Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere

The original Chanel No. 5 on all its concentrations, variations and formulations is so iconic and recognizable I doubt I'd ever bother (or dare) reviewing. It's part of just about everyone's olfactory memory in some way or another, even if one knows nothing about perfume (and cares even less). The classic aldehydic-floral blend has become what many would recognize and label simple as "perfume", even if they can't name it. As a result, almost everyone has an opinion about it. It amused me to no end to hear my 60-something father call it "an old lady scent", but it makes sense if you think about it: for my dad's generation, Chanel No. 5 is the perfume of mothers, aunts and grandmas. Let's face it, these ladies have been old for quite a while.

But we're not here to discuss No. 5, which I keep on hand for reference purpose, but rarely wear. This is about the updated version, Eau Premiere, which was created for the sake of those of us who have a Chanel-lust but suffer an aldehyde aversion. An interesting idea, for sure, and much more civilized than simply butchering a classic in the name of modernity.

No. 5 Eau Premiere is easy on the nose. It has an airy citrus meringue opening (think of a pared-down, non gourmand Shalimar Light), an abstract floral heart which is most like the original No. 5, though I have a hard time telling the flowers apart from each other, while at least in the parfum they are more noticeable, and a muted vanilla and soap base. The drydown might be the weakest link here. It's barely there and not very convincing for someone who prefers a scent with some fangs.

Eau Premiere is easy to wear and easy to like. While it is decidedly recognizable as No. 5, it lacks the challenging parts, though I doubt my father would find it more youthful (he wears Terre d'Hermès these days). It's pleasant, pretty and no matter how much I apply, it never becomes obnoxious (and I've worn it while doing 90 minutes on the elliptical trainer). It feels like a go-to scent, something I'd reach for when I have no clue what else I'd like or when needing something tasteful, appropriate and not oozing with personality. As a result it's also a little boring. Not in a bad way, though. I think of Eau Premiere as the equivalent of a J. Crew cardigan. It's a functional and essential piece in one's wardrobe, but unless you know how to integrate the sweater into an interesting outfit and accessorize it well, you might end up looking just a bit bland.

Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere is available in those ridiculous 5 oz bottles for $125 from Chanel counters and However, some online discounters have managed to stock the more tasteful 2.5 oz bottles (did they fall off of a truck on the way to Canada?) and they sell it for around $80. I have a 5 ml mini which is probably over a year's worth, and I have every intention to get more once it reaches critical level.


  1. Drydowns are the weak point of a lot of mainstream releases, aren't they? I mean, why bother? Customers never wait around for it before buying...
    I agree the one for Eau Première is a little generic and you'll see Cristalle Eau Verte has no base notes at all.
    Eau Première is a great go-to scent, you're right, but I don't find it boring: it's quite radiant and lovely to me. I think it perfectly fulfills the purpose for which it was launched. And thank God, we still have the original.

  2. I haven't tried Eau premiere because after trying Cristalle Eau verte, I kind of lost interest in the eaus. I agree with carmencanada - where are the base notes? There was nothing left after half an hour - I have to admit that has never happened to me before.

  3. EP was my gateway to #5, and it is darn easy to wear-I sprayed it on today. I know love it, and the original parfum, vintage EDC, body lotion, and all the meshpucha. I got my Huge Bottle of EP on ebay for less than $80, which makes my wild spraying justified ; )

  4. I wore Chanel No. 5 and L'Interdit religiously back in the 1960's, but like other women, I moved on to new fragrances as trends changed. I've tried the reformulations of these two classics, but I've always been disappointed with the result. So,it was with halfhearted hope that I tried Eau Premiere. At first, I was pleasantly surprised, but my pleasure lasted about a nanosecond. On me, the fragrance quickly morphed from the No. 5 of my memories, to a lackluster reminder, to nothing at all. I guess the old body chemistry ain't what it used to be :-) Hopefully, you younger gals will have more luck with EP

  5. I find both N°5 Eau Première and Eau de Shalimar surprisingly good. I never thought they could do it right.

    They are for teenagers though.

  6. I pretty much wear Chanel No. 5 everyday.

  7. I wanted to purchase this one first, but I bought Coco Mademoiselle instead :)


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