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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Perfume Review: Chanel Cristalle

Cristalle is a perfect white dress of a scent, light, breezy, elegantly simple. Like such dress, it is absolutely indispensable during the summer. Created by Henri Robert for Parfums Chanel in 1974, the chypre/fresh scent, with its mouthwateringly tangy, sparkling, indeed crystalline top notes, its sweetly-floral heart and it's sophisticated, mossy and earthy base has deservedly become a modern classic. Lacking the sumptuous aldehydes of the old Chanels, less sharply-green and austere than its contemporary, No. 19, less rich and glammed up than the beautifully expansive creation of the 1980s, Coco, Cristalle is perhaps the most approachable, versatile and easy-to-wear Chanel fragrance.

Chanel scents generally "love" me, and Cristalle, along with No. 22, is the Chanel scent that loves me the most. It is always perfect, it never has off days, when strange notes suddenly appear out of nowhere, irritating and bothering me. The citrusy-green top notes have a tonic effect on me, I adore their refreshing sharpness, which is akin to a playful splash of ice-cold water on the face on a searing-hot day. But it is the heart where the real magic happens; the sweet greenness of hyacinth, the indolic whiteness of jasmine, a hint of dewy melon and a dash of cumin combine into a complex, sensual but still miraculously light, luminous harmony. The beautiful chypre base conceals a subtle trace of soft patchouli, which underscores the dry earthiness of moss and plays off the warmly piquant cumin. Like a perfect white dress, Cristalle is deceptively simple, its flawless structure and sublime proportions making it invariably easy going and forever fascinating.

Cristalle Eau de Toilette (which is my preferred formulation of this scent and the one described here) is available on Chanel.com, $62.00 for 2oz.

Images are by Sam Shaw.

36 Comments:

Anonymous assorted raisins said...

Cristalle is easy to wear, and the image of carefree Marilyn in her classic modern white fits so well! Cristalle is both elegant and carefree and I consider it my "everyday chanel". I have the EDT. At first it smelled different than the sample I tried, which smelled bright, resinous and green (galbanum or oakmoss?) But when I bought the bottle 1.5 yrs later it was different, more like sunlight filtered through shady leaves. It grew on me slowly, and it blooms well in the summer. Do you know if Chanel has slightly reformulated the Cristalle EDT as well? Kudos to chanel for not hurting their "classics."

11:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Andy said...

lovely post and I loved the picture. MM, now that was a star! Wished these times would come back in one or the other form. Fragrant greetings

12:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Now *this* is a lovely scent.

2:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous Tina (timam) said...

hi M, I had quite a work yesterday when I was catching up with all your posts of the previous week. it was worth it, I enjoyed every one of them :).
classic Chanels and I don't get along that well (yet?) and every time I try them at the Chanel counter, I end up with an aldehydic mess and dissappointment :-/ however, I admire your reviews of them and in particular your ability to always find the most perfect photos to illustrate your words.

4:50 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I agree, Marinochka.
What delightful photos of that magnificent woman...

Chanel DID reformulate; both EDT and EDP- the latter is much more floral.
They're both lovely, though-
But fleeting, fleeting.

6:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Divalano said...

Such a bad influence you are. The notes aren't my usual preference but now I shall have to try the EDT again. It's been many years.

7:43 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Seconding Divanalo: I have never investigated this closely b/c it seemed so "not my sort of thing." Guess I will have to now.:) At least it's not hard to find. . . .

8:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Assorted raisins,
They must have reformulated it. I don't remember the older version, had mine for a while now, and when I compare my impressions to the list of notes from a 1981 perfume guide, it seems like I am getting everything that is supposed to be there and nothing that shouldn't be, you know? So perhaps the reformulation was respectful to the original.

9:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Andy,
Thank you! MM just goes so well with Chanel scents. Though, to me, not necessarily with No 5, with which she is so closely associated.

9:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
No aldehydes, right?

9:37 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

You know- we must be having a psychic week- I was just sniffing Cristalle this weekend when I was sucking up Saks' AC and it sooo took me back: in college all of the Smith girls wore this. It was lovely and not too perfumey. I know it's been reformulated but to me it still smells like 1980, in a very good way.

11:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tina,
Missed you, hope you had a great vacation! Did you mention once that you liked Diorella? If so, you might like Cristalle too. In any case, it is unlikely to over-aldehyde you.

11:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ida,
Cristalle lasts and lasts on me, really, for a surprisingly long time.

11:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Divalano,
If you decided to retry, than my work here is done :-)

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Judith,
I think it might be your thing, if it does the cuminy, almost-leathery thing on your skin too.

11:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Well, if it reminded you of that time, than it must have been reformulated well, that's great to know!

11:27 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Great review of one of my summer favorites, and repeating others above -- love those pics! Had never seen them before.

11:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R,
Thank you, I am so glad you liked!

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Ina said...

Cristalle is one of those highly underrated Chanels, don't you think? It's so wearable, though. It actually reminds me a little of Parfum de Therese. I used to own a bottle but now you make me go sniff it again. Maybe it'll get me out of da funk...

1:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ina,
Yesss!! Me too! I had to double check that Cristalle is Robert's, because the hint of melon and the hint of cumin were quite Roudnitska-esque :-)

1:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Pam said...

Beautiful review for a beautiful classic! You always have such a way with words. Cristalle EdT was my gateway Chanel. As much as I love No 19 and Bois des Iles, Cristalle is the one I go to most often. 31 rue Cambon is another favorite, but since I only have it in decant form, I'm stretching it out. Here in the Southlands, there is nothing quite so pretty as January sunshine. It's crisp and clear and invigorating, but it's not hot. Cristalle strikes me that same way. Always a pleasure and privilege to read your poetic reviews, Mrs C.

3:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Dust Glitter and Vapor said...

I love Cristalle! It really was my first fragrance love, the EDT version, that is. I like the EDP version well enough but I think I overdosed on it during my years of working in an office environment. I used to have the dusting powder years and years ago--so lovely.

3:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Pam,
Thank you very much! I also love 31, and also am stretching it out as I have a decant :-)

3:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Anita said...

Another Chanel that I love, although I haven't worn it since the 80s. Bought a decant from the frip over the summer, and may have to have a bottle before next summer, it smelled sooo good! And to echo everyone else, is Marilyn not just the hottest, juiciest female ever? She makes today's ubiquitous celebs seem insipid, indeed!

3:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Dust Glitter and Vapor,
oh, dusting powder! That sounds so chic!

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Anita,
She puts the modern ones to shame. "They don't make them like that anymore", for sure :-)

3:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous TexasSnow said...

I've owned this one since college, when I thought it was the most sophisticated thing I'd ever smelled. I'm a trifle peeved at Chanel for making it difficult to find nowadays, as I used to buy it at department stores.

9:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

TexasSnow,
I haven't shopped in a brick and mortar stores for what seems like ages :-) I should do an experiment and try to find Cristalle off line somewhere.

9:57 PM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Internet was down yesterday for me both at home and at work so I didn't see this until today but so worth the wait! (I wondered if Cristalle was next in your Chanel reviews.) As you know I love this one very much, particularly the edt. It was my first Chanel love and my mother now loves and owns it too. I only have it in edp at the moment and keep forgetting to buy the edt. The edp is a bit fruity to me and I can definitely smell the Roudnitska effect. It is a lovely scent, always right, and your review and those phtos do it justice.

7:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Nicola,
Glad the connection is back to normal!

8:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Denise said...

Hmm, I guess I'm not the only one who's had trouble finding Cristalle in department stores lately! I had to buy mine at the boutique...one department store SA tried to convince me it was discontinued! Yeah, right...
Lovely review, Ma rina.

4:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Denise,
Gosh, well, I am glad you found it in the end!!

4:56 PM EDT  
Blogger julie rose said...

I wore Cristalle oh-so-many years ago. I was walking through Bloomingdales in New York City while I was visiting and used their tester. . .My, do I still LOVE this scent!

I was wondering if I tested the EDT or EDP as I want to order some on line. Does anyone know if there is a standard as to which one is in the tester bottles?

I know I used to wear the EDT, but whatever was in the tester was purely wonderful on my skin. . .it positively blossomed as the day wore on and most scents either disappear or leave much too much alcohol-like scent on me!

12:47 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooo I absolutely love the scent of Chanel Cristalle..But nowadays, it's kinda hard to find the edt..Cristalle really worked well with my skin, first spray it would smell like a bright sunny day..green citrus scent that I really love,and then hours later, dries down to soft green petal scent...love this perfume so much!!

3:35 AM EDT  
Blogger JUDITH said...

LOVED THE PIECE ABOUT CRISTALLE. A FITTING TRIBUTE TO THE LOVELIEST SCENT THAT EVER WAS. I WORE IT FOR ALMOST 20 YRS. AFTER THE REFORMULATION I STOPPED. IT WAS NEVER THE SAME. I RESORTED TO THE BODY LOTION, GEL, AND POWDER. UNTIL I COULD NO LONGER EVEN GET THEM. TRE TRAGIC!
I HAVE A SUGGESTION ALL OF US WHO LOVED CRISTALLE AND LONG TO HAVE IT AGAIN LET'S EMAIL CHANEL AND IMPLORE THEM TO REINTRODUCE THE CRISTALLE EDT OF HENRI ROBERT !

12:12 PM EDT  
Blogger personne.eternel@gmail.com said...

great post, great pictures! My bf just got Cristalle for me and I love it. And btw, I really want to try Bois des Iles, but unfortunately we dont have it in Russia:(
Do you think, they have it in Rome, Italy?

12:52 PM EDT  

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