As much as Chanel is the story of a woman and her drive for excellence, for the best in women’s fashion and the liberation of womanhood, the story is also of the perfumers who created the blends that would skyrocket the perfumes alongside the fashions to international heights. But there is another story that sits side by side and that is one of fathers and sons that are dotted through the fragrance side of the company. Find out more in 2+ 1 =Bleu 3
Main image Hannah Taylor Edington www.hannahte.com
The most iconic perfume in the world arguably has to be Chanel No5, yet the house actually has some of the most elegant, important and best-loved fragrances alongside this particular number. As well as being a nest of perfume heaven it is also a who’s-who of perfumers having had some of the best names in this world head up the scent offerings with exquisite elixirs coming time and again. Interestingly, it is little known that the handling of the head nose is littered with father-son connections.
Ok to start with a very important nose was the role of perfumer Henri Robert, who was the son of Joseph Robert. An important man, Joseph Robert was a chemist, and perfumery tutor to the renowned François Coty and became the Chief Perfumer at The fragrance house of Antoine Chiris.
Chiris started in 1768 and is considered to be the first and one of the greatest businesses in harvesting natural materials and turning them into the raw materials of perfumery and, at times, creating the perfumes themselves.
Chiris held early patents on a steam distillation process capable of producing significant amounts of high-quality perfume oil at a fraction of the previous cost. This technology, alongside the plethora of naturally growing scent ingredients, helped made Grasse France its headquarters, and for the area to become the international focus of perfumery.
Joseph Robert whilst working at Chiris, Grasse in 1884, also developed a new process for extracting absolutes from natural ingredients.
The invention and his work had a phenomenal impact on the world of natural perfumery, opening up a plethora of ingredients that were more diverse, and more concentrated than before allowing for new styles of scents to be explored and created.
But it was his son who took the family name further into the world of fragrance. At age 20, Henri Robert joined his father at the perfume house working alongside a later very famous perfumer, Ernest Beau who went on to become the first head of Chanel perfumes and who created Chanel’s N05. But by 1952, Henri Robert took over from his one-time colleague Beau as the second-ever head nose at Chanel.
Although Jaques, the father never worked directly at Chanel his work and his son carried the legacy of incredible talent forward into the house.
Henri Robert went on to create some incredible fragrances for Chanel including, Pour Monsieur, a Chypre fragrance for men in 1955 and the House’s first-ever men’s fragrance. He created one of the perceived greatest perfumes ever blended, Chanel N.19 in 1970 as a celebration of the birthday of Mademoiselle Chanel which was only meant initially for her, a green floral Chypre that is beloved by perfume connoisseurs. Then in 1974, he created Cristalle de Chanel, a fresh exotic scent with grassy lemon a fusion of flowers all amalgamated with notes of Iris, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine and Lilac.
And so next here carries on the branches of a different scented family tree because then came the Polge Dynasty at Chanel. Firstly there was Jacques, Head Perfumer at Les Parfums Chanel from 1978 to 2015 who was chosen to take over after Henri Robert. Like his predecessors, he also created magnificent nectars for the brand.
Born on June 14, 1943, near Avignon, France he would spend the summers with his family in the city of Grasse via the oceans of Cannes and the beach fronts of Nice and, therefore found himself enchanted by the scents growing all around his summer homes; fields of Roses, Jasmine, Violets, and Orange blossom. It was the Jasmine and other natural, locally grown scents that ultimately inspired him to become a perfumer but not before studying for a degree in English language and literature; always talking of himself as a lover of poetry.
The place where he spent his childhood greatly influenced his later decision to become a perfumer, and so he took an apprenticeship in perfumery in Grasse. Perfume is in so many ways, a way of expression without sounds, letters or words, no need for ears, a poem, dedicated to the nose.
Over his years at Chanel, Jaques created many important fragrances including in 1982 Antaeus, then in 1984 Coco. This followed with Égoïste, 1990 initially launched as a limited edition scent named “Bois Noir”‘ in 1987 and apparently the favourite of his Chanel creations. In 1996 along came Allure and 1999 bought Allure Homme.
If that wasn’t enough in 2001 a younger fresher scent was bough to the house Coco Mademoiselle, with 2002 birthing Chance, he created the pillars of the Les Exclusifs de Chanel fragrances which are beyond elegant as well as the deep and sexy Coco Noir in 2012.
But this particular family connection comes via his mastery of scent in 2010 with Bleu de Chanel. The original fragrance, an eau de toilette was made.
The original Bleu de Chanel EDT is best described in its most straightforward, as a woody aromatic fragrance; a combination of bright sparkling citrus opening aromatic herbaceous notes and a woody finish. A masterful blend.
It opens bright as a sunny Mediterranean morning of citrus sunlight; Find as it springs alive with Bright Calabrian Lemon, the spice of black Pepper and earthy-lemony-rooty Vetiver lifted with fresh Mint; a wham-bam thank you, mam, of an opening.
The middle becomes the centre point of the balance if you like between the bright opening into the warm wood for the base. So here find the magnificent grapefruit lush, fresh and almost fizzy with life, then the animalic, ambery sweet, fruity facets of Labdanum with a hit of ginger, the floral of hypnotic, succulent, Jasmine with touches of nutmeg and magical Iso e Super all of which echo the bright lightly spiced beginning and makes way for the warmth of a woody end.
So the dry down into the base brings rich warmth that melds into the skin via creamy Sandlewood and dry Cedar, earthy Patchouli, smokey deep Insense, light fizzy spicey Ginger and a hug from Musk alongside majestic Frankincense.
The back and forth of the layers echo each other and create a ying-yang balance. This complex yet perfectly melded fragrance allows for lightness as a day scent or one for a light spiced warm wood of an evening fragrance. So well-loved was this fragrance that the master Jaques Polge felt the need in 2014 to revisit it and bring to the table an EDP to life.
However, being the master perfumer at Chanel meant not just upping notes to make it a copy but stronger and more long-lasting, but he used his magic to temper this fragrance so the EDP works alongside its lighter brother with notes added and modifications.
A more sensual and ambery version where the woods and the freshness of the original here are enriched with depths via more herby notes and velvety amber and woods notes.
The notes at the top still hold Grapefruit, Lemon, Mint, Pink Pepper, with added Bergamot, Aldehydes and Coriander; In the middle vibrant warm and spicy again from Ginger, Nutmeg, Jasmine and Melon, blending into its fall echoing its brother with Cedar notes Sandalwood, Patchouli, Labdanum and Incense with added depth of Amber, Vanilla and Venezuelan Tonka Bean.
This is a warmer more intense version of the original that leaves a depth of silage, vibrant and warm the counter of the two, heightened with added facets to make the experience of the EDP a fuller more sensual participation for the wearer and those around him. Two great takes from one master perfumer.
But before we carry on we must go back to the story of fathers and sons. Jacques Polge was the Master perfumer at Chanel until 2015. His son Olivier of course is a native of Grasse, and interestingly not unlike his father, he also studied before entering the world of perfumery like his father and grandfather. He joined Chanel in 2013 and took over as the head in 2015 making him the 4th in-house perfumer for Chanel.
Initially, he studied art history before taking courses and went on to become a trainee perfumer in 1998. By 2009 Olivier Polge had already won the 2009 International Fragrance Prize / Prix International du Parfum for artistic achievements in the field of perfumery. Just a few of his hits include, La Vie est Belle for Lancôme, Dior Homme, Balenciaga Paris, and Spice Bomb by Viktor & Rolf.
So now we come to the holy trinity of three the EDT the EDP and the Pure perfume. Again the wish to revisit the glory of Bleu was treated with utter respect, not a need but a wish to take another branch in the perfumes family tree so in 2018 along came Oliver Polge’s ode in a way to his father, the scent and to the brand.
A powerhouse, the most intense of the three yet of course handled with care this version is serene and refined. Rarely seen in the world of men’s fragrance is a Parfum, the most intense version of a scent, often created for women but very rare in men’s fragrance. Olivier Polge has gone on to set a standard for gentlemen’s scent.
Here he goes back to one of the core ingredients Cedar, and looks to give it a third interpretation. This aromatic-woody melding makes sandalwood a hero. An even more intense concentration for a confident and unmistakable elegance. Grand without being pompous a natural branch to be added to the tree, three fragrances facets to complement each other, and to last.
As his father before him, he has tweaked the proportions of wood and citrus from the two previous incarnations. Top notes are refreshed with hints of Lavender and Geranium, with cedarwood in an emotive centre role, alongside Lavender, Pineapple, Geranium and Green Notes. The dry down brings many of the same notes as before but with levels affecting the silage beautifully, so find creamy Sandalwood, the hero Cedar, Amberwood, Iso E Super and Tonka Bean.
And so 2+ 1 =Bleu 3. Two noses, 1 fragrance and creates 3 sonatas in bleu. All three elixirs are held in darkest navy angular bottles with strong, sharp, square shoulders, so in keeping with the modern designs of Chanel’s flacons. The first two the EDT and EDP both have platinum lettering but the Parfum comes with warm golden lettering hinting at its strength and grandeur.
Only really crafted noses can take one stem and create three stunning versions. Think of them as gardeners of the rarest and precious tree, which they have learnt with delicate trustful hands to take a cutting from the root and divide it into several trees each as beautiful as the first yet each one an original all of its own. The roots of this particular plant being the brand Chanel, being tended by the best gardeners in the world; the noses of the house.
To find out more about the three Bleu De Chanel fragrances plus the auxiliary range here at Chanel.Com
If you enjoyed reading 2 + 1 = Bleu 3 then why not read Enter Flamenco Here
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