Caron – Parfum Sacré

Caron – Parfum Sacré

caron Perfumes Parfum Sacre There are those loves which we know will endure forever. Such is the beauty of this peppery rose-inspired fragrance by Caron. But where Caron’s Rose is simple and Marni is sheer and evanescent, Parfum Sacré positively smolders, bringing new depths to the pepper-rose combination.

As the vintage advertisement for Caron perfumes at left attests “What is seduction if not a man, a woman and a Caron perfume?” While the fragrance’s name references the sacred, Parfum Sacré is nothing if not sensual.

Though Parfum Sacré opens with a burst of lively, citrusy pepper and spices, like many Caron fragrances, it is perfectly blended to create an more of an overall impression. Despite its spicy opening, Parfum Sacré is as warm and enveloping as a lover’s embrace. The presence of rose lends a velvety texture to the underlying woods and spices, elements which on their own can often be perceived as dry.

Though vanilla and floral notes make an appearance, it is only to support the romance between rose and spices. While the distinct Caron drydown is recognizable, it remains enrobed in the warm, dark rose, adding a hint a smoky drama.

While both the extrait and Eau de Parfum have impressive lasting power, they wear fairly close to the skin, making for an intimate yet luxurious fragrance experience. While the vintage versions have more complexity and depth (especially the extrait which is truly magical) the reformulated version available today is a reasonably close facsimile and worth seeking out for those seeking an elegant and unusual rose-tinged oriental.

Notes: Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood, Lemon, Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood

Guerlain – Vol de Nuit

Guerlain – Vol de Nuit

vol de nuit guerlain 1

I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. If one has positive changes to implement in one’s life, why wait until the dawn of a new year to start doing so? That said, I am a proponent of focusing on new year’s intentions – those visions and dreams which we want to manifest over the coming twelve months. Being a lover of travel, my mind naturally starts focusing on where the next twelve months can take me.

In addition to poring over photographs of dream destinations,  I love wearing fragrances which take me away to foreign locales, even if I am sitting nowhere more glamorous than my desk at work. One of the fragrances I find myself reaching for most during my intention setting is Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit, or Night Flight in English. This 1933 fragrance is Jacques Guerlain’s tribute to Antoine Saint Exupery’s novel by the same name and is yet another link in a long line of masterpieces.

While Saint Exupery’s tale is a memorial to the dangerous and sometimes tragic missions of early airmail pilots flying through the night to deliver their charges, Vol de Nuit celebrates the romance of air travel, in typical Guerlain fashion. From the elegant flacon with propeller-inspired relief to the distinctive zebra-print box, Vol de Nuit is the embodiment of elegance and adventure. Air travel is something that we largely take for granted in modern society, so it is incredible to imagine a time when this was a rare luxury reserved for the elite. The first commercial flights, which took place nearly a hundred years ago were much planned and greatly publicized. People fortunate enough to board a plane took the travel itself as a momentous occasion, and did not neglect to dress the part.

vol de nuit gerlain 2

Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit suggests this world of decadence and luxury, evident in the rich materials of the vintage formulation which are of superb caliber. The fragrance possesses a highly unique character, evoking a sense of otherworldliness and wonder which I associate with exploration. When compared with other vintage Guerlains, including its predecessors L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit has a subtle masculine (and dare I say rebellious) edge, not unlike the androgyny found in Caron’s Tabac Blonde.  

Indeed the fragrance is a delicious balance of bitter citrus and deep green notes which part the skies to reveal a warm, woody base set atop the famous Guerlinade. Shining throughout like the gleaming wings of a plane is one of the loveliest examples of galbanum I have ever encountered in a fragrance, on par with the beauty and bite of vintage Chanel 19.

While the fragrances are very dis-similar in scent, I cannot help but draw comparisons between Vol de Nuit and Guerlain’s own Bouquet de Faunes for the darkness of character. While many fragrances today are formulated to be light, casual and pretty, Vol de Nuit suggests a depth and mystery very akin to its name, and is among the more “intellectual” of the old Guerlains. If you are a lover of vintage Guerlains or of galbanum, I highly suggest seeking this out – as the current formulation (updated due to restrictions on materials) unfortunately do not do this justice.

 Notes: Bergamot, Petitgrain, Galbanum, Lemon, Jonquil, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Iris, Musk.

vol de nuit guerlain 3

Guerlain – Mitsouko

Guerlain – Mitsouko


Despite being named after the heroine in Claude Farrère’s novel “La Bataille”, if each perfume symbolizes a woman, Mitsouko would have to be the mythological Eve, the first woman and mother of all. For it is in her composition that we can find the DNA for many beloved and wildly successful perfumes including Rochas Femme, Diorama, Youth Dew, Opium and Coco Chanel. Mitsouko was the astounding creation of Jacques Guerlain. Reflecting the world’s fascination with Chypre by Coty, a ground-breaking creation which combined the somewhat odd bedfellows of bergamot, jasmine, labdanum and oakmoss into what would ultimately become a new fragrance category, Guerlain took this novel concept one step further with the introduction of a warm, creamy, ripe peach note. The original Chypre is often described as being a bit rough around the edges, a quandary solved by Guerlain with the introduction of the newly-discovered Gamma-Undecalactone, also known as Aldehyde C-14. Without getting overly technical, there is some debate over the use of the aldehyde reference to C-14, which is technically a lactone, a term which refers both to the molecule’s structure as well as to its fragrance which often has a creamy (milky) scent. Aldehydes are often used to give a fragrance that special opening “sparkle” (imagine the first moments of Chanel No 5), whereas C 14 has a very specific golden peach tone. Nomenclature aside, the introduction of this molecule beautifully rounded out the more angular structure of Chypre into an unforgettable masterpiece.

Mitsouko is at once bold and soft, womanly and earthy. It is the smell of the fall, the warmth and spice of cinnamon and the odd sweetness of decomposing leaves. Its beauty is, quite simply, astounding. While Mitsouko is perhaps one of the most beloved and written about fragrances, it can often be a difficult one to approach if one is just developing their appreciation of vintage or more complex scents. Thanks in part to the inclusion of oakmoss, a popular perfume fixative before restrictions limited its use, Mitsouko has a certain musty smell reminiscent of library books which some find challenging upon first sniff. Ironically, it is the diminution of this same note in the modern, reformulated version, that many perfume enthusiasts bemoan the loss of.

Approaching perfume is not unlike learning about wine: at first, one’s palate can more readily appreciate simpler, sweeter wines, but with time, one is able to appreciate the dry and more complex varieties. So it is with Mitsouko, so be sure to give it some time if you are unable to love it right away – this is one of the perfumes most worth knowing. While many have followed in her steps, Mitsouko is perhaps the finest example of the Chypre genre, if not one of the greatest perfumes of all time.


While I have various examples of Mitsouko in my collection, each with a slightly different scent due in large part to varying ages, the new reformulated version is in some respects a distinct departure from the original vintage. While the lasting power matches that of the original (my scent strip still held scent 48 hours later) the unfolding of the fragrance was decidedly different. While it is definitely still recognizable as Mitsouko, there were aspects throughout the drydown that seemed quite foreign to my nose, and at one point I thought I had mixed up my samples. Overall the fragrance seemed thinner and while I was comparing a modern EdP to a vintage parfum, I attribute the lack of depth more to the absence of oakmoss than to the concentration, as vintage versions of the EdT or even EdC seemed to have more weight than the modern EdP.

Indeed, an overall note on the vintage EdT and EdC Guerlains (and Chanels as well) – these are often excellent and substantial renditions of the parfum (with the exception perhaps of Chant D’Aromes). While they are often a touch more powdery than the parfum (especially true for L’Heure Bleue) they are a wonderful option if one is looking for a more affordable alternative to a vintage parfum.

Fruity Chypre

Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Peach, Rose, Clove, Ylang-Ylang, Cinnamon, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vetiver.

Hierbas de Ibiza – Agua de Colonia Fresca

Hierbas de Ibiza – Agua de Colonia Fresca


While I am lucky enough to have cobbled together a nice collection of perfumes and samples over the years, I am truly fortunate to have friends that are eager to share their fragrances with me, allowing me to experience scents I may not have otherwise had access to. Some of these are avid collectors, and some have only a few bottles in their repetoire, but the generosity and enthusiasm of each and every one of them is part of what makes the exploration of fragrances so enjoyable.

One such friend introduced me to Agua de Colonia Fresca by Hierbas de Ibiza, a family-operated perfumer that has been creating Mediterranean-inspired scents since 1965. While the group started out small, creating fragrances on a fairly intimate scale, the success of their products has ultimately landed them in prestigious retailers such as Barney’s.

The groups’ self-professed star creation is Agua de Colonia Fresca Hierbas de Ibiza. While the official notes have a dizzying list of citrus, floral and savory notes, the fragrance is fairly straight-forward in execution, consistent with the house’s motto of “simplicity and spontaneity”. Hierbas de Ibiza starts out super sharp and citrusy, with a slight herbal bitterness reminiscent of lemon pith. The fragrance quickly sweetens into a sorbet-like lemon confection but retains its bright, sharp character.  During the drydown, some of the green savory notes make a brief appearance, with rosemary and thyme being dominant.

Then, in what feels like an abrupt about-face, Hierbas de Ibiza largely changes its character in the drydown, transforming into a soft, warm and slightly musky vanilla veil. Given the fragrance’s playful opening and associations with the Mediterranean, I feared it might veer into the suntan-lotion category, but Hierbas de Ibiza’s vanilla is warm rather than sweet. Upon first application, the sillage is bold and viviacious. About an hour or so after the vanilla first makes its appearance, the fragrance is barely detectable, which is my main disappointment with Hierbas de Ibiza. That and the fact that I am not currently in Ibiza wearing sandals, a sundress and a deep suntan while I reapply it.

Notes: orange, lemon, lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme, sage, verbena, geranium, jasmine, orange blossom, cinnamon, and vanilla

Balmain – Ivoire

Balmain – Ivoire27115-pierre-balmain-perfumes-1988-ivoire-hprints-com

Elegant and polished like the keys of a piano, Balmain’s 1979 Ivoire perfectly captures the sensibility of its time and of the refined, luxurious fashions of its creator, Pierre Balmain. While the fragrance can go head to head with the big, bold and brash fragrances of the 1980s, it possesses an earthy quality characteristic of the 1970s. While the name Ivoire, French for ivory, conjures for many images of a big white velvety floral, Ivoire is positively green.

From the outset, Ivoire is dense and layered. On my skin, the fragrance does not unfold in the typical top-heart-base progression, rather it unleashes its depths all at once. Ivoire is green, herbal and floral, with a pungent, spicy warmth at its depth. And while the fragrance does take some twists and turns throughout the day, revealing bright citrus and hints of floral underpinned by galbanum, the warmth of oakmoss and musk is ever present. The drydown is a creamy, woodsy and slightly soapy pillow.

I have a small vintage bottle from the 1980s that I take out whenever I want to feel especially elegant in a confident, Chanel No 19-esque  manner, so I was thrilled to see that Balmain had re-issued the fragrance in 2012. While perfumers Michel Almairac and Jacques Flori are certainly talented in their own right, the beauty of the original was unfortunately lost in translation due to restrictions on perfume materials. The re-issued Ivoire leans more toward a straight floral, and feels sharp and unbalanced without the richness that only true oakmoss and musks can bring. And while it does not possess the elegance of the original 1970s ads, the new marketing photos are a knockout.

ivoiredebalmainvisuelpuNotes: green accord, galbanum, bergamot, lemon, aldehydes, lily of the valley, rose, hyacinth, jasmine, carnation, orris, orchid, geranium, cedar, musk, oakmoss, amber, raspberry and sandalwood.

Guerlain – Shalimar

Guerlain – Shalimar: Taking Risks


I have a photograph of my mother as a young woman in Italy on her honeymoon. She is sitting at a vanity in her hotel room, which overlooks the Spanish Steps. Her thick, long black hair is set up in hot rollers. She sits, dressed in a deep red cashmere turtleneck, applying makeup with the expertise of an artist. While most of us would protest at being photographed in this manner, just before the camera clicks, she gives my father a loving smile with all of the confidence of a beautiful young woman who knows she is loved.

If you could travel through time and step into the photograph, the scent that would pervade the room would be Shalimar, itself a long-standing symbol of romantic love. Shalimar was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925, named for the beautiful gardens surrounding the Taj Majal built by the Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. While I always admired Shalimar intellectually as the paragon of oriental fragrances, I had difficulty getting past my emotional associations with the fragrance. For years, I would try the fragrance on when passing a Guerlain counter, and yet, something did not seem right. While I loved all of the component notes in theory – a bright bergamot opening, a floral heart of jasmine and rose and a warm enveloping radiance of vanilla and the smoky amber of tonka – I experienced these as a screechy and suffocating cloud. My mother and I have somewhat similar tastes in fragrance, so I was baffled. What had she found so alluring about this fragrance that inspired her to wear it for so many years? Why did it unfold so differently on me? After some time, I moved on, and found my own Guerlain loves, until…

I had decided to take part in a perfume auction which listed a vintage Guerlain in a rosebud bottle developed in the 1950s, which had housed several of their fragrances including L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Ode and Vol de Nuit. Unfortunately, the bottle had no label and the seller was not a perfume collector, so the contents remained a mystery. Given that the bottle could have contained any number of beauties which I loved, I decided to take a risk and bid on the item. Based on the color of the fragrance, which was a deep, rich caramel, I reasoned that it must be Mitsouko. I only hoped that it wasn’t Shalimar. I bid, and I won and then I awaited the arrival of my mystery fragrance.

When the bottle arrived, I scarcely made it to the car before opening the box. I opened it and inhaled. It wasn’t Mitsouko. It wasn’t Vol de Nuit. It definitely wasn’t Ode or Jicky. What was this beauty? I dabbed on the perfume and stepped into an appointment.


Over the next couple of hours, I was treated to the most opulent, gentle, unfolding of a fragrance I had ever experienced. The notes were warm and distinct, each hovering about me before softly cascading into the next. I was reminded of Monet’s series of paintings of the Cathedral at Rouen. He would sit outside all day, with numerous easels before him. As the light changed, he would move on to the next easel and paint the same façade anew. The effect of the paintings when viewed together is a soft transition of light across the face of the Cathedral. I was similarly entranced and mystified until…

cropwm Hardly aware of its arrival, there it was: the lush, vanilla drydown of Shalimar, which is unmistakable. Jacques Guerlain was known to have employed two different vanilla components to render this complex and amber-like vanilla which is unique to Guerlain, and rendered especially opulent in Shalimar. I was humbled for presuming that one of history’s greatest noses had created something less than a masterpiece, and embarrassed for not having wanted it.


While I attribute much of my new-found love for Shalimar to the quality of the vintage version versus those currently in production, circumstances certainly played a role. My ignorance to the scent’s identity and my desire for it to be something “else” allowed me to experience the fragrance without my prior personal barriers or associations. Shalimar taught me that the pursuit of fragrance sometimes requires risks, the rewards of which are often love.


Notes: bergamot, lemon, jasmine, rose, iris, incense, opopanax, tonka bean, and vanilla.


Christian Dior – Diorella

Christian Dior – Diorella

If Diorella had a face, it would be the exquisite beauty of Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim’s 1968 sci-fi, B-movie masterpiece Barbarella. Both reflect a beauty which is disarming, innocent, sensual and yet somewhat strange. Dior released Diorella in 1972, yet another masterpiece created by Edmond Roudnitska.


Diorella first tempts you with the freshness of lemony greens rounded out with a touch of melon and floral notes, giving the opening a hint of ripeness. Were it to end there, Diorella would have been an attractive, linear warm-weather fragrance, perfect for after a shower. But as is often the case with great beauty, Diorella has an underlying complexity which must be experienced if its beauty is to be fully appreciated.

Regardless of how many times I smell the opening, I am always surprised by a sense of underlying strangeness just beneath the surface, not unlike smelling an approaching storm before one feels the first drop.  As the top dissipates, a savory note of basil begins pushing toward the surface, which seems both out of place and brilliant, hinting at the richness of soil which lies underneath. Diorella is not unlike a flower blooming in reverse, its petals collapsing onto themselves and rolling up into the stem, which then plunges below the surface back into its damp, musky bulb. Diorella takes its time unfolding, each layer becoming increasingly sensual as the earthiness of oakmoss and vetiver settle down into the warmth of patchouli and musk.

If Diorella had sisters (or daughters perhaps), for me they would be Calyx Prescriptives and Cristalle for their green ripeness and Ma Griffe for its mossy magnificence.diorella


Notes: Lemon, Peach, Basil, Bergamot, Melon, Green Notes, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Violet, Rose Bud, Carnation, Cyclamen, Oakmoss, Vanilla, Clove, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Musk, and Patchouli.

Hermes – Jour d’Hermes

Hermes – Jour d’Hermes


Park in Brussels – Photography by Quintessence

One of the things I love most about Europe is the prevalence of fresh flowers. While the climate where I live is warm nearly year-round, I am always surprised and cheered by the commitment to the floral arts on a continent where the weather is less conducive to plant growth. And yet flowers can be found everywhere, from gorgeous public gardens where one can sit for hours admiring the well-manicured arrangements to open air markets where one can stroll at leisure and select an armful of blooms to grace a hallway table. The emphasis on this simple and portable form of beauty appears to be everywhere. I find nothing more satisfying than setting out on foot to explore a city and coming across an intimate little flower shop, where one can admire the shopkeeper’s beautiful arrangements and take in the aroma of dozens of blooms in close quarters.


Flower Market in Bruges – Photography by Quintessence

It is this joyful, celebratory sensation that Jean-Claude Ellena has captured in Jour d’Hermes, where we are treated to not one, but a flowershop full of scents. Ellena is truly the master of understated complexity, and his latest release does not disappoint. Jour d’Hermes is at once crisp and velvety, dry as silk and wet as moss. Upon first application, I expected Jour d’Hermes to be a fleeting floral, and yet this diaphanous beauty has an impressive longevity. It wears close to the skin which feels appropriate, for the fragrance conveys a certain sense of intimacy.

According to Denyse at Grain de Musc, Hermes and Ellena purposely withheld a list of notes to allow each wearer their own experience and interpretation of the fragrance. Jour d’Hermes is at once no flower and all flowers, an imaginary bouquet of luminosity. From my testing, the fragrance offers the zest of lemon, the green bite of lily of the valley, the powder of rose, the depth of jasmine, the darkness of ivy and the sweet, soapiness of orange blossoms. And just when I have become entranced with the lightness and innocence of this arrangement, Ellena pulls off a masterful deception and reveals a deeply sensual base.  Though it’s been a while since I fell for a bottle, the weightiness of this flacon feels simply decadent, elegance as only Hermes can deliver.


Jour d'Hermes

Notes: Be inspired. Let your imagination run wild!

Chanel – Cristalle

Chanel – Cristalle


I largely put myself through college via a combination of scholarships, student loans, and numerous jobs to supplement whatever assistance my parents could provide. While this would teach me the importance of careful planning and budgeting, it left little room for personal items, especially those which were not absolutely vital. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that I was attending college in Manhattan, a city not necessarily known for its reasonable cost of living.

Dedication to my studies was not as difficult for me as it was to some of my classmates. I was enrolled in a very challenging school, in one of the toughest cities of the world. I knew that I wanted to be bright and sharp and to do that in such a competitive environment would really require all of my effort to shine. While this did not reconcile well with my love for fragrance and for Chanel in particular, it was a great motivator for success.

During my first year of school, while attending a chemistry seminar, I met a young woman who ultimately became my best friend. She had a similar upbringing and we shared many of the same goals, both scholastically and personally. This included, not surprisingly, a love for Chanel. Given that we were both struggling to meet our immediate needs, together we devised creative ways of sampling and purchasing a few special items. This largely involved two activities which most of us master in childhood: dress-up and pretend.

My friend and I would save up for bus fare to Bloomingdale’s (which cost a dollar in those days) but made it a point always to walk back home. After all, we only needed to look presentable upon arrival. No one needed to know the many blocks we would walk back to return to campus uptown. To prepare for our excursion, we would put on our best outfits and make ourselves up to be sure we looked the part. We also did our research, which in those days involved pouring through magazines at the library. We needed to ensure that we seemed extremely knowledgeable when we arrived at the fragrance counter.

As we sampled the latest releases (which was not the terrifying task it is today), we came up with creative escape clauses for those we did not like, so as not to put off the eager sales associates who were so generous with the vials of liquid gold we so craved. “Oh, my mother just purchased that for me for my birthday” or “My sister wears that one and I could not bear sharing the same fragrance”. With these intentioned hints, we were often able to come away with considerable samples of the fragrances we did want, having given the impression that we were certainly able to afford any of these fragrances at a moment’s notice.


It was during one of these excursions that I happened upon Cristalle. It was unlike anything I had ever smelled before, though I have since seen it reincarnated to some extent in the magical Calyx by Sophia Grojsman. Henri Robert’s 1974 masterpiece was perfectly named, for it is the scent of something sharp and bright – precisely everything I longed to emulate. Cristalle cuts a sharp plane of light with its bergamot opening but it is the complexity and range of the green notes which is most alluring. These range from savory to sweet and grass-like thanks to a vetiver note. While the EDP version later introduced by Jacques Polge in 1993 pushes the floral accords into a sweeter, headier territory, the original 1974 release achieves in my opinion a greater balance by not allowing the floral notes to drown out the composition.

While Cristalle is often cited on top ten lists for summer and spring fragrances, it is a wonderful winter scent and shall forever remind me of cold Manhattan days and of the power of imagination to forge our destiny.


Notes: lemon, bergamot, basil, petitgrain, galbanum, jonquil, jasmine, hyacinth, oakmoss, rosewood, and vetiver

Chanel – 1932 Les Exclusifs

Chanel – 1932 Les Exclusifs


I was thrilled beyond description to receive a sample of the newest Chanel Les Exclusifs release from the lovely Isidora at the Chanel Bal Harbour boutique in South Florida. As I posted earlier here, there was much speculation over the past year regarding this fragrance and whether or not it would indeed be released to the public. Happily, it is now available in the standard 75 ml and 200 ml Eau de Toilette sizes from the Chanel boutiqes and online, via their website at Chanel.

According to information provided by Chanel, the fragrance was named to commemorate the release of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s first high jewellery collection. The nose behind the creation, Jacques Polge, took his inspiration from the collection and rendered it in Jasmine. In 1932, Europe was between two world wars and Amelia Earhart had completed the first transatlantic solo flight by a woman. The Great War fueled significant advances in aviation which would make commercial air travel a more distinct reality. What had once been a novel concept, now became a reality for the rich and elite. By the end of the era, known as the “Golden Age of Flight”, air transport would seem a necessity.


Necklace from the original 1932 collection

As a result, people’s minds were on the skies. Caron launched En Avion in 1932 and Guerlain would release its Vol de Nuit one year later in 1933. No small wonder then that Chanel’s exclusive jewellery release would be inspired by the heavens, with its falling meteors and constellations. Where Chanel had previously promoted faux glass jewelry to counteract the pretensions of the 1920s, her flight to quality following times of strife reflected her pursuit of the “greatest value in the smallest volume“. It is this insistence on quality that is one of the hallmarks of Chanel perfumes and 1932 is certainly no exception. The fragrance is an unique and inspired creation, highlighting the different aspects of Jasmine, one of Chanel’s signature flowers.

1932 opens with a sweet citrus accord, a melange of orange and lemon notes which seem to float on the air. The aldehydes in the opening are not as effervescent as some of Chanel’s vintage creations, giving the fragrance a more modern feel. The fruity opening quickly gives way to a slightly spicy, green floral accord that calls to mind stems and juniper berries. While in theory, I thought the fragrance might head into the Chanel No 19 territory, the Lily of the Valley and subtle Hyacinth notes reminded me slightly more of Cartier’s Baiser Vole’s opening notes: sharp, bright and light, much like the brilliant collection of diamonds for which the fragrance is named, though more subtle and fruity than Mathilde Laurent’s 2011 creation.


Diamond ring from the modern 1932 jewelry collection

If we imagine the green accords to be the outer casing of the Jasmine bud, as the fragrance develops, the rich and slightly indolic jasmine petals unfold, revealing a heart deepened by a slightly waxy rose and the slightest spice from geranium. Here the fragrance is at its most hypnotic, softly undulating, all the while wearing closer to the skin. While usually reserved for a basenote, I detect a coumarin note present throughout, giving the fragrance a sweet, hay-like note with just a touch of vanillic warmth.

What I found to be the most beautiful aspect of the fragrance was unfortunately the most fleeting. As the jasmine settled into a soft floral whisper on my wrist, a singular vetiver note  hovers in and out of focus, supported by the slightest hint of musk, as though a tiny drop of Chanel’s Sycomore had been allowed to penetrate the signature Chanel flacon. I can only imagine how lovely this combination of the palest jasmine with a touch of woods would be in a stronger concentration. Unfortunately, as flowers are ephemeral, so is 1932. As with some of the other Les Exclusifs, particularly 28 La Pausa, Jersey and Bel Respiro, the initially powerful sillage diminishes to a wisp of a fragrance that I long to experience again.

Many thanks to Isidora Kostic of Chanel for providing me with a sample. If you are in South Florida, I highly recommend visiting Bal Harbour’s Chanel boutique at 9700 Collins Avenue, where you can view and sample the entire Les Exclusifs line.

Fruity Floral Woody

Notes: Bergamot, petitgrain, lemon, lily of the valley, hyacinth, iris, rose, jasmine, vetiver, coumarin and musk.