The Les Eaux de Chanel fragrance line from the house of double “C”s was considered fresh in more ways than one when it debuted in 2018. Besides evoking lightness and effervescence in its own way, each scent was a tribute to a different destination dear to Coco Chanel and meant to be unisex.
Last month, it ushered in its sixth and latest addition that might also come across as its most feminine: the pink-hued Paris-Paris that’s inspired by the city’s chic women and boasts a heart of Damascena rose. Yet – as Chanel’s in-house perfumer Olivier Polge puts it – the emotions that a fragrance stirs up matter more than a gender label. Ahead, he tells us more.
For those new to Les Eaux de Chanel, tell us how this line is different from other Chanel fragrances.
“The scents in Les Eaux de Chanel have the same structure as an eau de cologne (a fragrance with a light concentration of perfume oils that often makes for a great pick-me-up) with a lot of head notes. In every Chanel fragrance, there’s a darker facet as well as a lighter, fresher one. Freshness is part of the identity of the house’s fragrances, but until Les Eaux de Chanel was created, there wasn’t a collection to embody that.”
Named Paris-Paris, the latest addition to Chanel’s Les Eaux de Chanel fragrance line is an ode to the effortlessly elegant women synonymous with the French capital – Mademoiselle Chanel herself being one of them.
No matter the destination that inspired it, each fragrance in this collection has the word “Paris” in its name. Can you tell us more about this?
“Les Eaux de Chanel was designed to be like the Cruise collection in fashion. The idea was to imagine olfactory correspondences between Paris and cities emblematic for Gabrielle Chanel, and everything in the collection starts with Paris – all six fragrances were created there – to the point that Paris appears in the name of each interpretation (previous releases include the citrusy Paris-Deauville and sensual, vanilla-rich Paris-Venise).
In the beginning, we didn’t know that Paris would become the inspiration for the latest fragrance in the collection, but Paris is obviously a very powerful part of the house’s identity. Mademoiselle Chanel was deeply Parisian and that followed her throughout her life. Her life was, and the house of Chanel today is, in Paris.”
How has this city that Coco Chanel called home been interpreted in Paris-Paris?
“Rather than thinking about Paris as a destination, what came to mind was how often I’ve heard people talk about Parisian women and their naturally chic and elegant style. Although it’s difficult to describe this rather singular style, everyone intuitively knows what you mean when you speak of it… There’s something about Parisian style that goes beyond its era and that’s what I’ve tried to transcribe in this fragrance.
Also encapsulated in Paris-Paris is Gabrielle’s very contemporary idea of drawing inspiration from the male wardrobe to create the silhouette of a simple yet elegant woman… We’ve therefore combined highly sophisticated raw materials – in this case, the Damascena rose, which is a complex flower – with patchouli and pink peppercorn, which are dry, spicy and more unpolished. In this way, the feminine side of elegant Parisian women is present, as is another more androgynous, almost masculine side for a more relaxed facet.”
Olivier Polge (above) – Chanel’s in-house perfumer and the man behind Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Paris – points out that there’s nothing stopping a man from wearing a feminine scent. “Fragrance is a part of our identity – of what we reveal about our personality… It is up to each person to choose what the fragrance represents for them on a personal level,” he says.
So Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Paris is aimed at women?
“Fragrance is a part of our identity – of what we reveal about our personality. It is a gesture for oneself and also creates the impression we want to make on others. Women have always worn what were recognised as ‘men’s’ fragrances.
In fact, every fragrance simultaneously contains both masculine and feminine aspects and it is up to each person to choose what the fragrance represents for them on a personal level. Some are more masculine, others more feminine, but that doesn’t mean they have to be worn by a man or by a woman. Rules change. Paris-Paris is very feminine, but endeavours above all to make the emotions of the wearer resonate beyond gender.”
Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Paris is an uplifting blend of citrus, pink peppercorn and patchouli dancing around a heart of Damascena rose.
Why did you choose to use Damascena rose as the heart note?
“This eau is fresh like all the others, but it is probably the most floral and choosing it was above all an olfactory choice. It is steam-distilled, adding very fresh, lemony and spicy notes that make it very vibrant. It’s a complex yet fragile rose that conveys urban sophistication.
Combined with a fragmented patchouli that has been a very important note since the time of Mademoiselle Coco and that is unique and exclusive to Chanel, it reinforces the masculine-feminine aspect that is part elegance, part casualness… Floral notes are very important in the identity of Chanel fragrances. Many perfumes contain rose notes, but we have our signature. The resulting Paris-Paris might seem simple and light, but the fragrance is in fact complex.”
And why the choice of the colour pink to represent Paris-Paris?
“The scents in Les Eaux de Chanel have many similarities so it is important to cultivate their singularity. Colour plays a part and also conveys the continuity of each of their olfactory identity. Like all of Les Eaux de Chanel, Paris-Paris has its own colour: a pink shade to express the extremely floral aspect of this fragrance. Meanwhile the light pastel tone common to the entire collection conveys the line’s elegance and freshness.”
Describe Paris-Paris in three words.
“Freshness, elegance and fluidity.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 2022 Male Edit issue of FEMALE
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