Monday 23 December 2019


When Chanel launched Allure back in 1999 we had been on the brink of a new century and the company wanted to mark this with the release of a new scent for men. The Allure range would go on to spawn many flankers, the industry’s term for variations on an original idea, with the most successful arguably being Allure Homme Sport and Allure Homme Edition Blanche. However, in 2010 it was decided that the time was right to move away from this series and to introduce, what Chanel described as, “the spirit of a man who chooses his destiny.” Bleu de Chanel was born and the latest chapter in men's fragrance had begun.

Fragrance houses are often said to have a particular style that sets them apart from the others and makes them instantly recognisable. I’m going to put my head above the parapet with Bleu de Chanel and say that I don’t think that this applies here. Jacques Polge, the perfumer at Chanel, cleverly collected the best aspects of the surrounding releases, added a touch of emerging trends, and created a fragrance that was wonderfully commercial and yet seemed to transcend any one perfume house. It was this quality that made it such a success with the public, but which seemed to rankle the critics.

Jacques Polge wanted to look at how he could combine the traditional duo of aromatic and woody but, and this was the challenge, present it in a truly contemporary style. You have to remember that we were a little rudderless at this time, ping ponging between woods and skin scents with a large dose of niche in the middle, so his approach was to explode the scent from top to bottom and to really push the idea of “independence and determination.” The eau de toilette launched with explosive citrus, dry cedar wood, and a resinous labdanum proving that Chanel, if you ever doubted it, was back.

There would be two additions to the Bleu de Chanel range in 2014 and 2018, the eau de parfum and the parfum. This duo clearly shared the DNA of the original but differed, primarily, in the final stages of the scent’s development on the skin. The eau de parfum reduces some of the opening citrus and replaces the resinous labdanum with more of a sweetened amber accord. The parfum on the other hand gives us a denser blood orange at the start before ending on a powdery sandalwood, via some beautifully subtle lavender nuances. What doesn’t particularly change, however, is Bleu de Chanel’s longevity.

It’s always been accepted that a fragrance’s longevity increases as we move from eau de toilette to parfum but, with Bleu de Chanel, they’ve kept it the same and concentrated on intensity instead. The eau de toilette is the brightest of the three, with a definite emphasis on that uplifting quality, and the parfum has the greatest richness. This explains why your eau de parfum might not be as noticeable to others as your eau de toilette, because those attention-grabbing top notes are reduced in favour of the deeper, more characterful ones. You will definitely need to “cuddle up a little closer” to smell the parfum, but isn’t that the point?

I said earlier that the trio of fragrances all share the same DNA and, if you think of any family, it’s the individual characteristics that make each one unique. With Bleu de Chanel you find that the original eau de toilette shows an effervescent and timeless elegance that is accompanied by an unpredictable side. However, the eau de parfum definitely has a more steadfast determination whereas the parfum, on the other hand, displays a hugely accomplished and self-confident character. So, the question, in the end, is who do you want to be today?
[Bottle photograph © Sacrebleu Magazine]

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