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.
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!
There’s always a sense of unease amongst the perfume-appreciating public when a brand announces that they are tinkering with a classic and presenting it in a new guise. Teeth are clenched, short breaths are inhaled and noses are on guard, all held in hope that whatever this new fragrance child turns out to be, it lives up to the high standards set by its forbearer. Personally, I’m not so precious about the classics and I view these remixes as being similar to the remake of an iconic film. Just because something is being remade, doesn’t mean that every single copy of the original will be deleted. The classic will still be there so if the new version doesn’t resonate, that’s fine, one still has their classic to enjoy. So yes, brands can remix and remake as much as they like because you know what? The results can often be quite interesting indeed (case in point: Shalimar Parfum Initial).
I say all of this because CHANEL are just about to launch Nº5 L’EAU, an entirely new interpretation of none other than Nº5, arguably the most famous perfume in the world. L’EAU comes as the first rehash of Nº5 under the penmanship of Olivier Polge, CHANEL’s latest in-house perfumer, who took the reigns in 2015. This however, is not the first rebirth of Nº5, which has seen a number of incarnations in its time, starting as an Extrait composed in 1921 by Ernest Beaux before the perfumer revisited the composition to create an Eau de Toilette just two years late in 1924. Under perfumer Jacques Polge’s tenure, we saw an Eau de Parfum concentration composed in 1986 in addition to an ‘Eau Première’ version which followed in 2007 as an introductory scent for a younger audience. Now we have L’EAU, a fragrance that is being billed by CHANEL as the Nº5 of today.
“A fragrance for here, now and always” – that’s how CHANEL describe Nº5 L’EAU. The fragrance is a “complete reinvention” of the original but at the same time, the brand is quick to point out that Olivier Polge has been respectful of Nº5’s history whilst he has dissected the formula to see just how it ticks, and rightly so. Nº5 L’EAU looks to the future to create a new Nº5 – a Nº5 for the modern generation. The trick here is to create something new from something so instantly recognisable, to make the known surprising and to not lose the spirit of the composition along the way. So how successful has the exercise in modernising and lightening an olfactory icon been? Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out!