If last year’s Misia was anything to go by, perfumer Olivier Polge is definitely finding his feet at CHANEL, having taken over the position of perfumer-in-residence from his father, Jacques Polge, the man behind the likes of Antaeus, Coco, Coco Mademoiselle, Égoïste – need I go on? Big boots to fill, most certainly, but M. Polge Jnr certainly has a fair few hits under his own belt, scents such as Dior Homme, which, lets face it is already a modern classic, so perhaps those shoes aren’t quite so big after all?
For his second outing in CHANEL’s niche line, ‘Les Exclusifs’, Olivier Polge pays homage to Arthur Capel, Gabrielle Chanel’s patron and lover. ‘Boy’, as he was called, lends his name to the fragrance, which is a feminine take on the typically masculine fougère inspired by Chanel’s clothing, couture that borrowed heavily from the codes of menswear and tailoring. BOY the fragrance has been created to capture Capel’s “irresistible elegance” and “virile strength” and is a gender-bending scent that borrows from the olfactory codes of men and women. As CHANEL describe it, BOY is the “mark of a man on the skin of a woman”.
Lemon, Grapefruit, Lavender, Rose Geranium, Lemongrass, Rose, Orange Blossom, Sandalwood, Heliotropin, Coumarin, Vanilla and Cottony Musk Accord
How Does it Smell?
What I adore most about CHANEL fragrances is the fact that they always sparkle. BOY is no exception. The first spritz unleashes a glittering cloud of citrus, all sharp and mentholated with minty freshness. Lavender, that old faithful ingredient of the fougère accord appears quickly, presenting an undercurrent of candied flowers with a caramel-like warmth. The bracing quality of geranium, with its minty and earthy facets create an elegant air, evoking sharp suits worn on a crips winter morning. Imagine an exceptionally-tailored jacket, cut to perfection in the finest green tweed and you’re on the right track.
Rose is the link to the feminine here, blending seamlessly with its kissing-cousin, geranium to create a tense interplay between the alert masculinity of the latter and the dewy femininity of the former, whilst the lavender provides sweetness and warmth all the while. In the base, BOY is a soft and fuzzy ode to sandalwood and coumarin. At this stage BOY feels at its most ‘CHANEL’ evoking the endlessly smooth base of Nº5, albeit with a plusher and more vanilla-centric tone. From top to bottom, BOY braces with its ever-changing gender. It is fluid and seamless.
BOY is a really clever piece of work. It manages to take the familiar fougère and turn it on its head, crafting something that treads the line between masculine and feminine so carefully that the line blurs and becomes irrelevant. Despite this forward-thinking approach, BOY smells wonderfully retro, harking back to the great CHANEL fragrances of the past. It also treads another a delicate line, the barrier between the elegant and the casual, working as a scent that would go well with a bow tie or a jersey dress. BOY encourages one to mix things up a bit, with a fougère accord that is feminine for men and masculine for women. I like to pair it with ripped jeans, coral trainers and a fearless attitude, because why not? BOY is the perfect finishing touch, no matter what one wears.
BOY is available in 75ml (£130) and 200ml (£230) Eau de Toilette.
Sample, notes and quotes via Chanel. Images are my own.