Chanel and I have fallen out recently. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well it’s simple, the venerable house has failed to live up to expectations of late with recent releases such as last year’s Coco Noir (a perfume so yawn-worthy I couldn’t even be bothered to review it) being well-made but painfully safe, proving that this once innovative house prefers to go for the big bucks rather than the big wow.
Still, we have the wonderful boutique-exclusive ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ line to rely on for our wows, right? Not always, 2011’s Jersey was a serious lavender miss-step that proved that there is such a thing as a granny perfume, and an angry one at that.
You may be thinking – “So what, Chanel always produces quality” – and you’d be right but lest we not forget that this is the house that broke ground with N°5 in 1921 with a perfume deliberately designed to smell manufactured and put-together like a piece of couture – with Chanel one not only expects quality but also innovation.
I am, of course a blip that probably isn’t on Chanel’s radar and it will surprise no-one that my dissatisfaction hasn’t stopped them with their schedule of releases (or releasing dreadful adverts staring Brad Pitt). Their first release for 2012 is part of Les Exclusifs de Chanel and has been named after and created to honour the year the brand’s high jewellery line debuted – 1932.
From the Chanel website:
“A constellation of diamonds – In 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel showered Paris with diamond stars and a high jewellery line was born. Jacques Polge chose to evoke this constellation-collection with a precious, white and oh-so feminine flower; jasmine. Worked petal by petal to make every facet shine, it gradually spirals into place, waits to reveal itself on the skin and finishes by divulging its sophisticated and voluptuous side.”
Aldehydes, Bergamot and Neroli, Jasmine, Rose, Lilac, Carnation and Ylang-Ylang, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Opoponax, Orris Root, Coumarin, Ambrette, Musk, Incense, Vanilla and Iralia
How Does it Smell?
As you would expect from a fragrance that is – a) made by Chanel and b) inspired by diamonds – 1932 positively shimmers as it flashes from the bottle on to the skin. Luminous white light from aldehydes and lemon-tinged citrus add vivacity with a touch of something dark and almost bitter as if to capture the cold, hard quality that makes diamonds so attractive.
1932 is billed by Chanel as a jasmine perfume and it is to an extent but a good portion of the floral contingent comes from iris. Here the iris gives the impression of a finely milled powder displaying both violet and root facets but in a relatively clean and smooth manner (Iris Silver Mist this is not). The bitterness of the opening carries through into the heart and is slightly reminiscent of the green buds and stems showcased (albeit in a much more direct way) in Mona di Orio’s Tubéreuse.
Vetiver makes a brief appearance towards the end of 1932’s development, it feels almost soapy amongst the musk in the base but a subtle dose of sandalwood and vanilla keeps this soapiness firmly in check, ensuring that the overall effect is a refined and smooth in line with the classic Chanel aesthetic that we all know and love.
To say that 1932 is very ‘Chanel’ is an understatement, in fact it very much feels like a case of ‘Chanel by numbers’ – there’s the signature crackle of aldehydes up top, followed by white flowers and powder in the heart before finishing on a smooth base of sandalwood and musk – and if it weren’t so pretty I’d be annoyed at how safe it is. But pretty it is and 1932 is easily the nicest thing the house has come up with in a while, still I won’t find myself rushing out to buy it but if you’re in the mood for a Chanel that neatly merges the classic with the contemporary then I would most recommend a sniff.
Is 1932 pretty enough to make me forgive Chanel for the likes of Coco Noir and Jersery? It almost, just almost is…
1932 is available in Chanel boutiques and select department stores in 200ml and 75ml Eau de Toilette.
Image 1 via perfumeshrine.com. Image 2 via kentonmagazine.com. Quotes via Chanel.com. Notes via Basenotes.