Bel Respiro was inspired by Chanel's home of the same name, which she bought in 1920 in then still-bucolic Garches, a Paris suburb not far from Versailles. The house, in which Mlle entertained Diaghilev, Picasso, Cocteau and Stravinsky, was a tasteful affair of beige stucco and black shutters, very elegant, very Chanel. Polge's green, fresh, refined creation very successfully evokes that chic and idyllic place.
Bel Respiro seems to me to be paying a subtle homage both to Cristalle and No 19; it has the cold, silvery, transparent freshness of the former, and the deep, juicy greenness of the latter. The top notes are almost shockingly green, they are leafy, even slightly herbal, and it is in the top notes where Bel Respiro is the most reminiscent of No 19 with its galbanum-hyacinth-iris intensity. The heart of the scent, while still maintaining the overall green effect, is delicately-floral, breezy, at times even slightly watery - dew glistening on the leaves and petals in a pastoral garden. Apart from the forceful beginning, the fragrance is rather quiet, a green skin scent if ever there was one, but it lasts surprisingly long on my skin. Granted, to discern the drydown, I have to put my nose right to my wrist, but what I smell then is fabulous. The base features the return of a herbal note that I smelled in the beginning (thyme?) ; in the last stage of its development Bel Respiro acquires dry, almost leathery greenness, which I find to be extremely attractive...in a casual but superbly tailored Chanel style.
Bel Respiro is available at Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman, $175.00 for 200ml.