Needle in a Haystack. Perfume Review: Une Fleur de Chanel
My random sample pick for today is Une Fleur de Chanel. Inspired by Chanel's legendary love for camellias, Une Fleur was released as a limited edition in 1998-1999, then re-released again and finally disappeared for good. This is one discontinuation that I don't particularly regret. Although pretty and very wearable, Une Fleur de Chanel seems to me to be rather indistinct, lacking in character. I feel that the House could have done a much better job of honoring Mademoiselle's favorite flower.
My main grievance with the scent is its pale, watery drydown. I appreciate the idea of a cool, fresh, somewhat understated, airy and white fragrance that the creators seemed to have in mind. I love fragrances like that, especially in summer. They are my White Dress Scents. I think that elegant understatement and freshness are two of the hardest qualities to achieve in perfume. Make the scent too subtle, and it becomes bland. Make it too breezy and clean, and it goes soapy or unpleasantly aquatic. The base of Une Fleur de Chanel is bland, aquatic and even a little sudsy. And yet the beginning of the perfume is so very promising. It starts with a cold, transparent floral accord that has slight, almost imperceptible fruitiness. The accord reminds me in a way of the magnolia beloved by Maurice Roucel. The sweetness intensifies, the flowers now have an almost incensey, ambery feel and a very appealing vaguely apricot-like undertone. At this stage Une Fleur de Chanel reminds me of Shiseido's Message From Orchids. I realize that jasmine and rose are declared in the official notes, and perhaps they are playing tricks with me, because what I smell in the top and middle notes of Une Fleur are magnolias and orchids, and I like that. At the heart stage, towards the end of it, I also smell a green floral accord, which is weaved out of a lighter, drier green of lily of the valley and the darker, more sharply and more sumptuously green of hyacinth. And it is at this point that things start to go wrong, the flowers pale away and the green accord slowly but surely transforms into a rather aquatic one. It is not an aggressive marine undertone, but it is very much there and it overwhelms the pretty flowers and makes the drydown of Une Fleur ...there is no other word for it...generic and dull.
That being said, I do enjoy the chilly floral elegance of Une Fleur de Chanel in the heat of summer. There are, however, other White Dress Scents that I prefer: Chanel's much more successful cool and effervescent Cristalle, Patou's youthful and refined Caline, Malle's somewehat less shy but still quite cold beauty, Lys Mediterranee, and L'Artisan's crisp Verte Violette. By the way, the latter two also have an aquatic quality, but it is rendered in such a way that it does not take over the composition instead helping to showcase the ethereal nature of the star accords.
Une Fleur de Chanel can still be found online, Perfume Emporium seems to have it in stock, $69.99 for 1.2oz.
Please visit Aromascope to read about Ina's "needle" of the week.