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July 27, 2005

Fragrance review: Chanel Cristalle EDT and EDP

Cristalle

Eau de Toilette

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

There are some fragrances that one cannot forget, even if for one reason or another, the love affair is suspended, and the bottle is not replaced. When I moved to the US from London, my perfume bottles were left at the old apartment and, alas, never retrieved. Cristalle was one of them. And then recently I stopped by a Chanel counter and reached for the slim oblong bottle. As the mist fell upon my skin, I was immediately swayed by its luminous clarity. Of course, I had to have a bottle right away.

Cristalle Eau de Toilette was created in 1974 by Henri Robert for Chanel. The name is quite appropriate, for the image of this fragrance is a brilliant light reflected from a perfectly flat plane of a well-cut diamond. The scattering of vivid green notes ranging from soft herbal bitterness of basil to tangy floral sweetness of petitgrain sets a velvety foil for the exuberant burst of lemon and bergamot. The intense verdancy of galbanum strings the shimmering citrus notes together, prolonging their effervescence.

The sensually earthy green notes lace the heart of hyacinth and jasmine and render these ordinarily heady floral chords filigree-like. While the top notes create an impression of an ice sculpture under the intense sunshine, the dry down presents something altogether different. In the base notes, oakmoss, with its sweetness redolent of powder and hay, is punctuated by wet roots smell of vetiver. Their classical pairing lends a somber, yet warm glow to the composition, making it unfold like some enchanted flower from the ancient myths.

Eau de Parfum

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

In 1993, Jacques Polge created a new formulation of Cristalle, taking Henri Robert’s creation as a point of departure. While the Eau de Toilette is austere and mysterious, as befitting a chypre, The Eau de Parfum is sweeter and richer. The intense green note is rendered to be considerably softer, with the sweet warmth of mandarin replacing the astringent lucidity of bergamot. Juicy flesh of peach and melon permeates the layers of the composition, softening its aloof aspects and brining them from the shadow and into the light. Exotic opulence of ylang ylang and jasmine veils the heart and persists voluptuously in the dry down, despite being tempered by the earthy sweetness of vetiver and oakmoss.

Both the EDT and the EDP are well-composed fragrances, emphasizing different aspects of the composition, cool aloofness of chypre and fleshy radiance of floral, respectively. If you do not tend to like a combination of sweet fruit and flowers, Cristalle EDT should be your choice. On the other hand, EDP is the concentration to consider, if you find classical chypre too austere.

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