Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chanel No.19 Poudre

Chanel decided to celebrate Coco Chanel's 128th birthday on August 19th by giving Chanel No. 19, the classic 1971 green bomb, a young sibling,  No.19 Poudre. It's not the first time the Powers That Be at Chanel decide to make a modern version of a classic without bagging the original. Chanel No.5 Eau Premier has proven to be quite a success and most critics agree it's a very decent effort. I liked Eau Premier enough to get a bottle and it serves as my effortless, can't be bothered to think perfume.

The problem with Chanel No. 19 Poudre is that "updating" and "modernizing" the galbanum and leather wench involved removing said notes, leaving us with a pale and harmless iris that starts pleasant enough: airy and powdery, but fades into musky nothingness within the hour. I hear that the scrubbed clean musks of Chanel No.19 Poudre are actually extremely tenacious on those not anosmic to them. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them, so other than a general muskiness and the general idea that there's some perfume somewhere on my skin, I don't smell much of it after 90 minutes.

What I do smell is disappointing. The question is how I and others would have felt had No. 19 Poudre been launched as a perfume in its own right with a different name. I still would have passed on a bottle, obviously, but would I have been any less annoyed? Probably not, since my expectations from Chanel are still inexplicably high. They shouldn't be, considering the blah Bleu, Chance on all its flankers and the linen spray quality of Cristalle Eau Verte, but I keep hoping. A friend of mine recently tweeted "Optimism is like insanity without the fun". I wonder if he was sending loyal Chanel fans a message.

Chanel No.19 Poudre ($85, 1.7 oz) is available from Saks and I got a sample with a recent purchase.

Karl Lagerfeld is not amused from
Patti Hansen in a 1977 Chanel No. 19 ad from

With apologies to my friend A. who loves No. 19 Poudre and to Eric who wouldn't know a Chanel perfume even if it hit him on the head. 


  1. Chanel 19 was a long-time favorite of mine before they started messing with it. So I wanted to give the flanker a chance. Disppointment in every way. This is not even bad, it's just irrelevant. On me, it smelled a lot like Prada's Infusion d'Iris which I never liked. Chanel 19 Poudre lacks everything that makes the original so special. I'm thinking to buy the 19 perfume, maybe this still has some of the old vibe.

  2. Love the Karl Lagerfeld photo! And thanks for saving me an unsniffed purchasing mistake. I love the original No 19 for the same reason I love Silences: that biting green "take no prisoners" aspect.

  3. Kristina, I know the feeling. I'm hoarding all the vintage No. 19 I can get my hand on in every formulation. The current EDT is a disgrace.

  4. Sharon, I'm starting to think that Poudre is not meant for those who love the real thing.

  5. It's strange, but I've been wearing Chanel 19 for the last few weeks and loving it. It's such a stunner, with that rich, seductive heart. Not what you expect from the crisp and businesslike top notes!

    But this new '19 lite' I bet is aimed at the younger market. An attempt to bring in customers who don't want the 'difficult' classics.

    I can only say how glad I am that Chanel aren't killing off the classics - thank the Gods they realise we perfumistas are out there and want to buy the good stuff.

  6. Ah, No 19 has been in home since the mid 80s, and it was all I wore for many years. I searched high and low looking for the pure parfum (not the spray) and have a couple backups in cool, dark storage. I am interested in the 19 Poudre, just to see what's up, but I'll be able to test it risk free, since it looks like included it with my recent order.

    Love the pictures you find! That one of Karl is fantastic, and the PH ad is so hokey it almost makes me cringe.

  7. Thanks for the review Gaia, I thought about purchasing a bottle but was glad I tested before I purchased, I was not impressed with what I smelled (all 2 hours or so).
    As a lover of the original, Poudre isn't in the ballpark. The original No 19 is a masterpiece that needed no further reinterpretation. I plan on purchasing any vintage I can lay my hands on!

  8. I came back to this entry because you have a picture of KL at top.

    I recently read where he will release a new frag this fall (if I remember correctly) can't wait to see if you review!


  9. to me, Chanel 19 Poudre smells like Elnett hairspray...I do not like it. I do not mind not liking all Chanel perfumes, but why is there a need to re-use the name of Chanel 19 for something completely different ?? Is this all marketing ? How sad.


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