Last week a gal who sits near me at work came back to my desk and said, giggling, “Jane’s perfume smells like an old lady.” (Jane = not her real name.) I set off immediately to investigate. I like Jane a lot. She shares our office suite but works for a different company; she’s stylish, successful, generous with her time and keto snacks, and funny as heck in a sly, measured way. If Jane had an old-lady perfume on, I had to find out what it was.
Jane did not smell like an old lady (whatever that means). Jane smelled spring-like – maybe a little green and a little floral, but also very sophisticated. I couldn’t begin to guess what her fragrance was, so I asked, and (Jane being Jane) she not only told me, she gave me a spare atomizer so I could test-drive it myself. The mystery scent? Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte.
The original Cristalle is a 1974 EDT by the renowned Henri Robert, a floral-chypre with a galbanum kick and a cool, understated elegance. It was the fragrance of my best friend in high school, and while it smelled amazing on her, it never seemed right on me. I tried again in the mid-nineties with the Jacques Polge EDP, which is sweeter and warmer, but still, no dice. The pre-Exclusif Chanel classics are fragrances that I admire very much, rather than desire for myself.
Cristalle Eau Verte dates to 2009, and is an even bigger step away from its namesake – really, other than the name and the bottle, there’s not much similarity to either version of Cristalle. Gone is the mossy base, and in its place is a lighter, almost effervescent citrus-y scent. Here’s their online blurbage: “master perfumer Jacques Polge re-imagines the beloved classic in a lighter, fresher version, to reveal a sheer and luminous heart. Magnolia notes are rendered transparent with fresh citrus and neroli accents, for a modern expression of a timeless floral bouquet.” I’m a sucker for magnolia, which is abundant here, and the whole thing has that Chanel abstract elegance that (again) I’ve always admired but never seemed quite right on me. Until now. I promptly bought a bottle, my first full bottle purchase in some time. The biggest knock I find in online reviews is that it doesn’t last, but I get a solid day out of it, so who knows? As my sense of smell returns in fits and starts, part of the thrill is that I can smell it at all.
Finally, another piece of good news – browsing the Guerlain counter I was thrilled to see a repackaged Encens Mythique, which means I’ll be able to buy another bottle and not worry about getting my hands on a third (!) backup of the original. This bottle’s actually prettier, in my opinion. I gave it a sniff and it still smells fantastic, so if you haven’t tried it, you are missing out – rose, saffron, woods and incense coming together in a scent that hovers, delicate and atmospheric, around me and which garners me compliments almost every time I wear it.
Have you “discovered” a scent that’s been around for ages and wondered, how did I miss this? And are you as forward as I am about asking people (including total strangers) what they’re wearing?