Chanel Les Exclusifs Article in Canadian Living


“All are distinctive, complex and unlike most of the popular scents today. So we asked an expert for her input: Marian Bendeth of Sixth Scents specializes in creating fragrance wardrobes for her clients based on personality, body chemistry and lifestyle. Here’s her insight into each fragrance’s inspiration and which personality will be drawn to what…. Chanel No 22: Created in 1922. Features notes of citrus, orange blossom, orchid, sandalwood and vanilla. “For me this is Chanel,” says Bendeth. “Austere, analytical, powerful, yet highly feminine and devastatingly sensual. The woman who wears this has exquisite taste.”” From Which Chanel perfume should you wear?, see the rest in Canadian Living.

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  • Ina: An interesting take but something in me resists this type of profiling, especially when a few seem a bit self-explanatory. Being a lover of pretty much every single scent from Les Exclusifs, the only conclusion I can draw is that I suffer from a multiple personality disorder. ;D April 4, 2007 at 12:00am Reply

  • L ‘inspiratrice: Thx for the article, I second Ina it was fun reading it but I don ‘t buy the personality profiling when it comes to perfumes. April 4, 2007 at 12:28am Reply

  • carmencanada: I third my honourable colleagues… But then, I don’t know a woman who’s not a whole bunch of women caught in one body, as we perfume lovers know… April 4, 2007 at 2:18am Reply

  • Jupiterbelt: Thank you so much for the article. I really appreciate all the coverage on the Les Exclusifs range: keep up the great work!

    While reading the article, I couldn’t help but asking a few questions that have been troubling me for a while…perhaps you could kindly enlighten me on this subject…

    Although I highly applaud the magnificent quality of the ingredients (it’s true that few houses could afford them now), I am somewhat surprised by the underlying philosophies of the new offerings. If my memory serves me well, Mlle. Coco Chanel’s primary reason for creating fragrances back in the 20’s was to librate women from fussing over their scents: constantly applying perfumes over and over was simply not an option. (Obviously, a women worrying about her smell isn’t very chic…) Also, Mlle. Chanel rebelled against single florals: creating “walking pots of violet”, as she called it, was the “men’s way of controlling women”. These pearls of wisdom have been widely recorded in the various biographies on Coco Chanel.

    With these perspectives in mind, I am intrigued that many people have to re-apply scents such as Bel Respiro: I doubt that Coco would like to apply 6 generous applications a days in order to maintain the logevity of the scent herself! In the mean time, 28 La Pausa, in essence, is an all-iris scent. While I understand the tremendous perfumery skills required in order to achieve the introvertedly opulent effect of this fragrance, the creation itself is still, well, a single floral. Perhaps there’s a contradiction that I am unaware of, or as my favorite proverb famously puts it…plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

    I would also like to point out that, while the new offering are generally interesting, Coco Chanel, along with Beaux, hand-picked unique masterpieces. Both preferred to feature innovative ingredients and to create new fragrance categories. While I completely admire and deeply repect the newest offerings, I would shy away from equating the innovation of Chanel Cuir de Russie with, say, Chanel Eau de Cologne. Of course, while not every Chanel fragrance has to be a trail-blazer, should one apply a different standard after the introduction of the blockbusters such as Chance and Allure Sensuelle? Or, are we simply witnessing a different era? If the second case holds true, shouldn’t one expect more, given that our generation should carry on the daringly innovative spirit of François Coty, Ernest Beaux, Jacques Guerlain, and Germaine Cellier? (Of course, it’s not an exhaustive list.)

    Please don’t interpret this message as a senseless criticism. Chanel is my idol and I wouldn’t be who I am without its grand heritage. Still, perhaps it’s the very same deep love and admiration that compels me to ponder my relationship with Chanel. Afterall, doesn’t one tend to hold the beloved under a different light? Doesn’t one aware the result of holding something on a pedestal? It’s not the safest way to live one’s life, but I can assure you that Coco wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Thank you very much your time, and I look forward to reading more wonderful perfumery news from you. Have yourself a most lovely and serene Easter weekend! April 4, 2007 at 8:08am Reply

  • Marian Bendeth: re: Personality profiling
    I just wanted to enlighten your readers that my company specializes in fragrance profiling and is based on tens of thousands of personalized consultations with the general public over a few decades with over a hundred and twenty-four different nationalities,cultures, ages and lifestyles.

    I have noted commonalities and common threads linking these strangers in a fascinating way through fragrance classifications and personal tastes. It is also fascinating to see how the majority tend to stick with one or two classifications whilst others may on occasion be attracted to multiple classifications. They reveal slices of our personlities and how we either wish to perceive ourselves or how we wish others to perceive us. This conclusion, comes to light through indepth consultations.

    re: Jupiterbelt’s comments I gather the new ‘Les Exclusifs’ were created by Perfumer, Monsieur Polge as an hommage to the biography of Coco Chanel, the highs and lows of her loves, passions, homes and career. These scents were laboriously and secretly worked on, over a twenty year period. Although we may not know the exact formulations, I think the House of Chanel wanted to present a biographical scented journey of her life instead of a commercially produced formula that would have mass appeal. Chanel often wore Eau de Cologne in the salon, more often than not and I was informed she topped up throughout the day and night.

    I felt like I was walking in the scented footsteps of two artisans, Mlle Coco and Jacques Polges.

    Marian Bendeth April 4, 2007 at 10:48am Reply

  • Jupiterbelt: Dear Marian,

    Thank you letting me know your thoughts. I’m touched that you would be interested in reading what I wrote. Please allow me to respond to your comments.

    “Monsieur Polge as an hommage to the biography of Coco Chanel, the highs and lows of her loves, passions, homes and career.”

    While it’s undeniable that Mlle’s story has a life of its own, it is every Chanel nose’s artistic responsibility to reflect Coco’s design philosophies. Moreover, it is pertinent to fuse such fundaments with the gifts of an artist: imagination, poetry and most importantly, a deep respect for life. Such two sides of creativity are inseparable.

    If you have a chance to read my previous post again, you would find that I respect M. Polge’s creations overall. While I am delighted in the re-introduction of Chanel’s stories, Coco’s aesthetics in the practical, however, can’t be completely ignored. The beauty of a camellia blossom can’t live without the rich earth: they are simply two sides of the same coin.

    “I think the House of Chanel wanted to present a biographical scented journey of her life instead of a commercially produced formula that would have mass appeal.”

    As much as I agree on the issue of offering great alternatives to the niche market, I don’t recall ever referring to the mass appeal side of the business. In fact, I am against it in this case. The greats that I have named in my previous post (François Coty, Ernest Beaux, Jacques Guerlain, and Germaine Cellier), along with Edmound Roudniska and Jean-Paul Guerlain, wouldn’t place their artistic integrities ahead of commercialism. Never.

    I would never dream of mentioning the words ‘mass appeal’ in order to represent ‘artistic side’ of Chanel. What I was musing, however, is the rate of innovation between the new offerings and the classics. Given Coco’s love for innovation within the restraints of elegance, I was hoping the new offerings would completely match Coco’s vision in this regard.

    “Chanel often wore Eau de Cologne in the salon, more often than not and I was informed she topped up throughout the day and night.”

    I guess we are approaching the concept in a different perspective. While it’s wonderful to be amongst tradition, Coco’s vision is so ahead of her time that it would have been wonderful to see an exponential voyage into the next perfumery Renaissance.

    Allow me to give you an example that’s very dear to my heart. I adore the longing nature of Chopin’s nocturnes and I play many often. While I completely understand that Chopin composed the musical treasures with a traditional Erard piano in mind, the fact that the complexity of the harmony, the intricacy of the key modulation, and subtlety of undulating rhythm pin-point, not only the elegance of the salon, but also a completely serene universe so ahead of their time. Thus, one actually gains a greater insight when interpreting the nocturnes using a modern piano, using a range of pedaling techniques that might not be technically available at Chopin’s time. All of this is possible because of Chopin’s genius, communicated throughout his scores with nuance.

    Similarly, Chanel’s love for eau de cologne, given the modern context, can be strengthened with respect. With Chanel, it’s not just what she did, but it’s also what she was trying to do. While it’s perfectly wonderful to be immersed in Chanel’s salon, I long to walk on Chanel’s vision on earth. Thus, I expected something more than a ‘haute’ version of eau de cologne, but simply something that allows me to view the tradition of eau de cologne in a brand new perspective. I might be asking something that’s different from what Chanel (the company) had in mind, but I know I’m not alone in this regard.

    Please don’t misunderstand me: there are wonderful innovations and trends within the collection. For instance, the clever use of iris within the context of chypre is a great possibility, given the recent restrictions on oakmoss. Still, I have too much respect for the tradition of the company to not expect a great deal of ground-breaking innovations from this house: it’s simply within the soul, the DNA and the heart of the company. April 4, 2007 at 3:42pm Reply

  • Jupiterbelt: Please Note: I just re-read the posts and I now understand what Marian was talking about when dealing with the mass appeal of the Les Exclusifs line. I couldn’t understand it at first, but it’s more clear to me now.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    “Of course, while not every Chanel fragrance has to be a trail-blazer, should one apply a different standard after the introduction of the blockbusters such as Chance and Allure Sensuelle?”

    I was actually referring to Luca Turin’s response to those two fragrances:

    “Recently, Chanel’s successes (Chance, Allure Sensuelle) were a bit like Apple’s iPod: nice earners but nothing revolutionary. While Guerlain and Hermès did confidential lines of fragrances, Chanel held back.”

    I expected more from Chanel not because the recent successes are blockbusters: quite the opposite. I expected the Les Exclusifs line to change my perspective on the art of perfumery. While I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions, I am holding Chanel under a different standard, especially the endorsement by Christopher Sheldrake. April 4, 2007 at 4:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Jupiterbelt, I enjoyed reading through the comments, and I have seen a variant of this discussion on other blogs too. In other words, people expected something grander and greater than what Les Exclusifs turned out to be. Then again, put it in the perspective–Chanel is not about avant-garde, but about quality and elegance. Except for No 5, it has always been this way, and it is not surprising that Chanel company chose to pay heed to its clientele, rather than create something completely different and challenging along the lines of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Secretions Magnifiques. In many ways, if you want your perspective on the art of perfumery dramatically shaken up, the traditional, classical houses will not provide that. Granted, as much as I am fascinated by Secretions Magnifiques and Thierry Mugler Orgie, I will reach for Guerlain and Chanel at the end of the day. April 4, 2007 at 9:29pm Reply

  • Elle: Fascinating piece! Thanks so much for posting the link. April 5, 2007 at 11:24am Reply

  • Jupiterbelt: Dear Victoria,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I’ll consider your advice as I ponder my perspective during the Easter weekend. I would also love to see other people reactions to Les Exclusifs, so it would be great if you could show me the links to other forums.

    While I, just like you, will reach for Guerlain and Chanel at the end of the day (NOT a Secretions Magnifiques and Thierry Mugler Orgie fan by a long shot), I still long to see the return of the golden era of perfumery. While I respect the firms’ wishes to please their clients, I am still cherish the following classics because of their contributions to perfumery:

    1. Guerlain Jicky (coumarin & linalool)
    2. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (heliotropin)
    3. Guerlain Mitsouko (aldehyde C-14)
    4. Chanel No. 5 & 22 (abstract aldehydes)
    5. Chanel Bois des Iles & Cuir de Russie (new categories)
    6. Dior Eau Sauvage (hedione as an abstract note)

    Of course, the list is not exhaustive, but I am sure you could understand my concerns when the NY perfume critic wrote the following as a part of his review for Les Exclusifs:

    “Chanel is trying to establish the role of the perfumer taking the lead, whereas the craze on the lower end is with the celebrity perfumes,” says Karen Grant, of NPD. “It’s establishing the perfumer, making a statement.” (“For old-line Chanel, audacious new edge” by Chandler Burr)

    Of course, Mr. Burr’s position is perfectly valid, but the traditional houses should really take a look at their marketing positions. If they want to be innovators, say so; if they want to satisfy their core customers, say so as well. (It’s not that hard to do both, actually…) I just don’t like them to mix up the two, which they ought to know the danger of such approach by now.

    To me, the most breath-taking fragrances are ones with transcendental fragrances with inherent innovation. (A jaw-dropping second-look, as I love to think.) The two should be one and the same at this point. Of course, that’s part of the reason why I’m not purchasing fragrances as much as I used to be, but I have faith: someday, people will not take the products at face value and really recognize the fragrances for what they truly are. I am sure people won’t accept what they are told complacently in the near future, especially with the rise of the blogs like Bois de Jasmin.

    J April 6, 2007 at 1:17am Reply

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