31 agosto 2010

Bleu, the new masculine by Chanel

I was spending a week in France, and after 7-days-7 of wild, natural scents of sea, woods, horses etc. I felt I needed something composed by mankind. Yes, I'd brought a dozen vials with me to test (and I’ll write about the two Kilian I liked and the two Kurkdjian I'm still pondering), but the vials were not enough, I still needed reinforce, so I got into a perfume shop.
And I discovered that Bleu in France has already been launched. Triple hooray!
The last masculine launch by Chanel was Allure Homme (1999) and with some flanker exceptions, a new vision of the “Chanel man” was missing since then.
Just to recap, the four Chanel musketeers are:
- Pour Monsieur (1955 Henri Robert), a very classic fragrance, an extremely proportioned masculine chypre, with citrus and vetiver made brilliant by aldehydes, with a beautiful oakmoss at the base (I haven’t tested the recent reformulation, which I guess has lost the oak moss). Still very popular and rightly so, because it’s elegance condensed.
- Antaeus (1981, Jacques Polge), beautifully calm, serene and majestic: the garden aromas melt into a forest of precious woods, enhanced by an irresistible accord sandal/labdanum lasting a lifetime.
- Egoiste (1990, J.P.), a woody-spicy with great personality, characterized by a brilliant note of coriander, one of the finest men's fragrance ever; dry, sharp, ironic, perfect also on a woman.
- Allure (1999, J.P) is not something we can define the monolith of originality: citrus topnotes sitting on a woody base is a stereotype of many masculines already smelled dozens of times, but I still find it pleasant, very wearable, longlasting. Well, maybe not at the celestial height of the three that preceded it, but certainly worth to carry the name Chanel.
Sadly, Bleu, is not even worthy of being on the same shelf. I usually don’t write about things I don’t like but… this is CHANEL, wasn’t I allowed to high expectations?

Clearly, it isn’t Polge’s nor Sheldrake’s fault, who are two geniuses. The brief is clear: "You must stay below this cost”. Well, below that cost (which I guess around 10-12 euros per kg.) even if your name is Polge/Sheldrake, you can only create something like this: an aromatic cologne of no interest, focussing on lavender and rosemary (but it could be a lower quality of lavender, shallow, thin, metallic like lavandin) and some woods of whose nature I couldn’t say anything, some synthetic molecules sewing everything.

Maybe Chanel is widening the gap: the Exclusifs increasingly exclusive; the commercial line, way too commercial. Yes, I can envision a marketing strategy behind this. But I don’t appreciate it.

4 commenti:

Six' ha detto...

I'm afraid more and more of us perfumista are disheartened with what's going on in the mainstream market, and coming from Chanel, of all things, it's even sadder.

Have you read Jacques Polge's interview here? He all but admits that he had to make Bleu totally bland. Honestly:

When I find myself in planes, at some point I always see those business men coming from the bathroom smelling of aftershave. So Bleu is spicy, woody, and dry. There is no fantasy.

You can almost imagine him weeping when he read the brief.

I'm very intrigued by your estimation of the formula, as I have zero idea how all of this works. Would you say 10-12 EUR / Kg is average, or sub-par for a major release? How would that compare with the cost for a niche perfume with noticeably high quality materials? (take your pick!)

Thank you!

Michael Mattison ha detto...

I couldn't agree with you more when you say, "the Exclusifs increasingly exclusive; the commercial line, way too commercial." It's exactly what I felt when sampling "Bleu". The saddest thing, though, is that I knew it was going to be a dire flop when I learned the fragrance's name; sounded like all the other generic stuff at any cologne counter anywhere in the world. And sure enough: The smell matched exactly. Even sadder, though, is that this will top the list of Most Popular Men's Cologne's by December, and it will be under Christmas trees all over the world. It's not that "Bleu" isn't pleasant; it's just so very superfluous. How can the people who put out "Sycomore" and "Coromandel" be content to even contemplate putting "Bleu" out on the market? Well, because they'll make lots of money with the "Le Mâle" crowd, that's why.
Anyway, hope all is well with you; nice being back on your blog!

Bergamotto e Benzoino ha detto...

Six' happy to see you here! Thanks for the link, I looked at the interview!
Around 150 euros/kg are enough to guarantee a good choice of raw materials, but as you know, which ones and how they are blended, well, that's something that in the end makes the real difference between a perfume of hig or low quality. Besides, a french friend, working in the industry (she does copies of famous perfumes) says when the brief says "15 euros/kg" she is very happy...
If you google for catalogues of high quality olis for industry (I have some links, I'll give them to you if I can find them), you can start making an idea. Hovewer, generally big firms extract or distill raw materials on their own so our estimations cant' be so precise. In this case, I smell a syntetic lavender, syntetic citrus and syntetic woods, costing of no more than 5 euros each/kg.
Have you read Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent? He gives interesting hints, too.

Michael, so happy to see you again! And I couldn't agree with you more. I understand the marketing strategy behind all this ("We make the real money with Bleu, while Sycomore and Coromandel add the allure and the cultural touch"). Ok, but the mass -who will eventually buy generic, blank fragrances like Bleu- would be happy to prize those who risk: Dior Homme is a terrific fragrance, AND sells very well! So is Angel or Hypnotic Poison etc. The mass is not supid, and can understand an original fragrance. Someone will have to understand this, sooner or later.

Six' ha detto...


It's been 2 years since I last read Chandler's Perfect Scent, I didn't remember this part... obviously, the perfumer's talent will be paramount in the quality of the end product, but as Luca Turin said, if you give them a fabric softener budget, they can't do much... I seem to remember JC Ellena saying he still used excellent materials in his mainstream releases, except, he uses them in greater dilution, so he can keep the costs down...

Anyway, thank you for your answer, I knew quality niche perfumes had a bigger formula budget than mainstream ones, but not that it could be as much as tenfold! Yikes...