Chanel No 19 is the first perfume French house Chanel launched after a 16-year hiatus in 1971. Although it appeared on the market after the death of Gabrielle Coco Chanel, it was inspired by her character and named by the date of her birth, August 19th. Numbers and their symbolism meant a lot to Coco, ever since her childhood in Aubazine, woman’s convent whose corridors were filled with discipline, the scent of freshly washed linen and the mystery of numbers out of which, the biggest was number 5. Sounds familiar?

Unexpected Chanel

Chanel No 19 is in no way a perfume people expected from Chanel after such a long break. Even 50 years after its premiere, people still cannot accept it in full, despite the fact that its chypre qualities lost their strength during the years and became more wearable and adaptable to the modern taste dominated by floral sweet and gourmand notes.

Maybe some perfumes are predestined to be avant-garde for any time. Although in my opinion, Chanel no 19 is so far ahead of the time we live in that it is actually timeless. Adaptable for every occasion and situation. It can be worn during the day and in the evening, rain or shine, summer or winter.

Myth about Chanel no 19

They say Coco Chanel wore Chanel No 19 until she died in 1971 after which it began its commercial life. Former official perfumer of the house of Chanel and the father of the current one Jacques Polge said that 87-year-old Coco was stooped on the street:

When I left Ritch I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder and when I turned around I saw a young man’s face. Just as I opened my mouth to reject him, he spoke with an American accent: Excuse me, my friends and I would like to know what is the name of the perfume you are wearing? Being stopped on the street by a man in my age, that means something, doesn’t it?

Perfume composition of Chanel no 19

Perfume composition of Chanel No 19 is a mix of an unexpected and artistically genial combination of current and popular elements, ingredients and scent notes. Chanel no 19 cannot be classified although everyone sound enough would call it no 19 green floral. Maybe the biggest surprise Chanel no 19 has to offer is not what it lacks but what it is made of. Perfumes of the time were full of aldehydes, patchouli, musk and vanilla. Chanel no 19 is not. Its composition is based on green and moss notes enriched with iris root, may rose and jasmine.

Lemon and bergamot notes dominate the opening, combined with juicy ylang-ylang and can be felt even 15 minutes later. Iris root dominates in the heart notes and its role is not only to modify as it is the case with the majority of the perfumes of the time, but it also has the leading role. Iris root is the prima ballerina of Chanel no 19, dancing graciously and thoughtfully between fresh upper notes and woody, earthy lower notes of vetiver, sandalwood and leather.

Impressions

Chanel no 19 cannot be explained, you have to smell it. You will probably not like it, it will smell repulsive and old. But give it a chance. You will get an olfactive experience like never before, like walking through an otherworldly garden full of vegetation and green plants, its scent both seductive and cold. Maybe this is how the forest in the Avatar movie smells like. No human garden smell like that for sure. It had an ecstatic and intellectually stimulating effect on me, intoxicating like the combination of the Ice queen and Poison Ivy. That is something you have to experience.

[Fragrance notes] top notes: lemon, bergamot, ylang-ylang; middle notes: iris root, may rose, jasmine; base notes: vetiver, leather, sandalwood, galbanum.

[Fragrance group] green floral.

Perfume creator is Henry Robert.