January 30, 2013
If it seems like I have been less than impressed with the perfume releases from Chanel over the last two years it is mainly because I know the talent of in-house perfumer Jacques Polge to produce something transcendent. Of course all it takes is for one simple example of breathtaking beauty to make me forget what was so disappointing. The latest release for the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line, 1932, is one of those fragrances which wash away the recent past in a sparkling shower of olfactory diamonds.
The name of this latest Les Exclusifs de Chanel entry comes from the fine jewelry line Coco Chanel created in November 1932. She stated that she wanted to cover women in constellations and the collection was inspired by the stars as mostly white diamond creations made up the bulk of it. This was the beginning of a new direction at Chanel and it is the genesis of the fine jewelry tradition of Chanel. When Jacques Polge was given the task of creating a fragrance inspired by this he chose to use a diamond bright jasmine as his core olfactory jewel. Then like a master olfactive jeweler he takes his jasmine and places it in a setting of aldehydes on top and sandalwood on the bottom. There are a number of other supporting notes here but 1932 is a fiendishly simple experience of a shooting star of perfume.
The aldehydes M. Polge trots out are the more volatile ones and as such they combust on my skin with a kinetic energy that grabs my attention. The aldehydes have a bit of neroli and a very sunny bergamot floating around them but the starburst nearly drowns them out. The jasmine M. Polge uses is a spiffed up version of it; you won’t even find a hint of the indolic nature of jasmine in 1932. Instead you get the society girl version of jasmine very properly dressed to impress. It is a diamond in jasmine form. Ylang and rose like the neroli and bergamot in the opening are there in very light quantities and are used as enhancers more than distinct notes of their own. The base is sandalwood as only Chanel seems to be able to produce. This sandalwood has a pronounced resemblance to the sandalwood at the base of 31 Rue Cambon. When I tested them side by side it was then that I noticed the sandalwood finish of 1932 is brighter for the presence of iris and violet to keep the resins from making it too heavy. It seems like no matter what, M. Polge was not going to let 1932 be anything but a comet streaking across the sky.
I have seen a number of people who have had the opportunity to try 1932 have an issue with its longevity. In three days of testing I have to say I never got less than 10-12 hours of longevity on my skin. The sandalwood drydown was with me well into the evening after applying in the morning after my shower. The sillage of 1932 is average.
1932 was better than I expected it to be. Even my first sniff of it didn’t prepare me for the experience of wearing it. M. Polge has realized Coco Chanel’s ambition to cover women in a beautiful jasmine constellation of perfume.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Chanel USA.
-Mark Behnke, Managing Editor