Notes: Mandarin orange, grapefruit, black currant, tuberose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, orange blossom, sandalwood, and musk.
I ordered my bottle of Gabrielle when it was released online August 19th. It was a blind buy. We all know the hype and the story. Chanel had not released a new pillar fragrance for women since Chance in 2002. I blind-bought this because, of course, I was eager to smell Gabrielle. I also wanted to own a bottle from an early batch production to help stave off purchasing bottles of the inevitable reformulations. And, quite honestly, I simply wanted to own a new Chanel release.
So, how does Gabrielle really smell? I will say that I was not impressed at first sniff. The grapefruit in the opening has a bite to it, which is not a bad thing. However, taken with the other citrus and fruity notes, it’s reminiscent of J’adore from Dior. Gabrielle has that similar slightly headache-inducing sharp fruit vibe. I was mentally side-eyeing Chanel at this point. Did we really wait all this time simply for Chanel to release a J’adore clone?
Fortunately, there’s quite a bit of development from the opening to the heart of the fragrance. The Chanel marketing copy states that “Olivier Polge crafted this Eau de Parfum as an imaginary flower — a radiant, and sparkling, purely feminine Chanel blossom based on a bouquet of four white flowers.” The four white flowers being: tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang. I love a white floral, so this is the stage where Gabrielle hooks me. I find the line about “an imaginary flower” extremely accurate here because none of the floral notes stand out to me individually. I wouldn’t classify this as a fantastic example of a tuberose or jasmine fragrance. The florals are blended to the point where this could be a newly imagined floral.
If anything stands out to me, it’s a bright white jasmine and a full-bodied ylang-ylang note. The ylang-ylang is more of a yellow floral, but that’s not a bad thing. It brings a bit of texture to this otherwise smooth white floral blend. The problem with Olivier Polge’s imaginary flower is that most of the defining characteristics and little quirks of the individual florals have been blended out. Both Polge and Chanel are working overtime to ensure that Gabrielle is as pretty and appealing as possible, but this might be better achieved by simply letting the individual floral notes shine.
My real issue with Gabrielle is the dry down, or lack thereof. I love a good sandalwood dry down, and I would even be willing to put up with a white musk dry down just to get some base notes going here. I get a lot of wear time out of Gabrielle, but it’s all floral heart notes. When my skin chemistry decides that it’s time for the fragrance to fade, that’s it. It’s like the composition falls off a cliff. There’s no base whatsoever on my skin. It’s the strangest thing.
All this being said, do I actually wear Gabrielle? Yes, I’ve had my bottle for nearly a month now and I’ve worn it frequently. It’s a great scent to wear into the office. And I do think it fits in with Chanel’s style: pretty and classy. But it’s nowhere near being a classic. It’s not even in the same league as Olivier Polge’s release from 2016, No. 5 L’Eau. I will continue to wear Gabrielle, but it’s not the knockout release many of us were hoping for. Nor is it the type of fragrance we know Chanel is capable of doing.
Photo taken by me.
The info on notes is from Fragrantica.