Chanel Les Eaux
What attracts you to a fragrance? Do you ‘blind buy’ on the basis of notes you like, or is it more about the vibe a scent gives you? Regular readers will know: I really need to fall in love with the fantasy to fall in love with the scent. When I’ve had the intriguing experience of trying to create my own fragrance at a workshop I’m never satisfied, because I’m painting by numbers – the mystery is lost (might also be because I’m not a master perfumer but, details).
Chanel, as well as nailing the master perfumer bit (the current junior Polge is following in his father’s footsteps as the in-house nose), also nails the the mystery, the storytelling that transforms beautiful smells like fresh-picked lemons into the olfactory equivilent of a period drama.
When I wear Paris-Deauville (my favourite of the three, no doubt), I get little moments of time travel. For an instant, when hair is swished or cuffs are turned, I’m in a retro-sports-luxe fantasy of lush grassy hills just right for rolling, the promise of maybe a bit of boating and a sense of that easy simplicity that comes when you leave the complications of your city life behind. In love with Deauville.
I haven’t been to Biarritz but if I do, I’ll expect the whole joint to smell like this. With its lemon zest opening, Paris-Biarritz seems the most energetic of the three Eaux, with a sense of joie de vivre that brings vibrancy to the composition, the verdant green of muguet giving that dewy, just out of the ocean feel. But a veil of skin-soft musk over everything is the nostalgic element that takes Biarritz somewhere else. It’s the memory of that one decadent summer with your lover, not the moment. And it slips away all too soon…
I have to admit Paris-Venise was the scent that connected least for me. I lost the story at this point, and to me Venise seems like a very light (very skillful) interpretation of a classic oriental. But if I was to carry on the narrative, that soft, powdery orris is what would get me there, earthy and authentic with the real sense of femininity mastered. It’s pretty but composed, and so I guess it does create a mimicry of Chanel as a mournful but masterful businesswoman. When I wear Venise, I wish I had a strand of pearls to do it justice.
Once again Chanel has fulfilled all my expectations of what a fragrance should provide. Pleasure, escapism, fantasy, embodiment of what you are, or what you want to play at being. A journey somewhere beautiful.