When Chanel launched Antaeus, their second masculine fragrance, in 1981, I bet there was a lot of buzz around it. This composition is 9 years older than me and was probably one of the boldest fragrances introduced at that time. If not, it was definitely an olfactory shock for male Chanel customers after a well-behaved and elegant Pour Monsieur, created few decades earlier. In this post I will have a closer look at both vintage and current formulation of the scent. Will I see the difference?
Chanel Antaeus now…
It begins with a woody and dry wave of oakmoss combined with almost fecal and greasy castoreum that after 15 minutes evolves into something more subtle but still powerful. When castoreum changes it loses some of the animalic edge and develops this very interesting dusted and powdered vibe. At 30 minutes mark the leathery accord appears. In fact it’s not the real leather but the resinous galbanum of a smoky style combined with earthy patchouli. Together they make an impression of a fine leather in a craftsman atelier. It’s masculine and alluring for sure. Some time later the leathery vibe subsides and now galbanum is presented on its own, diffusing the sultry smell of incense blended with something I would call a man body odour. There’s a small portion of sweat and slightly bigger portion of testosterone in Antaeus. The sweaty aroma was probably created thanks to clary sage. After 1 hour a balmy rose sensation appears. The rose is not bright and clear, it’s rather dirty, covered with earth and mud. And then there’s the oriental balmy quality of myrrh which luckily didn’t induce a headache. Later on the perfume turns more and more aromatic. The initial wilderness is gone and now the dominating accord is the spicy smell of coriander combined with a salty and herbal aspect of thyme. There’s also a little bit of jasmine to add sex-appeal and basil for a little bit of green quality. In the end there’s also a tiny juicy and zesty chord created by lime, lemon and bergamot. Antaeus is a completely developed perfume after 3 hours and it shimmer on the skin for another 3-4 hours before it fades away. Initially it has a great sillage but that quickly drops to the level of few inches above the skin.
Chanel Antaeus then…
Vintage formulation of Antaeus begins very similar to the current formula of a fragrance but is stronger. There’s the same woody and dry oakmoss accord but it’s 2-3 times more intensive. Very soon the balmy and fruity aroma of cherry cough syrup comes to the fore, which didn’t happen in current formulation. It is slightly medicinal for a second but this feeling quickly fades and reveals the castoreum note. I was expecting something very wild from this note in an aged perfume composition and to my surprise the note was much softer than Antaeus has it nowadays. It’s greasy and kind of sweaty too while the fecal part is skipped. After 30 minutes I get the dusty and powdery vibe which announce the arrival of leather accord, also created with patchouli and galbanum. Once again the feeling it has is more smooth and tender. The perfume is not that obviously masculine, as the leather is softer. Unfortunately this feeling doesn’t last long and very shortly the resin is left on its own, spreading the incensy aroma around the wearer. At the mark of 1st hour the herbal notes come to the front – there’s a clary sage combined with the gooey scent of myrrh. When a rose accord appears it’s possible to notice that it’s stronger than in current formulation but it also lasts shorter. The dirty manner accompanying the note remained practically the same. At some point jasmine becomes quite prominent and shining with somewhat indolic molecules. Coriander aroma is especially dry and a little bit pungent here, mixed with the herbal aspect of thyme and basil. The citric notes of lemon, lime and bergamot that ended Antaeus as it is now, were in practice impossible for me to notice. The perfume lasted total amount of 8 hours with just one spritz. The sillage was intensive and bold at the beginning and started shrinking after 2-3 hours.
I believe it was worth getting a chance to try both vintage and current formulas of Chanel Antaeus. As much as it’s still the same perfume, some noticeable differences cannot be denied. I had an assumption that vintage composition might be bolder and stronger on the whole while it turned out that only some notes were stronger in the past. The interesting observation is that animalic aspects of the scent were more restrained in the earlier formulation. Perhaps the time (and IFRA) forced the animal materials to be picked out of the composition and they had to be replaced (at least partially) by synthetics – these are usually stronger than natural raw materials from animals so this could explain while castoreum accord is stronger in the current Antaeus.
The composition was created by Jacques Polge in 1981. Are you familiar with older and newer formulation of Chanel Antaeus? Even if not, does one of them appeal to you more?