Did the world move for you on 1 September 2017? More precisely, did you feel the perfume world move? After all, the most important perfume event of 2017 happened on this day. No, I’m not talking about the launch of Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous, although that was a close second. I’m talking about the worldwide launch of Gabrielle Chanel EDP. The fragrance industry has perfected the art of hype. And as far as hype goes, the first brand-new Chanel fragrance launch in 15 years (since the highly regarded Chanel Chance EDP in 2002) was fraught with expectation, hubris and debate.
In the month leading up to the worldwide launch and for the past three weeks, I deliberately avoided reading all reviews about Gabrielle Chanel. So apologies to all those fragrance bloggers whose notification mails I deleted. I didn’t want my thoughts on this fragrance to be influenced in any way by other opinions.
I decided instead to bring Gabrielle Chanel on a family road trip to the eastern Free State. To spend some time with it, on its own terms. I thought the Free State would be a fitting environment to do this, as this province of South Africa captures some of the qualities Chanel herself is renowned for. A pioneering and resilient spirit and an uncompromising style that can only come from suffering and endurance. Although the Chanel aesthetic is often associated with pearls and black dresses, Coco was never a prissy missy.
So what did I learn about Gabrielle Chanel the fragrance from my relatively secluded time with it? Well, it’s clearly aimed at a new generation of younger women, who might find Chanel No5 “overpowering”, “old-fashioned” and “one of my mother’s favourites”. No doubt about it, this is Chanel’s big push for the “millennial” market.
The result is a modern scent that has a dominant heart of white florals (jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, orange blossoms). The listed top notes include mandarin, black currant and grapefruit, but I only picked up grapefruit from those. The floral heart is fresh and contemporary, albeit not particularly original, and eventually makes way for a more traditional base of sandalwood and musk notes. I enjoyed this more subdued element after the initial spark of white florals had subsided.
While I am both male and 40-something (ahem, clearly not the target market), Gabrielle Chanel is very easy to wear, accessible and undeniably appealing. It will probably appeal to many other non-millennials too. And now for the big question…
IS GABRIELLE CHANEL A CLASSIC IN THE MAKING?
Mais non! And it doesn’t have to be. If the brief for Chanel’s in-house perfumer, Olivier Polge, was to create a modern, elegant and luxurious scent, he has succeeded admirably.
I had no “classic” expectations of Gabrielle Chanel. After all, is it realistic to expect another iconic scent like Chanel No5? I was going to title this post “Keep Calm & Gabrielle Chanel” and perhaps that’s the best way to approach this EDP. If you have unrealistic expectations of it, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you can appreciate it for what it is, then it’s a very pleasurable, well-executed scent.
Either way, do expect a roll-out of Gabrielle Chanel flankers over the next five years, as Chanel has invested heavily in this new pillar fragrance and left no details to chance. The luxe packaging and fine-glass bottle alone will tell you that.
Gabrielle Chanel EDP, R1 745 for 50ml and R2 465 for 100ml.