Tag Archives: Chanel

Vintage Chanel No.19

Notes: Galbanum, Bergamot, Neroli, Iris, Rose, Lily of the Valley, Jasmine, Leather, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Musk.

I was surprised when Lila (formerly of Perfume Lovers London) said that Chanel’s No.19 was her comfort scent. I had the impression that it was rather austere and aloof. Iris and galbanum with their cooling breeze aren’t most people’s idea of cosy.

Then last summer I had the opportunity to try the vintage EdT and Parfum from Portia’s extensive perfume collection. These were a very different experience to the modern incarnations. I was immediately swooning and bought both bottles.
No.19 was launched in 1970 and the perfumer was Henri Robert who also composed Cristalle and Pour Monsieur for Chanel.

Now winter is behind us, I’m wearing it day after day and I never seem to tire of it. I have even come to find it comforting – not in a cosseting way but in a calming, steadfast way.

It might seem superficially tender with its soft, airy aura of new shoots and delicate flowers but first looks can be deceiving. Like all the greats, it has a distinct personality. No.19 feels willowy yet unshakeable: you can rely on her to possess grace under fire. Her roots go deep into the ground. She has a quiet, inner confidence that feels like an olfactory safety net.

Aldehydes may not be listed but I sense something like them in the vintage versions. The body of the perfume is draped in a cocoon of silk. What really marks this out as belonging to another era however, is the presence of oakmoss. It’s lamented by perfume people for a reason. It’s such a rich, complex material with great depth and a dash of black magic.

Galbanum is such a tricky note. While I like the idea of green stems in theory, when it’s a major part of a perfume I often find it too sharp and harsh, overwhelming the rest of the composition. However, this is Chanel galbanum which is quite a different beast. It must be about as smooth and refined as galbanum can get.

No.19 is an incredibly cohesive fragrance. Every aspect feels streamlined and in harmony. The iris is bound up with the other chief accords and I picture green, blue and white intertwining strands. The base is a pleasing contrast of soft woods, earthy vetiver, low-key leather and feline musks.

Even though I enjoy the EdT, the Parfum is incomparable. It really blooms into a lush, slightly powdery, haze on the skin that has a similar feel to Chamade by Guerlain. The galbanum is also taken to another level to the point where it’s practically green syrup. It is eye-rollingly gorgeous.

Like spring, No.19 gives me hope. There is a chance of renewal after the bleakness of winter. An inner strength that was always there throughout the dark times surges to the surface when there is no longer a need to take cover. It is the chance to live rather than merely survive.

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How do you feel about No.19?

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A Mini London Meetup – Photo Essay

Last weekend Val the Cookie Queen and her fabulous daughter Hannah (aka Blondes Wunder) landed in London for a flying visit. I met them on Friday afternoon and we had a chilled time after healthy fast food at Leon.

We got on the tube to Oxford Circus and similar to last time, Val and I installed ourselves in the Topshop cafe while Hannah trawled the rails. We had goods to exchange. Val brought me perfume but I was more excited about the world’s best cookies. I immediately ate three which showed great restraint on my part.

 

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Val’s first sniff of the vintage Chanel No.5 I brought back from Sydney for Portia.

 

 

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On Saturday morning I met Val at the back entrance of Liberty on Canaby Street. We’d be spending the day with Nick of fragrance consultancy Olfiction and Thomas, The Candy Perfume Boy who was coming down from Milton Keynes with his lovely husband, Nigel.

 

 

Before they arrived, we went into the store and had a look at Le Labo. The new Tonka 25 is very soft and quiet – likely to appeal to those craving something comforting. Val checked out Vetiver 46 which was better than most in that genre for me. (Later Thomas and I had a laugh about the fact that people regularly tell him that they wear a perfume called Santal 33 that nobody else knows about).

 

 

 

We spent some time at the Frederic Malle counter where Val and I always seem to gravitate. As a collection, it’s hard to beat, especially when it comes to niche.

 

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Val’s friend Rosie joined us and became totally smitten with Portrait of a Lady. We were shown the new 30ml atomisers which are a nice addition. Prices vary depending on the perfume: Musc Ravageur is £85 while Carnal Flower is £122.

 

 

 

Thomas and Nigel arrived.

 

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Thomas checked out the Christmas limited edition coloured bottles.

 

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Nick found us after having to get an Uber thanks to a cancelled train. He was due to be on QVC at 6pm for Miller Harris. We regrouped outside and decided to head to Muji to buy some atomisers for Val.

 

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Lunch was at Nando’s. I rarely eat there but luckily I was with aficionados. I had the Fino Pitta with Peri Peri salted chips and it was so good I didn’t stop to take a photo. Before the food arrived we did what my friend Natalie calls ‘table spritzing’. Not to be encouraged in public but we were seated in a corner away from other people. Nick had brought the strangelove nyc perfume samples for Val. Believe me when I tell you the vicinity smelt of oud from then on (it was good oud though).

 

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Next stop was the bakery Crumbs and Dollies in Kingly Court for Nigel. Hannah found a vegan cupcake too.

 

 

 

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Nick and me outside the bakery. He gives excellent advice and is a great listener.

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At this point it began to rain. We made it to Champion for Hannah to get some jogging pants and then went on to Selfridges as the downpour got considerably heavier. Nick had to shoot off to QVC once we got to Oxford Street.

Our last sniff was at the Chanel counter. Bien sûr! We looked at the limited edition red bottles which photograph beautifully but I found a little underwhelming in reality.

 

 

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Check out Blondes Wunder’s excellent beauty channel on YouTube here.

 

I’m currently experiencing extremely high levels of anxiety thanks to a house move so to spend time with such wonderful people was just what I needed.

 

 

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In Rotation: Spring 2017

My perfume choices have been all over the places lately thanks to the changeable weather we’ve been experiencing in the UK this spring. As I write this on Monday 10th April, yesterday was 25 degrees Celsius. For that one day heatwave, I spritzed Dita Von Teese EdP for its tropical flowers, hint of spice and oriental-lite base. Today, it’s back down to 15°C so I’m returning to usual perfume programming which currently consists of the following: –

 

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Vaara, Penhaligon’s

Notes: Quince, Rose Water, Carrot Seeds, Coriander, Saffron, Rose, Freesia, Magnolia, Peony, Honey, White Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Benzoin and Tonka Bean.

On mild spring days I’ve been testing out my bottle of Vaara. I bought it when a friend was selling off her perfumes and I picked it up for not very much at all. Still, I’ve been re-assessing my collection, spurred on by Vanessa’s brilliant 20 ‘desert island’ scents post and wanted to check that it warranted a place on my shelf. So far so good. The fabulously unique start of quince, saffron, carrot seed and sparkling rosewater hangs around much longer than I feared, before moving into the rosy heart.

 

28 La Pausa, Chanel

Notes: I can’t find a notes list, but there is A LOT of Iris Pallida.

This huge 200ml bottle was generously gifted to me by the same friend I bought Vaara from.  It’s the original EdT which is no longer available.  Val the Cookie Queen and I tried out the new EdP last year and although it got off to great iris start, it all too quickly dried to down to a squeaky clean vetiver. Maybe the Parfum formulation is a better though. Unlike a lot of people, I’m fortunate in that the EdT lasts reasonably well on me.  This elegant iris feels just right for early spring with its floral-woody character and silky, slightly powdery texture.  28 La Pausa is the refined orris choice.

 

Antonia, Puredistance

Notes: Jasmine, Rose Essence, Ylang Ylang, Orris, Ivy, Galbanum, Vanilla and Vetiver.

Green florals like Antonia are another staple for me when March finally comes around. It’s luxurious, sun-lit and incredibly well blended. Quite a few green fragrances have a rather mealy-mouthed character, owing to the unforgiving nature of galbanum. However, Antonia is lusciously full-bodied and surprisingly warm. This spring goddess is resplendent in emerald with delicate flowers laced through her hair. Thanks to B for my bottle.

 

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What fragrances have you been wearing lately?

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