Chanel No 19 Poudre : Perfume Review

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No19

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

I am glad that I did not review Chanel No 19 Poudré within the first few days of wearing it. My initial impression was negative, but today I realize that it was so mostly because No 19 Poudré is not No 19. It also does not have the brilliant, original character of its predecessor, nor does it leave such a deep imprint in one’s memory. What No 19 Poudré does well—and the reason I came around in my opinion—is to create a soft, tender veil around its wearer. It is comforting and mellow, a sip of warm green tea to the original’s dry white wine.

The main impression of No 19 Poudré is a powdery floral. The moment I spray it on my skin, the feeling of a talcum mist is almost palpable. If you are not a fan of such sensations, then read no further. While No 19 Poudré takes a few twists and turns, it retains its powdery character throughout. I find the makeup-like notes in perfumes to be alluring in an old-fashioned manner, and despite the perfumers’ intent to modernize No 19, No 19 Poudré seems to me likewise retro. However, retro is usually a selling point for me.

Once the zesty brightness of orange and mandarin settles, the cool iris and hyacinth notes infuse No 19 Poudré with fruity sweetness. Contrasted with the green sharpness of galbanum and vetiver, the powdery notes seem softer and lighter. The drydown is dominated by tonka beans and musk. While the initial illusion is of a cool veil of powder, the drydown is reminiscent of a delicate cashmere wrap. It is hardly dramatic or memorable at this stage, but it is pleasant and easy to wear. This might seem like an underhanded compliment, but easy to appreciate, quality perfumes have their place. In the end, I enjoy No 19 Poudré not as a variation on No 19, but as a comforting, silk slip perfume.

Chanel No 19 Poudré includes notes of mandarin, neroli, iris, jasmine, galbanum, vetiver, musk, tonka bean. Available at Chanel counters and online.

Sample: my own acquisition

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29 Comments

  • carmencanada: Jumping in first! I abstained from reviewing Chanel N°19 Poudré for exactly the same reasons: it’s not N°19, and that huge musky swansdown puff of powder nearly smothered me — it’s the type of note that hovers pretty near headache territory for me. Guess I’m not much of a talcum fan… January 12, 2012 at 8:35am Reply

  • silverdust: If this isn’t meant to be a No. 19 variation, why did Chanel give it the coveted “19” title? Was there a brief explanation in the news of the impending launch? January 12, 2012 at 9:31am Reply

  • karin: OK…suppose I should give this one a chance. I have a decant, and quickly moved it to the swap pile after a very lame tiny spritz. I think I was already prejudiced against it before even giving it a chance! Thanks for the inspiration to try it again… January 12, 2012 at 9:32am Reply

  • Victoria: If you squint, you see No 19. :) It has elements of the original, to be sure, but the end result is so different in character that it just does not make sense to me as a No 19 flanker. For instance, Coco and Coco Mademoiselle or No 5 and No 5 Eau Premiere make more sense.

    Plus, if No 19 is to be updated, making a flanker this powdery and retro is a strange move. You really have to like makeup notes to enjoy it. If you do, it is a nice, comforting scent. January 12, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

  • Victoria: It is certainly powdery! Makes me wonder why Chanel decided to go this route. January 12, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

  • Ann C.: For some reason, I’ve held off sampling this, but I love silk veil fragrances so I’m intrigued. No 19 is one that I want to love but don’t. This one sounds like a softer green floral, which is another category I like. I think I’ll give it a whirl! January 12, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

  • Anne: Waoooo I would love to feel all you feel on this perfume. Unfortunatly, on me, after the initial flowery powdery notes (which are lovely), it desapear totally! 5 min and then it s gone. January 12, 2012 at 9:49am Reply

  • Helle: This was really pleasant to me for about 30 minutes, in just the way you describe, but after that it turned into a horrible sour, metallic, odor on my skin. I was completely put off it, but you make it sound so nice I might try and dig up the sample again. It’s always fun to read a positive review when there have been mostly negative ones, and vice versa and your writing is always inspiring! January 12, 2012 at 9:55am Reply

  • Victoria: I know, No 19 Poudre got no love at all on blogs. :) I also did not like it in the beginning, but it has its charms. For those who like powdery fragrances, it is a nice option. January 12, 2012 at 10:22am Reply

  • Miss Kitty V: Funny, I just revisited this over the last week. I loved it when I first tried it, but as it dried down I thought it smelled cheap. So I just sort of tossed it aside. I don’t know what compelled me to try it again, but I’m glad that I did. Your review is dead-on.It is very veil-like, and while I wouldn’t wear it every day, it definitely has a time and a place. It also wears well with other fragrances. I sprayed some SL Chene over it, and it gave it sort of a woodland fairy quality–all flowers, greenery, and tree bark. January 12, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

  • carmencanada: From what Chris Sheldrake said in interviews, it was to render the form more palatable for contemporary tastes. And musk certainly does that. Plus it has the half-life of plutonium on skin… The weird thing is, I got a blotter while I was visiting my parents, and their cat chewed through it when I had my back turned. Have you ever evaluated perfume mixed with cat spit? Adds a little animalic touch… ;-) January 12, 2012 at 10:38am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, I read that, but the outcome is not modern at all. A dollop of musk notwithstanding. :)
    Granted, “modern” and “updated” are overrated concepts in my book anyway.

    Have you smelled the new Guerlain London (from their Voyage collection)? Why, why, why? It is one of the blandest fruity florals I’ve tried recently.

    Laughing over your cat spit comment! The closest I’ve come is when my mom’s cats chewed through the bag of carded samples and carefully stamped the paper with their teeth. January 12, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

  • Victoria: It is not a masterpiece like No 19, but a nicely crafted soft floral. I find it quite appealing when I want something low key. January 12, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Victoria: I love green florals, but not all of them are easy to wear. No 19 Poudre may not please everyone (or many,) because it is very powdery, but those of us who do not mind these notes should try it. I like its soft, comforting feeling. January 12, 2012 at 10:49am Reply

  • Victoria: It is quite sheer, that’s true. On my skin, it does ok though. I can smell it on me even after several hours. January 12, 2012 at 10:51am Reply

  • Annemarie: At my very first serious parfum shop visit No 19 Poudré was one of the two scents I selected to try on my skin. I think it was the iris in it I liked. It disappeared very quickly, within 45 minutes, leaving only a faint smell of cardboard on my skin, so I never gave it a second chance. Later I tried No 19, which didn’t feel like a close relative of No 19 Poudré to me, completely different style. January 12, 2012 at 10:55am Reply

  • Victoria: At first, I was not thrilled and I put my sample aside. I kept revisiting it though and spraying it on just to see what of No 19 was there. Before I knew it, I liked wearing No 19 Poudre just for its own character. January 12, 2012 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: So different in character and style. No 19 Poudre has an intimate, silk slip feel to me, whereas No 19 add some steel to my spine. :) January 12, 2012 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Yulya: I tried it and… hated it from the fist note to the last one… Too powdery, too plain. No comparison to No. 19. January 12, 2012 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, you are right, it is not like No 19 at all. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, of course, but if one is looking for a lighter version of No 19, it is not a good option. January 12, 2012 at 6:22pm Reply

  • Anne: I’m so glad to see this one get a positive review. I understood and shared some of the negative reactions to Poudre when it was first released, but I still liked it it and I’m glad I went for a FB of the stuff. I wear it on warm evenings especially, as I find its subtle perfume veil very lovely then. It is comforting in a non-foody sort of way. I know many people find it disappears in less than 30 minutes, but I get about three hours out of it. Not good for an EDP, but I guess that subtle, silk-slip feel is hard to combine with tenacity.

    I do have bad days with it , when the modern musk starts to irritate in a metallic and clang, in – yes – a cheap sort of way. But what makes it FB-worthy is is Poudre’s wearability. It has its faults, but I knew from the start that it would be one of those fragrances where I would turn around and suddenly discover that half the bottle is gone. Meanwhile the niche de la niche masterpieces just sit on the shelf. January 13, 2012 at 4:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: Anne, I confess that I wear it far more than De Profundis, which is easily the best of 2011 for me. No 19 Poudre  is wearable and well-made. Plus, it does have some interesting elements to it–the softness, the caressing sensation of iris, the playful juxtaposition of green and powdery notes. It is not entirely "just a pretty perfume," it definitely has some masterful touches. 

    On me it also lasts fine. Better than most Hermessence fragrances. January 13, 2012 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Austenfan: When I read this review I was instantly reminded of Robin’s review of Cristalle. In it she stated that even though Cristalle EDP is a good scent she can’t make herself like it because of her fondness for the EDT. I think I may have similar feelings about this new Chanel. Admittedly I have only sniffed it once, but as yet I have not been able to bring myself to like it. I am quite sure that had it had another name, I might just have felt quite different about Poudré. But as it is, I sort of feel a betrayal to the original No.19 were I to like this one. January 13, 2012 at 4:53pm Reply

  • Victoria: I completely understand! :) January 13, 2012 at 8:56pm Reply

  • Amer: Any catnip in this one? @camencanada I believe that plutonium has a very short halflife. Is this what you meant? January 15, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

  • Victoria: Who knows! :) January 15, 2012 at 10:03am Reply

  • l’homme vert: Greetings Victoria,
    I find this particular flanker quite confusing as this so called eau de parfum lasted for a full 30 minutes on my skin, more of a sport tonique or apre bain product in my opinion, also it should have been named just ‘Poudre’ as it bears very little in common with #19. I’ve been wearing the original masterpiece/classic by Henri Robert from the very beginning also smarting from the many reforms & tweeks it has suffered over the intervening years, and to top it off we now have this novel development, where will it end ? As we know the use and perception of a certain fragrance or even signature scents manifests over a long period of time and loyalty to a brand does not happen overnight, when are these houses going to wake up & quit alienating the very people who keep them in business. Here in ‘OZ’ the ‘Poudre’ is priced @ around $260, that’s no loose change, have noticed recently that ‘Antaeus’ seems much weaker than previous batches, perhaps just my olfactory perception as this appears to be a recurring pattern of late but that’s another story.
    Thank’s for the great review as always, sorry for the rant.
    Best Regards.
    L’Homme vert . . . March 29, 2012 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: No need to apologize! I completely understand the frustration. I also wish that it weren't called No 19 anything. March 29, 2012 at 11:59pm Reply

  • Emma: Very glad to see a positive review of this. I think it’s absolutely lovely, and bought a bottle the instant I first sniffed it, which is very unusual for me. The rooty iris of No. 19 is there, but this is so much softer and more pastel and yes, powdery – “a sip of warm green tea to the original’s dry white wine” is a brilliant analogy.

    If you want No. 19, buy No. 19, if you don’t like powder, don’t buy something called “Poudre”!! I love both of these fragrances. Appreciating a new scent is like making a new friend – you have to be prepared to meet them half way. May 31, 2012 at 8:48am Reply

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