Chanel Jersey Les Exclusifs : Perfume Review

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Cj

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

I am going to lay my cards on the table. I love Chanel to the point of forgiving it Chance and Bleu de Chanel. Even as I had qualms with the exclusive collections from other luxury houses, I have enjoyed and purchased every single perfume from Chanel’s Les Exclusifs. That is, until Jersey came onto the scene. To put it mildly, I am baffled by this scent, which is an orchestration of excellent ingredients that ends up smelling like a cheap Duane Reade candle.

Jersey refers to the soft knit fabric that traditionally has been produced in Jersey, Channel Islands. Although it was used mostly for undergarments, Coco Chanel loved the way it could be draped, and she shocked the fashion industry by appropriating such a low-brow material for her couture collections. It seems that in making Jersey, Chanel fragrance development has gone into the opposite direction and fashioned a scent that smells like a functional product rather than a fine perfume. Since most fragrances today trace the same trajectory, such a thing shocks nobody, but it certainly fills me with plenty of disappointment.

Jersey opens up on a soft lavender accord accented with the hay and almond freshness of tonka bean. Its delicate sweetness is reminiscent of Hermès Brin de Réglisse, but if such a thing can be imagined, it is even more limpid than Ellena’s lavender etude. The rustle of a green leave, a whiff of jasmine petals, and before you know it, you are in the territory of white musks and vanilla. The aromatic presence of lavender is still there, but the composition begins to smell disconcertingly like a fabric softener.* Even assuming that the laundered fabric feel is the intended effect, the character of the perfume does not match with its concept, for there is nothing soft and comforting about it. The more Jersey develops on the skin, the sharper and scratchier it feels. I doubt that Coco Chanel would have been pleased.

Chanel Jersey features notes of lavender, vanilla and musk. It is a part of Les Exclusifs collection that also includes Beige, Sycomore, No 22, Gardénia, Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles, 28 La Pausa, Coromandel, Bel Respiro, No. 18, and Eau de Cologne. It is available in the Eau de Toilette concentration from Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman. 2.5oz, $110; 6.8oz, $210.

*Gaia of The Non-Blonde put it best of 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.”

Sample: my own acquisition

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28 Comments

  • Vanessa: I tried this last week and completely agree that it smells “disconcertingly like a fabric softenener” and not like a proper perfume. The opening was so sharply lavender-y it was like poking myself up the nostril with a pointy sprig. I don’t like lavender as a rule, which admittedly didn’t help (with Ava Luxe No 23 the shining exception to this), but Jersey made me feel physically sick. There are very few perfumes that I can say that of, and frankly I didn’t expect this to be one of them! November 4, 2011 at 7:42am Reply

  • Victoria: Vanessa, another friend used the same comparison–something sharp and pointy. And I loved everything else in Les Exclusifs, including the much maligned Beige. November 4, 2011 at 7:57am Reply

  • pklagrange: I found Jersey completely uninspired. I walked out of the Chanel boutique with a small bottle of 31 Rue Cambon instead. Now I’m wishing I bought the larger one! November 4, 2011 at 8:51am Reply

  • Elisa: I thought this was the silliest choice for a name, too — I know they *meant* the fabric but the association with Jersey Shore is inevitable. November 4, 2011 at 10:25am Reply

  • maggiecat: I was eagerly anticipating this one – I love all things Chanel, I love lavender, I even love vanilla and musks. Sadly, I was disappointed. I actually find the opening notes agreeable, but the heart and drydown are – as you all point out – fabric softener. And not fabric softener I’d actually use. It smells very artifical, very chemical-ly, rather than as if it were made of quality natural ingredients. It is, alas, more Jersey Shore than Chanel’s beloved jersey. November 4, 2011 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Vanessa: I liked Beige too! : – ) November 4, 2011 at 1:32pm Reply

  • Emma: These Chanel exclusives never did it to me but at least, as bad as they are, they still launch new fragrances.
    Jean Patou is dying of a slow death, they haven’t released anything since 2006 and they only sells JOY now. I’m highly concerned about the rose de mai and jasmine fields Patou owns in the Grasse region of the South of France. Clearly, Procter & Gamble couldn’t care less about Jean Patou, I’m afraid they sell that land to developers. November 4, 2011 at 2:38pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Ah well. A wasted opportunity. But I still forgive them considering the huge bargains the $110 is for a bottle of Rue Cambon. November 4, 2011 at 11:00pm Reply

  • Madelyn E: I too am saddened about the apparent demise of Chanel inventiveness – with Chance. Bleu , Chanel No. 19 Poudree and Jersey .
    I tend to blame most thungs on the IFRA restrictions.

    It is getting me down. I find myself saying out loud I don’t like the new perfumes to I don’t like perfume anymore.

    What can we do?

    Bois Des Iles remains my number 1.. November 5, 2011 at 2:37am Reply

  • Rowanhill: It is a pity. I was so excited to try Jersey. Beige already smelled like hair spray to me and now Jersey not being anything in comparison to the otherb Exclusifs. Well more rue Cambon and La Pausa for me. I lam hanging to my pre latest reformulation of Bois des Iles, as well as No 5 and No 19. As you said it, it is not for the lack of love for Chanel… November 5, 2011 at 5:54am Reply

  • Victoria: I loved all of the initial Les Exclusifs, and 31 Rue Cambon still remains a gold standard modern chypre for me. November 5, 2011 at 10:49am Reply

  • Victoria: So true! Not terribly glamorous. November 5, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Artificial, sharp, scratchy… I really do not understand what went wrong with its development. Chanel usually does everything so well, even if they are aiming for a safe, crowd pleasing scent like Bleu de Chanel. November 5, 2011 at 10:51am Reply

  • Victoria: They sold Patou already, so I guess we will see what happens next. November 5, 2011 at 10:51am Reply

  • Victoria: I do too and for the exact same reason! 🙂 November 5, 2011 at 10:52am Reply

  • Victoria: As there are more and more launches, the chances of finding something worthwhile are getting fewer. I was shocked that I fell in love with Serge Lutens De Profundis as much as I did. And I loved Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cheri. November 5, 2011 at 10:53am Reply

  • Victoria: If you add Cuir de Russie to your list, we would be Chanel scent twins. 🙂 Those are my favorites too. November 5, 2011 at 10:54am Reply

  • Emma: Oh really, I had no idea so who are Patou’s new owners now? When Procter & Gamble bought Jean Patou, back then, even LVMH didn’t want to have anything to do with this high end luxurious french perfume brand. They probably thought Patou was not glitzy, commercial and profitable enough to attract mainstream markets and their narrow-minded, greedy and short-term corporate mentality! November 5, 2011 at 5:32pm Reply

  • Martha: Victoria, do you think you could one day make a list of perfumes that a beginning perfumista should buy (in decants), in order to learn the various scents?

    I find in reading this blog, and the wonderful comments, that I am sorely uneducated in broad areas. I don’t know where to start to expand my knowledge, and would like to do so in an orderly fashion. The nicer department stores in my town carry a limited number of perfumes, and I’m not aware of any local perfume stores, so I can’t go out and smell a perfume in person unless I’m travelling, and then I don’t often have time.

    Thanks for considering this idea. November 6, 2011 at 10:04am Reply

  • Emma: Martha, start with the all time classics, Extrait – Parfum (pure parfum) and vintage/original/older versions are more often than not the best:
    Patou JOY, 1000, Normandie
    Chanel No. 5, No.19, Cuir de Russie
    Caron Tabac Blond, Bellodgia, Poivre, Narcisse Noir, Acaciosa, En Avion (vintage only)
    Guerlain Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Apres l’Ondee, Nahema
    Balmain Jolie Madame (vintage only)
    Lanvin Arpege
    Robert Piguet Fracas
    Balenciaga Le Dix (vintage only)
    Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps (vintage only) November 6, 2011 at 3:12pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Martha, I love that Emma is throwing you in the deep end of the pool! I myself started at the shallow end with simpler niche-type perfumes by ordering samples focused around a single note or accord–citrus, violet, amber, rose, iris and so on, and I tried to smell the raw materials when I could, too. (I found them by using the note searches on LuckyScent and later on The Perfumed Court and then swapped a lot to keep my costs down.) I found the complex classics too dense to understand when I began, but after I’d been smelling awhile I grew to adore them. Alas, so many of them are only good–or only available!–in hard-to-find vintage versions that I’m never sure whether or not that was a good thing. November 6, 2011 at 6:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: Designer Parfums, who also create fragrances for Agent Provocateur, Jean Louis Scherrer, Aigner Parfums and Worth are the new owners. Let’s see what happens next! Jean Patou has not released anything notable in ages. November 6, 2011 at 9:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: I will do! What a great idea! I have a series about fragrances that influenced perfume history, but I admit that most of those are either gone or reformulated. I will definitely put something together. In fact, I already have a list, but I need to think of how to organize it. November 6, 2011 at 9:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love Emma’s list, but like you, I also started out with baby steps. L’Artisan’s solinote fragrances were a good intro for me. At least, I could figure out what a rose, a jasmine or a mimosa were supposed to smell like. And then there was no stopping me. 🙂 November 6, 2011 at 9:40pm Reply

  • Emma: Victoria, in the face of what Designer Parfums have have done with brands such as Jean Louis Scherrer and Worth, I’m getting worried now! I think I told you recently that Saks Fifth Ave in New York no longer carry Jean Patou.

    I realise now my list was probably a little too much for a new perfumista…anyways, it took myself years to understand and appreciate these classics. It’s quite a long journey to become a perfumista and I think it is a great thing actually. Everyday you can discover something new that challenges your beliefs and knowledge. November 6, 2011 at 11:12pm Reply

  • Victoria: I hear you! And I agree that the outlook may not be that bright. Yet, one can hope, right? 🙂

    Your list is great! Those are the fragrances I keep on my desk as references. November 6, 2011 at 11:19pm Reply

  • katherine: I love Jersey EDT and extrait de parfum. They remind me of my elegant and kind grandmother Ada who never shied away from a perfume or cologne including lavender water, Je Reviens (Worth), YSL Rive Gauche, et. al. At the end of the day her clothes would smell most like lavender. Perhaps I am harkening back to that with Jersey. Love it. p.s. I tried the extrait first, then the toilette. Loved both. June 22, 2015 at 9:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I started liking the EDT after I fell in love with the extrait! June 24, 2015 at 2:15pm Reply

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