Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chanel: A Redemptive Tale

My journey through the world of Chanel almost was cut short. One day in the late Spring and Summer when I was beginning my journey to become a perfumista, a co-worker brought a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle to me. She had the bottle for several years and she never really liked it. Being that I was so eager to collect perfumes, she thought I may like it enough to offer it a new and more appreciative home.

That next morning before work, I dived in and applied it to the wrists, earlobes, inner elbows, and between "the girls" in a daring move to give it an honest try. At first my impression was that it was interesting, but not necessarily in a good way. Was it a nuttiness? It was just this odd scent palate different from the Dior's and Guerlains I had tried.

I was determined to keep on course despite the worry that this could go bad while I had to work. As the day progressed my fears were realized as the fragrance turned on me and I felt progressively confused, angry, and scared that I would be trapped in this long-lasting scent. It was a scrubber which took 4 trips to the bathroom sink to remove the smell that cried out for a tomato juice bath. It took awhile for me to not look at a Chanel label without a mix of revulsion or fear.

A friend lent me EDTs of No. 5 and No. 22, and I found them both to be very pleasant -- especially No. 22. No. 22 was just prettier and more sparkly in a wrist vs. wrist test. Then I bought a small bottle of vintage No. 19 Parfum when I couldn't find No.22 on Ebay. No. 19 is very close to my heart. No. 19 made me pine for other Chanel's with its sophisticated leatherish notes I know that this could be a signature scent if not for the brutal fact that it is discontinued in that form. It is cruel to oneself to decide on a discontinued and rare scent as a personal scent. If you do you make heartbreak certain. No. 19 parfum smells full-bodied and wonderous on me. It meshes with my chemistry.

On a suggestion of posters on Perfume of Life, I have also tried Egoiste Platinum and the Original Egoiste -- both for men. Those vie with Eau Sauvage by Dior that I love wearing.

One night I smelled Coco ( minus the Mademoiselle, of course) on my dear friend and thought it very fetching. This Christmas Santa got me a .25 oz of Coco after showing my mother-in-law around the Neiman Marcus counters. This has the potential of being my signature scent even though folks will claim that the vintage version is superior. At some point, I have to let go the notion of finding the elusive version that I may end up never really finding and just appreciate contemporary and available versions of perfumes. When I wear Coco with its warm, rich spiciness that has a sophisticated reserved nature. Coco makes me think I live in a mansion overlooking an incredible view wearing Chanel clothes with a fabulous haircut. Someone observed that Chanel fragrances are very aspirational. While Caron is said to be for the Countess, and Guerlain for the kept woman -- Chanel is for the independent, modern woman with impeccable taste.

Guerlain has Guerlainaide, Chanel does seem to have a bit of what I call Chanelaide that gives Chanel a feeling of a certain pedigree. Guerlain is a romantic mystery that belongs as a muse for an artist at the turn of the century laying naked on crumpled sheets. Caron is more of a precious, bejeweled and blue-blooded, perfectly lady-like with china doll features. Chanel has a verve, confidence that is charismatically handsome with a bold bob, crisp white shirt, and a pilot's cap. Guerlain has wine that was brought up to warm up a cold, artist's flat. Caron is just a touch of champagne that is worth a weeks work in a bottle on an ornate and formal dining room in an old castle. Chanel is a woman delighting the surrounding men in the room with ribald and intellectual talk over an old scotch in a room reminiscent of a banker's club.

Since sampling Caron fragrances at Jaquelines in San Francisco, I know I could never be a Caron girl. For the longest time I have felt very much like a Guerlain girl and that is where my heart is, but Chanel appeals to my mind as well as my nostrils.

This is only the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Chanel.

Then there is the House of Amouage... oh dear god..that is an entire new post.

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