Tag Archives: Chanel Les Exclusifs

Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon: Missing That Je Ne Sais Quoi

 Image

31 Rue Cambon  is named after Chanel’s four storey building, purchased by Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel herself and which remains today, the site of Gabrielle’s apartment, and the main Paris branch of Chanel.

ImageImmediately, the stakes are high. Named after the Mothership? This better be good. And it is. But great? Not so much.

For one thing, I find this very subtle. My skin seems to swallow it up whole instantly. You may have more luck. Secondly, this strikes me as an odd sort of melange.  It’s definitely a chypre, and it has lovely woody notes, but then clean, citrussy bergamot shows up, along with my old nemesis, Miss Carrot herself- iris. I often have problems with iris, but not with her cousin violet. I find iris dry and cardboard like, with an earthy rooty scent. I don’t always dislike it, but I can often spot it very soon into a fragrance these days, like a fussy eater who can spot a pea in a Shepherd’s Pie (I do that too).

One very wise reviewer on Fragrantica says that Rue Cambon needs and lacks Oakmoss. I think he has a point. It is neither a chypre, nor woody, nor citrus, but somehow all three, without ending up as a green note scent. Frankly it baffled me, and didn’t stay around long enough for me to know it properly.

The jury’s out on Rue Cambon.  I must confess to not loving all of the Les Exclusifs range (I haven’t tried them all yet, to be fair). Whilst I would bite your arm off for a full bottle of Coromandel, I would feel far more “meh” about a full bottle of Rue Cambon. It’s not badly made,  of course, and I know it would smell wonderful on the right wrist or neck, but those wrists and neck do not belong me, regrettably.

In my beloved Wales there is a lovely Welshism which sums up Rue Cambon for me:

“And there it was, gone!”

apartmentchanel

Follow

Chanel No 22 : Smothered By A Bridal Veil

 Image

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.

Chanel Les Exclusifs Coromandel: Milky Bars and Old Stone

Image

I tried Coromandel reluctantly, having read that there were hints of White Chocolate in it. If anything is designed to put me off a scent it’s the smell of the kind of stuff I wipe off my hands all day (I have a three year old). I also read there were Patchouli notes and that it was an Oriental. Sounds good to me, I thought, apart from the choc. But I will always sniff an Oriental, with open arms and a flaring nostril.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was very taken with her Chinese lacquered screens, and in tribute to these, Coromandel was created in 2007. Indeed there is a definite mysterious Eastern vibe going on here, but still in the back of my mind was the nervous question “When will it smell of Milky Bar?”

At first spray, the Patchouli is strong and musty. Perfume gives me very visual impressions, often at random. The immediate visual that Coromandel gave me was of a bar in Krakow that I visited  around fifteen years ago. Until I smelt Coromdanel, I had completely forgotten about this bar. As you may know, Krakow is a very ancient town and this wine bar was no exception. It was accessed via a flight of stairs going down into the basement and the walls were solid ancient stone, like a castle dungeon. It gave off one of my favourite smells: old stone. I adore that musty smell that is both damp and dusty at the same time. I can safely say that Coromandel’s Patchouli is of the ancient musty old stone genre. And I love it.

There are floral notes too: Rose, of which there is a hint, Jasmine which I couldn’t find, and Orange Blossom which didn’t turn up.

The White Chocolate did turn up shortly afterwards with a “Sorry I’m late” and it was very polite and sat down quietly at the back. The milkiness calms the Patchouli down and makes it very addictive and soft. Staying power is tenacious. Bad luck if you don’t like it, because you’ll need an Eviction Notice and a Bailiff to get rid of this one. Longevity kind of compensates for price: £200 for 200ml.

Coromandel was created as part of the Chanel Les Exclusifs Range. They weren’t kidding either. You’ll buy hen’s teeth and unicorn droppings off Lord Lucan before you can get your mitts on this stuff. Do they care at Chanel? Not a jot. They’re just playing hard to get to make you want it more.

It worked.

Chanel Cuir de Russie: Add It To Your Stable

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Cuir de Russie is part of the Chanel range of exclusive (and elusive) fragrances; “Les Exclusifs“. Originally made in 1924, Cuir de Russie was audacious even then, as it was created to complement the then shocking trend of women smoking in public.

In 2007, it was relaunched as part of the Les Exclusifs range, and is available at Chanel Boutiques and selected  Chanel counters in larger stores, but not widely.  Chanel are not in it for the money. They know it’ll sell even if it’s hard to get hold of and costs £200 a bottle.

I have been wearing Cuir de Russie today and  throughout the day my opinion has been changing. When I first wore it, I thought it smelt vintage and also very similar to a Frederic Malle, with that same milky, stuffy base note that several of his perfumes have (according to me, at least). There is Iris in there, which maybe made me think of Malle’s Iris Poudre. (This is not a Good thing, I loathe Iris Poudre!).  However, my heart was won over by the whiff of Leather and one of my favourite incense notes: Myrrh . Myrrh not only  smells archaic and musty and beautiful, but is very hard to spell without a spell checker.

Disappointingly, Cuir de Russie does not have great staying power. I have had to reapply from my borrowed sample several times today (sorry Lisa!) to get the scent going. It’s worth it though, because after a while (and three sprays and a brisk walk), what I got was a new note that I have never smelt in a fragrance before: Horse.

Yes, this leathery beauty smells like Black Beauty. Or Champion the Wonder Horse. Or  Trigger. But I happen to love it.

If you find the £200 price tag eye watering (and who wouldn’t? ) you could always try donning  a Russian Cossack outfit, climbing on board a sweaty stallion,  and riding a leather saddle from the Urals to Moscow. Rub some Myrhh into your legs and then sniff. What have you got? Cuir de Russie.

The Animalic Horsey smell is rather sexy and sets this apart from other Leather classics. Horses smell good, so it is either a stroke of genius or a happy accident that this earthy smell of Hay and Horse has made it’s way into a Leathery Incense fragrance.  Fragrantica lists many notes that are contained in this fragrance, but I’m darned if I can smell Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange Blossom or Rose.

If you want to try Cuir de Russie and can’t get to one of the rare beauty counters that sell this, try looking for samples and decants on eBay or perfume forum sites such as Basenotes or Fragrantica.

It was shocking in 1934 and it’s shocking now. Horse notes?  Shocking.  Shocking but Great. With a capital “Gee Gee”.

Image