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 Chanel.com. I got a sample with a recent purchase.
Karl Lagerfeld is not amused from trendland.net
Patti Hansen in a 1977 Chanel No. 19 ad from beauty-is-a-warm-gun.blogspot.com
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.