Chanel No 22 : Smothered By A Bridal Veil


My immediate and accusatory reaction on smelling Chanel no 22 was “Pierre Bourdon– is this your doing?” but on this occasion, my perfume Nemesis Bourdon was Not Guilty.  This is in fact the work of Errnest Beaux, and was created in 1922. It has since been relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs line, but I am reviewing the pre relaunch version.

This is feminine, soft and pure. It’s how I imagine the colour white would smell. It has Lily and Neroli and is very heavy on the Iris. There is a metallic note in the opening too, which made me think of silver.  It has sweetness too, but the sweetness of a blooming bouquet of White Flowers into which you have fallen nose first on a hot stifling day and cannot escape from. It is, in my opinion, a little de trop. However, it has more fans than I do, so I must gracefully concede and bow to the genius of Monsiuer Beaux.

The truth is, (whisper if you dare), that I cannot bear this stuff and had to wash it off. The reason for this is something I alluded to in my introduction above. This smells way too much like my much loathed Iris Poudre by, yes you’ve guessed it, Pierre Bourdon. Now although he didn’t create Chanel no 22, it is impossible for me to believe that he had never smelled it before he rolled his sleeves up in the lab and got creative. The heavy Iris, the Musk base, the stifling sweetness- to me this equals Iris Poudre.  It is clear to me that I must one day review  Pierre Bourdon for Frederic Malle Iris Poudre (to give it its full title)   since it keeps recurring through my reviews like a baddie in a Pantomime. Watch this space.

So Chanel No 22, you’re pretty and nice, but you make me want to breathe real Oxygen and open a window.

16 thoughts on “Chanel No 22 : Smothered By A Bridal Veil”

  1. Hee hee! It’s a big one, isn’t it? You see what I mean about it reminding me of Elizabeth Taylor? All boobs and coiffure and feminine sexuality.
    I love it on very cold days, wafting out of my cleavage.
    For me it’s the scent of snowfields. Freezing weather with flakes in the air, when the silvery metallicness of it matches the cold air, and the blast of aldehydes up front is so luminous and uplifting that it reflects how I feel about snow.

    It’s a stonker though. I can only wear it a few times a year.

    1. yes, I agree, it is frosty and silvery, but I find it quite a cold scent. It is very Liz Taylor, all feminine and white rabbit fur coats and silvery hard diamonds.
      With a hint of vodka.

  2. Dear Iscent
    Really? Such a strong and strongly averse reaction.
    Now I must seek out No 22 again, for I remember it as an powerfully aldehydic but amiable enough old thing…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      Thank you as ever for your kind interest and comments. I’m afraid this cold scent left me cold. Pierre Bourdon has ruined it for me. I am sure this was a big influence in his later work. That man has a lot to answer for. Do you have a Nose that leaves you cold?

      Your friend

  3. Hah! Do you hate all iris scents or just Iris Poudre and those that remind you of it? What about Carner Barcelona D600 or PdE Eqestrius? Scrubbers are fun to read about 🙂

    1. Hello lorraine and welcome! Thank you for your kind interest. I agree that scrubbers are amusing to read about. Sometimes the sheer levels of disdain and disgust for a scent can leave me hugely entertained!

      As far as Iris goes, I think it’s the smothery-ness of Iris Poudre. I find it very suffocating. However my friend suggested I sample the lovely Apres L’Ondee (in which I like the Iris) followed immediately by L’Eau D’Hiver. When I did this, I found that the Iris in Eau D’Hiver is thrown into a more defined relief and was utterly beautiful. So I guess it’s just P.Bourdon I need to blame and not the lovely Iris flower.

  4. Hello IScent,

    I have just landed here from the wonderful Mr. Dandy’s blog. I look forward to reading and what I have seen so far is wonderful.

    I imagine Elizabeth Taylor in a hooded white rabbit coat drinking a dirty vodka martini, he he…


  5. Oh no! I love nr 22, its one of my favorite incense scents. Estee Lauder’s White Linen smells similar, but the latter is headache inducing.

    1. Hello Brie and thank you for dropping by.
      Tell me, is the Exclusifs version so different? What do you prefer about the old one? I have only smelled the Exclusifs one myself. I bow to your greater knowledge.

  6. Several years ago I had the opportunity try No. 22 at the perfume counter. After the spritz, my first impressions were not of top notes, middle notes, and base notes, but of the scenario that someone left their used underwear out in the damp woods to try and dry. Somewhere someone must have the right chemistry to wear this one from Chanel.

    1. Hi Kyle and welcome!

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t love this. It was very metallic and kind of set my teeth on edge. As for the underwear note- I get that a lot, much to my friend’s amusement! Ivoire de Balmain smelled like unwashed underwear and it turns out to be her mother’s favourite for church! Naturally, it smells different on her Mum.

      1. Thanks for the welcome! I love your site. I have been wondering about Ivoire, and now I know. I just wish I could move past my love for the original formulations of so many scents, for example, Je Reviens and Madame Rochas. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the five worst re-formulations in perfume history. I keep reading about the reformulation of this scent and that scent, and it really has an impact on those who cherished the original formulations. Scent = memories, and you just can’t mess with people’s memories. I heard that a German company bought Worth fragrances, and claim that the reformulation of Je Reviens Couture is very close to the original, except that it isn’t. Ugh.

      2. Hi Kyle,

        Thank you so much for your very kind words. it can be a lonely job blogging away at a screen so it’s nice to get feedback.

        I’m not great with formulations as I don’t have many vintage samples, so I can only go by what I know. I am a self styled passionate amateur! It’s very sad about Je Reviens. I was sure I would love it, but I doubt I would even use it as air freshener.

  7. Laughing hysterically as I read this one! 22 was also in my rotation mid teens to mid twenties….back then it came in a white plastic rectangular shaped container outlined in gold with the Chanel motif on the top of the cap.(and, by the way, no 5 was sold in black and no 19 was sold in silver) It was a department store purchase that was ridiculously affordable ( I believe something like 37 USD). And the beauty of it was you could replace the glass bottle inside with a refill that was even cheaper…what I remember was soft billowy, powdery incense on my skin…I wonder if the Exclusive version has been reformulated? I began to boycott Chanel when everything became Exclusive and had to be bought in those ridiculously large bottles or parfume extrait (way too expensive). For now I sniff my empty white plastic container and think of days gone by….

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