Perfume Review: Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere
Up until a couple of years ago, when Chanel No 5 Elixir Sensuel was released, Parfums Chanel seemed reluctant to play the flanker game with their legendary No. 5. I wonder if even Elixir Sensuel can be justifiably called a flanker as it simply is a different formulation (concentration, consistency) of No. 5 rather than a new scent capitalizing on the success of Chanel's bestseller. Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere steps rather more boldly into the flanker territory. I have been expecting to see a release of Chanel No 5 Eau Fraîche or Eau Délicate or Eau d'Été for a while now, as the creation of a "lighter, fresher, softer interpretation of N°5" seemed to me to be inevitable. And here it finally is, under the name of Eau Premiere. Jacques Polge has tweaked No. 5 to achieve "a silky-smooth harmony of notes that reveals the delicate facet of the world-renowned fragrance".
The first sniff is comfortingly familiar, recognizably No. 5-ish. The aldehydes seem much softer, but the beautiful ylang-ylang of Chanel No. 5 is there, as is iris, the two notes of No. 5 that have always been the strongest and the most beautiful on my skin. The effect is indeed softer, smoother, less powdery. After a short while the scent becomes surprisingly citrus-heavy; these are bright, candied citruses (bergamot? lemon?), and I have never smelled them while wearing the regular No. 5 in any of its concentrations. My problem with Chanel No. 5 have always been its "coldness", its -strange as it sounds- absolute perfection. To me, it is like an exquisite marble statue, breathtakingly beautiful but lifeless. And so as far as I am concerned, the addition of the lively, sunny citrus notes was quite welcome. The citruses breathed life into the marble features, brought a smile upon the haughty face of No. 5. The moment I smelled those honeyed, solar notes, I wanted to own Eau Premiere. Luckily, the reason won and dragged me out of Saks, to wait and see how the composition would develop further. Luckily, because the subsequent development was not that great. Believe it or not, the base of Eau Premiere smells on me not unlike a "lighter, fresher, softer" version of...Obsession. That's right, Obsession. There is something in the drydown of the new Chanel, something heavy and strangely sharp, something ambery-musky that is very out of place there and that makes me uncomfortable. Something that will prevent me from ever wanting to own a bottle of Eau Premiere.
Overall, I find Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere to be quite attractive. It is fresher than the regular No. 5 but not too fresh, lighter but not understated to the point of blandness. By taming the aldehydes and the powderiness it perhaps makes No. 5 more approachable to those wary of such notes. It seems somewhat more youthful than No. 5, but it does not smell young. It still possesses the versatility of the great classic; like Coco Chanel intended, a woman wearing it may "shop in the morning, take tea in the afternoon, and go to the theatre in the evening" (Michael Edwards, Perfume Legends).
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere is available at Saks, $125.00 for 5oz.