By Adele Chan
[I came across a Chanel pop-up in the middle of Marais, Paris. What are the odds? Pretty high, apparently.]
There’s a lot we can learn from Gabrielle Chanel. The world knows her as Coco Chanel — the woman behind the luxury Parisian fashion brand with the iconic interlocking C’s; but before Coco, there was a girl called Gabrielle, who was rebellious and determined; and she decided exactly who and what she wanted to be and made it happen. Aside from her extraordinary story, Gabrielle was a woman of class, taste, and style; and who knew… 2017 is her year.
The “Gabrielle bag” launched earlier this year in April, to much fanfare (the popular colours are sold out in store). I recently carried the classic two-toned version to a Kiehl’s event (it was on loan for a shoot), and two friends immediately squealed in delight over it… “OMG that’s the Gabrielle bag! So nice!” If that’s the kind of response a product gets on sight, you know the brand has done something right with their marketing campaign.
[Pharrell at the Gabrielle fragrance party in Paris. Shortly after I took this photo he went up on stage for a surprise performance.]
This August, Gabrielle becomes a fragrance! It’s not a big surprise considering the celebrity party that was recently thrown in Paris for its launch, and the media coverage surrounding it (have you seen our Instagram posts?). And this fragrance is a big deal; it has actually been 15 years since Chanel launched a new fragrance line. Everything about this perfume is new: the name, the scent, and the bottle; and Chanel’s perfumer, Olivier Polge created all this in celebration of Gabrielle.
[Photos taken at the launch party of the new Gabrielle fragrance in Paris.]
Their are four key ingredients to the formula, and the press release describes them as follows:
“Olivier Polge began by selecting ylang-ylang, jasmine and orange blossom, as well as a touch of tuberose now grown in Grasse, but then took his conception of white flowers much further by varying their range, deciphering their score, he took interest in the molecules that compose them. He increased the intensity of jasmine. He used white musk to add more velvet to the ylang-ylang petals. He accentuated the creaminess of tuberose with milky sandalwood. He boosted the freshness of orange blossom with mandarin peel, a zest of grapefruit and a hint of blackcurrant.”
[Illustrations of (from left to right) Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Orange Blossom and Tuberose.]
From these four notes, you can imagine what the fragrance smells like; but of course there’s nothing like going to the counter and taking a whiff of the actual scent. Unfortunately, the Gabrielle fragrance only launches at Chanel Beauty boutiques from 19 August and all other counters from 1 September.
So here’s my take on it: The resulting perfume — in my opinion — is a heady floral that is at once familiar. And I’m not saying that this fragrance smells like another one; in fact, all fragrances smell like something — it could be a mood, a place, a person or even a thing. I went round the office getting the whole NYLON team to give me their immediate thoughts on this scent, and all the girls described it as “fresh, floral, fancy” and a writer also said “formal”. The one guy in the editorial team said it smelled “sweet”. Ultimately, it had mass appeal — which I can’t say the same for many fragrances that come by our editorial desks every day.
The bottle is also very beautiful, and Chanel says it is a bottle like no other. To begin with, most fragrance bottles aspire to be heavy, giving the impression of luxury and that the object is valuable; for the Gabrielle bottle, Chanel approached it from a different direction, and made the glass walls exceptionally thin, converging towards the centre. Even the straw is made as thin as possible so it looks almost invisible from an angle. Finally, the stopper is embossed with the logo, sparing no expense to detail; and adorned in a matte lamé shade that borders between gold and silver, inspired by the Haute Couture fabrics from the brand’s heritage.
It’s going to be a month before you can indulge yourself in this new perfume, but that also means you have a month to save for it.
CHANEL Gabrielle fragrance, $180 for 50ml and $258 for 100ml, available at CHANEL Beauty boutiques from 19 August and all other counters from 1 September. chanel.com/en_sg