Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chanel N°19 Poudré Eau de Parfum

When I was in graduate school in the early 70's, I took care of two crazy cats whose owners had gone to France on vacation. They brought me back a French thank-you gift, a bottle of Chanel N°19. It was such a luxury for a graduate student. Even better, I loved it!

I can't believe that I might have used the full bottle, but I can't find it. When a pack rat can't find a bottle of perfume, you know it has to be gone or buried where it doesn't belong (maybe in a box of books that made multiple moves with me?). If I still had that bottle, I could compare it to the newer, reformulated versions of N°19 - an activity I would find fascinating. Maybe I should go search the basement.

According to basenotes, the original had top notes of galbanum, bergamot, neroli, and hyacinth; middle notes of rose, orris, jasmine, narcissus, muguet, and ylang-ylang; and base notes of musk, sandal, oakmoss, leather, and cedarwood. My memories tell me it was a bright, fresh, zippy, direct green floral with a soft, powdery dry-down. At the time, more sophisticated analysis was the last thing on my mind. I was concentrating on my studies (and I was glad to be relieved of those crazy cats).

When I learned that Chanel would be introducing a new, supposedly more modern version, called N°19 Poudré ($85 or $115), I was delighted. I started haunting Chanel counters and stumbled on a tester bottle at Saks Fifth Avenue. Every time I stopped by that store, I sprayed. So, I had a few nice opportunities to test it before I got my own bottle.

It launched on August 19, Coco Chanel's birthday. Locally in the DC area, it is exclusive to Saks until October. I purchased mine from Loyd Cassler at Chevy Chase last Friday. I've worn it all weekend, and I'm delighted with it.

A few of us have chatted on Twitter about N°19 Poudré. There's a lot of interest. Because I can't get my hands on my original N°19, I will concentrate on my impressions of the new fragrance, with only a few recollections from those deep recesses of memory that a classic scent can summon.

N°19 Poudré is a powdery green floral that is far softer than the original. It is extremely pretty, but definitely less assertive. It's balanced, comfortable and easy to wear, and the iris dominates the other floral ingredients, like the jasmine. It's like a little sister to the original - in a good way, one that I think may attract a new audience.

The perfumer who created it, Jacques Polge, told WWD that it contains new, interesting musks. Poudre also said that iris rhizome, the central note in the new fragrance, is hard to source and can be affected, like many natural ingredients, by soil, climate, and the long, labor-intensive process that yields the oil. Chanel grew its own irises, Iris pallida and Iris germanica, in Grasse, France and combined old-time perfumery with new technology in producing N°19 Poudré. I think they succeeded in creating one of the prettiest iris fragrances I've tried in a long time.

The notes of N°19 Poudré include iris, neroli, galbanum, jasmine, white musk, vetiver, and tonka bean. There may be other notes. I've compiled these by reading many other blogs. Forget the notes, and what you'll sense is a fresh, soft, powdery, and very pretty floral. It's actually far less "modern" than the marketing had led me to expect. I find it old fashioned in an endearing way.

There is a beautiful and informative short film about N°19 Poudré and its development at Chanel's Web site. Anyone interested in this beautiful fragrance should watch it. You can purchase N°19 Poudré at Chanel or at Saks. In October, it will be available at all Chanel counters.

Photo at top courtesy of Chanel; old print in public domain; iris photo courtesy of blogger-index.com

18 comments:

Carrie Meredith said...

You're spot on when you say "forget the notes" when you're trying Poudre, because it's more of an abstract sense, a mood, rather than the kind of perfume that is easily dissected. I find that many fragrances that contain iris/orris are very evocative and the best maintain a coolness (as opposed to coldness) throughout. It's a lovely perfume, although not quite for me. I like my iris dipped in sugar, like Guerlain Iris Ganache.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Carrie. You're an expert, so I appreciate your comment very much. The idea of anything dipped in sugar is lovely. I just ate blackberries dipped in vanilla sugar for dinner. They were fabulous!

mamavalveeta03 said...

Memories for me, too!! I used to wear No. 19 in college, and I can't begin to tell you what a "man magnet" that fragrance was! Oh...for the days when I was young and hot...lol!

Charlestongirl said...

Oh, no, MamaVal, I thought I was the man magnet, not No. 19! Darn...

LOL

lovethescents said...

Hilarious, Charlestongirl, re: man magnet!!

Carrie Meredith, i love Iris Ganache as well. It's chocolatey warmth in the cold winter ;-)

I cannot wait to try this Poudre! I like some green, and the vtg No19 parfum is as galbanum-y as I can tolerate. This sounds perfect, though! So excited!

Daly Beauty said...

Charlestongirl I share your love for No19 Poudré. The original version of No19 is more galbanumy & oakmossy than the present version for sure but it is still an elegant crisp green floral that was a model for some lovely green scents in the 70s. In parfum No19 is amazing- oak moss-o-rama. But the powdery aspect of iris makes No19 warmer & softer. I think it will be a lovely fall scent too!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Lovethescents,

I can send you a sample when I sent your box. :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Jane! (Daly Beauty)

Nice way of putting it!

Miss Brahms said...

C-girl, why is it that Chanel No. 19 is unavailable? We never have it in stock either. Why is that?

Charlestongirl said...

I could guess that the buyers aren't ordering enough.

Clarisse said...

Hi Charlestongirl! I am eager to test it: French critics in love with Chanel fragrances are very disappointed, Gaya is too (i've just read her review)..I couldn't find it this week-end, I'm hoping for today or to-morrow so I can have my own opinion! Would you like a bottle of the "old" N°19 if you can't find it?

Charlestongirl said...

Hope you can find it too, thanks, Clarisse!

The regular bottles of No. 19 are available here, but it seems that it was reformulated many years ago (at least that's what I have read, and I know many fragrances were tweaked over time). The actual "vintage" bottles are really hard to come by.

I have so many new fragrances now, I think at some point I'm going to have to take a spending vacation. :) I have about 10 "stacked up here" to feature on the blog! I usually stick with one fragrance/day, although last night, I sampled a vintage Diorissimo a friend sent me. It was divine!

lovethescents said...

Thank you for the offer, Charlestongirl! I think I'll take you up on it :-)

Charlestongirl said...

Sending box anyhow as soon as your gloss arrives, so why not? Unfortunately, LtS, it didn't arrive today.

Anonymous said...

i still mourn the loss of the old No. 19, but this sounds nice. Any comparisons to, say, Gucci Flora?

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Anonymous, I don't know Gucci Flora. Maybe someone else reading here can help with your question.

Mary Steele said...

Chanel No19 is what I wear every day, spraying on an obnoxiously large amount and breathing in all the fumes! Must try this new one for fall. Is is a marketing tactic to tie a new scent to an old name? After all, if the ingredients differ then it is a completely different scent, not No19 at all.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Mary,

You have very good taste in fragrance! :)

Because No. 19 was the inspiration for the new one, and because the notes are similar, I think they chose to: 1) play off the original's popularity, and 2) offer another fragrance that would attract a new audience to No. 19. Just a guess.

It's a marketing tactic, for sure, but I'll bet a successful one in this case.