Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SOTD: Chanel No. 5 Parfum

Sound the alarm: Chanel No. 5 may be in danger of reformulation, due to IFRA regulations.

OK, many people have been sounding the alarm for months, so there's no need to push any buttons. Perfume wearers have expressed themselves vehemently at length, and are being ignored.

But this raises an important question that I've been trying to resolve for years: Do I like Chanel No. 5? Because if I do, or will, it's time to buy a bottle of the extrait. Preferably a bottle that's a year or two old, in case the reformulation has already happened.

To throw jargon around, Chanel No. 5 is the queen of abstract aldehydic florals. Not the matriarch - there were others before her - but definitely the long-time ruling queen.

I'm not so big on aldehydes. The people who like them say that they give fizz, or lift, or sparkle, to a fragrance. The people who don't like them tend to refer to them as "perfumey", with a Tone, and a wrinkled nose. There are times when I appreciate them - such as the opening of Ivoire - but that's an exception.

Abstract? Well, Chanel No. 19 is abstract - I can't point to a specific flower or other smelly thing and say "it smells like that" - and I love No. 19. So I guess abstract isn't a problem. Though in No. 19 I can get a grip on the galbanum as a stabilizer as I ride through the other notes; No. 5 doesn't have that same loved core note. It might be different if I adored jasmine the way that I do galbanum.

Floral? Meh. I tend to dislike sharp, "high pitched" florals, and No. 5 has its share.

And No. 5 is a classic, and smells like a classic. And, sadly, I haven't yet learned to love the classic pefumes. Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, Arpege - my scale is still at "appreciate", at best, for all of these.

I'm wearing a few good dabs today, from my ittybitty bottle of the extrait. It started out sharp and, yes, "perfumey", and with that odd dark note that's common to so many of these perfumes, and I don't know what it is, since No. 5 doesn't list oakmoss as a note. By now, it's softened, but I'm just not feeling the love. Maybe I need to be wearing pearls?

Review Roundup: The Non-Blonde and Now Smell This and 1000 Fragrances and 1000 Fragrances again and Bois de Jasmin and Blogdorf Goodman and For The Love Of Perfume and Nathan Branch and The Perfume Heretic and Pink Manhattan and ScentsOfSelf and Yesterday's Perfume.

Link Roundup: A post and a poem from Feminine Things, and a post from Muses in Wooden Shoes and a reminiscence from The Scentimentalist.

Edited to add to the Review Roundup.

Photo: Copyright BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

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