In recent years Chanel has started to travel a lot lighter with regards to her ventures in perfumery. In 2018, Olivier Polge released the start to a new collection, one that is finally his own from the get-go, called Les Eaux. We don’t yet know how many fragrance journeys will be included in this collection, but after the first three scents were released at the same time (Paris-Deauville, Paris-Venise, Paris-Biarritz), about a year later, Paris-Riviera came out. And now there is one more, which I am very keen to get my nose onto, called Édimbourg.
The four I’ve purchased so far are all very lovely. But let me get this out of the way: although these are supposedly EDT (eau de toilette) concentrations, I think they smell and perform more like colognes. You’ll need to spray a lot and spray often to simply perceive the fragrance after an hour or two because by that time, all you’ll be left with is some watery, deflated Chanel DNA on your person. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re getting great value for money when splashing out about 120USD for a 125ml bottle of one of these lovely, refreshing scents.
The initial releases come out only in the bigger bottles, but 50ml bottles for a few of the fragrances in the line are now available, and if the line proves popular, more variation might be forthcoming – who knows? If you get these at bargain prices as I did, then yes, perhaps they are full bottle worthy. Otherwise, there is indeed a lot of good competition on the market for these types of fragrances, I feel.
If these turn out to the end all be all for you after a sampling, or if you’re one of those lucky souls that has moola to burn, then buy them all! But know that performance is the biggest problem with these and to get the most out them, make sure your skin is moisturized and respray often. A good spray on hair and clothes might help with performance, too.
There is more to these fragrances than just the juices themselves here, there is the Chanel name, and these gorgeous, weighty bottles. I think the new rounded edges on these illustrate the way in which this line of fragrances makes a bold departure from earlier Chanel offerings. The look is softer, just like the juice within, and is reminiscent of the Chanel cologne bottles from the 20s and 30s.
Les Eaux de Chanel are lighter and more watery than other Chanel scents, but make no mistake, the Chanel backbone is still in there! The fragrances I’m sharing with you today are also very fresh, and perhaps that is another quality that will define the line moving forward. I do know that the 5th fragrance, Édimbourg, has a fair share of Vetiver in it, and I can imagine that it therefore might easily embody those three characteristics.
The inspiration for Les Eaux is an olfactory voyage to destinations deemed important to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel and are of historical significance to the brand. The idea with the collection is to take you on a journey without you having to leave home. And indeed, if a perfume can do that, and there are quite a few that can, then it gets a big thumbs up from me.
It’s said that fragrances are like bottled memories, but what if you don’t have those memories to begin with? What if you’ve never been to a particular place or time that is supposed to evoke them? Well, with this line, Chanel also encourages you to enjoy Les Eaux as a way to experience sensations and locations that might be unknown to you.
Well, if you’re well-travelled, both in the literal and olfactory sense, you might be thinking, “Hey, there can’t possibly be that much new under the sun!” But I must admit, some of these are at least a little different, and indeed very likable, and yes, I rather am taken on a journey when I smell them.
Perhaps another facet to the conception behind these fragrances is revealed through their names. They all start with Paris and end with the other place name. Perhaps this was intentional. It hints to a younger Coco Chanel’s travels to these places, probably by car or perhaps train. I imagine her sitting by the window with the wind blowing past. The scents from the countryside blowing in her face would be light and fleeting, just as are this collection of scents.
There is a revitalizing simplicity or naiveté to these fragrances as a result. I’m heard, in fact, that these fragrances are meant to target a younger market.
Paris-Deauville was part of the original three in the launch and was also the first I procured. Deauville was where Coco opened her first store as a milliner in 1913, hoping to seduce the Parisians who visited the resort town on the weekends. And it’s the green, tall grasses of the Normandy countryside that I believe is meant to influence how this fragrance smells. It’s quite appropriate that the scent is very leafy and green and fresh, as it’s reminiscent and symbolic of new beginnings.
- basil, Sicilian orange rind, lime, bergamot, petitgrain, lemon
- green notes, hedione, jasmine, rose
Paris-Deauville is a bright-smile inducing fragrance and I think it might be my favourite of the four? Hard to say. There is not too much that is particularly unique about it; it’s rather familiar, in fact, but comfortably and pleasantly so. It’s got a traditional cologne feel to it with the savoury and every-so-slightly bitter basil note that stays through the progression. The lime-forward citrus at the top is vibrant and frothy, like you’ve put it through a Vitamix. It’s soft and airy, but also maintain a crisp, vibrant, and sparkly quality to it, perhaps thanks to the green notes.
This is a very refreshing fragrance. The fragrance mellows from the high-pitched citrus cologne genre into something chypre-like by the jasmine in the heart notes. But although I feel the influence of the florals, I would never think to define this as remotely close to a floral scent.
I’ve talked about Acqua Di Parma’s Colonia doing a similar thing, but this is a different fragrance, make no mistake. There is far more green going on here, and it ends nicely with patchouli – no oakmoss. I think it’s well blended, and you might see it as the fresher, softer, more ethereal cousin to Chanel Chance. Since there is hedoine, there are perhaps also similarities to no. 19, which I have here. That’s a stretch to me, but there is overlap in the DNA.
It also reminds me of the discontinued ‘O’ de Lancôme, but the Chanel is more refined, softer without sweetness, and ‘O’ had oakmoss, I think. And also, thank goodness in my case, I don’t get any soap from this. No musk.
Overall, it’s a very easy-to-wear and highly elegant scent. No bathroom-cleaner here, in my opinion. This is effortless Chanel. You’ll never feel conspicuous wearing this sparkling, herbaceous, and citrusy delight. In the morning, it’s better than coffee to wake you up and lift your spirits.
Paris-Venise (French spelling) was the second fragrance to find its way to my shelf. What’s the significance of Venice? Well, Coco first discovered this Mediterranean city in 1920. She went there upon the advice of a good friend seeking much-needed comfort after the death of her long-time lover, Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel.
In Venice, Coco Chanel found inspiration for her first jewelry collection. Venice conveys a richness and diversity of cultures, including influences from the orient, so it’s not surprising that this scent is not a herbal or marine or overtly citrus freshie fragrance but instead a very interesting type of oriental fragrance.
Probably due to the base notes, this is the longer lasting of the initial four fragrances, but it does stay close to the skin.
- bergamot, orange, lemon, petit grain, pink pepper
- neroli, iris, geranium, rose, ylang-ylang,
- tonka bean, cedar, orris, white musk, vanilla, benzoin
I believe this is so far the best-selling of the Les Eaux line so far, and it’s understandable why. I think there is a strong sisterhood between this and the shimmery Coco Chanel and all its flankers. This is the most traditionally feminine of the four I have. The star ingredient here is the vanilla, which is gorgeous, but it’s not a thick, sticky-sweet vanilla, and there are plenty of other players at the party to prevent it from stealing the show. This vanilla is incredibly gentle, light, and plush, softened up by all the powdery, airy iris. Maybe the vanilla pods have fur. It’s certainly soft and cozy enough.
The citrus in the mix is not powerful; It acts more like a transparent veil that blocks and balances out any remaining sweetness in the vanilla and acts to tame the tonka bean and thin out the benzoin. The fresh geranium and dry cedar at the base also help to control the sweet tendencies of the vanilla and florals.
This scent suggests a watery Dior Absolutely Blooming minus the sweet stickiness – a classy, gentle second skin. It’s very sensual and comforting, but not a gourmand… but does it want to be? It’s hard to tell, and that is what I find of interest with this fragrance. How can it be both so rich and so light and ephemeral at the same time? It’s a luxuriously fresh oriental.
And I wonder too if that juxtaposition of fresh and warm was intentional. Venice has a warm climate. It’s a slowly dying, sinking city rich with history and culture. Coco Chanel went there in grief over the death of a loved one. That’s all a wee bit to take in.
The third scent I purchased was Paris-Biarritz, and I should have read the small print more carefully before pressing the purchase button, because I ended up buying the small bottle. It still did not amount to even half of retail price, but I would have preferred to have paid much less for just 25 ml. This one has the worst performance, too, sadly.
In Biarritz, you can take a dip into the Atlantic coastline. It need not have all the hotels, golf course, casinos and beaches of Villa de Larriade, where Coco opened a boutique to cater to her rich patrons partying there in 1915 to get the gist of what this scent is all about. Any slow walk along any coastline lined with citrus fruit will do the trick.
Slow, relaxed, and carefree is the attitude of this fragrance, and apparently Coco did a lot of relaxing and partying and swimming with her Russian friends in Biarritz.
- tangerine, orange, bergamot, lemon, grapefruit
- neroli, green notes, lily-of-the-valley
- white musk, patchouli
Paris-Biarritz is my least favourite, probably because of its crap performance (it’s light and sporty) and also because it’s too classic a cologne for my tastes – nothing blows my mind about it… except one aspect of it, which is the marine note, which isn’t listed on the Fragrantica website, but it’s there. I generally am not attracted to aqueous notes, but that said, Oliver Polge has done a great job with this.
If you smell this and imagine waking on the beach or just near the seaside on a warm windy day, BANG, you are there! It’s quite compelling. I think there is even sea salt in here. The lily-of-the-valley accord in the mid note is very cooling and austere, however, and much as that brings to mind a dip into the ocean, it doesn’t do it for me. I only go into the water when I want a proper swim, which is usually in a pool, and if it’s ever too hot that I need to cool down, I’d rather step into air-conditioning. Mind, the fact that salt water makes my skin itch and that I hate burning my feet on hot sand might have something to do with it. No, I’m not a beach baby.
The overall effect however, when you spray enough to actually smell it, is pretty nice. It’s not so much about the cooling off or the coastal vista. It’s more about the IDEA of being next to the ocean. For a lot of people, this in itself is simply magical. Sunshine is not required but standing or walking near or on some greenery would help with the effect. This is what the base notes bring to the composition.
My most recent purchase is the fourth in the line, which is Paris-Riviera. In 1928 Gabrielle Chanel built her villa on the Côte d’Azur in the French Riviera, which was becoming the place to be with its beautiful coastal landscapes.
Paris-Riveria is a sunny floral scent and when I sniff it, I immediately am taken to a beautiful hotel balcony with breathtaking views of the ocean. I’ve just awoken from a peaceful sleep to be met with a lovely breakfast of croissants and a huge pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice. I lick my lips, inhale the fresh breeze as I face the sun with closed eyes, then sit down to savour the OJ and plan my day in Côte d’Azur.
- citruses, orange peel, flowers
- neroli, jasmine
- benzoin, sandalwood
Riviera has a soft, sweet, and tangy introduction that meshes with some non-descript flowers and woody notes. The zesty and candied orange nectar note I so love at the start quickly turns floral and then the fragrance can’t decide if it wants the citrus notes to stay or leave. The other scents in the collection do this as well. But in this fragrance, it comes across as a little too muddled and confusing. Upon first sniff I thought this was going to be my favourite, but in terms of overall composition artistry, I’m afraid it loses out. It is pretty, though, and it has a shampooed, just-out-of-the-shower feel to it.
It’s bright, delicate, and a little fizzy. It also brings to mind a watered-down orange creamsicle adourned with petals. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that. The whole composition just lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Are there aldyhydes in here, I wonder? I don’t care for aldyhydes…
With Deauville you have that bright green and citrus tinge. With Venise you get an interesting contrast of warm and fresh. And with Biarritz you have the surprisingly well-executed marine note, but with Riviera? Well, it’s just… nice.
Paris-Venise gives me an interesting new option for summer, but it’s the heat-cutting citrus and green in Paris-Deauville that makes it my top choice. Too bad Biarritz has such low wattage.