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Monday, August 20, 2007

Perfume Review: Chanel No 19

"It is the date of my birthday, August 19. I was born under the sign of the lion. I am a Leo, and like him I unsheath my claws to prevent anyone from hurting me. But believe me, I suffer much more when I claw than when I am clawed". Coco Chanel (Quote via Perfume Legends by Michael Edwards, page 157)

No 19, created for Parfums Chanel by Henri Robert in 1971, is a perfume-paradox, a blend of the sharp and the creamy-soft, a perfume that proves Chanel's statement that "elegance is when the wrong side is as beautiful as the right side.” The piercing greenness of the top accord of galbanum and hyacinth is every bit as stunning as the luscious, velvety floral heart of sweet rose, mealy iris and buttery ylang-ylang. Out of the contrast of the harsh and the soft, the green and the floral the sublime harmony is born.

Perfectly balanced, crisp and immaculate, No 19 is a perfect expression of Chanel's pared-down elegance, which is to say it is a perfect expression of elegance, period. To me, it conveys the élan of Chanel and her designs more perfectly then any other perfume produced by the brand, more even than the legendary No 5. The sharply-tailored, almost austere, "claws unsheathed" green top notes, the opulent heart, the dry, mossy base, which provides the impenetrable depth where something dark lurks...this is the essence of Chanel, distilled in perfume.

Chanel No 19 is available at saks, $87.00 for 3.4oz.

Image 1 and 3 are vintage ads of Chanel No 19, image 2, which I always thought would make a perfect ad for No 19, is a still from Blowup.

Tomorrow, Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere.

33 Comments:

Blogger tmp00 said...

How funny-

I was just at Saks this weekend, soaking up the AC and looking at this- it is a wonder isn't it?

I think 19 is one of my favorite Chanels- I wish it was more available...

10:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Funny, I was at Saks today too, haunting the Chanel counter. They had No. 19. They had Eau Premiere. They even had a small Gardenia tester. What they did not have, as usual, is samples. But I have my methods. :-)

10:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous MarkDavid said...

to me, this is as close as I have come to divinity in perfume. I'm completely and utterly in love with No. 19 - it may possibly be my favorite scent period. Im so happy you reviewed it and what a splendid job you did - its certainly not an easy one to cover - its so complex and unique.

I also think the best version of this is the EdT which may come as a shock to some - whereas with No. 5 the only version I can wear (and I do, quite often in fact) is the parfum.

For me - the dry Iris in No. 19 is my favorite moment. I have to go put this on right now before I turn in for the night!!

-MD

11:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Gail S said...

Ahh, my first perfume love at the ripe old age of 12! I still have it and love it.

4:17 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Beautiful. That is all.

7:08 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

It is beautiful, even though I attest that Chanel's and me aren't a comfortable match. She looks like she's just retracted her leonine claws in that post below... and there's something feline in her look too.

But, as a hardcore rational materialist, I don't give a fig for astrology either... Ptolemy was bonkers. ;-)

7:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Divalano said...

The image of unsheathed green claws is great & I wish this worked on me. I think it's too green, too crisp, too many edges for my skin. Pity :( I do love Chanel tho, looking forward to the No 5 Eau Premeire review.

8:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Markdavid,
EDT is my favorite version of No 19 too. In fact I love most if not all Chanel EDTs. Except Coco. Coco, for me, must always be in parfum or at least EDP :-)

8:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Gail,
Yours was more refined than mine! (Mine was Poison :-))

8:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Judith,
It definitely is.

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
That's exactly why I love that photo! The feline feel of it :-)

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Divalano,
It is quite claw-full. :-) Eau Premiere is a different animal entirely, much softer. But I wouldn't call it timid or fluffy either. :-)

8:11 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Love No 19. It has joint favourite Chanel status with No 31 and Cristalle edt. (Cuir de Ruisse is running up behind!). I first smelled it on a friend in my Cristalle edt days and didn't want to muscle in on her scent. Fast forward a few years and a boyfriend of only 6 weeks standing at the time bought it for me in edp for Christmas. (good taste!) He also bought me, a couple years later, the parfum which I still have some drops of but I am intrigued by the edt thing and so will re investigate. Thanks Marina!

8:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Nicola,
Wow, that IS good taste on his part!
Did you like any other Exclusifs, apart from the 31?

9:00 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Marina, of the 6 released, I only loved 31 but I liked Coromandel and No 18 but thankfully not enough to have to buy them! Think I might have a problem with Cuir de Ruisse though once I smell it in parfum.... I really like the new monochrome look to your site! tres chic!

9:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Nicola,
I loved 18, Coromandel is a tricky one, goes from smelling heavenly to, dare I say, almost vile on me.
The new look is my tiny tribute to Chanel this week :-) So glad you like it!

9:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, I just can't wear this. It's so harsh and soapy on me that it literally makes me sick. There is something in the open of Le Parfum de Therese that reminds me of 19, but somehow it works, and I'm wildly in love with it. Ah, chemistry.

9:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Dear Anonymous,
Sorry to hear that! Interesting comparison between no 19 and LPDT! I get the similarity in the base, to an extent, but Therese's beginning is quite fruity on my skin, and No 19 doesn't have any of that. Ah, chemistry, indeed! :-)

9:31 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Lord. This is one of the Chanels that makes me think of you. And not me. :-D

I think I'm a Coco/No. 22 gal.

Looking forward to your review of the new one.

9:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

March,
Hey, I am a No 22/Coco gal too! :-) It is safe to say I am a Chanel gal, period. With the exception of anything Chance and Allure Sensuelle.

9:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Huh, today I went to the Innovation Task Force meeting with a big poster with "One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics !" on (thank you, Marina)
I guess they think I'm a complete lunatic (they have no idea...).
Anyway, I celebrated Coco's birthday with wearing #18 (I've never tried #19, not yet...).
love,
ljg

11:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M,
Good for you! :-) That is probably my favorite of Chanel's sayings, especially when taken in the context of perfume. What I've smelled recently (my fingers refuse to type the same names again) make me wary of innovation. Bring on the classics, I say.

11:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

I love 19, and that is all. I was thinking of doing Eau Premiere for tomorrow, but I haven't decided yet.

3:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Patty,
The more the merrier. :-)

3:34 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Ashamed to admit I can't love 19, although it is beautiful. *crawls under rock*

4:13 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R,
What! My world. Turned upside down. I don't know why, but I always had this absolute conviction that you must love No. 19. R., you never cease to surprise me!!

4:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Anita said...

Lovely review as always, M! And my favorite Chanel next to Coco. I've worn 19 off and on since the 70s; I remember buying my first bottle after I had my first job, in high school. It always feels like *me* to me.

4:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Anita,
I love when a perfume feels like "me" to me. :-) Of all the Chanels, No 22 is the "me"-est, but I do love No. 19 very much.

4:27 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fun it must have been to have word Chanel no 19. in the 70's. But I must agree that it's a very "me" perfume, though all I have is a tiny mini. It smells like elegance and a mysterious forest. I like the iris and the (to my nose) "leather" note in the middle. I also prefer the EDT. Have you noticed a difference between the reformulation (dk emerald green) and the older formula (lt yellow green) I prefer the "original", as it seems to have more leather, but the newer version is lovely too, and smells more sharper, greener, edgier. Is it anything to do with the ban on oakmoss. If only it was easier to find the "vintage" 19...

11:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous assorted raisins said...

oh, I'm sorry-I forgot to add my name to the above post. Here you go!

11:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Assorted raisins,
I agree, the older version was more leather, more mossy, more green, well, pretty much more on every count :-) But I love my "new" EDT (green colored liquid) very much too.

9:28 AM EDT  
Blogger nikki c said...

love, love, love 19! going to france next week and hope to sniff the edp and parfum to compare all three. wonderful review! i can't figure it if 19 is more of a summer scent or wintery scent on me... so i reach for it year round! :)

7:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Holli Garnett said...

i've heard that #19 is similar to jacomo silences, but they don't look similar on paper. what do you think?

3:27 PM EDT  

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