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It’s that time of year again: Christmas, also known as the most wonderful time of year, in fact, and it’s the time to get that Christmas shopping underway. Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!

For the sake of today’s post I am pretending that the interlocking Cs in the CHANEL logo stand for ‘Christmas Crush’ because the very first of my Christmas gift posts is dedicated to none other than the famous french couturier. This Christmas CHANEL are promising us glitter and gifting extravaganza with two fragrance products that celebrate the beauty of their most iconic scent, in both its classic and modern interpretations. They are a practical and streamlined Twist & Spray for Nº5 L’Eau and a rather decadent, nay, shall we say excessive, gold, glittering body gel for Nº5. That’s right, folks, I’m kicking these Christmas Crush posts off with a big, shimmering, CHANEL bang.

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We often talk about ‘notes’ or materials in fragrances and how they come together to create a multi-faceted composition. But these materials are incredibly nuanced themselves and each one brings not one, not two, but a multitude of different things to fragrance, meaning that there is always a lot to learn when one goes back to the source materials. I always think that the best way to understand a perfume material is to break it down into facets and that’s exactly what these olfactory deconstruction pieces are for – to dissect each material into little parts so we can really understand what makes it tick, and what makes it smell so good.

Perfume is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each fragrance is made up of specifically shaped pieces that lock together. Perfumers match up the pieces, locking them together facet-to-facet, tessellating each nuance to either enhance or contrast them, or in some cases, create something entirely new. The great thing is that, unlike jigsaw puzzles, where there is one way of piecing things together, perfumery is open-ended and the perfumer can tie things together in whichever way they see fit. This means that the picture at the end can be whatever they dream up. There are endless possibilities and to me, that’s pretty damn exciting.

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I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.

I’m pretty much obsessed with CHANEL body products. Their Bleu de Chanel shaving products are some of the best I’ve used and I fell massively hard for their Nº5 Body Oil, like really hard. So when CHANEL launch a scented something for the body I want it on my body, and I want it on my body right now. This is exactly how I felt when the press release for the brand’s exciting new hand cream ‘La Crème Main‘ landed in my inbox – I needed to have it. So now I have it and I want to share with you just why it’s my latest Candy Crush.

Vlog Time!
Vlog Time!

So I’ve been a bit naff with posting regular vlogs…

I had originally intended to post a new vlog every week but I fear that this may have been a tad optimistic (what with this blog, Fume Chat podcast, Escentual columns and full-time job etc.). Instead of every week I’ve decided to commit to posting seasonal round-ups (like my ‘Six Scents for Summer‘) and reviews of big launches – i.e. the launches I think you want to know about.

With big launches in mind, my latest vlog is a review of Gabrielle by CHANEL. I wrote a full review of the scent at the beginning of the week (read that here) so it makes sense to end the week with the vlog. So if you want to hear me talk about Gabrielle a bit more then all you have to do is watch the video below the jump. Please feel free to leave a comment – oh and don’t forget to subscribe.

Smell ya later!

The Long-Awaited Gabrielle
The Long-Awaited Gabrielle

Here she is, finally!

Gabrielle is the first feminine pillar fragrance from CHANEL since Chance in 2002. That’s a 15 year gap, which is somewhat unprecedented in an industry that is all about churn, churn, and more churn. But thankfully, CHANEL is a house that takes their time when it comes to fragrance. Of course, since 2002 CHANEL has launched fragrances, releasing a number of flankers of their existing perfumes, not to mention the launch of their Les Exclusifs collection as well. So Gabrielle isn’t the first new fragrance from CHANEL in 15 years, but it is the first entirely new pillar for women.

You may have guessed from the name, that Gabrielle takes inspiration from the brand’s founder Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. At CHANEL all roads lead back to Coco and a number of their fragrances have historically born the name of the founder (Coco, Coco Mademoiselle and Coco Noir), whilst others are named for dates that were important to her (Nº19 and Nº22), so Gabrielle is very much in this same vein. But for Gabrielle it is the rebellious and passionate spirit of Gabrielle Chanel that is celebrated, not just her name.

“I have chosen the person I want to be and am” said Gabrielle Chanel and Gabrielle the perfume, which has been composed by the brand’s in-house perfumer Olivier Polge, is described as being as “majestic, courageous, valiant, bold and passionately feminine” as Chanel herself. The fragrance is a floral, a “dream flower, an explosive corolla, a whirlwind of petals”, created to encapsulate the spirit of the founder. So how does this new addition to the CHANEL collection measure up to the brand’s other classics and was it worth the 15 year wait? There’s only one way to find out – let’s sniff!

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The New Green

Much like fashion, the trends of perfumery are cicular and what is in favour now, is likely to be garbage tomorrow. This is the nature of trends – we overdose on the good stuff for a period of time until we get sick of it and something else comes along, and perfume is no different. Just look at the 1980s, when syrupy atom bomb florals existed to; a) be so distinct that one knew what they were smelling a mile away; and b) to terrify the masses. Of course, those scents are as on trend today as leg warmers and zoot suits are, which is to say that they’re not. Heck, one can even look at the ’90s, with its sterile repentance of calone and white musk and see how those things too, are no longer ‘in’. It all comes in to fashion, goes out and then comes back in again in a never ending cycle.

Of course, some trends stick about and the lucky ones take their place in the hall of fame as an entirely brand new genre that constantly develops without falling out of favour. Oud is one such trend – a style that has stuck around for so long now, and in so many guises, that it’s arguably the newest olfactory family. A perfumery trend that has not stood the test of time however, is green. Green was massive in the ’70s and ’80s but fell quickly out of favour. Why? Well, these perfumes have a tendency to be harsh and bossy, rubbing people up the wrong way with sharp edges. Also, as lovely as plants and grasses are, who really wants to smell like them? Exactly. But, as we’ve established, all trends make a comeback and right now we’re seeing a verdant renaissance of green scents both in mainstream and niche perfumery: the new green.

Personally, green has always been the toughest of fragrance families to get on with. There’s just something so standoffish about green scents – something so impersonal and too redolent of nature that puts me off. I admire abstraction in my scents and too often, green fragrances are either too rooted in nature or are simply too harsh. But I’m an evolved perfume sniffer, I can appreciate beauty even in those places where I feel as if I’m likely not to find it. So I’ve put together a list of six green fragrances that actually tickle my fancy. These scents also represent the modern revival of green, which all kicked off with Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled in 2010. So, Dear Reader, you won’t find your CHANEL Nº19 here nor your Vent Vert, but you will discover six modern green fragrances that will completely destroy that old idiom that says it’s not that easy being green. In fact, for these six scents, to be such a thing is really rather marvellous.

Dear Bleu
Dear Bleu

Dear Bleu,

May I call you ‘Bleu’?

We don’t know each other that well, you and I, but I wish to make amends. Hopefully by the end of this letter we will become better acquainted.

I know this may come out of the blue to you, Bleu, but I am an insufferable snob. I guess I just don’t want to smell like all the other guys, because I’m not like all of the other guys, which has left you in a position of being overlooked, unfairly.

You tell men that they should ‘be extraordinary’, but on the surface I felt that there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about you, in fact ‘ordinary’ would have summed up my feelings about you. I don’t mean to be harsh or cutting, you understand, but my apology would not be meaningful if I didn’t explain, in full, how we got here.