Thursday, December 17, 2009


I may be the last beauty blogger on earth to spotlight Chanel N°5 EAU PREMIÈRE ($88 to $125), the lighter, softer interpretation of Chanel N°5 - a silky-smooth harmony of floral notes that reveals "the delicate face" of the world-renowned N°5 fragrance.

I have always loved N°5. Coco Chanel wanted "a fragrance that smells like a woman." The original N°5 is described as an aldehydic floral, but that description is a bit simplistic. There's an allure to it that's hard to convey in words. The original has top notes of ylang ylang and neroli, then blossoms with Grasse jasmine, May rose, and possibly iris behind the aldehydes. Sandalwood and vanilla round out the composition.

Chanel N°5 is unmistakable. It's like a romp in an old-fashioned garden. It's comfortable and familiar. You wear it, and people recognize it. The sillage is outstanding.

When the EAU PREMIÈRE was introduced, trying it wasn't at the top of my to-do list. I even wondered how anyone could make Chanel N°5 better, improve its appeal, or make me love it. I think I had the prejudice that "N°5 Light" would be as boring as some of the other lighter compositions of best sellers that have come to market in the last few years. I resisted for months, and then I broke down and took a spray sample container to one of my favorite beauty reps and asked him to "fill it up, please."

At first sniff, EAU PREMIÈRE is like an old friend who has mellowed. It's a softer, lighter, and smoother N°5. The initial aldehyde burst - the sparkling but synthetic chemical introduction of the original - is barely there. What's left are the elements of N°5 that I love. The signature ylang ylang, neroli, rose, and jasmine bouquet is powerful. The fragrance is still powdery, and that's fine with me. I like powdery fragrances.

Don't write it off as I did initially. EAU PREMIÈRE is a lovely fragrance if you like soft florals with staying power. Next time you are lingering near a Chanel or fragrance counter, sample it. Then wait for the compliments on how good you smell!

EAU PREMIÈRE is available at most department stores and many online sources. I haven't bought it yet, but I will once I've replenished my checking account after the Christmas spending spree.

Photo courtesy of Chanel

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