For European fragrance lovers it’s been a long time since brand and name of Gabrielle Chanel became an epitome of timeless beauty, style & sophistication. At some point in history Chanel tried to pave her way in the USA. And Americans fell in love with her fashion style, her fragrances. New offering in Les Exclusifs range, 1957, is an homage to the year of Coco’s great success across the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time this date hides within a day of her birth (19.08.1883) and a number of recently reopened Chanel biggest flagship boutique in US, located at 57th street in New York.
Chanel 1957 gets very intimate right from the very beginning, enveloping your arms, wrists, waist and neck with a sensual embrace of what is probably the most complex and beautiful white musk accord you can imagine. It’s intricate, multifaceted nature brings to your attention different aspects at different moments. Iridescent like mirror particles in a kaleidoscope – the picture you see through the lense is never the same, and nor is this perfume. What you smell constantly changes. Aldehydes give a lift up, breath of freshness and airiness to the composition but there’s so much more to it.
To me new Les Exclusif has a laminar structure. First of all there are different textures. One moment a musky impression of 1957 is more like a cotton but after a couple of minutes it would be more reminiscent of a linen sheet. In that way layers are formed. Some are made from a thinner, others from thicker kind of fabric that has been woven in a more ‘dense’ way. Aldehydic notes spread a feeling of something fresh & clean, of something white. That vibe is reflected through an almost detergent-like citric aroma that ocasionally entwines with a ghost smell of powdery lavender.
1957 by Chanel is a perfume that feels warm on the skin. Through the combination of 8 different musk oils an incredible complexity is formed and at times it even feels kind of steamy, like bed lining fresh from the laundry, ironed with a hot metal surface. Hints of pink pepper and coriander are both well incorporated into that feeling of something clean yet sensual and enveloping. Then orange blossom comes like a first drizzle of the spring. Cool at first to contrast with musky warmth, only to melt together with the radiant aura of the perfume & become a fine mist that would scent your bed.
Gentle fragrance of white flowers with an orange, citrusy nuances in the background, blending together with all those musky tones. There is something innocent about it but at the same time carnal, you know. Then a powdery iris emerges from the depths of 1957. Its slightly cosmetic fragrance has a very pampering feeling to it and in my imagination it’s like an invitation inside one’s bedroom. Very important role in this Chanel perfume is played by honey. A golden liquid that spreads its sweet, oriental scent – it adds sparkle and a touch of pure luxury to everything.
Luminosity of honey in Chanel 1957 is like glitter sprinkled on top of your skin and your bed. It glams up seemingly simple musks. The perfume lingers for many hours and is like an invisible kiss. At the late stage of development it gains more depth from a woody note of cedar. The latter one is delicately scented with vanilla for that final touch of elegant sweetness. Since 1957 is a skin scent without big volume you may need to pay more attention to notice jasmine or bergamot. Cashmeran is more pronounced through the fluffiness that appears after a couple of hours. Incredibly soft & refined.
We all know that white musk is a curse of modern perfumery that is despised by so many of those who are more than average consumers. 1957 from Les Exclusifs is like an attempt of Olivier Polge, in-house perfumer at Chanel, to jinx back this unfortunate note. I admit that what he did is a beautiful piece of work but it’ll probably take more than just this one fragrance to change people’s opinion about white musk. But intention is good. This new fragrance is a limited edition and will be available as eau de parfum in 75 ml and 200 ml flacons. The longevity is wonderful and its sillage is intimate.
Well, there’s white musk and then there’s white musk! I think modern WMs are to blame for the majority of perfumistas’ dislike of it – decades ago it seemed to be another note entirely and I used to quite like it. Now my nose wrinkles when I smell it, especially the sort that’s put in detergents. I don’t think it’s because my nose has changed, but rather that is a different chemical composition, at least where synthetic varieties are use; I think I remember reading that the type that were around in my young day were eventually banned (and were manufactured from nitroglycerine!!!!), hence the creation of the new versions. Don’t know about the “natural” musks.
I must admit that I don’t find the concept of 1957 very appealing as, on top of the questionable WM, there is honey …. I don’t get on with honey either, as it always turns to wee on my skin! But it’s not fair for me to dismiss this without smelling it, and I should give it a chance, especially as you have!
Hi darling! You are absolutely right, there are different materials used to make up white musk and some are better than the others.
I believe that in the past the musk was natural, so it had tenacity and animalic character. Nowadays natural is 100% banned so synthetics had to come and play its role.
I understand that just by the sound of it you don’t feel like you’d have a great experience with Chanel 1957 but at the same time it’s great you don’t dismiss it completely.
I’m always open to trying a new fragrance and, as Holly says, you have written about it so well that this makes it a more inviting proposition. Your descriptions can lead to lemmings ……
I know you are 🙂 And thank you for such a compliment to start a new week with.
1957 is perfection. It’s stunning.
Why hello Val! Hope all is well 🙂
It’s a lovely fragrance and a positive surprise for me.
Wow! This is such a beautifully written review, dear Lucas. Thank you for inspiring me to seek this out – somehow you’ve magically managed to create the impression of a very special fragrance that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Simply brilliant!
Thanks for such kind words. I think that’s the point. White musk, orange blossom, aldehydes, honey. They don’t sound like something special on their own. But in 1957 they are somehow married and go perfectly together.
It also gains much on skin compared to a paper test.
1957 sounds beautiful to me and I will definitely try it after reading your wonderful review. I felt like I was smelling the fragrance right along with you. I am not a fan of the way white musk has been used in a lot of designer fragrances in the last 15 years, but it sounds like Olivier Polge has mastered the notes of musk and has made them sparkle. I love aldehydes and a note of honey, yes! Chanel Beige with its wonderful honey note is a favorite. I really look forward to trying 1957!
Thank you my dear! It is true that white musks are a curse of modern designer fragrances. It’s simply everywhere and big brands rather seem to be proud rather than ashamed of that.
I think 1957 turned so good because there were 8 different musky notes used to achieve this accord.
You know, some compare 1957 to Beige and a bit to Jersey.
I came across Chanel 1957 while on a vacation where I was wearing my favorite perfumes (for a couple of celebrations) so I couldn’t test it on skin, and Las Vegas boutiques with their uninterrupted flow of random people is not a place to ask for a sample. So I tried it only on paper where while unmistakably Chanel and nice, it didn’t scream “try me!” But since you liked it so much, I will try it the next time I see it.
Looks like you had a chance to smell it before me. And in Las Vegas! How fancy is that!?
In my opinion 1957 is one of those perfumes that smell not attractive on paper. It needs skin and it’s warmth to fully bloom
I also smelled there a couple of Pradas, and now lemming Heat Wave (but, again, the same issue: I couldn’t put it on skin and didn’t get a sample 😦 ).
Worry not! I have Heat Wave, will share 😄
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