dimanche 10 mai 2009

Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte: Girl Gone Sour

Cristalle has always reminded me of the girl every mother wants her son to bring home: lovely, with an engaging personality, impeccable grooming and the good breeding that comes from her chypre pedigree. Now she’s got a little sister, and as little sisters go, this one’s a bit unripe under her white cotton frock.

I’m pretty much a goner for most of what the Jacques Polge/Christopher Sheldrake tandem has put out since they started working together, and Cristalle Eau Verte bears more than a passing resemblance to both Beige (for the white floral abstraction) and N°5 Eau Première (for the sunny lemon top notes). Not so much to her namesake: clearly, Eau Verte hasn’t been sired by Cristalle’s chypre patriarch. For one thing, the girl just doesn’t have a base. And there’s something a little off-balance in that citrus top note: it feels both oily and sour, like biting into lemon peel, a distressing sensation that persists long enough to keep me from enjoying the green-tinged white floral that wafts up quite sensuously after a while (my, but we’re seeing lots of that this season, aren’t we? Is there a marketing brief floating around perfume houses saying: “When I hear the word recession, I pull out my bridal bouquet”?).

The green is mostly in the color of the juice, if by green one expects either galbanum or a “cut grass” note: it seems more of a characteristic of the magnolia (definitely the fleur du jour) and (unlisted) hyacinth notes.

Interestingly, Cristalle Eau Verte foregoes traditional base notes in favor of the aforementioned “abstract white flowers”. There is a thin line between the abstract and the undefined, and I’m not quite sure Cristalle Eau Verte hasn’t crossed it.

While the jarring lemon note keeps this from feeling too conventionally pretty, the dissonance it creates seems to lack a counterpoint. Like a nice girl who runs out of conversation after telling her one risqué anecdote, bites her lip and falls back on her cute-as-a-blossom smile, pushing out her budding breasts.

Say, isn’t that cousin N°19 across the room, looking sophisticated, a little haughty and intensely smart? Excuse me, I need to refresh my drink…

Image: by the artist Kate O'Brien.

10 commentaires:

  1. this made me giggle- agree about the floral bouquets coming out during le crunch!

    also agree about Cristalle being the perfect scent for a young lady- although I think for all it's crisp white shirtness it has a little naughty wink, perhaps she is wearing suspenders underneath her floral skirt and blouse?

    I've said it before but I don't understand why Cristalle proper doesn't get more attention or doesn't seem to be more popular. If Eau Verte means the grown up version gets more attention then so be it I guess.

    I haven't tried Eau Verte yet but I will as soon as I see it!

  2. Rose, Cristalle has never been on my radar much as I associated it with a particular person, whom I liked a lot but was so far from me that I didn't think I could pull it off.
    Smelling it again made me love it more -- it is a great classic.

  3. I was given a bottle of Cristalle as a gift the one & only time I was ever a bridesmaid. I was 18, and there was a big pink taffeta dress involved, so those are my associations. I need to re-visit the scent.

    I passed under a big magnolia tree in bloom yesterday when I was out running and spent a hazy, delirious split-second awash in that creamy green scent. ::sigh:: Beautiful.

  4. Amy, you see, it's not just me associating Cristalle with perfect daughters-in-law!
    I envy you the magnolia. Here in Paris they weren't fragrant this year. :-(

  5. You hated it much more than I did!

  6. Robin, it really bugged me. Not because it's very bad (it couldn't be considering the authors) but because it isn't much. Though maybe that lemon note isn't as annoying to other noses!

  7. Hmm. Yes, you are right, magnolia seems to be the new pink pepper (which I think was the old lychee.) I like Beige very much, but I can't say this one sounds terribly appealing.

  8. March, magnolia is definitely the goût du jour. What worries me more is the absence of base notes: it's like the scent is preparing a world in which none of them will be allowed in significant quantities...
    On a more optimistic note, they may just be experimenting with "cologne but better".

  9. i quite like that cristalle feels like a chypre that works backwards, with the dark/bitter section upfront and the green middle fading to white aldehydes

  10. Denis, it's been three years since I've smelled this, so not sure whether you're referring to the original or the variation?