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To mark Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s birthday this month, we did a perfume test drive on the latest Chanel offering in the brand’s Les Exclusifs fragrance collection
By Deborah Fulsang
Disciplined but romantic. This is a perfume for a woman who appreciates—and buys—good lingerie.
REMINDS ME OF…
The atmosphere and the scent of a quintessential Parisian boutique with perfectly edited merchandise and beautiful flowers.
This, the 15th fragrance in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs collection, is named for Misia Sert, close friend and confidante of Coco Chanel herself. Scent-wise, this Chanel Les Exclusifs perfume comes inspired by evenings spent by these inseparable style trendsetters at the Opera Garnier in the era of the Ballets Russes. This was the world of Chanel and Sert along with their inner high-profile circle of friends the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Igor Stravinsky and the chic elite of Paris. This perfume channels that arena’s “clicking of pearl necklaces and aigrette hair ornaments melded with the scent of red-tinted lips.” Wow.
Misia embodies the floral scent of cosmetics—the powders, the potions, the glosses and lacquers that have crowded history’s most glamorous dressing tables. For perfumer Olivier Polge, that essence is expressed in violet. To bring out the beauty of the delicate flower, the master scent mixer adds rose, both from Grasse in France and Turkish roses, along with iris to create a luxe-smelling powdery floral. And then he adds tonka bean and benzoin, to give Misia a trail that is warm and sensual.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The beauty of this floral perfume is that it embraces contradictions. It manages to be vintage-smelling, but of-the-moment; floral but not frou-frou; feminine but not cliché; rich but not heavy. But then we’re experiencing the work of a master perfumer who knows his stuff. Polge has created a classic with Misia that the Modernist-minded Chanel—and her buddy, Sert—would surely have loved.
Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia, $180 (75 ml), available at Chanel beauty counters and select Holt Renfrew stores.