Taking a (Bel) Respiro… in 1932

My darling Posse – before I tell you this story let me first say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one who reached out to me, both on my post and in other ways, re Monsieur’s passing.  It’s still a bit jarring, so I didn’t have it in me to respond to comments – but please know how much your caring words mean to me.  Thank you, again.

And, oddly enough, managing my unhappiness is the gateway to this post about Bel Respiro.  As I mentioned on his post, I wore Amouage Beloved, which was the perfect scent to help me get through that tough night.  But once worn, I didn’t want to continue to wear its melancholy beauty.

(and… as you probably also know, I’m not supposed to be wearing any perfume at all – but I know my body and I know that perfume is NOT the issue (whew!) – but let’s not shout that from the rooftops, okay?

So.  Bel Respiro.  The name is taken from Mme Chanel’s country house (I want a country house – oh, wait.  I have a country house.  Probably not like Mme’s, though.  Le sigh).  This elegantly green scent is, in my opinion, the epitome of Springtime – especially for a Woman (or Killer) of a Certain Age.  That is not faint praise, by the way – I don’t know of any other House that lauds the Adult Woman quite like Chanel – and I am here for it.  Though I cannot wear the clothes (I’m not drawn that way) I can – and do – wear the living daylights out of almost every fragrance.

Bel Respiro is my favorite for garden work, as it replicates so much of what I do at this time of year – the lush vegetation I’m ripping out by the handfuls, the burgeoning hyacinths, the cool greenness of Spring roses (way different from the smell of Summer flowers)…. if I weren’t doing all the backbreaking labor myself (chainsaw inluded) I could imagine myself wandering through the lush garden, clad in pearls, deadheading flowers.  Alas, since I’m hauling dead tree limbs to the woodpile I’ve left the pearls in the box.

1932, on the other hand, is Pearls All the Way.  I love this scent precisely because it has the slightly synthetic vibe of urban life (again, not faint praise – I loves me some concrete and commerce).   It has a classic Chanel ‘feel’ to it but it isn’t as challenging as many of the others from the House – and sometimes (especially at this changeable time of the year) that’s exactly what I want in a perfume – and if I wasn’t on my way to the allergist today I’d be awash in it – instead I’ll spritz it on a hankie and stash it in my handbag.  But I’ll be dressed as if I was in 1932, right down to the pearls.

not pearls… but close

Both have that ‘chilly’ quality that I love in perfumes from this vaunted House – after years of trying to be a Warmer Human I’ve finally embraced my vaguely imperious nature – and I’m finding I quite like it.  Unlike what the BVMs tried to beat into me in grammar and high school, being imperious/chilly doesn’t make me a bad person.  As a friend said “you are not a very NICE person – but you are a very GOOD person”.  That, to  me, is Chanel.

Your thoughts?  Do you wear either of these perfumes?

Btw – here’s an excellent review of 1932 from Bois de Jasmin.  Not the same experience as mine but I love what she has to say about it.


And one of my favorites from NST on Bel Respiro.

  • March says:

    I admire Bel Respiro and I think it’s beautifully done, but 1932 is much more “me;” I wouldn’t say no to a bottle. What a lovely post.

    • Musette says:

      I can see you in 1932! It’s my ‘out of the house/garden’ scent, though I could easily see myself in it, when I have my Porch Party.

      Which, of course, is dependent upon my having the damb porch.

      Le sigh.

      Btw – when I have that PP, I shall wear my pearls.

  • Koyel says:

    I don’t recall ever having seen your face before, Musette; how lovely to see it now 🙂

    If I ever become an Adult Woman, I hope to be a Chanel-style Adult Woman.

  • Maggiecat says:

    I love 1932 – it was the first and so far only perfume my husband bought for me – and now I want to revisit Bel Respiro. I love the feminine, graceful quality of Chanel scents. They are complex and somehow finished in a way that is unique to the house.

  • filomena813 says:

    I love Bel Respiro and always thought it didn’t get the love it deserved as lots of the other Chanels do.

  • Dina C. says:

    Love both of them! And Chanel is my favorite house. I might be a chilly person? I’m a mix of introvert and extrovert. To me Bel Respiro is a trumpet blast of green goodness. It’s galvanizing, and I used to wear my sample when doing housework. 1932, on the other hand, is all sunshine and jasmine to me. It would be great for a wedding, a party, or an happy occasion. I used up that sample too, very rapidly. The extrait formula is gorgeous.

  • alityke says:

    I know what you mean that Chanel fragrances are chilly, I prefer to say aloof. As you write with such feeling you aren’t aloof, your writing has such warmth.
    Onto Bel Respiro & 1932. BR should be my thing, cool green floral, but I found it underwhelming. 1932 I have a sample of somewhere from its initial release. I can’t remember what it smells like.
    I’m off Chanel at the moment after the treatment my future daughter in law, her mum & I received from their SA in Harvey Nics last week. What a mistake he made!

    • cinnamon says:

      Have you complained to HN or Chanel? They are supposed to provide customer service — that should mean you have a positive experience …

      • alityke says:

        I didn’t. He’ll get a second chance but this time I’ll be make up free & in jeans & a T. See what he makes of that! Further rudeness will be discussed directly with him & I’ll then go to CS in store

    • Musette says:

      What cinnamon said, below. I usually get excellent CS from Chanel, as they are all about the $$$ and don’t have any idea who’s got money and who doesn’t…

  • cinnamon says:

    We’ve doing a fair bit of Chanel here recently.

    Chanel is definitely not my house. I recall wishing 19 worked on me, and trying Bel Respiro along with Coromandel when the whole range came out — and they were both a no.

    And having said all this pearls are pretty much a no as well. Except my father, who had impeccable taste in jewellery for my mother, got her a set with drop earrings and a necklace with a big pearl set in a gold cage which I inherited when she died — which were stolen when the Brooklyn apartment was burgled back in the mid-1990s. I hope the jerk who did the burgling had a lot of trouble selling those and didn’t get a load of dosh for them. Just desserts.

    Hope allergist goes well!

    • Musette says:

      I did this post because of your recent Chanel musings!

      dagNABBIT! on the burgling. I know how that feels. I hope he had a fatal allergy to pearls and gold!

      Allergist cut me loose, which is a WIN!

  • Tom says:

    It’s funny how perceptions are. While I think that Chanel suits you right down to the ground I don’t think of the scents (or you) as chilly or off putting. Sophisticated, yes. In that particular way some French women have- that “I can dine with (and charm) a duchess but can also if need be de-bone a salmon, disassemble, repair, and rebuild the transmission on the DS, and convince the Duke that disarmament and divestiture is the only possible course for his government. All in the same evening.” And have time to whip up dessert. Seems very you.

    I’ve often found that men who find competent and confident women overwhelming are incompetent themselves. Personally if there’s something I’m not good at I’m thrilled if someone else, man, woman, or prefers not to say wants to jump in and take care of it. Even things I can do. Please, take care of that icky oil change; I’ll be at Starbucks getting you the beverage of your choice.

    And I think you’re perfectly nice.

  • Neva says:

    Hi Musette, good to see you in the picture above. You are a cool classy lady 🙂
    I am not a huge fan of Chanel but Bel Respiro and 1932 are exactly my kind of perfumes, whereby I like 1932 a bit more. Both are green and floral in a mature way. Besides 1957, they are my favourites from Chanel. I could never decide which one I like more so I still don’t own any of them.

  • Kathleen says:

    Chanel is my favorite perfume house, and I love and wear almost all of their perfumes. I just wore 1932 on the weekend, fresh and powdery at the same time with the gorgeous Chanel DNA and aldehydes. Bel Respiro is one that I don’t have a bottle of and it’s been a long time since I’ve smelled it. Sounds perfect to bring some joy to your garden work! I also re-visited Allure and Allure Sensuelle this weekend.

  • Maya says:

    I love vintage Chanel No5. I remember in my early teens spraying on some Chanel No5 and being surprised that it was cold. (I didn’t know about aldehydes.) By the time I got more interested in Chanel, they stopped people selling samples and I refuse to be forced to go to their stores or distributers and ask to try their perfumes and then be allowed to buy and give them my money. Nah. 😉

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    I gave Bel Respire a spritz very early on in the piece. At that time it failed to register and I never went back.
    Next time I’m in town it will get a second, more intense scrutiny.
    Enjoy the spring slog.
    Portia xx