Chanel Gabrielle: A Tribute to the Modern Woman

From Harpers Bazaar Singapore

Chanel Gabrielle is a major launch for Chanel, being its first mainstream non flanker launch for fifteen years (I’m not including Les Exclusifs in this).

It’s always hard when a brand as big as this tries to please the new crowd and the old crowd at the same time. Guerlain Mon Guerlain had a mixed response for example, with the youngsters liking the gourmand notes and the old crowd wearing a lot of black and looking mulish.  Brands have it tough. They need new fans going forward but they have to keep the old guard on board too.  An impossible task, I’d say, so I’m going to be gentle about this.

Watching the uplifting Gabrielle TV and cinema ad made me want to totally buy into this.  Kristen Stewart is an unusual choice, but I can see why they picked her. Despite having been almost indelibly stamped with the Twilight franchise, she now bangs her own drum, cropping her hair short, taking the roles she feels like taking and eschewing the Hollywood clamour for glamour.  In other words, she ignores what’s expected of her, just the same as Gabrielle Coco Chanel did. Let’s face it, successful businesswomen were hard to find in the 1930s, but that didn’t stop Chanel. Nothing did.  #girlboss

So let’s talk about how Gabrielle smells.

The suggestion is that this is a golden scent, but I found it more of a white fragrance. The citrus notes it opens with seem to add little zaps of sharpness and freshness. I absolutely agree with descriptions that say that it sparkles when it first goes onto your skin. It seems to pop joyously like prosecco bubbles. It has a feel-good factor for sure.

photo from Fragrantica

In the main though, Gabrielle is all about the big white flowers. There’s tuberose, orange flower, jasmine and ylang.  What struck me though, was how pristine and proper this smells. It made me think of formal flower arrangements in hotels. It made me think of pure white soap and clean laundry.  It made me think of clean linen, ironed to a knife edge and stored with care in a sparkling clean house.  I can’t explain to you why I thought of soap and cleanliness and posh bouquets.  Maybe it’s because this lacks any gourmand touches or vanilla notes, giving it a traditional feel. Maybe because the absence of patchouli lets the flowers be themselves without segueing into anything else (Coco Mademoiselle, anyone?)

I’m going to stop the description there because  on my skin, the flowers  were the beginning, middle and end.  After that, everyone went home.  It was beautiful, but like all the best divas, it left me crying for more and quit whilst it was ahead.

So you can imagine that my main, and only, complaint about Gabrielle is that it didn’t stick around for me to get to know it better. I had to sniff very hard, right up against my skin, to get even the faintest whiff after an hour. This is the Eau de Parfum, so I was hoping for more. You may have different results.

My verdict? If those flowers can stick around I’m all over it. Chanel Cristalle and I were together for twenty years, but I don’t see a future for Gabrielle and me unless she can sort out her commitment issues.


You can buy Chanel Gabrielle from Boots or The Fragrance Shop to name but two. It is, or will be, widely available around the world.


9 thoughts on “Chanel Gabrielle: A Tribute to the Modern Woman”

    1. Ha! ha! My friendly Welsh diplomacy! What a lovely thing to say. I can see that you’ve never witnessed me trying to get kids out of the door in the morning. More like angry Welsh fire breathing dragon!

      As for Gabrielle, more like a Givenchy Dahlia Divin flanker really. I expected better longevity. xx

      1. I am laughing so much at your frankness Neil! How refreshing that in a world where precious wording is so commonplace, you still have the guts to come out and say a scent is pile of shit! I love i. The pomposity bubble has been pricked with a pin of truth. xxx

  1. I avoided all the Gabrielle Chanel reviews for the past month. So yours is the first I am reading. I don’t think this fragrance warrants all the negative reviews it has received. Yip, it’s not a classic, but it’s a good contemporary scent, albeit not the most original or exciting. It lasts a bit longer on my skin than it does on yours. Thanks for the balanced review.

  2. “…wearing a lot of black and looking mulish” That line made me snort out loud!! SO true. and yay for diplomacy! Gabrielle is not as you said, groundbreaking or earth-shattering in any way, but it’s fine and that’s fine with me. Hopefully it will help herd some of the young’uns towards other more complicated (read sophisticated) Chanels, and that may well be the point. A fragrant “lost leader” if you will!

    1. Thank you so much Robert. I love that my prose enteratined you. You have a point- if this gets the new crowd in, they might look around whilst they’re in there and fall into the chypre portal and land at the feet of Chanel No 19. We can dream, right? xx

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