I made haste to the Chanel counter at my local David Jones* today because Marina, the consultant, had left me a message saying that a tester was available at last for Chanel No 19 Poudré. Hurrah!
First sniff? Enchanting! First sight of the bottle? Enchanting! I adore Chanel bottles more than any others. It took quite a lot of self-control not to whip out the credit card there and then. Marina gave me two generous spritzes on my arms and another spritz on a blotter. Just before I left she also gave me a carded sample. Thank you Marina!
The first twenty minutes of No 19 Poudré are indeed lovely: there is the soft, ethereal iris we were promised but the startling greenery of the original No 19 much muted. I was expecting to be disappointed but was not because this has a loveliness of its own.
But – and there is a but – as I was driving home, about 20 minutes into the fragrance, the musk started to emerge. Musk is not a favourite note of mine, and if this turns out to be celebuscent-style cheap musk, I thought, as I swung the car on its familiar route home, then the deal is off.
Well, this is Chanel, so the musk is good. And yet, to me the musk is nearly a deal-breaker. On my skin there was a tussle between it and the florals (rose, jasmine) and the vetiver, but the musk won. I did not expect to love this fragrance more than the original but I did hope that it would be an exceptional example of its type (like No 5 Eau Premiere). I’m not sure that it is.
Still, I have my precious 2 ml sample and I’m really looking forward to wearing it tomorrow. Who knows? I may change my mind.
I expect No 19 Poudré it will be a huge success for Chanel. It is clean, delicate, feminine, easy-wearing, without that aggressive blast of galbanum at opening and without the leather and oakmoss in the base. There is nothing here to scare the horses as there was (is) for some people (and horses, no doubt) in the original Chanel No 19.
Most tellingly, there is no mystery here. I love mystery. There is something dark and undiscovered about the original, especially in the EDP, that keeps me constantly coming back. And although it was released in 1971, No 19 seems eternally modern. The original No 19 doesn’t seem to date, but I predict that in 20 years people will be saying ‘Oh yes, No 19 Poudré, can you can really smell that 2011 musk can’t you? That note was everywhere.’
What I would love to do is march into David Jones in full view of the lunch-time crowd and demand of Marina that she sell me Chanel No 19 – the original, please.
*Australian department store