Saturday, June 18, 2011
Chanel No. 19 - EdT and EdP
The iris just finished blooming around Toronto as I write this. Beautiful and regal flowers, in shades of purple fill the gardens. But the iris in perfume doesn't come from the flower; it's a precious natural material extracted from the roots of the iris plant. The irises used to create No. 19 are gown in Chanel's own fields in Grasse. They take three years to reach maturity and the roots must be dried for two years before they can be processed. It takes 10 tonnes of dried iris roots to produce one pound of iris butter, from which the the absolute is extracted for the perfume, making iris one of the most costly natural materials in perfume.
The resulting absolute doesn't smell purple. To me it smells cool and silvery grey shading to earthy, depending on the perfume. It's a sophisticated, haunting and very unisex smell. Indeed, Chanel No. 19 is beautiful on a woman but would also make an excellent masculine.
According to an interview with Christopher Sheldrake in The Australian, "The original No.19 was created in the 70s. This was an era of the emancipation of women and for me this is the epitome of the spirit of Gabrielle Chanel. She was the ultimate rebel who refused to be categorised as the girly, pink flower type of girl. Chanel No.19 is a little bit like wearing trousers for a woman. It enhances the femininity."
No. 19 combines iris with a top note of bitter green galbanum, and earthy vetiver with smooth leather in the base. Together they are smooth as a grey silk blouse under a tailored jacket. In shades of green grey and brown No. 19 reminds me of a walk on a cool, cloudy spring day. It's both urban and outdoorsy, masculine and feminine.
The EdT version of No. 19 is a sheer, silvery veil of iris and cool green galbanum on my skin.
The EdP version of No. 19 wasn't released until the 1980's and it has a slightly different take on the same notes. To me, it smells more brown or ochre in colour and is warmer. The EdP lasts longer and the dry down is a stronger woody/earthy smell.
I haven't tried the perfume "extrait" version yet, but I would like to before the new No. 19: Poudre flanker is released later this year. According to what I've read, the original 1970's version of No. 19 was created using a very high quality galbanum, from a source in Iran. After the Iran hostage crisis, that source was no longer available and Chanel had to reformulate. What I wouldn't give to try the 1970's vintage!
Notes: galbanum, neroli, bergamot, hyancinth, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, vetiver, sandalwood, leather and musk.