Let’s Talk Chanel!

This won’t come across as at all original or unique, but it’s the truth: I have an obsession with all things Chanel. From the glamorous Grande Dame herself, to the storied history of the house, to the quilted leather handbags, to Karl Lagerfeld’s eccentricities, I just can’t get enough. With one exception: Chanel’s fragrances.

Possibly the most famous fragrance of all time, Chanel No. 5, just does not work for me. And I feel strangely guilty about it! Every time I’m out shopping at Sephora or Nordstrom, I feel compelled to try a spritz. It will be different this time! I convince myself. But I only ever end up with the same result: the scent of stale baby powder. I have no problem with powdery scents, and I don’t mind smelling a little ‘old lady’ either (I know some cool older ladies). The fact is, No. 5 just doesn’t smell *right* on me.

I’ve gotten similar results from Coco Mademoiselle  and No. 19. The only mainstream Chanel fragrance that semi-works for me is Allure and even that isn’t a *love it* experience for me.

Enter: Les Exclusifs de Chanel. It took me an embarrassingly long time to discover Chanel’s Exclusifs line and I’ve only begun exploring it in earnest in the past several months. Based on my own scent preferences, I singled out Sycomore as my first Exclusifs sample.

Notes: vetiver, sandalwood, cypress, juniper, pink pepper.

Considering the name, it’s no surprise that Sycomore is all about doing an elegant woody fragrance. Vetiver is definitely the star of the show, evoking roots and forest undergrowth. There’s a considerable amount of dry smokiness here too.  The entire effect is delicate, not dirty. It reminds me of a piece of bark peeling off a tree trunk.

It also has fabulous staying power on me. I recently wore it to my favorite French restaurant, which is a small affair with an open kitchen. I fully expected Sycomore to be obliterated by the cooking smells, but I was happy to note that it was still going strong on my wrist at the end of the night.

So, Sycomore is the first Chanel I’ve really fallen for. I’m currently experimenting with Cuir de Russie, and I have Coromandel and Bois des Iles on my to-try list. I’m hoping that Chanel fragrances & I can finally start getting along.

What are your experiences with Chanel? I’d love to hear from people who really enjoy No. 5, how does it work for you?

Sycomore: $110 for 2.5 fl. oz. // $210 for 6.8 fl. oz. available online from Chanel. I ordered my sample from The Perfumed Court.

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Chanel!

  1. I wear No. 5, I have for years. I’m hideously poor at describing scents, but I do know that it smells “pretty” on me. That’s the word to describe it and, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s a bad word when it comes to No. 5. I only wear it when I’m feeling super feminine or want to get a certain point across. Which reminds me, I think it’s been a while…

    I’ve seen this line, but never really heard anything about it. I’m interested to hear what you find about the other fragrances. Seems like this one was a hit?

    1. There’s nothing wrong with ‘pretty’ as a description. I certainly wish I could describe No. 5 as pretty on me! For whatever reason, it just isn’t.

      Yes, Sycomore is a hit for me! I’m test driving Cuir de Russie right now, and it’s interesting. It’s floral & leather, and actually a bit more floral than I usually go for. I wanted more leather! It might be a good one for you try, if you find No. 5 works well for you.

  2. I have had the same experience with No. 5. I normally wouldn’t even try for Chanel fragrances since I’ve had so many under-par experiences with their perfumes, but this one might actually smell good on me. You and I seem to have similar perfume tastes and woodsy scents are not bad.

  3. I’m glad to have made a suggestion that might work for you, and I hope it does! I’ve been frustrated with my Chanel perfume issues and it was almost a relief to find something that worked for me.

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