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Monday, September 08, 2008

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.

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37 Comments:

Blogger Beth Gehring said...

When I got my Saks fall catalog I was completely intrigued by this one and I couldn't wait to smell it. Now after reading your review I can see why! I love the coldness of the Chanel scents, they're what I wear when I am in search of a certain elegance. I'm really excited for this one, I have a feeling that it might become my new "Autumn in New York" fragrance.
By the way, I will definitely be in NYC from the 9th thru the 12th for the Food Network Food and Wine festival! Can't wait to see you then!

9:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Многообещающе. Обнадеживающе. Заманчиво. Осталось дождаться октября, зажав в ладошке 200 баксов. :) Я люблю Les Exclusifs de Chanel.
G.

12:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was finally able to try Les Exclusifs this summer (purchased Bel Respiro, the antidote to Miami humidity!), and I am excited to try this one as well. You are so right in that Chanel still manages to "carry the torch" for quality and perfume-ness when so many other houses are, shall we say, wandering in the outer darkness?
-Masha

5:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
Oh I hope I do get to see you! Have fun at the Festival.

6:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Genechka,
Ya tozhe lyublyu, voobwe Chanel v celom lyublyu.

6:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Masha,
I like most things in Chanel's line, except perhaps Chance.

6:47 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

"Falling into a sandpit" - love that! :-) I'm also a big fan of the color - it's the perfect thing for showing off beautifully textured fabrics and cuts. I'm really looking forward to trying this one. Not sure I'll need a full bottle, since, as you said, there already is Gardenia, which I have, but you never know. I'm guessing that at least I'll need a decant.

7:48 AM EDT  
OpenID divalano said...

Yes, I think I do need to smell this. Just, you know, for educational purposes of course ;)

10:05 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I love that Chanel is doing these scents that still have some hauteur to them- I'll have to seek this one out..

12:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abstraction-- hauteur-- arrogant beauty-- I must try this one. Even if beige is NOT my neutral.
Gretchen

1:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurray for the color beige. I love neutrals and don't think them at all boring. Great choice of picture, Marina, that is a gorgeous dress, no? (Oh, and I love your new picture as well).
I also love the whole dressing up idea, and a perfume to match. My only gripe would be: why on earth a 200ml bottle?
Sabina

4:09 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

It sounds lovely, looking forward to trying it!

4:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

You know its very strange..When i started to seriously sniff(that sounds weird, but you know what I mean..:))
I didnt like the 'perfumey' perfumes but now I am craving exactly those kind of 'fumes..opulent and/or unabashedly perfumey..so I will definitely check this one out..(I also think i may have re sniff the classic guerlains- I've only really liked samsara so far..Also need to sniff the Chanel parfums)

5:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
It is not identical to Gardenia, but the same TYPE of scent, imo

7:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M
Of course, just for educational :-)

7:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom
You always know the perfect word. Hauteur!

7:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Gretchen
Which neutral color do you like?

7:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Sabina
Yeah, I know. And with something this strong...my grand kids would inherit it, still over a half full :-)

7:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

R
And I am looking forward to your review!

7:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lavanya
That's exactly how it was with me too!

7:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Lovely review, I am intrigued! I adore chilly, haughty white florals myself (Un Lys, anyone?)and I adore "perfumey" perfumes too! This sounds like a winner to me, can't wait to try it!

1:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Donna,
I think it's very "you" :-)

6:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous Mimi said...

I don't live in New York (unfortunately) or even in the U.S., but I'm attracted, all the same, to the idea of this being *my* 'Autumn in New York' fragrance too.

The Chanel exclusifs fill me with longing - much much more so than any other exclusive line. As yet, I've managed to contain myself and only bought one of them, No. 18. But I was practically salivating reading this review. I do think they are just extraordinarily well-made. And there is that indefinable Chanel cachet...

I am lusting after Bois des Iles, Gardenia, No. 22 and Coromandel, and now this...

*runs away weeping*

9:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Mimi,
No 18 used to be my Exclusif favorite. Now it is probably Coromandel and this :-)

9:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Mimi said...

By the way, is that the frighteningly beautiful Natalia Vodyanova in the pic?

9:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Indeed it is! :-)

9:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colombina, sorry for my hasty comment. I did mean to say that black, dark blue, and pure gray (no hint of pink or brown) are my neutrals. Beige and browns, no matter how beautiful in themselves, make me look dead and drained of blood. If Chanel had named the scent "Gris" I would be happier!
Gretchen

1:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous LizS said...

I really love this scent! Its already available at Saks and I am spraying it non-stop and getting all kinds of (good) comments. I dont like Gardenia (gasp, i know) so this is great for me. At the moment, I am glad the bottles are so big...a definite must try!

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Gretchen
I adore gray! My favorite color.

10:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

LizS
I am so glad to hear you enjoy it too

10:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous Madelyn said...

While beige is my LEAST FAVORITE COLOR - cHANEL'S NEW BEIGE is beckoning..
I am lusting for it.
Cool fragrances appeal to my inner lady -
an elegance that experience and maturity can only bring-
Your review as always does ant scent justice - but just by reading each and every descriptive word - can I inhale .. and take a virtual sniff of what must be a beautiful perfume

12:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Darn it, I must be slow, I just realized that I won't be able to try this one anytime soon - it's an Exclusif! WHY does Chanel hate us!?

2:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Madelyn
Your inner lady would appreciate this one.

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

D,
yep, I know...

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

"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."

I read this on the fly when you wrote it, and I keep meaning to stop back by and tell you how perfect and concise that sentiment is. I can't wait to smell Beige, I have a sample on the way!

2:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Thank you, March, and I can't wait for your review.

2:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"this kind of dressed-up, ladylike, slightly bitchy, coldly intense floral fragrances" This makes me want to buy it unsniffed. It also makes me feel less "alone" in loving the old school, haughty beauties that don't fret if they don't win you over immediately. Now wear's my credit card!!!!

8:26 PM EDT  

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