The Spirit of Chanel – Les Exclusifs de Chanel N°22 Eau de Toilette Perfume Review

The Spirit of Chanel

The Spirit of Chanel

Never underestimate the power of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Having tried Chanel’ N°22 many times along my perfumista escapades I had never really found the love for it that I, and others thought I would. I mean it is a big aldehydic floral, and I’m sort-of into that kind of thing (OK, I love that kind of thing), but no N°22 never seemed to grab me, that was until an ever-persevering Birgit slipped a sample (and a number of hints, in an entirely non-pushy way I should add*) my way.

Now I will just put it out there that I have learned to love N°22, to me it epitomises the spirit of Chanel. It’s classy and elegant, but just that little bit rebellious. But whilst I enjoy it, I’m just not sure I’ll ever be running out to buy a bottle, my feelings very much lay in the ‘oh wow this is great but I don’t think I need it’ camp. That said, I am still definitely making my mind up about it and if there is one thing I have learned being a fumeophile it is that one should ‘never say never’!

N°22 was originally released in 1922, created by Chanel in-house perfumer Ernest Beaux (he of N°5 fame) it was intended as a lighter version of N°5. Chanel describes N°22 as “a skin scent […] full of grace […] (that) also bears the imprint of their (Chanel & Beaux’s) audacity.” N°22 now sits within the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line and I would probably rate it as my favourite Les Exclusif offering so far.

N°22

N°22 – The Queen of Aldehydic Florals

The Notes

Top: Aldehydes
Heart: Jasmine, Tuberose, Ylang-Ylang and Rose
Base: Vetiver, Vanilla and Incense

How Does it Smell?

Seeing as N°22 takes inspiration from N°5 you won’t be surprised to learn that it starts with a huge explosion of aldehydes. Imagine the moment a bottle of champagne is popped open, that initial release of pressure and burst of shimmer & sparkle, and you’re on the right track.

The aldehydes in the top notes are icy-cool and slightly, ever-so slightly camphorous. They take the overdose of aldehydes in N°5 to the next level, meaning that N°22 can be considered as the ‘quick book yourself into rehab before it’s too late’ kind of aldehyde overdose. This is the 5th November/4th July firework display, not the hand held sparkler. To put it another way, N°22 is the queen of aldehydes.

As the aldehydes subside to a soft twinkle, they make way for a beautiful blend of sweet florals. In the spirit of early Chanel creations the florals remain almost entirely abstract, giving the impression of a floral bouquet rather than individual notes. That said, a rubbery tuberose is quite easy to pick out at times and when pushed I can sniff out the faintest hint of dewy rose.

Underneath the abstract bouquet of flowers is an underlying vein of cool, aloof incense. I find the incense interesting because it is instantly recognisable yet completely alien in a way. It stops N°22 from becoming just another floral and puts it up there with N°5 in terms of being an concept piece, a composition that cannot really be linked back to nature.

The warmth of the dry down is a stark contrast to the icy-cool opening. It manages to showcase a number of strong textures and it is powdery and creamy all at once. It feels like beautiful suede or the softest velvet. What’s also really surprising is that, after all of the initial fan fair N°22 really softens and becomes the skin scent that Chanel promises. It wears like a couture Chanel silk.

N°22 is a beautiful perfume, the problem is that I was expecting a little more from it. Perhaps it’s a bit too close to N°5 to be considered special, it is alternative take on the N°5 theme after all, and those are some big shoes to fill. If I was pressed to choose between the two I think I’d probably go for N°5 because it has the richness that N°22 lacks, but I would recommend it for those who are looking for an alternative, slightly more floral N°5.

Which number would you go for?

Availability

N°22 is available in 75ml &100ml Eau de Toilette and 15ml Parfum. It is part of Les Exclusifs Chanel line and prices range from £100-£180.

Disclaimer

Notes vía basenotes.net. Image 1 reneeashleybaker.wordpress.com. Image 2 chanel.com. Quotes via chanel.com. * updated.

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38 thoughts on “The Spirit of Chanel – Les Exclusifs de Chanel N°22 Eau de Toilette Perfume Review

  1. Well surprise surprise, I actually prefer No22 :) … But then I pretty much detest No5.
    The most overhyped & undeserved fume on the market IMO. … The vintage parfum is waaay better, BUT still nothing special in my eyes. (nose !?) – It’s the one scent I detest smelling on a woman. It’s just obnoxious with no redeeming charm IMO. … (Give me Bois des Iles or Coromandel any day rather !)

      • Yes it was, back THEN – it also smelled very different (& much better if my 50’s vintage parfum [*read still not original juice*] is anything to go by) from what you smell now. And yes I agree that it was indeed innovative and groundbreaking – I can appreciate all that – I just don’t think it smells particularly attractive basically. Just way overrated scent-wise. THE most overrated !

  2. Now I seem a bit pushy… :(
    I prefer N°5 and N°22 alternately, there is a right time and place for both of them. They are very similar in the beginning, but the incense is surprising every time and it is a lovely surprise.
    The Exclusifs just don’t seem to be your line, despite my best persuasive efforts. (Well, that leaves more money for Guerlains. ;) )

  3. I thought it was ok but then I am not a fan of no 5 so I was never going to make a song and dance about it. Give me Bois des Iles or Cuir de Russie any day, my favourites from the exclusifs range.

  4. Perfect review sir! I’m starting to suspect that we own the same perfume sets in our homes. Right after the Amouage Interlude duet (note, the review of Interlude Woman just appeared on my blog!) I wanted to write one article about aromatic chemistry andf them follow with a Les Exclusifs de Chanel reviews mixed with other articles.
    Funny!

    I had the exact same thoughts while wearing No 22. That burst of green aldehydes and then the cold flower phase and some creamy vanilla to enjoy few hours later.

    Were I to chose I would rather take No 22 than No 5, but If I could buy any of Les Exclusifs I would go either for Bois Des Iles, 28 La Pausa or 31 Rue Cambon I think.

  5. I used to wear No 22 back in the day when I could get it at the mall before it became Les Exclusifs. For years I thought they had just discontinued it. I was shocked to find out at the start of my Internet perfume journeys that it was still out there it’s just Chanel decided to exclude me from access to it in a way. One of these days I’ll get a sample to see if it smells like I remember. I read in Perfumes The Guide that there are some similarities between No 22 and Lady Stetson but I’ve never sniffed them side by side to know for sure.

    I liked 22 better than 5 back then but now I own some No 5 and can say that I do finally get it. I don’t think it’s the best thing in the world, but I do like it and understand it more now that my nose has matured a bit.

    • How rude of them to deny you your N°22! :P

      It’s good that you have learned to appreciate N°5. Like you I didn’t think much of it at first but it really is very beautiful. It also varies wildly between concentrations. I have the EDP because I went through an 80s phase, but really the EDT and Parfum are the way to go.

  6. I think you’d probably prefer the Parfum and of course the vintage is supposed to be far superior (isn’t it always? Sigh). It is certainly is the most “you” of the Chanels, but maybe the line is just too tame for a Mugler lovin’ fume fan.

    I’m not a No.5 fan – never got to know the parfum though – and No. 22 is just too soapy, so neither are for me. I have FBs of Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie and 31RC.

    • Damn those elusive vintage perfumes!!

      I agree, it is definitely the most “me” of the Chanels, and I think that’s why people have encouraged me to try it and spend more time with. I’m glad they did. I’m still making my mind up about it, perhaps it is too tame, or perhaps I should have tried it before N°5, maybe it would have been LOVE then. Who knows!

      Wow – you are the Queen of Les Exclusifs de Chanel with those three whopping great big bottles!

  7. Chanel No. 22 is one of my holy grail perfumes. It’s progression on my skin, from the wildly effervescent burst of champagne-bubble aldehydes to the joyous bouquet of white florals to the quiet and almost sacred drydown with its ethereal incencse … oh, this kind of unfolding is something quite beautiful and exquisite to behold, for me. And I don’t have the vintage No. 22, just the exclusif, but I love it … and it’s rich and lasting on my skin, not thin at all.

    (I do have vintage Chanel No. 5 extrait and love that as well. I guess I’m a Chanel gal all around. Can’t get enough of Coco, Coromandel, Bel Respiro, and 31 Rue Cambon either.)

    At any rate, though Chanel No. 22 isn’t total love for you, I thought you did a splendid job of describing her beauty!

  8. No. 22 is the ONLY Chanel that I like, and I am seriously contemplating a full bottle purchase. None of the others do anything for me, but during a recent test of 22 I couldn’t stop smelling myself.

  9. I cannot wear (yet?) No.5 but in my testing I remember liking No.22. I plan to test it more but I rather like it than not.
    I want to thank you though… No, not for the review (though it’s a good one, I agree with everybody above) but for the information about the parfum: only today I realized (thanks to your review!) that parfums from the Les Exclusifs collection come not in .25oz as my beloved No.19 but in .5oz – which makes them cheaper than the abovementioned No.19 parfum! I should definitely look closer into buying one of my favorites – Cuir de Russie or Bois des Iles.

  10. I’m very late to the game, but I had to weigh in on this – I far prefer the floral incense skin scent of No. 22 to No. 5! It’s a masterpiece of perfumery, in my opinion. :)

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