Perfume Review: Chanel Beige
Beige is the new addition to Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection of fragrances. Inspired by Chanel's love for the color ("I take refuge in beige because it's natural," said Mademoiselle), the fragrance is meant to evoke all shades of the elusive hue: from honey to whitish... I have heard several complaints about the name being boring, and by the admission of the Chanel people themselves: "beige may seem quite ordinary." Personally, I am a big fan of the color; stepping into my wardrobe is akin to falling into a sandpit...Like Chanel, I think that "behind this apparent simplicity, it [beige] hides a discreet sensuality."
It seems to me that the composition focuses on this sensuality rather than the everyday versatility of the color. The white floral blend of Beige is a silk evening gown, not a practical jersey jacket. Jacques Polge interprets the slinky aspect of beige by using luscious floral notes of freesia and frangipani enriched by a touch of honey. The combination could have been too heady were it not balanced by a sharper note of hawthorn. The silky intensity of Beige, reminiscent of Gardenia, is roughed up by this slightly bitter, angular note, and the smooth-and-jagged effect is very attractive, an olfactory equivalent of raw silk. I particularly love the bitter quality of flowers, the quality that reminds me a little of Hermes's majestic 24, Faubourg.
Beige is as elegant and ladylike as it gets (note the emphasis on the discreteness of its sensuality). It is a cold, somewhat arrogant beauty, a "better than thou" scent. It smells like a Proper Perfume in that it is abstract, complex, and, regardless of whether it is full of natural ingredients or totally synthetic, it smells...man-made, for a lack of a better term. It is, in short, very Chanel; and I can't help but admire Polge's ability to keep his creations so very much in spirit of the House. I happen to adore this kind of dressed-up, ladylike, slightly bitchy, coldly intense floral fragrances, so I am thrilled to see one more in Chanel's collection. If I were not a fan of this particular style, I might have questioned the necessity of a very classic smelling white floral in the line that already includes Gardenia.
Whether you are attracted by this concept or not, you should smell Beige anyway, if only to refresh a memory of what a Perfume is supposed to be like. In this age of Smells, when perfumes are not supposed to be perfumey anymore, Chanel should be applauded for sticking to their guns and (once in a while) doing what they do best- timeless classics.
Beige will be available in October, at first exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, 200ml for $190.
The quotes and the image of the bottle are from Chanel press release.
Our reviews of other Les Exclusif fragrances: 31, Rue Cambon, Bel Respiro, Bois des Iles, Chanel No. 18, Chanel No. 22, Coromandel.