Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Chanel Beige: A Review
Chanel has never been my perfume house of choice. I understand why so many love Chanel No 5 but it’s never been a fragrance I could wear. I love Chanel No 22, but I don't wear it often. Chanel No 19 is decidedly not my thing, to me it smells cold and mean, and I imagine a woman such as Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada to smell like Chanel No 19.
Nevertheless, there was something about the description of Chanel Beige, perhaps it was simply the name itself, Beige, that seemed approachable and potentially a friendlier Chanel to me. I ordered it unsniffed (yes, I bought that huge Les Exclusifs Collection 200 ml bottle!). Chanel Beige arrived yesterday and I wore it last night and I’m wearing it today.
I love it. It’s definitely Chanel. It’s a real old-fashioned classy sort of perfume – and by that I mean it’s an abstract floral, seamlessly well-blended without any specific notes seeking attention over others. It is a smell that will never remind you of a particular flower or thing – it’s a ‘perfumey’ perfume – a complex aldehydic bouquet – but a subdued and soft aldehydic bouquet. Beige does not call attention to itself, in the way that I would say Chanel No 5 does. I’d classify Beige as an understated fragrance.
I was surprised by Beige for the first hour because it smells like a fruity-floral. The initial application doesn’t smell like a Chanel to me, it smells nice, I should say, like a well-done fruity-floral, but it’s undoubtedly fruity and floral and very sweet. However, once Beige dries down, the fruity quality disappears and it becomes unabashedly Chanel. It’s a soft abstract white floral. It’s pretty yet grown-up pretty. It’s something I would wear when I want to be taken seriously, when I want to smell sophisticated and ladylike. Beige does not make me conjure up images of New York society women with large clunky jewelry, perfectly coiffed nor a cold, bitchy woman like Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada. I wouldn’t classify this as a cold scent – it smells and feels rather warm on me. You might wonder about the similarity with Chanel’s Gardenia, and while Beige is also a white floral, I find it less heady and sweet, and more soft and subdued than Gardenia. I much prefer Beige to Chanel’s Gardenia myself.
Just for the record, my favorite Chanel’s are Coromandel and Bois des Iles. I consider these warmer and easier for me to pull off. Coromandel, Bois des Iles and Beige are not similar in any way, aside from each carrying off that distinctive Chanel-esque theme, but it gives the reader an idea of my style/preference, and since all perfume reviews are entirely subjective, I figured listing my other Chanel favorites might be helpful. I also don’t typically go for white florals, but Beige is a beautifully soft, abstract and classic white floral bouquet that is grounded in a dry ambery base (amber is not among the listed notes) leaving it not too sweet or heady in the least.
Apparently there was a Chanel fragrance called Le Beige now long discontinued that was introduced in 1931. I have never smelled this fragrance so I cannot attest to whether it’s similar or if the new Beige is a re-introduction of sorts or a completely new fragrance altogether.
From Chanel’s press release…on Beige:
"I take refuge in beige because it's natural," said Mademoiselle Chanel. Sandy beige, honey beige, clay beige, whitish beige… She loved all shades of this colour, which evokes natural elegance and grace. An elusive colour with infinite variations, beige may seem quite ordinary. And yet, behind this apparent simplicity, it hides a discreet sensuality that builds slowly before revealing itself fully. This sensual outburst is interpreted by Jacques Polge through a bouquet of hawthorn, freesia and frangipani, with shimmering hints of honey. A stunning blend of white petals and yellow gold...in other words, a breath of Beige.”
Chanel Beige is available in the U.S. at Saks
$190.00 for a 200 ml bottle
UPDATE: 10/20/08 The more I wear Beige the more I like it. Beige has lovely freesia & sweet honey notes that have become more obvious over time.
The quote and bottle image are taken from Chanel’s press release.