First sniff: Chanel No 19 Poudré

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

12 thoughts on “First sniff: Chanel No 19 Poudré

  1. Oh, I can’t help but feel disappointed. I guess it is hard to improve on the perfection of 19, or even interpret it anew, but since Chanel did the undoable with Eau Premiere, I had high hopes for this one. Well, I will still smell it as soon as possible, but with a lot less anticipation. 😦

      1. Adding: and Poudre’s sillage and longevity are not nearly as great as No 19 EDP. Disappointing, in that Poudre is also an EDP. I predict that this is going to be the perfumista’s constant complaint about this fragrance, as mopre and more of us get to try it.

        But maybe most perfume consumers, those brought up in the era of ‘clean and fresh’, don’t demand hours and hours out of wear any more?

  2. Galbanum, leather and oakmoss are the reasons why I like No. 19. But that’s ok, at least I don’t think I’ll be tempted to abuse my credit card with this one.

    1. Yes indeed. Still, if you switch your attitude to ‘Hmmm .. what might be a lovely, easy wearing iris fragrance with great raw materials … oh, I’ll try No 19 Poudre … ‘ you might like it. Give it a go!

  3. As one of those people that was/is scared by No.19, I did find Poudre very pretty and likeable. I loved the iris on the opening but before long I couldn’t smell anything anymore and from reading your review I’m now wondering if I have found a musk I am anosmic to. From what I do remember there certainly wasn’t any mystery to it and I didn’t feel love but I wish I’d remembered to ask for a sample! Glad you weren’t appalled by it, even if you didn’t love it.

    1. Hopefully samples will be easy to come by, as Chanel gears itself up for the big sell on this one. I didn’t love it, but I can see that I would wear it a lot as a go-to fragrance. Much as I DO love the original No 19, I’m hardly going to grab it on my way out to do the grocery shopping!

      The Chanel consultant showed me some of her advertising gumph, and one thing I saw was an illustration showing three key dimensions to this fragrance: iris, musk and vetiver. I got plenty of the first two but little of the last, sadly. Perhaps I have a problem with vetiver?!

  4. It’s been released today here in Oregon, and I’m hoping to test it on our way out of town early next week; the musks give me pause, because I have so much trouble with musks, but, as you say, this is Chanel!

    I hope to love it, because I love 19, and I love the bottle, and I love Eau Premiere… I’ll report back as soon as I manage to sniff some! 🙂

  5. I do think fate is against you, that one of the most interesting releases of the year occurs just as your life is upheaval!

    I’ll be interested to see if you perceive the musk as strongly as I do. I dabbed a bit of vintage No 5 parfum last night at bed time and was reminded how luscious a big, old fashioned musk can be. The just don’t (can’t) do ’em like that any more! Poudre’s musk is much lighter.

  6. It’s interesting to me how different the reviews of this have been from each other. I’m glad you’ve talked about the musks in this, because it’s something I was wondering about, after reading the note list again and having not really thought about them much when I briefly tested. Do you think they are part of why you don’t love the drydown?

    1. Yes, and I don’t think it is the fault of the musk in Poudre, which is not bad. It is because I hadn’t expected such a strong musky presence. Musk is a note in the original No 19, apparently, but I have never noticed it. (And it is probably present in many fragrances I like, even if I can’t detect it.) So anyway, I got a surprise. I was floating around enjoying that lovely opening until suddenly, I came down to earth with a thump square in the middle of the celebrity section of the fragrance floor.

      Other people may not detect the musk so clearly as me, of course. Someone remarked on NST the other day (in passing, while discussing another fragrance), that she finds Poudre charming, elegant and warm. So it is, especially the charming bit, and that probably comes from the musk, and the tonka maybe.

      Charm and elegance make a powerful combination – a lot of people are going to love this. I bet, like Eau Premiere, that it is bought as a gift quite often. Thankfully, it comes in a 50 ml bottle. I recall when EP was released it only came in 75 and 150 ml bottles. Now there’s a nice little 40 ml bottle.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s