Being off the boil for a while re. the ol’ perfume reviewing malarkey, it took a brave scent and a braver perfumer to get my juices flowing again. Before this starts becoming far too Frankie Howard* by far (*Millennials, ask your parents), this is about Chanel after all. And such a classy, demure and newly-old feeling perfume release that perfectly manages to straddle the essence of Mlle Chanel and her wilful difference with the appeal of a contemporary vibe that’s going to woo a global market.
What’s so appealing is the fact that perfumer, Olivier Polge, takes a different route to greatness by eschewing the normcore. Let’s face it, to be crude, Chanel could take the easy route, developing easy-appeal, sweet orientals and aldehydes (obviously in keeping with the brand name) that would rack up millions of dollars of sales due to the Chanel name.
What’s way more than impressive is that Polge chooses to eek out a finesse that’s rare, especially with a brand as monumental and grandiose as Chanel, and make the subtlety of the scent ‘a thing’.
I wrote about Polge’s taste and refinement in his first release for the label and Les Exclusifs, Misia, a beautiful, powdery soft chypre. In Boy, named after Boy Capel, Coco Chanel’s great love of her life, tragically killed in a car accident at 38, we see a fragrance that straddles genders and types. Boy is no hard-hitting, masculine baiting essence. This is a nod to Chanel’s classic 1970s imagery of the blonde in the tweed suit heading into the gentleman’s club and letting down her hair. This is the perfume of choice for the palazzo pant wearing, boyfriend shirt donning woman who likes to mix it up.
Les Exclusifs de Chanel Boy Chanel is too subtle and discreetly sensual to be gender-bending and too unique to be typecast. A sexy, powdery hit that breathes of softness, sand and sunlight, as a fougere it’s quite, quite different. The juicy sharp opening whiff of lemon and grapefruit seems to merge with a green tinge of rose geranium. A burst of freshness that soon opens to a creamy, warm soft sandalwood and vanilla with heliotrope, coumarin and musk thrown in, to boot. Boy manages to balance freshness with warmth, masculine with feminine, sexiness with androgyny. A perfume essay in balance and restraint that’s the very essence and class of Chanel. It’s already on my ‘go-to’ perfumes roster as an easy, distinctive wear.
I’ve no doubt Mlle Chanel would be mad about the Boy. Legions of her followers will be, too.
Les Exclusifs de Chanel Boy Chanel is available from Chanel boutiques and counters in House of Fraser Glasgow & Bluewater, Selfridges and Chanel Covent Garden & Burlington Arcade. Prices are £130 (75ml) and £230 (200ml)