to take a chance.

  • sweetlife says:

    Beautiful review.

    I love No. 19, but it was a very slow in coming love, a learn to love it kind of love. Have a feeling this one would be easy. Sold.

  • minette says:

    i totally respect no. 19, and have a bit of it to remind myself of my respect for it. but do i ever wear it? non. so, i think i would probably enjoy this one, based on your description. i’ve been lazy about trying the latest round of new releases, so need to make a trip to the mall to rectify that. thanks for the reminder. and yes, i know what you mean by the aloofness of the classic chanels. there is something unique and elegant about them, even if you don’t love all of them.

  • tammy says:

    I have fallen hard for the original 19, and have come to realize I love galbanum.

    This one does sound lovely, but I think I’d rather put my pennies towards some vintage 19, or even some new 19.

    Totally OT, can someone pass along my best wishes to Lee and Nava? I miss them both!

    • Joanna says:

      Have you ever tried Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Vent pour Madame?

    • nozknoz says:

      Tammy, I too have fallen for No. 19. And it’s perfect for the unseasonably warm weather that we’ve been having. I think it hit 70 today – it should be in the 30s or even below at this time of year. No worries – just spray on No. 19 and relax inside the calm galbanum force-field!

      • tammy says:

        Perfect weather for her!

        Galbanum and iris both relax me and also make me behave myself. (No mean feat, I assure you!)

  • Austenfan says:

    I love the “original” no.19. ( that is the current 19, I have alas never smelled the vintage). I love it because it has fangs and character and is so very unlike other Chanels because of it’s boldness.
    All I can say about Poudré is that I would probably like it if it had another name. Smelling it I was reminded of Robin’s (NST) excellent review of Cristalle EDT, and why she can’t make herself appreciate the EDP.

    Poudré seems to have it’s fans though and will probably do quite well. And thank you for another great post!

  • Musette says:

    I’m like so many other commenters on here, with the original 19. I always want to love the living daylights out of it – and I never can. :(( Too much galbanum makes my head ache. and it makes me sad. Cristalle makes me cry.

    so maybe I would love this! 😕

    xo >-)

  • kathleen says:

    I bought a big bottle of this, unsniffed. Someone mentioned that it smelled like something I already had, and it rendered it redundant for me. Kept on looking at this scent, that I didn’t feel like wearing, and thinking how I was being wasteful. Recently, I read a post on one of the boards, written by a dear friend who was wanting some of this. I sent her my unloved bottle, and felt I got my money’s worth.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      That is how I feel too- its money well spent if, failing to flip my switch, a fragrance can make someone else happy. Perfume people are just the best! :x

  • maggiecat says:

    I like the idea of No. 19 but recoil involuntarily from the scent so I didn’t have this new one on my “must sniff” list. It is now though – thanks for the review!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Its good to read you, March! I am Not a Fan of 19- it smells great on others but like stale cat pee on me. A problem I have with every Chanel bar Coco, Allure and Sycomore and I rather expect that Poudre wil be the same guess elegant and cool isn’t my thing! Classic Guerlains, on the other hand, suit me down to the ground- hurrah for variety. :)

    • March says:

      love, love love those classic Guerlains, a line that is (in general) a better fit for me than Chanel, although I love me some Coco, as you know :d

  • Sherri M. says:

    P.S. March, I am totally with you on the “when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, spray some perfume”. It’s a great distraction, esp. when thinking about things won’t help. Heck, I sprayed on some Mona DiOrio yesterday and practically didn’t think of all my kids’ present dramas. Prayed some and inhaled/analyzed the rich fragrance…and forgot what was bothering me (things I shouldn’t focus on)..see all the money we save on therapy! :-)

    • March says:

      Well, perfume is therapy, right? I figure each and every bottle of it is some sort of therapy, in some way. I’m glad to hear Mona took you away from everything for a bit.

  • CM says:

    I’m thoroughly seated in the #19 Love it camp. It was love at first sniff. The new Poudre version is nice…perhaps like, but not love. I agree that it reminds me of Infusion d’Iris which I already own and love, so maybe there’s room to grow. Reading your review makes me want to give this another try (or two) and I’m about to go searching for my sample.

    • March says:

      A lot of folks are referencing IdI. When I first sprayed the Poudre I thought of IdI as well (I’d been expecting something more like the original 19). But the drydowns seem so different to me.

  • Sherri M. says:

    March, so glad to see you back! I didn’t think this one was too bad, but it not surprisingly got a big thumbs down from my husband–big migraine inducer as are most Chanels. I prefer the green of the original. The teens dubbed this “lemon baby powder” Chanel. I do get the reference to Infusion d’Iris. Not my cup of tea, but I can see the appeal. To be fair, as much as I try, Chanel perfumes and I can’t seem to get along (I guess I am not good at being cool and elegant! :-)

    • March says:

      There are entire lines that don’t seem to work very well for people, and I say: at the rate new frags are being released, good. That much less stuff you have to try.

      • Sherri M. says:

        Good point! Taking an inventory for the swap, I counted over 70 bottles! I surely need to thin out my collection (not making any promises I will though!). :-)

  • Ann says:

    Hi sweet March, so nice to see (read?) you today. Hope you’re having a good week and things are smooother now. I liked the original 19 just fine and I like this one as well. It’s a great daytime “don’t have to think — just spray” fragrance. And I’m with Erin above on the Cristalle Eau Verte; I liked it very much also.
    Just because a scent has a certain name on it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it on its own merits.

  • Erin T says:

    Have been thinking often of you lately and especially this week, which has been a laugh and/or cry week for me, too, and I Need To Write a Proper Email to You, I Swear. But in the meantime, dropping by here to say: hey, I gotta try this, too. I avoided it, but I don’t know why, because Chanel can sometimes do flankers, and hey, the consensus of reviews doesn’t matter, because I was the only person alive who liked Cristalle Eau Verte – doesn’t replace the original EdT or anything, but nice if you view it as a stand-alone scent.

    • March says:

      I liked Cristalle Eau Verte! Come sit by me!

    • DinaC says:

      Hey, I liked CeV, too… bought a whole bottle of it. It’s nice in summer.

      No. 19 is my all time favorite in the edp formula, so I tried the Poudre. It’s nice. I’d love to be gifted a bottle, but I don’t feel the need to go out and buy it. I adore galbanum, so I like my 19 with thorns and fangs, I guess.

  • DJ says:

    I am so happy to read your thoughts on this one, March.

    Chanel perfume and I don’t really get along, but this one seems to be ok. I spray myself with it in the store and enjoy it. Haven’t bought any yet, though.

    • March says:

      Aha! “The Chanel for people who don’t like Chanel…”

      • DJ says:

        I like Chanels on other people. I have been trying to buy Coco for years, but it hates me. Every winter I smell it on someone, and I swoon and want to wear it…then I get a headache.

        No.5 smells like house cleaner on me. Coco Mademoiselle, same as No.5…

        Cristalle is a no go for preference reasons.

        I could go on.

        I want to like them :(

        is there another one that might suit?

        • Sherri M. says:

          DJ, You sound like me! I love No. 5 on my mom. My daughter put on some old Coco lotion and I thought “what is that beautiful smell coming from across the room?!” However, I get a headache when I try to wear them (not to mention dh threatens divorce!) Maybe we can only take them in small doses, or we just don’t have the right chemistry. As March said there are so many others to choose from! I have better luck w/ Guerlains (the new exclusifs, not especially the classics) and Goutals.

        • nozknoz says:

          I never used to wear any Chanels besides vintage No. 5, but 28 La Pausa won me over. It’s iris and vetiver, very soft and natural.

  • patuxxa says:

    If only they hadn’t named it after No. 19… anything else would do. I like it, but I can’t smell it without thinking it’s a sacrilege. I love No. 19 in all its classic galbanum glory (I was fortunate to “inherit” a small vintage extrait bottle from my grandmother, and it’s breathtaking).

  • Joan says:

    This sounds like a great success in the same vein as Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. I’ll have to try it soon!

    • March says:

      To be honest I’m not sure I think it’s as jeen-yus as Eau Premiere, but I do think it’s very nice, as long as you’re not actually looking for 19.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I’m in the love it came with the original No. 19. When I heard about No. 19 Poudre, I was suspicious. To my way of thinking is that the whole Chanel Chance line is geared to those who are in thier late teens and early 20’s. I ordered a 1.5ml decant of Poudre to test out. I wanted to be fair because even though I wasn’t initially impressed with No. 5 eau Premiere, I grew to love it. Now that I have finally drained my Poudre decant, I still don’t like it at all. I don’t like it because I say that Poudre is pretty much a copy of Prada’s Infusion d’Iris. And I have a 50ml bottle of Infusion d’Iris because I did really like it.

    • mals86 says:

      I thought that, too – that it reminded me of Infusion d’Iris, except a tiny bit greener. Which I like, when I’m in the mood for a silvery cool thing that makes very little impression on me or anyone around me.

      • Musette says:

        well, then…I don’t have to bother with Poudre at all, since I can’t smell Infusion d’Iris. At all.


        (ps. you’re commenting, so you’re not in jail. That’s a good thing! 😉

        • mals86 says:

          The axe and the gun are both locked up in the farm shop. Poison out there, too. I could get them if I wanted to… I DO have good knives in the kitchen, but I’d hate to have to replace them afterward.

          So, no jail. :)

      • March says:

        I had a para about Infusion d’Iris which I deleted, but basically I feel like they’re different, and I didn’t want to conjure IdI for all the people who are bored by it.

  • Catherine says:

    I have to try this!

  • Joanna says:

    Thanks March, and cheers to your new life! I haven’t tried this yet being in the “Leave it” opposed to “Love it” camp for No.19. I don’t hate it, I admire it on others. I will have to give Poudre a try. Thanks. :)

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, I could drink a case of galbanum, and still I’d be on my feet. Can’t imagine No. 19 without it, but you persuade so well, I’ll at least give this one a try.

    Silver hair and impeccable tailoring-yeh! You’re talkin’!!! :-D

    • March says:

      For some reason, I think you’ll hate this. :d And that’s just fine.

      • (Ms.)Christian says:

        I probably will, but your post inspired me to get my vintage No.19 out of the cupboard this morning and I have been enjoying it all day long.

        For that alone (and the great writing), I tip my hat to you, March!