New Perfume Review Chanel Paris-Edimbourg- Olivier Creates His Own Space


There is a sports term to describe the skill of the most elite athletes in a team sport. It is called “creating space”. It means through a combination of skill and ability they can make a place on the playing surface where they are on their own. Only the best players can do this. When I received my sample of Chanel Paris-Edimbourg I am beginning to think there might be a perfume equivalent.

Paris-Edimbourg is the fifth release in the Les Eaux collection. They are meant to represent the travels of Gabrielle Chanel. In this case it is 1924 and her current paramour is the Duke of Westminster. He introduced her to the rugged beauty of Scotland as an antidote to the high society world.  It would also become an inspiration to some of the most recognizable Chanel fashion items. In-house perfumer Olivier Polge would go and visit the estates where she stayed to help him design the perfume.

Olivier Polge

He came away with the idea of two contrasting pieces, “icy” juniper berry and “peaty wood”. As one who enjoys his peaty flavored scotch, I was dubious about a perfume featuring that not becoming overwhelmed by it. Especially a collection like Les Eaux which have been on the lighter side. This collection has come to feel as if M. Polge is defining his vision of the fragrance side of Chanel in the 21st century.

The promised cool juniper berry is where this begins. If you’re expecting the gin-like scent profile it is instead one which accentuates the citrus facets of the ingredient. It surprised me because I was expecting a gin and tonic and got the lime without the alcohol. There is the promised chill it just comes from a different direction.

The “peaty wood” is also set upon the Scottish heath as he pulls together lavender and a smoky vetiver. This is like looking out over a gently sloping field of purple flowers as the peat gently scents the air. The vetiver is added in such a precise amount to give that hint of peaty smoke while keeping this light. The lavender adds its herbal version which has a mentholated interaction with something else, probably the juniper berry. Recapitulating the promised “icy”. It finishes with a warm comfort accord of vanilla, musk, and cedar.

Paris-Edimbourg has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

After five releases I think the “Les Eaux” collection is where M. Polge is creating his own space. Paris-Edimbourg doesn’t smell like any other Chanel ever made. Yet it is constructed with the same precision the brand is known for. He is unafraid to oversee a collection of perfumes which will create a new type of Chanel fragrance lover. Paris-Edimbourg proves it.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Coromandel Parfum- Getting Warmer

When you love a particular perfume and you hear a more concentrated version is coming it usually induces a smile. After all more of what you enjoy should be an improvement. Except in perfumery that isn’t usually possible. If you just up the oil concentration what you end up with is a distorted version of the original. To do it correctly a perfumer has to re-work the proportions while hewing to the original while also making something more. It’s not easy. Now imagine you are the son of the original co-perfumer who is making a parfum version of one of the best perfumes his father was responsible for. That adds another degree of difficulty. Happily Chanel Coromandel Parfum overcomes all of these hurdles.

Chanel Coromandel was originally released in 2007 as one of the first Les Exclusifs. Composed by Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake it was an Oriental style of perfume in every way that term applies in the positive. It has always been one of my favorites of the Les Exclusifs. Now Jacques Polge’s son Olivier Polge, who has succeeded his father as in-house perfumer at Chanel, creates a Parfum version.

Olivier Polge

The press release says it is meant to be an “intensely ambery Oriental fragrance”. What that means in execution is M. Polge has enhanced the warmer elements of the original Coromandel. What that further means is a near-decadent opening before a second phase which simmers for hours.

Coromandel Parfum opens with a smokier version of the jasmine-pine-patchouli trio of the original. That smoke comes through frankincense and labdanum. The original triptych had a green core from the pine and patchouli which the jasmine gave a sweet floral veneer. In the Parfum version the sweetness is pulled back so the resins can warm the top notes. It is a gorgeous re-invention of the top half of Coromandel. I like it as much as the original. Over an hour or so the Parfum transitions into the promised intensely ambery base accord. This is made that way though benzoin warming up the more earthy patchouli while the resins persist. It becomes elegant over the long run as it just goes on and on.

Coromandel Parfum has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage as befits a parfum strength fragrance.

Coromandel Parfum is a compelling re-telling of the original Oriental perfume. It works because M. Polge allowed things to get warmer and more intimate.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Saks.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Gabrielle Essence- Having Your Cake


When Chanel Gabrielle was released two years ago, I suspected this was a perfume meant to bring new consumers to the brand. Because it was a kind of introductory Chanel perfume it wasn’t well-liked by many of the long time Chanel aficionados. In conversations I had about it there were many who wanted Gabrielle to be just a little bit more of this or that. If that sounds like you Chanel Gabrielle Essence might be what you were looking for.

As one who looks for the deeper consumer message in releases from the great brands Gabrielle Essence strikes me as a response. One aimed right at those who dismissed the original as a trifle. One which seemingly wants the older perfume lover to be happy, too. I was one who admired the efforts of in-house perfumer Olivier Polge to position Chanel for a younger generation. With Gabriele Essence it seems like he wants to keep both the older and younger generations interested.

Olivier Polge

That Gabrielle carries a light transparency was ideal for a perfume capturing the woman who had yet to become Coco. Gabrielle Essence is that same woman with some more assurance. I’m not sure if it is supposed to evoke the moment Gabrielle became Coco but it comes close.

Throughout its development Gabrielle Essence is sweeter. That starts in the top as the citrus is amplified with a bunch of red berries. Right away I notice the increased level of ingredients. If Gabrielle is transparent Gabrielle Essence is much more substantial and it starts right from the top. It really shows in the heart as the same four flowers as in the original; tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang are shuffled. In Gabrielle Essence the jasmine has a much more prominent placing. It is the equal of the tuberose. The orange blossom and ylang-ylang are along to add depth. It is here where I noticed the most difference between the two. Gabrielle Essence uses the florals in the heart in a sultrier way much as Gabrielle the person was probably coming to terms with the Coco which was on the verge of breaking out. The base is sandalwood again but given a much sweeter profile with a shot of vanilla added to things. It ends with a set of more palpable musks in the final moments.

Gabrielle Essence has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Gabrielle Essence seems like Chanel, and M. Polge, are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Nothing wrong with that if someone who is a fan of Chanel can find the right Gabrielle to suit themselves.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Paris-Riviera- Mediterranean Chanel


All perfumers who take their place as an in-house perfumer at a prestige brand they must think of two main things. First, don’t screw it up. Second, how do I make it my own. Over the three years since Olivier Polge took over as in-house perfumer at Chanel, he has certainly achieved the first. The second seems to still be a work in progress. There are some definite trendlines forming; Chanel Paris-Riviera affirms many of those.

Last summer Chanel launched the “Les Eaux de Chanel” collection. They are meant to represent the connection of Coco Chanel and the specific city in the name. The collection is also meant to be an off-shoot group within the Les Exclusifs available at the boutiques. The first three Les Eaux defined their own space within that Les Exclusif oeuvre. As M. Polge has been doing throughout his tenure he has been giving the fragrances he has produced a more pronounced lightness. This is pushed to its extreme with the Les Eaux. Not to an extreme within lighter fragrances just an extreme within Chanel as these are the lightest Chanel perfumes. Which captures the idea of Coco Chanel on vacation exuding an air of sophisticated insouciance. Paris-Riviera continues in that style.

Olivier Polge

The inspiration is Coco Chanel’s home “La Pausa” built on the Cote d’Azur in the 1920’s. this would be where she would entertain others vacationing on the French Riviera. When M. Polge looked at photographs of the time he noticed a lightheartedness to Coco when surrounded by friends. To capture that M. Polge creates a Mediterranean style perfume with Chanel bloodlines.

This begins with a focal point of sun kissed citrus as orange is given delineation by petitgrain. This is a sunny flare typical of summery fragrances. This continues into a heart of jasmine and neroli. I like this combination and M. Polge finds a nice lighthearted balance. The green tinted neroli finds a slightly indolic jasmine an ideal partner. The hint of indoles impart that sunny skin scent usually provided by musks. This ends on a lovely softly comforting benzoin and sandalwood base accord that is pure Chanel.

Paris-Riviera has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Polge has been assiduously lightening the Chanel fragrance aesthetic. In the Les Eaux de Chanel collection I think he is refining that thinking with precision. Paris-Riviera is a laughter filled Mediterranean perfume which feels completely Chanel.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum- Crowd-Pleasing 101


There are very few brands which reach a significant size without finding a way to balance innovation and popularity. That is especially true for the ones which pride themselves on being the leading edge. If done well a smart brand will follow behind the more lauded creativity with something which is meant to please the masses. I doubt there are many who have done it better than the fragrance side of Chanel.

Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s into the 2000’s perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge re-wrote the concepts of masstige perfume making. By 2002 they would release Chance Eau de Toilette. As Chanel has done brilliantly over the years, they wanted to make a fragrance which would appeal to a younger demographic. Anecdotally they succeeded as Chance was easily the most commonly worn perfume on my travels. I smelled it everywhere. That continues until today. Chance is a monument on how to make a crowd-pleasing perfume.

Olivier Polge

Now seventeen years later Jacques Polge’s son Olivier Polge has succeeded him as in-house perfumer. It is his turn to make a crowd-pleasing perfume for the latest young demographic. Olivier Polge would approach this in an interesting way by making a more concentrated version of a flanker of Chance that his father and M. Demachy composed. It shows its past as there are previous ingredients which hew to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school. Olivier Polge also finds a way to make his own prominent contribution on top of that foundation which is the “if it ain’t broke give it a new coat of paint” school. If that sounds like damnation with faint praise you would be mistaken. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum is praiseworthy for the perfume in the bottle.

M. Polge approaches this Eau de Parfum counterpart to the earlier version by simple variations at every stage. It starts when he adds the herbal quality of baie rose to the signature top accord of Chance; grapefruit and quince. That herbal-ness finds the tarter qualities inherent in both fruits. What surprises is M. Polge also lightens up the top accord. If you’re going to make things tart you don’t want them to slap you in the face. The biggest change is the removal of iris and hyacinth as the partners for the heart jasmine with rose. This is that lighter debutante rose which gives some gentility to the more prominent jasmine. There is still a powdery effect from the rose but much more attenuated than in the original. The warm base accord of white musks and amber carries over with M. Polge choosing to add a hint of vanilla along with patchouli to provide sweetness and earthiness around that core accord.

Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

By releasing Chance Eau Tender Eau de Parfum just in time for Valentine’s Day and spring I expect that Chanel will have another best-selling crowd-pleaser. I should expect nothing less from the brand which could teach the class on crowd-pleasing 101.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel 1957- A Tower of White Musk


When there are perfume ingredients I’ve become exhausted by, there comes a point where I can’t take one thin mint more. Even if it is wafer-thin. The set of synthetic musks given the sobriquet “white musks” had been one of those. Imparting a laundry fresh scent to the foundation of seemingly thousands of perfume; it was becoming too much for me. The fragrance oil producers were rapidly synthesizing bigger and fresher versions. An oxygen molecule here, a double bond there, and it was a new fresh muskiness in the latest perfume. I was more interested in the synthetic chemistry than the scent. Over the last twenty or so years the shelf of white musks has expanded rapidly.

In the last few years it turns out the solution to my boredom, perversely, was not to dial them back. Instead, in the hands of a skilled perfumer, it was to layer them. Overlap them. Building a tower of white musk which once it was erected formed this unexpected softness. Like diving into a pile of fluffy white down feathers. I’ve come to look forward to these kinds of perfumes. The latest of them is Chanel 1957.

Olivier Polge

In-house perfumer Olivier Polge was asked to create a new perfume for the Les Exclusifs collection to celebrate the re-opening of the Chanel flagship store in NYC on 57th Street. For now, it is only available there with wider release coming in Spring 2019. The name also refers to the year Coco Chanel was given the “Neiman-Marcus Fashion Award”. It seems an odd choice to highlight something like that. The press release follows that with this, “Now world-renowned for her creative talent she drew upon rare, carefully chosen ingredients to reveal and exalt them.” Part of that sentence is accurate when describing 1957; the part about exalting carefully chosen ingredients. The “rare” part especially when referring to white musk not so much. M. Polge has done a fabulous job of elevating the common white musks to something compelling.

1957 opens with a green herbal accord of baie rose and coriander. This acts as a palate cleanser setting up what is to come as it fades rapidly into the background. The first layers of white musk along with neroli begin to rise. In contrast to these clean white musks the indoles of the neroli stand out. It adds some grit to the overall effect. Iris adds a dash of powder as the white musk continues to intensify. There is a momentary sharpness within the white musks which the iris serves to soften. Then the tipping point is passed and now the plushness of a multi-layered white musk accord appears. M. Polge adds a thin veneer of sweet honey. It adds a dash of contrast as the indoles of the neroli did earlier. The tower is now complete and M. Polge flips the lights on providing an inner glow stoked by the neroli and honey. The final effect is gorgeous.

1957 has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is probably the most modern perfume released by the fragrance side of Chanel. It can be dismissed as another floral musky perfume. It can also be loved for the same quality. I appreciate the engineering effort of M. Polge to create his tower of white musk to overcome any kind of snap judgement.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Paris-Venise, Paris-Deauville & Paris-Biarritz- Traveling with Coco


Just as it has been over at Hermes watching the changeover from a long-time in-house perfumer to a new artist is fascinating. When Olivier Polge took over he has presided over a lightening up of Chanel. What he has excelled at has been achieving it without losing the Chanel fragrance aesthetic. One thing left to show is whether M. Polge would bring this to the Les Exclusif line. His first release was the Les Exclusif Boy. It heralded the lighter direction, but it has been the releases since which solidified that. With the announcement of the Les Eaux de Chanel collection of three perfumes we would get a better idea of where the exclusive fragrance line at Chanel was going.

Olivier Polge

There are three new perfumes within Les Eaux de Chanel; they are meant to represent the ties between Coco Chanel and three different cities. I am going to write about all three because I have found them to be a coherent collection which is Chanel but also M. Polge’s modern vision of what that means.

Paris-Venise is described as being inspired by traveling on the Orient Express from Paris to Venice. That description makes you think a full-on Oriental is on its way. Here is where M. Polge chooses to go towards something less obvious by using the more transparent aesthetic to his advantage.

It starts with playful citrus and neroli top accord. This is that laugh of starting off a trip. The floral heart of iris modulated by geranium is also kept opaque although a bit of powder sneaks in. The base is M. Polge’s version of an Oriental base done with insouciance. Using cedar, amber, and vanilla these are the components of Oriental of the past. In Paris-Venise they are pitched at whisper level as it hints at the end of the trip.

Paris-Venise has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Paris-Deauville is meant to be a trip to the country for the weekend. What that meant for M. Polge was to imagine a cologne style which captures that vibe.

To do that there is what becomes the theme for this collection a joyful citrus accord. Comprised of orange zest and petitgrain there is a green undercurrent which is picked out with basil. Using rose and jasmine it turns floral but a lighter version of that. A patchouli fraction which is stripped of much of the heavier qualities is the base note.

Paris-Deauville has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

The last one Paris-Biarritz captures Coco’s love of the beach. Which translates to M. Polge’s aquatic interpretation.

This opens with a classic sea salt accord matched with the citrus of grapefruit and mandarin. This is not particularly interesting to start. It becomes more so as muguet begins to transform the heart into a greener effect. Vetiver provides a grassy kind of effect which makes a “dunes accord”. A set of white musks recapitulate the airiness of the opening sea salt accord.

Paris-Biarritz has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

These are not going to be my favorite perfumes of M. Polge’s time at Chanel. For the first time he has gone a little too light for my taste. That being said there is a consistent thought which shows up in all three, of the joy of heading out of the city towards something else. I think that will mean if you really like one you’re going to also like the others. At least for me it felt like taking a Trip with Coco on the days I wore each of the Les Eaux.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel L’Eau Tan- It’s Two Beauty Products In One

There are new products I get which remind me of old television commercials for non-fragrance products. The most recent recollection was of a product called Certs. Certs was a mixture of a candy mint in a roll infused with a breath freshening ingredient called Retsyn. Every commercial would have two people taking up a different side; “It’s a breath mint!” “No, it’s a candy mint!” Then they would tap the rolls together and say in unison “It’s 2, 2 mints in one!” When I received my bottle of the new Chanel L’Eau Tan I felt like it was two beauty products in one.

Olivier Polge

L'Eau Tan is a combination of self-tanner and cologne. It combines two of the very talented team of people behind the Chanel beauty brands; in-house perfumer Olivier Polge and creative make-up and color director Lucia Pica. Both joined the brand in 2014-2015 replacing longtime predecessors. In their short time they have reimagined Chanel within their respective areas. The idea of creating a refreshing self-tanning body spray comes straight from the historical style influence of Coco Chanel.

Lucia Pica

When Coco cruised the Mediterranean, she tanned just from being on a boat in the sunshine. As she appeared with her sun burnished skin in each port the fashion reporters of the time noticed. Women began to spend time in the sun to emulate her skin tone. Coco never one to miss a trick would release L’Huile Tan, in 1924, the first tanning lotion for women. Other perfume brands would also join in during the late 1920’s and 30’s. That there is an attempt to add a pleasing scent to the functional product of sunscreen goes back nearly a hundred years.

In 2018 the current fashion trend is for self-tanning products which allow the wearer to minimize exposure to the UV rays. Mme Pica wanted to come forth with a Chanel version. Working with M. Polge to add a traditional cologne scent to the self-tanner produced L’Eau Tan.

I am going to review L’Eau Tan from the “It’s a cologne!” perspective with only a small nod to the “It’s a self-tanner!” part.

What M. Polge comes up with is to use a mixture of lemon and orange to form a citrus accord. From here there is a bit of floral support using the classic cologne ingredient, orange blossom. Then what really made this work is his use of tendrils of white musks winding through these traditional cologne components. It provides an effervescent expansiveness. As you should expect this is as transparent and as fleeting a fragrance as can be.

L’Eau Tan has 4-6 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As it regards to the self-tanning aspect I wore this for four straight days on my arms when I was cooped up inside because of incessant rain. When we went out with friends one asked me if I had been down in Florida because I looked like I got some sun. I can’t speak for the accuracy of my friend’s perceptions but at least to her it was noticeable.

I am definitely going to be wearing this over the course of the summer because it is a nice light modern cologne perfect for some days. So, while I am in the “It’s a cologne!” camp I think there is something to the “It’s a self-tanner!” which means it is “2, 2 beauty products in one!”.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bleu de Chanel Parfum- If It Ain’t Broke

Back when Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette was released in 2010 I wrote on CaFleureBon, “Bleu de Chanel is very likely going to be a huge commercial fragrance and make a lot of money.” It doesn’t prove any prescience on my part to state that. It has become true because then in-house perfumer Jacques Polge created a fragrance consisting of building blocks which represented the greatest hits of masculine perfume trends. As I also wrote in that review if I judged Bleu de Chanel on a scale of innovation it fails. If I judged it on the ability to be more generally pleasing to a large swath of consumers it succeeds. Time has proven that, as ever since its release it has been one of the best-selling masculine perfumes in the world.

Chanel has been protective of its brand over the past eight years only releasing one flanker, an Eau de Parfum strength version in 2014. That was also overseen by Jacques Polge in one of his last releases before retiring from Chanel. In that release it seems like the intent was to amplify the cedar heart while mellowing it a bit with amber leaving most of the rest of the architecture in place. When talking with others I facetiously call it Cedre de Chanel. I could see the appeal to those who are more attracted to clean woods over fresh citrus and ginger accords. From a consumer perspective it was successful if not quite as much as the original.

Olivier Polge

Now for 2018 we have the second flanker, Bleu de Chanel Parfum, another increase in strength. There is also another change which made me interested as Olivier Polge has taken over from his father as in-house perfumer. M. Polge’s freshening up of the Chanel aesthetic without becoming boring has been a success story I have enjoyed following. I was curious to see how he would approach Bleu de Chanel Parfum. The answer was he followed the old maxim, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

What that means about the fragrance is if the Eau de Toilette was all about the fresh opening. Followed by the Eau de Parfum’s focus on the cedar heart. Then Parfum amplifies the sandalwood in the base.

Bleu de Chanel opens with a much-attenuated fresh citrus almost like the sun setting. It is dialed way back from the original. Still enough to be recognizable. The amber heart captures that last bit of warmth before the sandalwood comes forward and dominates. The cedar is there to provide a bit of the clean contrast but this comes off more like something I could call Santal de Chanel.

Bleu de Chanel Parfum has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I realize if I did call this Santal de Chanel I am forgetting one of the greatest sandalwood perfumes ever; Chanel Bois des Iles. That is a perfect counterpoint when I say there is artistry versus populism. Bleu de Chanel Parfum is the latter. It is like providing three versions of a similar perfume and allowing the consumer to choose which part they prefer. I return to my original judgement from my review of the original. This is a great choice for the man who wants a single bottle of perfume on his dresser. Now he has a choice to go Fresh (Eau de Toilette), Clean (Eau de Parfum), or Woody (Parfum). There is a reason these are greatest hits of masculine perfume and having three different strengths does nothing to change that.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Chanel.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Intense- A Warm Hug from Coco

Over the last two years it has been an enjoyable experience watching Olivier Polge take over as in-house perfumer from his father Jacques at Chanel. In this early part of his tenure he has stamped his own signature upon the well-known Chanel aesthetic. Over the first releases it has seemed as if he has an eye on a younger generation of perfume consumers who like things lighter and more transparent. When I received the press release for Coco Mademoiselle Intense I realized it was going to be something entirely different.

I could make an argument that Coco Mademoiselle is the best designer perfume of the 21st century. It sits in a place where it exemplifies everything I think is important about the Chanel fragrance empire. To compose an intense version Olivier Polge was going to invite direct comparison to his father. I also wondered how intense this would be. It turns out that in both cases Coco Mademoiselle Intense succeeds better than I might have imagined.

Olivier Polge

One of the things which concerned me prior to smelling the perfume was the press release which promised an overdose of patchouli. If there is anything which makes Coco Mademoiselle soar it is the precise balance of orange, rose and patchouli which make it so good. Telling me one part of that is about to become unbalanced was worrisome. What M. Polge does is to only nod to the other two Mademoiselle ingredients while also amplifying a couple supporting notes from the original.

Coco Mademoiselle Intense opens with a whisper of orange and rose before the patchouli rises to the forefront very quickly. The first time I wore this the rapidity with what made the original special to me was dispensed with irritated me a little bit. It felt pushy but that is probably just me. This is a fabulously sophisticated patchouli which helps ameliorate my bruised desires. Tonka comes next providing its toasty nutty warmth. This is where I bought into Coco Mademoiselle Intense as this turned into a warm comfort scent. This only deepened as vanilla provided more warmth. With the concentration of patchouli the vanilla never turns treacly; it is in balance.

Coco Mademoiselle Intense has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

M. Polge also provides a precise balance of three ingredients like his father did with the original. His choice was to do it with traditional base notes. It is what makes this intense. Most time intense in the name of a perfume means blaringly so. Instead, Coco Mademoiselle Intense is a warm hug from Chanel.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke