Perfume Review: Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (Les Exclusifs)

Chanel headquarters

31 Rue Cambon is named after Coco Chanel’s apartment above Chanel’s long-time headquarters at the same address, and was introduced to the world in 2007 as part of Chanel’s six-line prestige collection called “Les Exclusifs.”

Chanel's apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Source:

Chanel’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Source:

The fragrance was created by Chanel’s house perfumer, Jacques Polge, and is supposed to reflect Chanel’s personal taste for the classically simple but, also, the baroque. According to Chanel’s own description, 31 Rue Cambon was

[t]he epicenter of the world of Gabrielle Chanel, a place that harmoniously combined her need for simplicity with her taste for the baroque. It took the complex form of a beautiful Chypre fragrance to capture these contrasting passions, also present in Haute Couture, in a scent. This exceptional fragrance combines the mysteries of both sensuality and elegance.

The categorization of the perfume as a “chypre” raised a lot of debate and discussion when this perfume was first released back in 2007. A chypre is almost invariably something that has oakmoss as its core foundational element; and there is absolutely none here. In fact, the century-plus era of the famous “chypre” family of perfumes being one of the most significant and influential is now over, thanks to the EU and IFRA. (I will spare you one of my rants on that subject but, if you want to read more about what a chypre is supposed to be, feel free to use the Glossary linked at the very top of the page.)

Though Chanel’s description references chypres, Now Smell This states that Jacques Polge himself describes the perfume as an “oakmoss-free chypre.” Whatever the oakmoss issue, in an interesting turn of events, Chanel itself does not classify the scent as a “chypre” at all. Instead, on its page listing all the Exclusifs, it categorizes 31 Rue Cambon as a “Smooth Woody Floral.” That’s just as well, because the description sums up 31 Rue Cambon perfectly, in my opinion.

31-rue-cambonChanel offers no notes for the fragrance on its website but, Now Smell This says that the notes are said to include “bergamot, iris, jasmine, patchouli and labdanum.” Personally, I am tempted to agree with  the commentator, cylob“, on Fragrantica, who believes that the full list of notes are as follows:

pepper, bergamot, orris, narcissus, jasmine, patchouli, ambrette, vetiver, labdanum.

31 Rue Cambon opens on my skin with bergamot and aldehydes. The bergamot reads here as a citrusy lemon and not like Earl Grey tea (as it sometimes does). The aldehydes, to my huge relief, are not waxy and extremely soapy but, rather, light and incredibly fizzy. Moments later, there is the subtle breath of jasmine, light and airy, never indolic, heady or narcotic. When combined with the aldehydes, they really fizz in a way that reminds me, with a smile, of YSL‘s Champane/Yvresse. Here, there is a definite feeling of sparkling champagne, only it’s lemon and jasmine in an effervescent accord. There is a subtly powdery note of iris from the orris and, then, vetiver.

The vetiver is very interesting in this opening stage. It’s fresh, green and more akin to lemon grass than to anything dark, earthy or rooty. Its freshness undercuts any chance that the jasmine could be indolic and adds to that overall impression of bright, green Spring colours, flecked with dollops of bright yellow and white.

Field of NarcissusThe colour image of yellow is enhanced by a sense of narcissus hiding behind the other notes, combined with something that very much feels like the bright cheeriness of daffodil (which is often another name for daffodils). The whole thing is very light and sheer, a gauzy veil of floral notes dominated primarily by lemon and fizzy aldehydes, but the feeling of both the yellow colour and of narcissus is there.

Chandelier reflectionsThirty minutes in, the perfume has subtly changed, almost like light shining on a different part of a crystal chandelier and reflecting different facets. The aldehydes and lemony bergamot are joined by a much stronger note of iris, a touch of a pepper, and a suddenly earthier, woodier vetiver whose rootier characteristic has started to emerge. The iris adds some soft powder, but it’s light and far from the sort of powder you find in Guerlain’s signature Guerlainade. Any fear of powderiness is undercut by the dryness of the quiet pepper note. Like the iris, the jasmine is also much stronger now, though still light in texture and still far from indolic. Also emerging for the first time is the ambrette; it’s a flowering shrub that is sometimes called Musk Mallow and whose parts are often used to replicate the scent of (animal) musk. Here, like the rest of the perfume, its musky touch is light, soft and gauzy.

An hour in, the oddest thing happens. The perfume seems to vanish entirely. I was in disbelief, sniffing my arm like a hyena attacking the first food he’s seen in days. Nothing. Gone. 31 Rue Cambon is often bemoaned for its longevity issues, and it’s certainly not the most enduring in the line, but this seemed to be taking things a step too far. Then, suddenly, there was a hint of fragrance: musky, faintly woody floral notes that were too soft and mild to be more than just a vague hint of something. Then, it vanished again.

At the second hour mark, lo’ and behold, like a Jack in the Box, it popped back up! And not only did it suddenly re-appear but it seemed stronger than it had been before. Strong jasmine and sweetness, accompanied by light powder, green notes and vetiver. I can’t account for it. There are ghostly notes, but an entirely ghostly perfume?! It was the strangest thing, but there is no denying that 31 Rue Cambon decided to leave, return, leave and then reappear to stay quite a few times during the time I tested it. I have to wonder if its mercurial nature is why so many people think the perfume has incredibly short longevity. Maybe they’re not sniffing their arm at the right time when it decides to join the party, so they missed its prima donna return?

Whatever the reason, I have to say that I liked 31 Rue Cambon a lot more than I had expected to. All the oft-told stories about how it barely shows up, the low sillage, and the extremely brief longevity issues — not to mention the whole muddy mess involving chypres/non-chypres/modern-take-on-chypres — had left me frowning a little and anticipating a scent that would be problematic. To my surprise, 31 Rue Cambon was very good. And I attribute most of that to the dry-down because it’s absolutely lovely.

In its middle to final stages, the perfume becomes a soft veil of sweetness and green notes. At first, about four hours in, it is soft patchouli, musk, earthy (but light) vetiver, and an amorphous, generalized “floral” accord. The patchouli note is far from the 1970s dark, dirty, hippie patchouli (which I actually quite adore); it’s just a faint whisper that adds a touch of sweetness to the vetiver. The latter is also just the merest breath of depth and earthiness. Actually, sometimes, the perfume just evokes some sort of “green” note without even seeming like vetiver.

Later, about eight hours in, the perfume simply becomes light amber with just a dab of labdanum. It’s a sweet, almost honeyed scent that is not opaque, thick or resinous. I adore labdanum and the depth it adds to ambery elements. Here, it’s too light to have serious body of its own, but it adds a perfect amount of depth to the amber to stop it from being totally translucent and faint. The whole thing feels a little like being in candlelight or in the soft warmth of afternoon sunlight.

Those final hours are quite a sharp juxtaposition to the fizzy, bright opening notes filled with citrus, aldehydes, iris and jasmine. I wouldn’t say the perfume has turned “baroque” — to use one of the descriptive adjectives applied by Chanel to 31 Rue Cambon — because it’s far too gauzy in texture. No, I think 31 Rue Cambon is best described as a mercurial woman who is lightheartedly playful and teasing in the sharp brightness of the morning, and slightly more weighty, sensuous and serious in the warmer, golden light of the late afternoon.

31 Rue Cambon is not to my personal taste and style, and I would never wear it, but it surprised me. In a good way. I think that, if people go into it without any expectation of a “chypre” and just approach it with an open mind, they too may be surprised. It’s a very Chanel scent and oozes that house’s classique, elegant signature. It’s neither revolutionary nor earth-shatteringly unique — but it wasn’t trying to be. That’s simply not Chanel. But it’s very, very good. 

The only significant problem with 31 Rue Cambon seems to be its longevity issues. On average, it seems to last most people around four hours. Some have said significantly less, with one commentator on Fragrantica saying it lasted a mere 30 minutes! If I hadn’t persisted and kept on smelling my arm, I would have given it an hour. Yet, to my disbelief, I could smell lingering traces of the labdanum at the 9 hour mark! And you know how my body consumes perfume! So, I have to wonder if a miniscule fraction of those people simply didn’t realise that the perfume was still on them, except it was like a teasing ghost that completely vanishes only to flit back on the scene, then to repeat  that annoying act a few more times? Not all, but perhaps for a handful?

Either way, longevity is a definite issue, even if you’re not continually sniffing your arm to detect all of 31 Rue Cambon. The problem might be solved if the fragrance came in the stronger eau de parfum concentration; alas, it is available only in the significantly lighter eau de toilette formulation.

Nonetheless, it’s still a scent worth trying. At the very least, it will let you know what all the swooning is about, because this is one very hyped, much adored fragrance. In Perfumes: The A-Z Guide by the perfume critics, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, Ms. Sanchez writes a veritable ode to 31 Rue Cambon, awarding it 5 stars and raving orgasmically that “I cannot remember the last time, if ever, a perfume gave me such an instantaneous impression of ravishing beauty at first sniff.” In fact, she states, point-blank, that it is “one of the ten greats of all time, and precious proof that perfumery is not dead.”

I think all that goes too, too far. 31 Rue Cambon is good, but it’s not that good! It’s a beautiful scent which floral, aldehydes lovers will love in the opening, and which Orientalists will love in the closing, but it’s really not a particularly breath-taking perfume of ravishing beauty. It’s just a very typical Chanel that exudes elegance.

By the same token, I also don’t agree with Robin at Now Smell This who thinks this is “the best” of the Exclusifs. Out of those that I’ve smelled thus far, I would grant that title to Coromandel. (My review for that is here.) Perhaps that’s because I’m more of an Orientalist than she seems to be. If I weren’t, then maybe I would prefer 31 Rue Cambon.

Since I’m being contrary, I’ll go to the opposite side of things and add that I absolutely disagree with those few Fragrantica commentators who think that 31 Rue Cambon is a scent suited only to a very old, rich woman. To quote one assessment, written by “shabbus”:

This smells of wealth, but also of age. If you were sitting in the lobby of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach and a wealthy dowager entered and sat down next to you while her driver checked her in and made sure her bags were handled by the bellman, her Hermes scarf would smell of 31 Rue Cambon. And so would the Pomeranian on her lap.

No. Absolutely not, in my opinion. For some reason, the 31 Rue Cambon woman reminds me of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Insouciant, breezy, mercurial, unreliable, fizzy, ditzy, but always elegant and feminine, and with the capacity to be slightly more warm, stable and serious at the end. Or perhaps it would be more like this playful side of a retro-looking Jennifer Garner in Chanel in a photo shoot taken in 2009:

Photo: W Magazine, 2009. Via The Daily Mail.

If I were to agree with anyone, it would be with the assessment at I Smell Therefore I Am whose review really encapsulated the overall feel and visuals of the scent:

For me, 31 Rue Cambon sits somewhere between the floral vanilla of Allure and the deep golden hues of Mitsouko.  It’s a bright fragrance, so shimmering at first, and really for a while, that it was hard for me to classify in any useful way.  Where Mitsouko is somewhat like sunshine through a pane of amber glass, 31 Rue Cambon is like sunlight hitting the beige upholstery of a sublimely cosy couch.  It’s well blended, and more than anything it simply smells like “Chanel” to me.

I think 31 Rue Cambon is the perfect scent for a woman wanting an elegant, discreet, soft woody floral with a slightly opulent edge of sensuality. Its soft elegance makes it never out-of-place — whether you’re at the office or on a date. In fact, its low sillage also makes it an ideal perfume for the office.

In a way, the development of 31 Rue Cambon actually feels a bit like a day at the office. Its restrained elegance and fizzy, bright opening evoke the feel of a bright Spring morning, as you go to work wearing a feminine but perfectly tailored and structured Chanel suit with a crisp white shirt underneath. Its surprising ambered warmth and softly seductive edge during its lovely final period is really akin to what happens, hours later, when a woman prepares to leave the office to join friends for drinks by letting down her hair and opening a few buttons of her shirt to reveal just the faintest suggestion of cleavage.

It’s very elegant, it’s very discreet, it’s very Chanel and, for some women, it may be “ravishing beauty at first sniff.”

Cost & Availability: 31 Rue Cambon comes in two different sizes: $130 for a 2.5/75 ml oz bottle or $230 for a massive 6.8 oz/200 ml. You can find it exclusively at Chanel boutiques or on the Chanel website. You won’t find it at Nordstrom, Barney’s, Saks Fifth Avenue or the like, though I believe it used to be available in-store at Bergdorf Goodman. However, t’s not listed on their site, so your best bet is to go through Chanel itself. As for samples, you can find them at Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.00 for the smallest vial (1 full ml).

36 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (Les Exclusifs)

  1. My main “problem” with 31 Rue Cambon (I put problem in quotes because I liked it, but wasn’t bowled over, and more importantly it’s simply not me) was the lipstick smell that I found to be very prominent and dominating. Lipstick isn’t the worst smell by any means, but it’s a bit boring and uninspired to be a dominant theme, IMO. The line has a number of standouts, but this doesn’t compare, and in that regard it falls short. I’m not sure this one is particularly worthy of the “Exclusif” label, but I suppose I can see the appeal of this. Thanks for reviewing it, I enjoyed reading your thoughts though I anticipated this would not be you.

    • The “lipstick” smell is always a result of iris/orris root/orris butter which is what was traditionally used in classic French lipsticks. Orris can be not only a source of scent but also, a fixative, so it was frequently used back in the old days. With regard to 31 Rue Cambon, I didn’t get loads and loads of iris on me which is probably why I liked it more than you. As you know, I’m not a huge fan of iris.

      That said, 31 RC is definitely NOT me. And, obviously, not you, either. But for people who aren’t Orientalists (which is what you are, in large part, though less consistently so than I am) and for people who like light, fizzy, soft, woody floral scents, I’m sure it’s ideal. That’s the hard thing about reviewing, you know. When you come across a scent that you recognise is worthy by standards of people with different tastes but which you yourself find boring due to your own personal preferences.

  2. Great review Kafka! You nailed 31 Rue Cambon. It’s one of my favourites from Chanel Les Exclusifs. It’s one of the few patchoulis in my little own world that I can proudly wear 🙂
    And you know what. I also experienced that vanishing-reappearing thing with Rue Cambon, but not only with it but with few more Chanel Les Exclusifs (Cuir de Russie) but some of them disappear fast and don’t come back (La Pausa 🙁 )

    • It’s one of the very few patchoulis you like probably because it ISN’T a patchouli by any real standard! LOL! To me, this is about as much a patchouli scent as I am Marilyn Monroe. *grin*

      As for the disappearing thing, my God, you experienced it too??! What a relief. I’ve had a particular note vanish only to reappear, but an entire perfume? Vanish COMPLETELY for a full hour at a time? Never! It was the weirdest thing, so I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone with that! Cuir de Russie never did that to me, but I have 28 La Pausa next on my Chanel list of things to review, so thanks for the warning. Ghostly perfumes who decide to come and go….. so disconcerting!

      • That’s why I like it. Because it’s a patchouli that is not a patchouli 😉 Works for me 😉

        Yup, that happened to me. Some of Les Exclusifs seem very, very light on my and few of them disappear and come back and few just disappear for good after 2-3 hours. Unacceptable!

  3. Hmmm, 31 Rue Cambon – I wanted to like/love it since the Internets have such love for it (and Cuir de Russie)…sadly, neither one worked for me. Not liking these “favorites” initially made me feel like throwing out my perfumista card/badge/pin BUT I laughed all the way out of the Chanel boutique with Coromandel AND 28 La Pausa 🙂

    • Oh lordie, do I relate to that! I didn’t like Cuir de Russie — not one bit. And, after all I heard about it, it was a crushing blow and a massive disappointment. I felt exactly like you did: that there was something deeply wrong with me and that they would take away my perfumista card. In fact, in my review of it, I mentioned disliking Chanel No. 5 as well and saying that I should probably go into the perfume witness protection program for loathing Chanel’s two most legendary scents. My enormous difficulty with Cuir de Russie (pure horse manure under piles of soapy aldehydes) still makes me feel like a total perfume weirdo.

      With 31 Rue Cambon, I don’t feel that way simply because I knew from ahead of time that it didn’t fit my perfume tastes and that it would never be my cup of tea. These soft, aldehydic florals that Chanel puts out by the gazillions — like 1932 — just aren’t my personality at all. But, that said, 31 Rue Cambon surprised me. A lot. And I attribute it all to the finish with the amber and labdanum. Still would never wear it, but I can see some of its beauty. But “one of the top ten perfumes ever made”?? Pssshawww! Not in my opinion and not by a long shot! *sniff* 28 La Pausa is the next Chanel I have to review, though it won’t be for a while. Given what you said about your reaction to it, I have much greater hopes for it now, though I hear the longevity is (again) an issue.

      • What a relief! Someone else that doesn’t like Russie or No. 5. I thought I was the only one. Although, I was able to find some beauty in Eau Premiere so maybe there’s “hope” for me (?). I’m wearing 31 RC today and just assumed I wouldn’t “get” it either but you know what, I actually like it. I’m going through a bit of a floriental stage right now so that helps. It’s definitely classy but it’s got a good personality too, not too buttoned-up. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this one.

        • Heh, I always find it so funny when we non-Cuir de Russie or No. 5 people find each other. It’s as if we’ve finally come out of the closet, and no longer feel like such pariahs or freaks. *grin* There is this sense of relief in finally finding someone else to admit to how much you dislike those venerated, legendary, WORSHIPPED fragrances, and to know that you won’t be judged for it. 😀

          As for 31 Rue Cambon, how is the sillage and longevity on your skin, Lila?

          • Don’t tell anyone this, but I don’t care for most of the Chanels. No. 5 and Russie are complete scrubbers but the rest just, well, they bore me. Anyway, for an Exclusif, 31 had some decent sillage and longevity but better longevity. I got about 5 hours out of it, 5 1/2 if I really worked for it, but who wants to snort their arm for 1/2 hour. I didn’t notice that ghost effect that some have mentioned (the scent stayed with me) but the chypre did make an interesting appearance in about hour 4. Very faint and I wondered if I just willed myself into believing it was there since they say it’s a chypre (and we all know how much truth there is in advertising, rme). I think 31 is more of a floriental. I think I’ll wear it again today.

          • I’m glad to hear that it didn’t do a ghostly vanishing act on your skin, even though the longevity wasn’t great. It wasn’t on me, either. Actually, only Chanel’s Coromandel from the Exclusif range really stays on me. And that one really STAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYS, even in the heat.

  4. I smelled 31 months ago at the Chanel Boutique and don’t remember being impressed by it compared to Coromandel, Sycomore and Cuir de Russie which are my favorites of the Exclusifs line. But now that I have read your wonderful review I want to smell it again with a fresh point of view.
    I am a Chanel guy and have been all my life. So this house will always be a touchstone for me. But you know I am really getting into Dior, and Guerlain of late. What fun eh? So maybe it is time to pop over to Maiden Lane and have a sniff festival with Chanel.
    Cheers Cheri

    • I think you and I prefer much less demure, discreet, restrained scents — and that is what 31 Rue Cambon most definitely is. It’s much more aloof than something like Coromandel or Sycomore. It’s why I could never wear it. Truth be told, I don’t see you wearing it either. It’s not poetic or soulful enough, imo. xoxox

  5. When I tested 31 Rue Cambon I liked it but it disappeared from my skin in 2 hours and never re-appeared. And since it was just a “like” I keep postponing trying it again.

    • A number of the Exclusifs seem to have serious longevity problems and 31 Rue Cambon is definitely one of them. It’s a shame it never re-appeared for you, since you liked its start. Two hours…… gah! No $130 perfume should last 2 hours!

  6. Dear Kafkaesque
    An exhaustive and exacting review that has made me more likely than not to try this fragrance on my own skin, to date I have averred in order to avoid disappointment but you have awoken my curiosity again.
    I am intrigued by your early discussion on the nature of chypres – indeed we seem to be experiencing the birth of a genres of ‘nouvelles chypres’, bearing the name in their descriptions but not always the compositional elements one would expect. many of these fragrances I’ve found quite diverting, but without the structure of oakmoss as you yourself say, they sit to one side of this noble tradition.
    One slight potential chink of light. I have read recently that Chanel, hugely perplexed as one can imagine by the impending elimination of moss from the perfumers palette, have developed an analogue that some say is actually rather effective.
    Of course we will bemoan the passing of the real thing, but I am reminded that so many of my favourite notes in fragrance are not the thing itself at all: the peach of Mitsouko, the vanilla of the Guerlinade and the muguet in everything.
    I chose therefore to end on a note of hope: and optimist that I am perhaps deludedly pin my wishes on there being an answer to the oakmoss issue and that the days of the great chypres has not quite passed.

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the review. As for the “nouvelles chypres,” I’m highly dubious. It’s not only the potential restructuring of the compositional foundation but also the thought that one can come close to replicating the very unique smell of a chypre without using any oakmoss. It was interesting to hear about Chanel’s new solution, so thank you for sharing that detail. However, I don’t hold high hopes than any synthetic version will be an adequate substitute. Luca Turin has argued that many sandalwood perfumes, to use just one example, really consist of synthetic substitutes. (I can’t find the exact paragraph at this time but I believe it’s called Javanol and is a Givaudan creation.) The scent of Agarwood is also said by many to be predominantly synthetic and another Givaudan creation, due to cost issues. I think most experienced perfumistas can tell when something is synthetic; and few things are perhaps as heinous as synthetic oud fragrances. (Try a Montale, if you don’t believe me.) So, for a note as pungent and complex in nature as real oakmoss to be manipulated via artificial means? Hm. We’ll see. I’m not an optimist by nature, so let’s hope you’re right and I’m not.

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Melinda! It really is lovely. And thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts. 🙂 🙂

  7. Pingback: Perfume Review – Chanel Bois des Iles (Les Exclusifs): Out of Africa | Kafkaesque

  8. Lovely review 😀 I´m glad to find reviews about what is probably my favorite classic French brand. I´m in love with the classic French houses and if you think I love Guerlain (you already know that 😛 ) I have to say I adore Chanel. Half of my makeup collection is made of items with the interlocked “Cs” and also one of my first high end perfumes are from this brand, the famous number 5…That I don´t really like that much (hangs head in shame) but that I brainwash myself to use because it´s Chanel and an icon. I´m really looking forward to finally revisit the Chanel boutique in France and this time to try out some of the more exclusive perfumes of the brand like the oriental Coromandel that I´m sure to love and now also 31 Cambon, simply because it represents such a landmark in the history of Chanel. My favorites are Oriental perfumes, but I´m not very picky and florals, chypres and other kind of fruity or even synthetic scents can make me love them as well. I really can´t wait to try this one, great review once again 😀 .

    • Vicky, my dear, it’s not a crime to dislike Chanel No. 5. I myself can’t *stand* it!!! It’s all because of the aldehydes which make it painfully soapy on my skin. You know my feelings about soapy scents, so I’ve happily and cheerfully accepted that I will never worship at No. 5’s altar. Granted, it’s not a think I tell most people right off the bat since it is a bit like committing heresy 😉 but, believe me, we’re not alone in that! Not at all!

      As for Chanel, if your favorite genre is orientals then you absolutely need to look up Bois des Iles (also from the Exclusif line). It’s gorgeous!

      • I’m chiming in again about No. 5. Do you know what I get? Wasp spray. I could just dab on some Raid and save myself some serious $$. Eau Premiere does not have that astringency and I was able to enjoy the floral notes more. As for Bois des Iles, it’s probably my favorite of the line although, 31 RC may be vying for that spot. We shall see….

        • Hahahaha, wasp spray!! Oh lordie, that’s bad. *grin* Do you think it’s because it’s the current formulation, or was it the same with even the vintage? I have a friend who isn’t really into perfume and who recently smelled No. 5 in an airport; she wrote to me to tell me how terrible it was, that it smelled NOTHING like the old No. 5, and how she finally understood what I meant about all the reformulation issues. Of course, I never liked old No. 5 to begin with…. lol. 😉 As for Bois de Iles, isn’t it gorgeous? Have to tried the Extrait? I hear it’s stunning. For me, though, Coromandel is my favorite. I wore it again last night, and I couldn’t stop sniffing myself. Completely intoxicating, imo.

          • Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it, my perfume addiction is relatively new so I haven’t had the chance to experience many pre-reformulated or vintage perfumes. It sounds like I have been spared a lot of grief and disappointment yet missed out on some amazing creations. So in answer to your question, I’m not sure how the vintage Chanel would wear on me although I’m not going to lose sleep wondering. 😉 No. 5 is a Monet for me. Far away (or on someone else) it’s pretty but up close (on me) it’s a hot mess. IF I were going to sink any money into a Chanel it would be Bois de Iles. It’s the perfect sandalwood for me. Other sandalwoods make me feel like I’m in costume; a blond haired, blue eyed, pasty-white girl walking around small town America in a sari. For the money though, I think Lutens Santal Blanc is just as beautiful and has much more longevity (8 hrs. on me) and sillage. Maybe I should try the extrait of BdI. It may stay on the clock longer.

          • Well, whenever or however you started this perfume journey, it sounds as if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole NOW, so welcome to the party! 😉 😀 I love Bois des Iles, and definitely hope to try the extrait version soon. I hope you will manage to do so as well. It’s sold on Surrender to Chance, by the way, if you’d ever like to try a sample of it. 🙂

  9. Oh, I have not tried Coromandel yet. It’s been compared to Coco and Portrait of a Lady both of which I like. The latter I tested in blazing hot temps and I really want to experience it in cooler weather. I have found that I prefer wearing more masculine scents in cold weather and Coromandel seems like it might fit that category, do you think?

    • If that is your preference, I think you should stick to it. 🙂 That said, I recently tried Coromandel in the humidity and it BLOOOOOOOOMED in a way that re-awakened my obsession. It was 10 times more beautiful, in my opinion, and truly magical. I always think that one should try a perfume in different temperatures just once and just to see; then, afterwards, you can stick to what makes you most comfortable in terms of your personal wearing style or habits. 🙂

      • I totally agree with you about trying perfume in different temperatures. Une Voix Noir literally turned my stomach when I tried it last winter (I was so excited about a gardenia from Lutens). It was the metallic note. I got blood, not metal and very little gardenia. BUT I tried it just a few weeks ago and the gardenia just came alive like it hadn’t in the colder, drier air. It was a different animal and I didn’t lose my cookies. So, I will try Coromandel and report back.

  10. I really like this one. I hesitate to say I love it, because I really don’t. But I like it and it has the advantage of never seeming wrong, plus the added benefit of making me feel richer than I am and confident into the bargain. It’s a Caesar’s Wife sort of fragrance, I think – citrusy AND floral AND mossish AND ambery (lightweight amber, but still). Plus that Chanel iris.

    I too get the disappear-reappear phenomenon. About the time I’m thinking, “whoa, is this gone?” somebody will say, “wow, you smell really good.” Huh.

    FWIW, I despise Cuir de Russie to the depths of my being. It smells like our cattle working pens: dust, blood, manure, iodine, rawhide, and fear.

    • Heavens, our issues with Cuir de Russie are our NINTH commonality! We’re doing well, Mals! 😀 Granted, it smells differently on me than what you’re describing, but we still have a general, common impression. On me, Cuir de Russie was mounds and mounds of horse feces, covered by a thick pile of soap. Urgggh.

      Interesting that you get the ghostly disappear/reappear phenomenom with 31 Rue Cambon as well. It’s really strange, isn’t it?

  11. Thanks very much for the lovely review. I was glad to read that I am not the only one who didn’t smell anything anymore quite early on.
    As small addition to your remarks about the Perfumes The A-Z guide. In my edition (revised paperback edition 2009), is it actually Luca Turin raving about 31 Rue Cambon in the first part of the review (signed with his initials LT). The second part is written by Tania Sanchez and she is less enthousiastic and only gives the scent 4 stars.

    • You’re right that the initials are TS, my error. But it’s a 5 star review (along with the purple box for such 5 star fragrances) in my book which is also a 2009 paperback edition.

  12. I’ve just received a sample of this classic and I’m bowled over by it! It opened on my skin with a sparkling bright elegant sharpness with undertones of sweet ambery softness and developed into a beautiful feminine classic “chypre” but a soft one….I really don’t like chypre’s like Jubilation on me – yes they are powerful feminine perfumes but almost too much – too old fashioned now. I acknowledge that times have changed and I imagined what it was like to walk into a restaurant or a theatre in the “olden” days when everyone smoked and not too many people showered daily or twice daily and a girl needed a strong perfume to compete with the strong smells around her but not these days. I think if offends other people if someone wear’s a very strong perfume so for me the Chanel Exclusifs are mostly gorgeous. I will certainly buy a full bottle of this one – for the spring here in the UK….when the daffodils are out and the sun is shining but for now I’m wearing Borneo and it snuggles close to me in this wild wet wintery afternoon here in Wales…..(Part of the UK which is very sparsley populated and very beautiful)

    • I know where Wales is, though I’ve never been there. I’m glad you found a chypre that suits your tastes.

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