I've been trying hard to figure out the line of thought that resulted in the creation of Chanel's newest Les Exclusifs perfume, Jersey. How exactly do you get from the 1920s classic Ernest Beaux perfumes (Bois des Îles and Cuir de Russie) through the restrained and somewhat haughty 2007 Les Exclusifs to the mostly harmless washed out lavender of Jersey? What kind of creative process conceived this idea?
I guess it's the ongoing quest for smelling clean. But since we are talking Chanel and all that is French, the Polge-Sheldrake team came up with lavender. After all, this note is both clean and French.
After several days and half a massive decant, I can say that Jersey is growing on me a little. Sort of. I find the opening notes rather awful and I'm actually a fan of lavender. There's something oily and sticky just behind the very first burst of a too sweet lavender. I like this herb astringent with both leaves and flowers present, just like the lavender I pick in my yard and let dry, perfuming my kitchen. This is not that kind of lavender; instead, the Chanel version tries hard not to make any sharp and sudden moves. I could forgive that if not for the aforementioned unpleasant after-taste that makes me wonder if anyone has actually tested Jersey on human skin before sending it to production.
There's very little else to this weird perfume. You need to apply it with abandon, which is not necessarily the most fun thing, if you want to experience the whole thing and make it last more than an hour. What remains is a bland vanilla musk thing, shockingly chemical and uninspired. Again, think of this bottle standing at Bergdorf side by side with Cuir de Russie. I find that if part of the liberal application includes one's clothes, scarves and unmentionable it does last all day- 12 hours and going, and that mix of skin and musk is actually quite pleasant. That's what I meant in saying it was growing on me- I'm a musk girl, after all. The thing is, Jersey's effect doesn't smell like a real perfume. It's too similar to what I'd smell if I used scary amounts of Downy® Simple Pleasures® Lavender Serenity Liquid fabric softener and nothing else. I don't and I won't. The Powers That Be at Chanel should be aware that this kind of scent is what one buys at Target for $5.99.
Chanel Jersey ($110, 2.5 oz) is available now from Chanel boutiques around the world, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks5th Avenue and chanel.com. Thankfully, the Perfumes Court offers samples and decants.
Photo of Christy Turlington for Chanel from roxyishere.wordpress.com