Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chanel N°19

Chanel No.19 is a fresh, green, powdery and distinctive floral scent. The listed notes on Perfume4u include May rose, (Florentine) iris, orris, galbanum, hedione, oakmoss, vetiver and leather among other notes. Some sources categorize No.19 as Chypre but Jan Moran calls it a Green Floral and describes it as Floral Woody Green. To me, it smells of galbanum (leafy notes) and honeysuckle, with shades of the classic Aldehydic Floral Chanel No.5 giving it the powdery impression. Then again, it's so compositionally well-balanced, it smells uniquely of No.19 which is hard to describe. No.19 was love at first sniff for me, and it was a memorable encounter.

I had a friend whose sophisticated, working single mother loved this scent. When my friend opened her mom's closet and showed this to me (sorry for raiding your closet, Mom!), it was an epiphany, smelling the "scent of a woman" who handled a busy schedule in a powersuit. It was also refreshing to discover a Chanel that smelled so chic, elegant, high-pitched, energetic and cool, but also more vibrantly floral than No.5. Chanel No.5 was all powder to me, but No.19 smelled like abstract spring in a bottle. It was crisp and professional, and I knew I'd have to get my own bottle when I got older (and I could afford it myself). Years later, I bought an EDT in the same beautiful, sleek silver atomizer with my own paycheck. Several years after that, I discovered and fell in love with the pure parfum version, but this formula is now rumored to be discontinued and seems hard-to-find.

No.19 is the epitome of a refined, timeless French classic.

Michael Edwards lists these notes in his book, Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances:

Chanel No.19 (1971)
Top Notes: Neroli, galbanum
Heart Notes: iris, May rose, narcissus, jasmine, ylang-ylang
Soul Notes: Oakmoss, cedar, vetiver

Jan Moran lists the following notes in her book, Fabulous Fragrances II:
Chanel No.19 (1972 Floral-Green)
Top Notes: Greens, galbanum, bergamot
Heart Notes: Jasmine, may rose, iris, ylang-ylang
Base Notes: Sandalwood, oakmoss, vetiver