Reg: August 2001 Location: Lexington, MA Posts: 2587
Date: July 22, 2008
Price you paid?: None indicated
No. 19 is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of the Chanel perfumes. It is also the most unapproachable, with its austere combination of aggressive galbanum and cold rooty iris. In the EDT concentration, it is sparkling emerald dust. It is in the parfum, however, that one detects the full presence of the composition. The verdancy of galbanum is sharpened into strident flourescence with aldehydes, a chlorine shock to the nose that has become trained to sugar and spice and everything nice. (Indeed, there is really nothing about No. 19 that cannot work on a man—this is not a lush sort of femininity.) It resembles, to a large degree, Robert Piguet's Bandit, which also features an overdose of galbanum. But while Bandit is swiftly overtaken by smoky leather and crackling jasmine, No. 19 moves into a crystalline heart: the aloof, earthy iris, salty white roses, and silvery lily of valley. Misted over by lingering green, one feels like an adventurer who has stumbled on a magical subterranean garden of jeweled flowers, never to see the sun and never to wither. No. 5 is warm and friendly, No. 19 is the coldest perfume I know. The drydown softens only subtly, with leathery vetiver and dusky oakmoss.
Overall, the composition strikes an exquisite balance between extreme fragility and extreme reserve (many people say it reminds them of the Hitchcock blonde). It is the ultimate green chypre, metallic iris, and office perfume, all at once. No. 19 is very mannered, intellectual, and has a heart of steel.