Second chances: Chanel No. 22

When Chanel launched its Les Exclusifs collection back in 2007, I was still fairly new to niche fragrance. And all 9 or so of them, rolled out at once, was a tad overwhelming. I found instant love with Coromandel and the Eau de Cologne but the others either didn’t knock my socks off or my impressions of them got lost in the shuffle of so many releases.

So recently I decided to give several of them another chance. Cuir de Russie will have to wait for cooler fall/winter temps, but now seemed like the perfect time to re-try No. 18 and No. 22. Now Musette did a lovely post back in June on No. 18 that spoke to that gem, so I’ll cover 22.

No. 22 Something about it (that whoosh of aldehydes, most likely) had reminded me too much of Chanel No. 5, a scent for which I’ve never really cared. So the No. 22 was one of the first Exclusif vials to be swapped away.

But as the years passed, my tastes have changed and evolved. Lately I’ve sniffed a bit of the No. 5 pure parfum, and that and the Eau Premiere have brought me around to the classic’s charms a bit more and I can understand the love a little better now. Although I am probably never going to be a No. 5 girl.

Anyway, getting back to No. 22. As I mentioned above, I think my nose has somehow matured over the years, as my first re-whiff of it again brought me that over-the-top aldehyde rush (my apologies to you aldehyde fans). But surprise, surprise, it was more bearable this go-round. As time wore on, it grew on me and when I got that soft incense warming up the white-flower party, I was won over. I only have a dab vial, but it is intriguing me enough to consider a small decant to see how it does sprayed.

From now on, I think I’ll just apply, leave it be for a while and then enjoy.

Is there a scent that you overlooked or dismissed previously but have now come around to love or at least like?

  • thegoddessrena says:

    The first time I tried Douglas Hannant I thought it was way too pear-heavy. However, I retried it today in high heat and it’s got plenty of gardenia with the pear barely noticeable. I like gardenias much more than pears 🙂 temperature conditions can really affect my perceptions of scents

    • Ann says:

      You are so right about the temperature — it can make or break a scent for your nose. I want to re-try the DH and see if I get pear as well, but I’d be happy to get gardenia, too. Enjoy!

  • Beth says:

    You know, I’ve really seen my tastes change a lot over the last few years and I hesitate to say I hate anything. I may try it next week and enjoy it. That’s how it was with the entire Chanel line for me at first. I disliked it when I first started. Now it’s growing to love. On the other hand, before I started this journey I bought a big bottle of Betsey Johnson’s perfume… sweet sweet candy. That bottle just went to my 11 year old niece who LOVES it. And I just bought large decants of 1932 and 31 Rue Cambon along with most of the Exclusifs that I had missed the first go around. Happy Birthday to me from STC!

    No.22 I do really enjoy, more and more as I wear it. For some reason it goes into a box with Chamade for me. In my head those 2 are very similar. They’re sparkling champagne to me. And that’s interesting because I hated champagne when I first tasted it. I haven’t tried No.5 since I started my perfume journey, but now I’m thinking I need to try some of the extrait.

    • Ann says:

      Happy, happy birthday to you, dear Beth from the Posse!! Glad you’re coming around to the Exclusifs, too. I’m happy you mention Chamade, because I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it, Guess that’ll go on my ever-growing list of “must sniffs.” Thanks!

  • hajusuuri says:

    Bois des Iles Pure Parfum is what I have my eyes on. The wonderful folks at STC ended up including a small complimentary sample of it in my most recent order after I (yes, moi) messed up my original order. Anyway, while it’s not No. 18 or No. 22…it is still a Les Exclusifs! BTW, I also love Coromandel and 28 La Pausa 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady! Oh, lucky you — that BdI parfum is some wonderful juice! I’m a Coromandel fan, too, but think I need to revisit 28 La Pausa since it seems I’m turning into an iris junkie, ha! 😉

  • I tried No.22 once at a Chanel boutique, not actually on me but on a card. I found it way too soapy, and the incense was a bit harsh. But I didn’t try it on skin, and maybe I should have. Maybe I should get a sample next time I order stuff from STC and revisit it.

    As for scents I used to dislike but now don’t.. I used to hate patchouli. Several years ago I worked with a couple of women who were kind of hippie-ish and would wear patchouli oil, and I thought it smelled like bug spray on them. I had read descriptions of the smell of patchouli as resembling turned earth, but I didn’t get it at all. But then I was at a party a couple weeks ago, and I was sitting near someone who was wearing patchouli. And I didn’t mind it! I actually smelled what people were talking about with the turned earth thing!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Jennifer! Do give it a go sometime soon — as I tell myself, “One little sample couldn’t hurt anything.” 🙂 I hear you on the patchouli; it really can swing from one extreme to the other. I really love it in Coromandel and am also liking the Ramon Monegal Mon Patchouly a bit. BTW, did you ever find out what scent the partygoer had on?

  • Tatiana says:

    I too dislike the overwhelming aldehydes in No.5 and I doubt I will ever love aldehydes. So I felt exactly the same way as you when I first tried No.22. Then along came a smidge of a sample of the extrait, which doesn’t feel so over powering in the aldehyde department and I fell in love. Maybe it’s the fact that it gets dabbed instead of sprayed, but whatever it is, I cannot believe I actually like a scent with aldehydes in it.

    • Ann says:

      Yes, Tatiana! As I mentioned above, I’m eager to try the extrait. Like you, I could definitely live with a lesser dose of aldehydes.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I can’t exactly remember when I first tried Chanel no. 22. But I remember getting a huge decant from the Perfumed Court and a smaller decant of the vintage stuff. I didn’t like both at first because they were jarring and a little harsh, the vintage was less jarring. Fast forward a couple years, I did fall in love with no. 22 and got a bottle. I think that No.22 is great for spring to early summer or late fall when it’s cooling off.

    • Ann says:

      Glad you fell in love with it, after all. I’m with you — I think it is probably best in the less hot, humid months. I’m looking forward to trying the vintage and also the current parfum and see how they do, compared with the EDT. Thanks!

  • Tiara says:

    I always pass my “don’t likes” on to my nieces/sister-in-law and 22 was one of those. Perhaps I was too hasty as that was a while ago and I’ve certainly evolved. I already have so much perfume now that I KNOW I love, I’m a bit hesitant to re-try. That and the fact that a new love could be ready to launch at any moment. Too much perfume, too little time.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Tiara! That is so nice of you to share. But if you happen upon the 22 again, I don’t think it will hurt to try a bit. You[re right — there is so much perfume to love and explore out there, but I’m always telling myself, “One more little sample won’t hurt.” 🙂

  • leathermountain says:

    For the fun of it, I am trying to like things I dislike. Especially since I appear to dislike a rather large category: amber.

    Victoria from Bois de Jasmin has been helping me figure out what is going on here. Evidently ‘amber’ is often composed of warm sweet stuff like vanilla combined with a plant-based material called cistus, labdanum, or rock rose. It seems I have a negative response to the labdanum in many formulations. So my next step is to get to know it better. I bought some labdanum oil, and I plan on making some blends of my own. Victoria also suggested diluting labdanum in alcohol to open up its layers and understand its fragrance better.

    Already, with all this investigation, I find the scent less objectionable than I did at first. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can shift my preferences through research and various experiences.

    • Martha says:

      I think that labdanum is a tough one, too. It is quite intense. Musk is problem for me. I am reminded of Right Guard anti-perspirant spray whenever I smell a perfume that contains musk.

    • Ann says:

      Excellent! Victoria is so knowledgeable about fragrance and how it’s blended, etc. After reading one of her posts, I always feel better educated about perfume. Glad you’re finding the labdanum at least tolerable now. Who knows — you may create or discover the perfect mix and love it.

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Ann,
    I thought I owned all the CHANEL I needed to own, now I have a little itch to go back for a whiffle of No22 again. Luckily my 3ml Surrender To Chance set of CHANEL Exclusives was brought to light today in a bit of a clean up.
    So i have spritzed and this is exactly the aldehyde note that my Grandma used to wear, gorgeous. Like super up market drug store. How did I overlook this little baby?
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Portia, so glad you tried it again and liked it, and even better, it brought you a good memory. BTW, lucky you for unearthing your Exclusifs set — nice!!

  • Kendall C. says:

    I’ve heard about Chanel #5 in the past because of Marilyn Monroe’s quotes but never knew about Chanel #22. But since you featured this fragrance in your post and described it really well, I think it’s a new scent to fall in love with. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. This will make a great new addition to my perfume collection!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, and thanks! Do sample this to see if you like it — if not, you can always pass it along to someone else.

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Probably I won’t become a fan of #5 or #22, but never say never. Some time last year I bought a sample of Black Orchid and thought it smelled like a healthy compost heap. I missed no chance to diss it, and I even threw the sample away so that I wouldn’t put it on my skin again by mistake. Today a kindly SA at Sephora got some on me again, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and go figure…I liked it. The evidence of the senses can have a clear and immediate sense of truth, but here’s the thing: it is a mutable truth. Change the day and the circumstances, and your nose can tell you a whole new story. Doubt I’ll be using #5 any time soon, but one never knows.

    • Ann says:

      Nicely said, dear! Love that “change the day and the circumstances …” I, too, won’t be wearing No. 5 on any kind of regular basis and probably won’t wear 22 all that often, but I’m happy that I’m not as scared of them as I once was.

  • Suzanne says:

    Hiya, Ann. Reading this makes me very happy, as I love No. 22 with all my heart. 🙂

    I think the biggest perfume turnaround for me has been with jasmine soliflores or jasmine-heavy perfumes. Used to not care for them at all and now I love them. Also, last winter I got a decant of Hermes L’Ambre des Merveilles and thought it was lovely but not really “me” – and now I’m diggin’ it. It clings better to my skin in the more humid weather of spring and summer, so I smell it more fully (or at least that’s my theory). 😉

    • Ann says:

      Hey, sweetie! So glad you’ve come around to the joys of jasmine; me, too. And that Hermes is so nice also, although too often I forget about it, so your comment is a good reminder for me to go get it and wear it. Thanks!

      • Ann says:

        BTW, I guess it slipped my mind that you love, love, love No. 22. Have you tried the parfum? I wonder how that is.

        • Suzanne says:

          Ann, I have a vague memory of smelling the parfum version a long time ago. With my scent-eating skin, I usually fare better with edt/edp concentrations of most fragrances because they have more sillage. However, considering my love for vintage Chanel No. 5 parfum, I probably should hunt down a bottle of vintage 22 in that concentration.

          • Martha says:

            Got a question about scent-eating skin. So, an EDT or EDP is a better choice than parfum or extrait? I too have skin that seems to eat certain types of perfumes. Unfortunately one of them is Sycomore, which I love. Unsure if it’s the vetiver or what. It is a bummer because I enjoy following Sycomore through its phases. However, from start to finish, the scent lasts on for about 30 min.

          • Suzanne says:

            Martha, what I’ve found is that, even though the parfum concentration has a higher percentage of perfume oil to alcohol, most parfums wear very close to the skin and I actually get more waft or sillage from the larger boost of alcohol that is in the edt/edp. (Eau de parfum is my favorite concentration.) So, I probably should have phrased my earlier response to Ann better … it’s not really that the edp lasts longer on my scent-eating skin, but I notice the perfume far more when I wear the edp versus the parfum.

            I feel for you with Sycamore; I’ve not tried that one, but some of the Chanel Exclusifs are very fleeting for me (particularly Bel Respiro). Luckily, such is not the case with No. 22.

          • Martha says:

            Thanks for the clarification. It makes sense that you get more waft with the higher percentage of alcohol since it would evaporate faster than oil.

          • Ann says:

            Good to know, Suzanne! Those nuances can make all the difference on skin.

  • kelly cross says:

    I had a massage client who was wearing No.22 and all I could think of was lime punch.
    And not in a good way.