Now smell this
Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, some final thoughts on the Les Exclusifs, and a little poll
Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz for most of her life, but she kept an apartment above her boutique at 31 Rue Cambon "as a place to house her own clothes and host dinner parties":
The décor is ornate and baroque with the artefacts ranging from lacquered Coromandel screens with Chinese paintings to elaborate life size models of deer ranged in front of the fire place. The mirrors have elaborate oversize frames while the chandeliers replicate the double "C" symbol used as a brand logo in most products including bags and belts. Everything in the rooms reflects the concept of duality in her products with nearly each antique or display piece having a twin beside it.
31 Rue Cambon, the apartment’s namesake fragrance from the recent Les Exclusifs collection, is likewise ornate, or at least, more so than the rest of the collection*. Jacques Polge, the in-house perfumer at Chanel, described it as an oakmoss-free chypre with a "dry, musky, nutty scent"; the notes are said to include bergamot, iris, jasmine, patchouli and labdanum.
31 Rue Cambon is, in my humble opinion, the best of the collection. It starts with bright, rich citrus and leads into a stylised blend of florals over a chypre base. Like any modern chypre, it is oakmoss free, oakmoss now being verboten in any serious concentrations, but unlike most modern chypres (I am still puzzling over Miss Dior Cherie), it smells like a chypre. It is, as advertised, very dry, and has a musty-earthy quality that evokes oakmoss without exactly smelling like it.
The musty-earthiness recalls any number of vintage fragrances, still, 31 Rue Cambon has a decidedly up-to-date aura, very chic and spare, with a satisfying depth that doesn’t feel heavy or old-fashioned. The peppery iris in the base is lovely (and even more so if you layer it with 28 La Pausa) and the sillage and lasting power are both good for an Eau de Toilette. If you only have the time and energy to try one of the set, this is the one I’d recommend.