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April 03, 2007

Chanel 31, rue Cambon : Perfume Review


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.

The melancholy aura and retro elegance of 31, rue Cambon are fascinating, given its decidedly modern interpretation. Experiencing it is like flipping through the pages of an old family album, glancing at the photographs of people in Edwardian outfits and flapper dresses only to notice a striking resemblance between their features and your own. While 31, rue Cambon is a chypre (a fragrance based on the interplay of citrusy, floral, woody, mossy, ambery/musky notes à la Guerlain Mitsouko and Rochas Femme), this chypre possesses a certain delicate and serene quality. 31, rue Cambon is not a fragrance that seduces, but rather it enchants softly. …

The opening notes of 31, rue Cambon combine the brightness of pepper, the tartness of citrus as well as a smattering of icy aldehydes. The initial effervescence provides an interesting counterpoint to the subsequent tempered development of the composition. The characteristic dryness of chypre is set against the luscious and buttery iris, resulting in an unexpected oscillation between an austere chill and languorous warmth. The initial glimpse of flower petals becomes a fuller and more dazzling picture.

Paired down to the central idea and uncluttered by embellishments is how I would describe the character of the newest fragrances from Les Exclusifs collection (28 La Pausa, Coromandel, Bel Respiro, No. 18, and Eau de Cologne). By contrast, 31, rue Cambon is the most classical and ornate of the six new perfumes, from its vivid spicy top accord to the woody-floral base. Yet, as the composition dries down, the resulting tapestry becomes weightless and transparent, very much in the spirit of the contemporary style.

The delicacy of 31, rue Cambon is as much an advantage as a drawback. While I am moved by the radiance of the composition, the whispering softness of the drydown leaves me yearning for a more dramatic turn of affairs. However, perhaps, this might be rectified in the parfum—to be launched in the future. Yet, when I consider the fragrances for which I have been reaching most often during the last couple of months, 31, rue Cambon is at the very top of my list. Even if it lacks drama, it makes for a beautiful and polished daytime perfume, making me feel elegant whether I am wearing an evening dress or a pair of jeans.

31, rue Cambon features notes of bergamot, black pepper, patchouli, cistus labdanum and iris. It is a part of Les Exclusifs collection that also includes No 22, Gardénia, Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles, 28 La Pausa, Coromandel, Bel Respiro, No. 18, and Eau de Cologne. It is available in the Eau de Toilette concentration from the Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman.

Photo of 1928 Chanel dress from



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