Chanel 1932 ~ fragrance review

Chanel 1932

Chanel is one of handful of perfume houses with a distinct perfume voice. Say “classic Chanel” to perfume lovers, and likely they envision a greyhound of a fragrance — aldehydic, elegant and restrained. If you’re a Chanel aficionado, you’ll likely love Chanel 1932, the latest fragrance in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. Really. Start saving up now. If you like your perfume big and dirty, 1932 is unlikely to convert you.

Jacques Polge, Chanel’s house perfumer, is credited with 1932. The Chanel website says “1932 evokes a dazzling array of diamond stars and comets. Created petal by petal, the soft, woody fragrance expresses an enveloping heart of White Jasmine.” The name commemorates the year Chanel first offered fine jewelry. Notes listed for the fragrance are jasmine, vetiver and iris.

Unlike gem-studded jewelry, which I think of as hard and cold, 1932 is tender as chiffon. Its initial neroli-iris burst whispers soft, airy aldehydes. The iris smells slightly pulpy, as if infused with violet petals. Iris quickly takes a backseat to rose and jasmine. 1932’s rose is a new summer rose, barely open. Its jasmine floats all around 1932, more a tingling aura than an olfactory spine.

1932’s heart feels spring-fresh. I also smell what I swear is a touch of apricot that reminds me of Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube without the moss. This is not the juicy rose-plus-apricot of Lancôme Trésor, or even the more assertive iris-jasmine-peach-rose of Chanel 31 rue Cambon, but a subtle lactonic caress.

1932 stays tender right down to its last whiff, about four hours after the initial spritz on my skin. I still smell the barest hint of iris, and more sandalwood than vetiver greets my nose. The fragrance is quiet, and I can comfortably wear three or four sprays from a sample vial on one arm alone without messing with my enjoyment of dinner. For some people, 1932’s gentle wear will be a drawback. Who wants to spend over $50 an ounce for something that no one can smell unless they lean in? Other people will reach for 1932 whenever they want to dazzle quietly.

1932 is pretty. Beautiful, even. If you’re a wacky gal wanting to make a statement, if you plan to dance on tables or trot out that Thierry Mugler bustier you paid a bundle for on Etsy, pass up 1932 and dig in your perfume collection for something with more wit and presence. (Among Chanels, try the gender-bending Egoïste.) If you want something you can wear on romantic evenings, to christenings, or to PTA meetings, something your children will remember you by, consider 1932. You’ll smell like a wisp of heaven, easy and lovely, friendly yet irreproachable.

I bask in 1932’s charm and could smell it all day, but I doubt I’ll shell out for a bottle. 1932 wouldn’t sit well with my messy house fluffed with pet hair and littered with books. My hair could never be neat enough or lipstick straight enough or manner gracious enough to merit it. Maybe someday I’ll get there.

Chanel 1932 is part of Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. A 75 ml bottle of the Eau de Toilette is $130, and a 200 ml bottle is $230. 

Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

103 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. ringthing says:

    I would definitely be in the market for a decant. I’ve been looking for a jasmine I like that doesn’t beat me over the head, and I’m a big Chanel fan. Thanks for the review.

    • Angela says:

      The jasmine in this one is definitely there, but it’s really airy. It’s worth a decant, for sure, to see if it’s a winner for you.

  2. Dzingnut says:

    Wonderful review Angela, and this sounds like something I must seek out and sniff! Hey, my house is also covered with pet hair and littered with books, and I have no problem standing in the middle of it, with sweater buttons misaligned and crooked glasses, smelling like a million bucks!

    • Angela says:

      That’s a great attitude!

    • ggperfume says:

      Same here, Dzingnut!

  3. lucasai says:

    Astonishing review, I’m enchanted. I need to sample 1932! Can anyone bring one Chanel boutique to Poland, please?

    • Angela says:

      Good luck! I wouldn’t mind a Chanel boutique somewhere closer, too.

      • lucasai says:

        The problem is Chanel has no boutiques in Poland! Not a single one. Which means I can’t get them here.

        • Angela says:

          Too bad! Maybe someday…

          • lucasai says:

            I guess I will more likely visit London or other big metropoly than Chanel will open a boutique in Poland.
            I feel so neglected…

  4. kaos.geo says:

    Ok, time for Chanel to do a service to humanity and start selling a 10ml sprays coffret with all Les Exclusifs.

    • lucasai says:

      Oh, that would be nice! Or 3 x 25mls of your choice.

      • Angela says:

        That would be great, too!

      • ggperfume says:

        That’s for me!

    • Angela says:

      I’d love that! I need some Sycomore, Bois des Iles, and Cuir de Russie right away.

    • maggiecat says:

      Oh yes! Yes, yes, yes.

  5. kjanicki says:

    No. 22 is my favourite and almost daily perfume. So, do you think I would like 1932?

    • Angela says:

      1932 is definitely different than No. 22. It’s less aldehydic, less “white flowery,” and somehow wetter. It’s quieter, too. But it’s worth a try, I’d think.

      • hollyc says:

        This inspired me to get out my samples again. Gosh 22 is lovely. To my mind it is how I remember No. 5 smelling when my mom wore it. Sharp and soaring grounded by elegant florals. Very mature. Not however getting any animalic which I kind of miss. Found my Beige sample and was surprised to notice how similar it is to the Gardenia (I did not spray it so may not be accurate). I tried again to love Bois des Iles and still find it to be Cuir de Russie but with all the interesting parts removed. Bear in mind that I also am completely indifferent to OJ Woman, another widely lauded perfume masterpiece. So Angela, of all the Exclusifs which one do you think 1932 does most closely resemble?

        • Angela says:

          Hmm….maybe La Pausa? Maybe.

  6. austenfan says:

    I love this review. Chanels are mostly not me, for similar reasons to the ones you state about this particular one.
    They are so polished, and I am so not polished myself.

    • Angela says:

      I really do enjoy smelling 1932, but wearing it I felt a little like I was wearing someone else’s beautiful dress.

      • austenfan says:

        Chanels make me feel that I should pay more attention to my hair and maybe lose some weight as well.

        • Angela says:

          Ack! Who needs that?

  7. chrisskins says:

    At least it comes in “fun size”. I won’t have the, “Oh no, look at all that Beige I haven’t used” regret.

    • Angela says:

      It’s about time the perfume industry adopted the snack industry’s sizing standards!

      Seriously though, I’m such a sucker for a deal that it’s hard for me to buy the smaller bottles, even when I know how unlikely I am to use a whole 6+ something ounce bottle. Thank goodness for splits.

      • hollyc says:

        I am just reaching the stage in perfumistahood where I will spring for a decant first. My poor husband bought me the giant size Excl. Gardenia 200 ml. When I asked him why (after thanking him profusely) he said it was a much better deal. And I guess it was but it’s a lot o perfume . . . . an awful lot. But I could NEVER have too much Cuir de Russie! :)

        • Angela says:

          I agree–I could see myself springing for the FB of Cuir de Russie at some point….

    • AM says:

      Yes Im thinking the same…. Speaking of, how does this compare to Beige?? It sounds kind of similar in structure. I have a love / meh relationship to Beige. Loved it in a decant, got the big bottle and its meh. WHY does that happen?

      • Angela says:

        I just dabbed on some Beige as a reminder, and right off the bat I can tell you 1932 is pulpier with iris and less “clean.” They have a similar texture, though.

        • Angela says:

          As Beige settles a little, let me add that Beige is more sharply aldehydic and less spring-floral.

          • AM says:

            Perfect thank you!

  8. missie sue says:

    You made this sound so beautiful! I think I need some for days when I need to be more polished and gracious than I feel. Hmm, I do have a paper presentation coming up…

    • Angela says:

      Give it a try! Hopefully you can get a sample somewhere near you. Let me know if it works with your paper….

  9. Merlin says:

    I’m quite excited to try this, despite being one of the most inelegant creatures on the planet! I don’t usually feel like I need to look good or even organised to wear a particular perfume, though Infusion d’ Iris helps me feel ‘together’ and professional.
    There is, however, one perfume that just seems too well dressed for me – ‘Violet Blonde’. As much as I like smelling it I can’t imagine it fitting into my life at all!

    • Angela says:

      I have perfumes like that, too–perfumes I love, but that just don’t seem to “go” with me. I can’t quite get comfortable in them, as much as I love them.

      • hollyc says:

        I feel that way about Diorissimo. Like I should be having tea with the ladies and wearing white gloves with a pearl choker. I still take the bottle out and sniff it, but seldom wear it. It is beautiful though.

        • Angela says:

          I don’t wear my Diorissimo much either, for exactly the same reason! I love having it to smell, though.

  10. maggiecat says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this, and your review has pushed me straight to lemming. I love Chanels, even though I am not elegant and rock that pet-hair thing myself. Still, no harm in at least smelling wonderful (I wore No. 5 body creme all through a particularly bad hurrican clean-up period, and while my neighbors looked at me a bit oddly, I felt much better about it all.)

    • Angela says:

      Oh, if it’s a morale-booster, it’s worth wearing for sure!

  11. kristinacologne says:

    Great review, Angela! I love and own many Chanel’s. And yes, they are polished and elegant but I find I can wear them with jeans, a white shirt and sneakers and still pull it off because they are also simple and relaxed in a good way. How does the iris of 1932 compare to La Pausa?

    • Angela says:

      See, you must be naturally refined! You can probably pull off Chanel in your pajamas, but even in an evening gown it wouldn’t be right on me. It’s been too long since I’ve smelled La Pausa to remember how close their iris is, unfortunately.

  12. OperaFan says:

    A Chanel that’s Jasmin+Rose+Sandalwood – Big Swoon! This one has my heart going pitter-patter. Thanks for the lovely review. Maybe I’ll have a chance to stop by BG in March when I attend Parsifal at The Met (another reason to swoon)….

    • Angela says:

      Lots of iris, too! Have a fabulous time at Parsifal.

  13. annina says:

    Oh a new Chanel! I’m a huge Chanel fan, though my style is also…er…somewhat…”bohemian!” I know when I rock the pet hair /vintage clothing/ wooden clog ensembles that I at least smell elegant! :) This sounds lovely, and I need to smell it asap!

    • Angela says:

      Let me know what you think!

  14. mysterious_scent says:

    This sounds a very promising scent to me.

    • Angela says:

      It could definitely be, depending on what you like…

  15. annemarie says:

    Sounds lovely and I will try it, even though I think my skin will eat it up pretty fast. It will have to work hard to unseat my long-time faves, No 19, No 5 and 31 Rue Cambon.

    But the name ‘1932’ signals (to me) a dearth of ideas at Chanel. The year Chanel first offered fine jewellery? Great Scott, what a year! And there’s me thinking there had been a word-wide depression going on.

    Okay, I should stop over-analysing, I know. I suppose the intent of the name is cross-promotional with Chanel’s current jewellery offerings.

    • Angela says:

      I know what you mean, though! Why not say it’s “1932,” then refer to pre-code movies? Now that would be a perfume to remember.

      • OhLily says:

        Ooh, now THAT would suck me right in. Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Doll, incomparable!

        • OhLily says:

          Doll=Face. Baby Face!

          Sheesh, I got so excited, that I totally fluffed out. Lol!

          • Angela says:

            I knew what you meant!

          • OhLily says:

            I love that you did! There is a movie by the title of Baby Doll, as well. It’s a Tennessee William’s story, and quite the twisted little tale considering it was made in the 50’s.

            Sorry for yapping on about it, I’m also an old film freak!

          • Angela says:

            I like my old movies, too.

        • Angela says:

          Yes! There would be a lot of good potential there: bootlegging, the casting couch (so to speak), a real rags to riches.

      • annemarie says:

        I had to look up ‘pre-code movies’ to discover what you meant. There’s a stellar entry on Wikipedia, I now realise. Too much to read now; will have to enjoy it at home tonight. Feel like I’ve discovered a whole new world.

        Habanita is my first thought as a perfume to match pre-code movies. It’s so weird to think that a perfume released today called ‘1932’ is so winsome (sounding; I have not tried it yet).

        • Angela says:

          Oh, Habanita would be a terrific pre-code movie choice!

  16. OhLily says:

    Try naming the dust bunnies, that always helps – Especially if you use perfume house/brand names. ;)

    Pretty doesn’t sound bad at all, although I prefer the ‘meaner’ Chanels like Cristalle and 19. Gentle, on the other hand, can be problematic on me since modern edt’s tend to be a bit fleeting on my scent-sucking skin. I’m also way behind on their current offerings, and haven’t even gotten to Eau Premier yet!

    You have a true gift, Angela. I always end up wanting to at least ‘try’ the darn things, even when you’re less than enthusiastic!

    • Angela says:

      I’m hit and miss with the Chanels, too. I sure do love Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, though. And Coco. And I have a healthy respect for many others.

    • annemarie says:

      I know what you mean about the gentler Chanels. I’ve not had much luck with them either. But Eau Premiere lasts quite well on my otherwise rather scent-eating skin.

      • hollyc says:

        Eau Premiere works well for me too Annemarie and lasts much better than any of the concentrations of No. 5. It lasts particularly well on fabric and I think it’s a beautiful take on No. 5. It doen’t get the attention it deserves I feel.

        • annemarie says:

          No, not on the blogs perhaps. It gets lost in the plethora of new releases. But I imagine (hope!) it still sells well over the counter to the non-perfume nerds, ordinary folk, who are attracted to the idea of a lighter and more modern version of No 5. It’s probably also often bought as a gift. I really like it. It may take a while, but I know I will get tot he bottom of my bottle!

          • Angela says:

            I agree–Eau Premiere is wonderful and easy to wear.

      • OhLily says:

        Oh, thank you both for your impressions, they’re so helpful to hear! Now I’ll just have to scoot it right back up the sampling list. :D

  17. thenoseknows says:

    Maybe Because i am kinda an Emotional Mess today, But Mon Angel… Your review brought me to Tears! Especially the line about “Something your Children will remember you by” Made me think of how whenever i get a Whiff of Narciso Rodriguez or Jean Paul Gaultier Classique or even more closely related, Coco Mademoiselle I always think of my sister and how awesome the power of scent can truly be… This sounds RADIANTLY Lovely and I Must, MUST, M-U-S-T Buy a bottle as Quickly as i can! Again, Mon Angel Angela… Your Poets Soul Speaks With Such Grace… This time that Grace completely Pulled at my heartstrings! Thank You!

    • Angela says:

      Give it a try and let me know what you think! I’d love to know. (And I hope the emotional mess turns quickly into an emotional celebration.)

  18. Dilana says:

    Did you review the EDT or the EDP?

    Oh, and even Brad Pitt did not “live up” to Channel. (He looked more dis-shelved than unshaven). So why worry if your lipstick, house or shedding pets are perfect. If the perfume makes you feel glamorous, go for it, even if the rest of you feels like ordinary bedraggled life.

    • Angela says:

      The EdT. Brad Pitt. Ack! You’re so right about his not living up to the image. If it *felt* right, I’d wear it in a second, you can count on it.

  19. blauriche says:

    I had no idea that they had raised their prices. Oh well, still a value for the quality, I suppose.

    • Angela says:

      Especially for the larger size.

  20. Marjorie Rose says:

    This probably won’t be for me (much more an Egoiste girl–although I consider that a restrained choice, too!), but I’m happy to hear that Chanel has put something out worthy of the perfumista crowd. I want to believe that Chanel means quality and elegance in perfume, even if I don’t personally relate to most of their scents. And some of the more recent offerings were so boring!

    • Angela says:

      I never did smell Jersey, and Beige didn’t move me, so 1932 is welcome even if it isn’t something I’d wear much. But it’s worlds ahead of Coco Noir!

      • hollyc says:

        I’m still reeling from Coco Noir, how could my beloved Chanel produce such a monster. I was given two spray samples and threw them both out. I didn’t want to risk it escaping in my house . . . eeeeek!

        • Angela says:

          I know! I was disappointed, too. And yet I bet it’s a big seller.

  21. Abyss says:

    I still consider Chanel to be one of my favourite houses but I’ve been feeling like it’s been ages since Chanel released anything decent. Sycomore and Eau Première were both around ’08, right? 5 years! This better be good.

    Anyway, I passed by a Chanel counter this weekend and they told me it’s not out until 1 March in UK but they took my details and said they’d invite me to the launch. Lucas, if I can attend, I’ll try to get a sample for you!

    • Angela says:

      I wonder what will go on during the launch? I hope it’s fun.

      • Abyss says:

        No idea! I’ll definitely ask them when they call since I’m not making a train journey unless it’s absolutely worth my while :D

        • Angela says:

          Well, do report back if you go!

  22. hajusuuri says:

    Beautifully written review, Angela! This has me written all over it. If this is available in the satellite boutiques, I have a $25 Saks gift card I may be able to use and if it is not available there, I’ll just go a little futher uptown to the 57th Street store.

    • Angela says:

      I’d love to know what you think of it!

  23. lady_luck says:

    The refreshingly honest comments about the low sillage of this perfume is refreshing. Sillage and longevity are so important to me, which is why I generally do not appreciate the aldehylic lightness that is characteristic of most Chanel perfumes. The only one of the exclusifs I enjoyed was Sycomore – which had more staying power than a lot of the others. Most of the exclusifs I was lucky to get even 2hrs wear out of. Chanel no.22 I did like though.
    I can tell already, thanks to your lovely and thorough review, that this perfume is not for me.

    • Angela says:

      It’s important for me to be honest in these reviews! If wide sillage and long life are what you’re after, this one probably isn’t for you. If you get the chance to sniff it, though, do!

  24. cath says:

    Thank you for another lovely review.
    I would love to try it, but it’s unlikely I’ll fork over the money to buy a bottle (only 200ml bottles available in my country of residence). Plus, I got bored with the “too pretty and well behaved” Beige. A small 10ml decant might be just enough for me.

    • Angela says:

      I love 10 ml decants. It’s the perfect size to satisfy my desire to really wear something, but not so much that I’ll never be able to use it all.

  25. Kitty says:

    Angela, what a fantastic review. I think that I will love wearing this scent in my ink and paint-stained jeans and gym shoes and while I’m walking the dogs. Moreover, a light touch is always good these days in public. I’m a little weary of Hermes Eau Claire des Merveilles as I have worn it so much this year and 1932 sounds like a perfect option. Can’t wait to try it! Finally, I’m beginning to love a shorter sillage (if that’s the right way to say it) so that I can wear more than one perfume in a day. I may look like a grungy mess, but I bet I’ll smell & feel like a precious jewel!

    • Angela says:

      That sounds perfect! If you like Eau Claire, you might like this one, too–not that they smell the same, but they have a similar vibe, I think.

  26. eminere says:

    Oh what a beautiful review.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  27. vwoolfscholar says:

    Great review, Angela. You mention that you can smell apricot, and the Chanel Web site actually describes this as a “Floral Woody Fruity” perfume. Now, there’s nothing I love more than an aldehydic floral, but I really have a hard time with anything fruity or sweet. I was wondering if you can elaborate more: Exactly how fruity/sweet is this? From your review, it certainly sounds like it’s all about the flowers, but the apricot troubles me. Thanks!

    • Angela says:

      I understand being wary of fruit! I’d say the apricot makes more of an “effect” than smells outright like fruit. Have you smelled Rue Cambon or Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’aube or Enlevement au Serail? They blend rose and peach/apricot in a way that doesn’t smell overtly fruity, as it does in Lacome Tresor, but that create a particular, memorable smell different than its components.

      • vwoolfscholar says:

        Thanks for your reply! I haven’t smelled the others you mention above (Tresor aside, which is definitely heavy on the sweetness but not altogether ghastly), but it certainly makes me feel a little bit more at ease about buying this blind.

        • Angela says:

          Unless you’re coffers are bursting, do try to get a sample first!

  28. Ann says:

    Beautiful review, Angela. Can’t wait to try this one.

    • Angela says:

      Do let me know what you think if you try it.

  29. Elisa says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but I just tried 1932, and thought I’d share my impressions:

    My first olfactory impression was Iris, Iris, Iris, with a striking resemblance to 31 Rue Cambon (which I wear regularly– perhaps that’s why it sprang to mind so quickly.) Upon more attentive sniffing, the two began to diverge in important ways.

    As compared to 31 Rue Cambon, I find that 1932 is:
    more transparent, much softer, wetter, juicier/less dry (I wouldn’t call either perfume sweet), and less “vintage” in feel. The volume is turned down a great deal on 1932, as compared to the other exclusifs I enjoy.

    As the perfume progresses, roses start to emerge in a creamier, sweeter way than 31RC; I really like this part in 1932.

    It is an extremely pleasant scent!

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for reporting back with the insightful mini-review!

    • I wear Rue 31 Cambon a lot, and I love it. I can definitely smell the peach “effect” and the rose mroe than the iris. I just tried 1932 and to my nose, Rue 31 C is an autumn/winter perfume and 1932 is Rue 31′ C’s springtime flanker. I don’t think I will spring for a FB but it’s very nice. I already have a lot of favorite spring like fragrances and don’t need anymore…but if and when I do, I will be re-visiting this one.

      • Angela says:

        That’s a nice description–I definitely smell the kinship between these fragrances, too.

  30. ggperfume says:

    “A wisp of heaven”? – must try! In any case, I love the “greyhound” Chanels (thanks for that term, Angela) and will have to sniff this one. Besides, that Chanel soigne perfection is a beautiful foil for all my absent-minded imperfections. Pet hair? Messy household? Who cares? – I’m rocking no 5 in extrait!

    • Angela says:

      A little contradiction can be the spice that makes chic!

  31. daydreamer says:

    You know, it took me awhile to love Chanel (other than Coco). Normally, I love big orientals that speak for me, but now that I am in my 50’s I love Chanel. I dress very boho, have hair in layers to my shoulders, and am a bit on the chubby side–and definitely have dog hair on my clothes . But I find Chanel perfumes (especially the Les Exclusifs line), are a nice contrast. They somehow evoke the wisdom that comes with age. I just received a decant of 1932 and I love it. It has a restrained sexiness to it that makes me feel like seducing my husband (or some spry young lad).

    • Angela says:

      Excellent! I love how you link wisdom with the restraint of the Les Exclusifs. Although I’d forgotten about 1932 until your comment popped up (I’m going to have to give it another go), I wouldn’t be without my decants of Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie.

Leave a reply