Top Five: CHANEL

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Over the coming weeks I’m going to be sharing my top five fragrances from some of my favourite perfume brands in a series I’m creatively calling “Top Five”…

CHANEL – just the word evokes luxury, simplicity, and abstraction. When I think of CHANEL I think of quality – beauty presented without fuss or gimmick. The fragrances have a purity to them – a clarity that is instantly recognisable as CHANEL. Remember, this is a brand that is responsible for launching the most famous fragrance in the world, a bottle of which sells every 30 seconds. Perfume and CHANEL are linked together in the same way that couture and CHANEL are. They are symbiotic and I tell you what, they have some utter crackers in their collection.

Here’s my top five CHANEL fragrances.

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In my head I am supremely elegant – graceful, even. I am delicate, light-footed and possess great poise. The living embodiment of Hollywood glamour, one might say. In reality, I’m somewhat stocky, clumsy and pretty much a mess most days. Well unless I’m wearing 31 RUE CAMBON that is, because this stuff is literally sprayable glamour. I came to this fragrance late and when I first sniffed it I angrily shouted “WHY DID NONE OF YOU TELL ME ABOUT THIS SOONER?!” to those unfortunate enough to be in my immediate vicinity. 31 RUE CAMBON is that rare thing in these modern days: a proper chypre, and its one with an oriental twist. It smells like powder, fur and leather, all presented with softness, subtlety and warmth. It’s beautiful.

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I adore BEIGE (the Eau de Toilette) but I feel like it is somewhat misnamed. When I smell BEIGE, I don’t perceive a fragrance with a muted, neutral colour pallet, instead I smell a lush, creamy floral with a shimmering. I love BEIGE because it’s an abstract floral in the way that many CHANEL fragrances are, but without the fizziness of the brand’s signature aldehydes. BEIGE smells like purple tropical flowers, fresh pears and just a touch of iris powder. Luminous, enveloping and silky, BEIGE is ten times the floral GABRIELLE ever hoped to be. Let’s rename it ‘BLUSH’ by CHANEL.


3: BOY

I’m a versatile boy, at least I like to think I am anyway… I can go formal, I can go casual, I can be masculine, campy, whatever. So a multi-purpose fragrance suits my needs quite well. BOY is that fragrance for me. BOY is my go-to when I want something elegant and refined, but not overly formal. It’s the kind of scent that works equally well when paired with a suit and tie as it does a white t-shirt and jeans. For me, it was a bit of a slow burn, and the rosy, geranium-heavy fougère, which also boasts lavender and coumarin in abundance, didn’t quite click at first. After a few wears however, the androgynous, dual nature of this fragrance really resonated and it’s now a regular staple of mine, regardless of my mood, dress or occasion. I reckon they should rename it ‘CANDY PERFUME BOY’…

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2: Nº5 L’EAU

Nº5 L’EAU is my most worn CHANEL fragrance, which explains its high-ranking position in this top five. I see it as a very clever piece of work that does the impossible, or if not the impossible, the very difficult, which is to modernise an iconic signature for the 21st century. L’EAU replaces Nº5’s aldehydes with sparkling citrus, dilutes its florals and substitutes sandalwood for breezy, cottony musks. This is the crisp white shirt of the Nº5 family, which is a fitting analogy because it smells freshly laundered. Clever work indeed!

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1: Nº5

I know, I know, I picked the obvious one, I’m boring, blah, blah, blah. But come on, let’s be real, Nº5 is a great fragrance. It is the most iconic fragrance in the world and represents so beautifully, the olfactory DNA of CHANEL. I have it in every available concentration (of which there are currently five) and find great comfort in its aldehydic crackle, soapy flowers and creamy, woody base. The PARFUM is hard to beat but my go-to Nº5 is the EAU DE PARFUM, just because it’s all shoulder pads and hair spray, which is pretty much my aesthetic. Nº5 is Nº1 and long may she reign!

Join the Discussion!

Which CHANEL fragrances are in your top five?

Let me know in the comments below!


Images are my own.