We’re just over a week into 2021 and we already have the first big perfume launch of the year, which means this is my first perfume review of the year (exciting!) and it’s for a brand new CHANEL fragrance (very exciting!!) – a CHANEL Exclusif, no less (ARGH SO EXCITING!!!). This CHANEL fanboy is very please to be kicking off the year with something so wonderful – so, let’s take a few moments away from the world and enjoy a spot of scented beauty.

The latest addition to Les Exclusifs is Le Lion and it’s a long-awaited one, having launched in some territories almost one year ago! But now it’s here! As with all of the Exclusifs, Le Lion takes inspiration from the house itself, and this time the lion, the fifth sign of the zodiac and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s astrological sign, is the theme. In the 1920s, Coco fell in love with the city of Venice, being inspired by its art and culture, and like Chanel herself, the city existed under the guardian sign of the lion. The lion became an emblem for Chanel, both in her personal spaces (her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon was filled with lions crafted from marble, bronze and wood), but also in her clothing, with the symbol engraved on the buttons of tweed suits or the clasps of bags. The lion is a symbol of Chanel’s tenacity and endurance and this is the theme that the fragrance explores.

Le Lion the perfume, seeks to capture this tenacious personality but also the rich and exotic spirit of Venice, the city of the lion that Coco loved. CHANEL perfumer Olivier Polge was intrigued by the emblem of the lion rather than the animal itself, crafting a warm amber fragrance (I’m not using the “O” word, this is my replacement) with a “solar aura” and a “gentle strength”. Le Lion stands out as a uniquely intense and warm fragrance within Les Exclusifs, which tend to lean light, ethereal, abstract, and it is quite surprising in its richness. The big question though, is whether it was worth the wait? Well, read on and you shall see!

The success of Coco Mademoiselle took CHANEL by surprise when it launched in 2001. Created to rejuvenate the ageing Coco, which had launched 17 years prior but aged double in that time, Coco Mademoiselle’s purpose was to keep the Coco name on the shelves, which it more than did. In reality, Coco Mademoiselle’s popularity isn’t that surprising, after all, it plays a familiar tune (fruity patchouli a la ANGEL) and does it well, all whilst bearing the name “CHANEL” on its bottle. That’s pretty much a recipe for success, if you ask me.

Coco Mademoiselle presented a chic, yet bombastic, blend of sticky citrus (orange, bergamot, mandarin), sweet rose and contrasting patchouli. It riffed on ANGEL, of course, but pushed everything in a more luxurious, less challenging direction becoming a fruitchouli for the masses. I cannot deny that it’s a great fragrance, it’s just one that I’ve never personally gelled with, but then again, as a 33 year old, bespectacled and slightly stocky gay man (OK really stocky), I’m hardly the target market (“Mademoiselle” I am not).

So since 2001 we’ve had Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Toilette (2002) and the Eau de Parfum Intense (2018) (which I liked more than the original). Now we have Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privée, a lighter, more sheer fragrance that is meant to be worn at night time. The mood is very much satin sheets and silk lingerie in a blush shade of pink. Perfect for spritzing on when you’re wearing your flannel PJs and bunny slippers from Primark, I say. Let’s sniff.

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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 wear Nº5 L’Eau a lot. It’s easily one of my favourite CHANEL fragrances and it gets a huge amount of skin time in comparison to many other things in my vast collection. What I like about L’Eau is how it captures the spirit of Nº5 but has enough of its own character to be its own entity entirely. Nº5 L’Eau is fresh, sparkling, crystalline, luminous, lovely *insert lightweight, gleaming adjectives here* and next to BOY, it is my most worn CHANEL. So, it’s no surprise that I’m crushing on these new Nº5 L’Eau body products now, is it? Nope.

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I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day and the subject of our musings was that when it comes to fragrance, CHANEL is rarely bad. One can accuse them of being commercial at times, and on the very rare occasion, they can even be guilty of being bland, but bad? Never! There is an inherent quality to CHANEL fragrances – a fastidious commitment to a luxurious house signature achieved through an obsessive dedication to the very best ingredients, both natural and synthetic – that means everything they make is undeniably wearable and pleasant.

CHANEL has created a great many wonderful fragrances (I don’t need to list them – you know what they are) and the ones I adore the most are within their capsule collection ‘LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL’. In this collection, CHANEL goes inwards and draws inspiration from its history, creating perfumes of house significance, with reference points in the fabrics, addresses, and muses, found deep within the CHANEL archives. In my view, LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL, is the brand at its most experimental (by CHANEL standards, of course) where a subtle boldness and an effortless wearability come together in harmony.

It has been two years since CHANEL last added a fragrance to LES EXCLUSIFS (the subversive feminine twist on a fougère that was the remarkable BOY) and I for one, have been waiting very patiently. The new fragrance is 1957 and it celebrates Coco Chanel’s relationship with America – a country where the couturier made her fortune. The name of the fragrance is an amalgam of reference points. 1957 was the year that Coco Chanel was awarded the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. 19 is Chanel’s birthday and 57 is the address of the CHANEL boutique on New York’s East 57th Street – the largest CHANEL boutique in America. 1957 is all of these things and an olfactory ode to the country that cemented the success of CHANEL.

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I have a soft spot for CHANEL fragrances – I always have and it’s likely that I always will. They are made with excellent technical expertise and from high quality materials, with each one perfume something specific about the brand they originate from. They are commercial, yes, but that doesn’t mean they are without interest and being honest, I’ll reach more for the likes of Nº5 L’EAU, Nº19 POUDRE, BEIGE, and my favourite, BOY, than I will some of the weirder things in my collection. CHANEL is wearable, beautiful, and consistent – that’s what makes the brand so great.

The one CHANEL I haven’t spent that much time with is CHANCE and it’s three flankers (EAU TENDRE, EAU VIVE, and EAU FRAICHE). CHANCE has always been CHANEL’s fragrant entry point – the CHANEL that is likely to be a woman’s first, and whilst I don’t want to assign ages to particular fragrances, CHANCE’s modern fruity-floral-chypre has always been bang on trend for a younger perfume-wearing crowd. So CHANCE is pretty fun and chic in a modern way, but its flanker CHANCE EAU TENDRE is even more so, and now, CHANEL have launched a new Eau de Parfum interpretation of EAU TENDRE – a scent they describe as an “intensified whirlwind of femininity”. I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate my femininity served in an intensified whirlwind!

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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.

Earlier this year CHANEL launches LES EAUX DE CHANEL, a trio of cologne-style Eau de Toilette fragrances inspired by travel, taking their names from locations of historical importance to Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, the brand’s founder. From Paris to Deauville, Biarritz and Venise, LES EAUX DE CHANEL take one on a journey through the world of perfumery, alighting at familiar genres; the cologne, the floral and the oriental. It’s a gorgeous collection.

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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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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 hate using fake tan. Past attempts have left me looking like an alien hybrid of streaky bacon and tangerines – not good. What’s more I LOATHE the smell – that hot, biscuit smell that lasts for days. So yes, I’m not a massive fan of the fake tan, but therein lies my problem, because I don’t actually mind a bit of a healthy glow on the ole bod and anything sun-related leaves me either burned or incredibly pale (due to the amount of SPF I use) so achieving such a hue is almost impossible. Argh, how annoying.

Enter CHANEL with L’EAU TAN…

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Pack your bags because CHANEL is taking us on holiday. They’ve booked the most luxurious mode of transport – no, not the Orient Express or Emirates First Class, it’s something much more special than that for this is an olfactory odyssey that takes one on a historical trek though the life and times of their inimitable founder: Mademoiselle Coco Chanel. There are three stops on the journey, so prepare to explore the green countryside of Normandy, dip your toes into the Atlantic coastline, and take long, endless strolls through a Mediterranean city. Don’t worry about packing any perfumes because CHANEL have got you covered with their latest collection: LES EAUX DE CHANEL.

With LES EAUX DE CHANEL, CHANEL say that it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. It is the idea of escaping – of exploring, losing oneself and finding oneself. It’s about traversing unchartered territory and experiencing new things. For the collection, CHANEL has called upon their in-house perfumer to create three contemporary eau de cologne-style fragrances (which are actually Eau de Toilette concentration) inspired by locations of historical significance to the brand. Housed within a new, travel-flask inspired bottle (which takes inspiration from vintage alcohol canisters carried in one’s waistcoat), these three ‘eaus’ mark a new chapter in the olfactory story of CHANEL. So let’s embark on an exciting journey and explore LES EAUX DE CHANEL.

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Due to its undeniable popularity, I am often asked for my thoughts on BLEU DE CHANEL and those thoughts are as follows: I like it, I think it’s the typical, modern aromatic masculine but executed very well with top notch ingredients. Do I wear it? Yes, sometimes, but I prefer to smell it on my husband – it smells particularly handsome on him. Does it excite me? I wouldn’t go that far but I do think that as far as this style of fragrance goes, the big bad BLEU is the best of the bunch. So yes, I’m a fan (aren’t we all) and I can totally see why it is so popular – it’s good.

In June, CHANEL is extending the BLEU DE CHANEL family with BLEU DE CHANEL PARFUM – a fragrance that “unleashes the power of BLEU DE CHANEL”, presenting it in its purest and most concentrated form. This is CHANEL in-house perfumer Olivier Polge’s first tweaking of BLEU and much like his approach to Nº5 with L’EAU he has sought to remain faithful to the original, keeping what made it so iconic, but has reset the balance, this time specifically in relation to BLEU’S signature woods to make them more prominent, “to create a stronger and more intense energy”. So is this BLEU DE CHANEL on steroids or is it BLEU DE CHANEL in 4K ultra-high definition?