Chanel Chance, Eau Fraiche and Eau Tendre : Fragrance Reviews

33333

Perfumer Jacques Polge has authored or co-authored so many of my favorite Chanel fragrances (Beige, Coromandel, Cristalle Eau de Parfum, Coco) that it always pains me to admit that he has also authored my least-favorite Chanel scent, Chance.  Chance always smells to me as if a brand of lesser and striving quality decided to make something “à la Chanel” in style and came up with Chance.

I understand where marketing was going with this scent—that extremely lucrative twenty-something market must be addressed and not with No. 5.  In its fruit, vanilla, and patchouli trope Chance has the ingredients to appeal to this younger market and from that marketing standpoint Chance was a smart idea indeed; the scent does sell and sell well. I smell it on young girls in the mall, their hair swinging and their limbs tanned, and it doesn’t smell any better to me on them than it does on me.

With its gumbo of lemon-pastel vanilla, pink pepper, and patchouli, Chance is still on trend a decade after its release. It’s oddly unisex for something so clearly aimed at young women, and the abstract floral (hyacinth, iris, jasmine) is no match for certain of Chanel’s more sophisticated bouquets. It has no signature nor sigh factor when the usually gorgeous Chanel bouquets release their bloom.  Instead, there’s a musky rose lollipop stuck into a cotton-candy-and-patchouli balloon.  As with Coco Mademoiselle, this reads as sticky on my skin.  The patchouli is too sharp and cloying, the synthetic that renders the candy smells too false.

What puzzles me is how the house can issue the brilliant No 5 Eau Première and No 19 Poudré and then dumb down so much for the younger market, as if that market should not be able to recognize or know anything else.  In that respect, there’s an analogy to the street chic found in mall retailers, except that Chance is eminently more durable than the here today, gone tomorrow fashion trends.

In an attempt to overcome my objections, I wore both of the Chance flankers through several weeks this spring.  Eau Fraîche, a lighter, lemony and aquatic version with a pronounced “water hyacinth” note.  This was somewhat more successful, although ultimately the same sticky candied patchouli bored through the floral and overtook it.  Eau Tendre is the pretty-in-pink version that adds a blush of sweet grapefruit and powder to the mix.

Neither worked for me, but in their defense I will say that the mall is full of blockbuster scents that do not work for me, and that I can enter a Sephora and spray nothing—fun does not follow money.  Still, Chance is a clear cut above celebrity fruit juice and in its lack of formality it will go far as a casual scent. As they say, your mileage may vary and it probably will.  It’s just that given a choice, I’m going to reach for Eau Premiere again, each and every time.

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

26 Comments

  • Zazie: Chance was a perfume I enjoyed in my pre-perfumista days!!!
    Glad it is talked about, though not on very complimentary terms!
    If I recall correctly I loved the packaging, but ended buying a bottle because I *wanted* to wear perfume, but no perfume I would test at the mall ever seemed to be perfect, and I settled on one of the few “good enough”. Bear in mind: THE competition was Angel – everything smelled the same and would find me puzzled: coco mademoiselle: Angel! Prada? Angel! Prada tendre? Angel! Tome ford? Angel!
    Chance was the less Angelified of the lot. Though still in that, ehm, artistic current…;)
    I was shocked by the first Chance flanker (fraiche): I hated it. Then I moved on, perfume-wise, and never finished my bottle…
    But if I look at my purchases in that period (almost 15 years ago, ouch!), Chance and a discontinued Ralph Lauren perfume fronted by Penelope Cruz, I see now that they share a big (loud?cheap?) white floral heart.

    So my tastes haven’t changed that much, after all! ;) July 17, 2013 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: I like Coco Mademoiselle much more than Suzanna does, and I went through a bottle of it (and a bottle of body milk) when it first came out. When Chance appeared on the scene later, I expected to like it, but it never quite clicked with me.

      And I’m with you on Eau Fraiche. That’s Chanel doing D&G Light Blue and making it less exciting (I love Light Blue). I hope that the new changes at Chanel bring something exciting at long last. July 17, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

  • Caroline: A coincidence your topic today is Chanel: I have to ask, when was the last time you sprayed no 5 dept store testers on skin? Did this yesterday, edt was barely detectable, and the edp was only somewhat more noticeable–was rather surprised.
    I too not only admire but enjoy Eau Premiere. Its lemon-tinged opening is sparkling without veering into functional territory. The SA gave me a sample of Cristalle edp, which I haven’t yet tried on skin. Used to enjoy the edt, but I don’t care for the reformulation. Never been tempted by Chance. July 17, 2013 at 8:48am Reply

  • Cybele: I think you are right in saying Chance is the least typical Chanel, however, I also have a hard time with Allure and Coco Madmoiselle-especially Allure Sensuelle (my least favorite Chanel). Also, I have not managed to make friends with Cristalle Eau Vert yet but I adore the original and EDP. July 17, 2013 at 9:18am Reply

  • OperaFan: A friend of mine who used to wear Coco edt as her signature scent until it changed (back in the ’90s) told me about Chance. She now wears Flowerbomb. I found it surprising that she could have made such a downshift in scent choices.
    I think I may have sniffed Chance once before but it obviously left zero impression on me. And while Angel was being introduced, I was wearing Coco, Safari, the original Nina and Laura Ashley No 1. I still love Coco, and really enjoy Cristalle edt and No. 22, so no need for any of the Chances…
    a:) July 17, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

  • Lauren: I appreciate this post because I have never liked Chancel Chance. It was worn by every girl in certain sororities on my undergrad campus, and I never understood why so many people thought it was fabulous. Ten years later, I can’t smell it without thinking of sororities, so Chanel definitely succeeded with their target market, as you said. July 17, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

  • lila: At the risk of being ousted from the perfume community, I’m going to admit that I am not a Chanel fan. I did have a bottle of Chance when it first came out. Basically, I just wanted a Chanel fragrance and No. 5 was way too adult for me, so their marketing scheme worked. There are a couple that I have yet to try (Coromandel, Jersey) so there may be some hope for me. I do find it interesting that Eau Premiere is probably my favorite, but I don’t like No. 5! It seems like the aldehydes swallow up all the florals in the latter. If I had to choose an introductory Chanel perfume for the younger set, it would be Eau Premiere not Chance! July 17, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Emma M: I have to admit, I’ve never tried them side by side, but I kind of struggle to tell Chance and Coco Mademoiselle apart. To me, they both seem like a monolithic cloud of scent that just hangs in the air (albeit a pretty one). It’s possible that I tried them once, decided they weren’t for me and my woefully short attention span has lumped them into the same category. I really should revisit them both.

    I do like Chanel though – Bois des Iles and No. 22 are delicious and me and No 5 have been best friends for almost ten years. No19 Poudre is quietly creeping it’s way up my ‘to buy’ list too… July 17, 2013 at 5:10pm Reply

  • annemariec: About a year ago I was chatting to a Chanel SA about lipsticks and noticed that her perfume smelled fabulous. It did not remind me of any of the Chanels I knew and I asked her about it. It was Chance (the original). Bewildered, because I knew most fumeheads hate Chance and all its flankers, I allowed her to give me a spritz on skin. On me, it was no good at all. Reminded me of little girls trying on their mothers’ lipsticks and clomping around the house in high-heeled shoes, pretending to be grown up. ‘Orrible.

    Thanks for the review though! It’s best to be honest about these things. (Love Eau Premiere BTW.) July 17, 2013 at 7:21pm Reply

  • Amer: I would agree on the most part but I would also include No 19 Poudre in the list of Chanel failures. A neutered reincarnation of the ballsy No 19 that does not even amuse me. The evolution curve of the fragrance is also one of the weirdest I ever tried. It simply seems to run out of fuel within ten minutes from application July 17, 2013 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I stopped thinking of its relationship to No19, I started liking it. But I agree that it peters out far too quickly and doesn’t last all that well. July 18, 2013 at 3:45am Reply

    • annemariec: People seem to report very varied experiences with No 19 Poudre – some find it fades very fast, others get hours out of it. I get 3-4 hours, very close to the skin. I like it, especially its sense of ease. My favourite trick is to spray my hair brush with it.

      I do admit Poudre has nothing like the character of the original. As Victoria says, it’s best thought of NOT in relation to No 19 – and yet Chanel invites that very comparison by making Poudre a flanker to No 19. Result: confused and annoyed consumers. July 18, 2013 at 4:27am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I will revisit No 19 poudré with this in mind! It lasts for ± 30 minutes on me. July 18, 2013 at 5:18am Reply

  • Laurels: I rounded up a bunch of “fruity” samples for a 19-year-old cousin who lives nowhere near a department store, and Chance Eau Tendre and Hanae Mori were by far my favorites of the lot (Coco Mademoiselle, Coco Noir, La Petite Robe Noir, Chance, etc). They seemed much less boring and samey than the others. Would need to be either much younger or much braver to wear Hanae Mori in public, though. (My mother, however, may get a bottle.) July 17, 2013 at 10:48pm Reply

  • Karina: I was given a bottle of Chance and tried quite hard to like it but the sweetness was just too much for me. Coco Mademoiselle used to be my signature scent but now it gives me a headache and burns my nose, I wonder if I became overly sensitive to it through daily wear? I still appreciate the delicate whiff of it left on my clothes though. July 18, 2013 at 12:59am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Reading the comment of Caroline I wonder if they already are changing No 5 gradually ?
    I am with Amer on Iris Poudré, I thought that it was just me.
    Strange indeed that Jacques Polge is the creator of Chance. Is the market more important than his talent? Or is he a French version of Dr.Jekyll and mr. Hyde? July 18, 2013 at 3:31am Reply

    • Victoria: No5 has always been updated based on new regulations. So, whatever changes one might smell might date back decades. It’s impossible to keep such an old formula the same, because not only the regulations on what materials can be used are different, the materials themselves are too. The way they are grown and processed, etc. I don’t think that No5 smells drastically different today from what it smelled like a few years ago. I have tried the EDP at the store yesterday on the way home, having read Caroline’s comment. Seems fine to me. But of course, someone who has worn it much longer than I have (I like No5, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite Chanel) might be more sensitive to any changes. July 18, 2013 at 3:42am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you for replying! No 5 is by all means my favorite Chanel, I went through many bottles over the years, in all concentrations. In recent years I did not buy it: too familiar.. I noticed a change, I think in the late 90s ( the civet? that would be more than allright for me!), but not a dramatically change, as you put it. So glad it still smelled ok to you! In any case I will try to buy it before 2014. July 18, 2013 at 4:18am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: No 19 poudre I mean! July 18, 2013 at 4:09am Reply

  • Peta: I only tried one Chanel and it has been so long so I forgot the name. I find it heavy. I do not know how to really explain it but when somebody use this I would feel kind of terrible, like it is warm feeling/ heavy feeling. Unlike if I use Clinique Happy, it is like a cool smell. I find it hard to switch to Chanel because I know that there is a possibility that my body chem/sweat will not suit the scent of Chanel. July 19, 2013 at 8:26pm Reply

  • eminere: I don’t know. I love all three Chances. And I’m a guy. August 10, 2013 at 7:04am Reply

  • Adriana Galani: On me this one smells like a cheap imitation version of Coco Mademoiselle. Though I loved Coco Mademoiselle till the point it became uniform on every second lady, I can’t stand Chance. And a 50 mls bottle is with me and will remain for ages unless I find a soul who loves it. Might have sprayed 2-3 times if at all. A strong “no” unfortunately. February 24, 2014 at 3:29pm Reply

  • jessica: Great post.I like all the three fragraces mentioned here April 30, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

  • shin: thanks for sharing this amazing post.Out of the three frangrances Chanel Chance is my favourite August 12, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Annabelle: Hi Victoria!

    I only just started dipping my toes into the world of perfumery and your guide was among those I read before starting my journey! (Note: this means that I read your guide today and proceeded to jump headfirst into the waters! What can I say, I can be pretty impulsive :P)

    Luckily, I work in the downtown core of a major city and am steps away from a huge department store – they have an incredible amount of perfumes in there to sample!

    I ended up browsing the Chanel section of the store today, and an SA approached me with Chance. It smelled alright on paper so I let her put a spritz of it on my wrist. While I initially liked the scent, I began to regret it about 15 minutes later. It opens up fresh, pink (if that could be a scent), and feminine on me, but as it began to dry down, I was hit HARD by the patchouli. Like a bad smell that you are intrigued by, I couldn’t stop sniffing it though, and as soon as I got home, I looked up notes – and bam! I had a Eureka moment. Like you said, the patchouli is incredibly strong and almost “sharp” – it overwhelmed my senses and started to give me a headache. Chance was more spicy and intense than I expected – its simplistic packaging makes it look as though it would be “just another teen fragrance”, but I find this scent to be much more mature than anything for teenyboppers. My dad actually thought it might be nice as a scent for a summer party in the evening, but I really disliked it.

    I was worried that I might be someone who has skin chemistry or olfactory tastes that doesn’t work with most perfumes (because it’s Chanel! One of the most infamous perfume houses! I thought, who doesn’t like Chanel???) and I’m glad to find that an accomplished reviewer agrees with my opinion on this as well.

    I’m glad that I got the chance to smell it though, I loved this opportunity to expand my repertoire of scents that I’m familiar with! Thanks for the reviews you put up – I can’t wait to read and explore more perfumes from your blog and by testing them in person!

    – Annabelle October 20, 2014 at 10:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for sharing this, Annabelle! It was so much fun to follow you along as you sniff your way through Chance, etc. And no, you don’t have any issues. It’s ok to dislike even the most iconic perfumes. After all, our enjoyment of scents is so subjective. October 21, 2014 at 9:00am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • limegreen in Traveling Samples Box Giveaway: There may be a problem. I got this from the USPS website: Perfume − Perfume containing alcohol is prohibited on air transportation, and can only be shipped domestically via surface… October 24, 2014 at 8:05pm

  • limegreen in Traveling Samples Box Giveaway: A tracking number was included in the postage costs (first class). I did not pay extra for delivery confirmation, however, as I felt a tracking number was enough. Just FYI:… October 24, 2014 at 8:04pm

  • Iliana in Traveling Samples Box Giveaway: My country is Mexico. Yes! I agree to pass the box to someone who appreciate perfumes as I do, spreading beauty to the world!. And about samples, it’s hard to… October 24, 2014 at 8:04pm

  • kayliz in Traveling Samples Box Giveaway: Re discontinued / pre-reformulated: I bought a package of decants recently and was a bit miffed to see that the Miss Dior Cherie was labelled 2010 — pushing it for… October 24, 2014 at 7:44pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2014 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.