New Perfume Review Le Lion de Chanel- On Balance

Going into 2015 it was an interesting moment for Chanel fragrances. They were changing their in-house perfumers as Jacques Polge retired and his son, Olivier Polge took over. With almost six years of Olivier’s perfume making I believe he has been a positive force to the brand at this time. Looking back over his time it seems like there are two styles he seems to design towards. There is a set of perfumes which seem to move the perfumes of Chanel into the current time. The Les Eaux collection or No.5 L’Eau are examples of this. The other large part is his desire to capture that classicism that is at the heart of Chanel as a brand. He has managed to capture that effectively starting with his first Chanel release Misia. It also reappears in the latest Le Lion de Chanel.

Le Lion was released in the Middle Eastern market last spring. It is just now becoming available everywhere else. Because of that I bought a split of Le Lion back in the summer. It has allowed me to live with it a little longer than the typical new perfume review I do. This is a case where that time worked to Le Lion’s advantage.

Olivier Polge

M. Polge’s classic inspired creations I have found take me a little time to assess all their pleasures. Because he doesn’t shy away from the most recognizable styles there is a tendency to compare the new perfume to the older one it might remind you of. In some cases that has been my snap judgement. Le Lion was one of them. This felt too familiar to other things. I was glad to have a few months to see if that impression persisted.

When I first tried it there were moments which strongly reminded me of other classic perfumes. But not for the entire time. That is what having some time with Le Lion showed me. M. Polge does find the echoes of Guerlain Shalimar, Chanel Coromandel and Chanel Cuir de Russie but this is its own strong voice. The way he achieves it is through balance.

Le Lion opens with a very present citrus accord of bergamot and lemon. M. Polge uses this at a high concentration. This is so when the amber appears next it doesn’t steamroll it. M. Polge finds that precise amount of amber for it to be present without becoming annoyingly overbearing. The citrus cleaves it like a sunbeam through a magnifying glass. Labdanum adds a resinous burnishing to it all. Next comes a fantastic call back to the Chanel past as a modern Cuir de Russie leather accord is paired with that rich sandalwood found often in Chanel. A set of animalic synthetic musks fly in on a carpet of patchouli. This is where Le Lion becomes a complete Oriental style of perfume.

Le Lion has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I’ve been turning over my thoughts about Le Lion, I also came to understand it is similar to my thoughts about M. Polge’s tenure so far. He has admirably found a balance between new and classic. It has been often achieved through the balance of ingredients he uses in his work for the brand. As they say when taken on balance, he has achieved a remarkable run in the last six years.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee- How Sheer Can You Go?


In these times where transparency is valued in perfume there is a basic question waiting to be asked. How far can you go in that direction before you stop being a perfume? If you think there isn’t a market for this I remember being in Sephora and hearing three women extol the virtues of a perfume because they could, “barely smell it”. So far, the big perfume brands have kept from looking for that line. Now Chanel Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee seems to be asking.

Olivier Polge

I have been laudatory at the effort in-house perfumer Olivier Polge has made in adding in a lightness of being to his newer Chanel releases. I would say he has been one of the most successful at balancing trend and brand aesthetic. Where I am a bit conflicted with Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee is it is a fragrance designed to be worn to sleep. Sheer should be a large part of its design. M. Polge delivers a perfume like a grand four-poster bed surrounded in diaphanous material.

If I were having a discussion of best designer perfumes of this century Coco Mademoiselle would be part of it. The beautiful sophistication of the orange-rose-patchouli felt completely Chanel while being accessible. A couple years ago M. Polge designed an Intense version where he latched on to the patchouli to achieve that effect. Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee is the flip side of that. It is a delicate version of the original with one slight change in the middle.

L’Eau Privee comes together rapidly. The moment it hits your skin the orange and the floral and the patchouli all rise. Notice I didn’t say rose. That’s the change I mentioned. M. Polge gives jasmine the lead over rose. For a perfume meant to induce sweet dreams letting night-blooming jasmine have the floral part seems natural. This is then given even more space through some white musks taking the lightness out another level or two.

Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee has 4-6 hour longevity and is primarily a skin scent.

For a perfume designed to be worn to sleep L’Eau Privee succeeds on all levels. It is the kind of calming fragrant embrace almost anyone would enjoy drifting into dreamland with. It also has the longevity of an average good night’s sleep. Something this sheer is not meant to last for hours. As I wore this I wondered if Chanel could create a market by designing a perfume for this specific use. Then I remembered those women at Sephora. There is a part of me that thinks for them Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee would be the perfect office scent. As to the answer to my thesis Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privee is as sheer as I want to see things go. Any further and it will be as fleeting as a dream.

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

Mark Behnke