I dutifully doused myself in the stuff

I dutifully doused myself in the stuff, triggering an immediate assault on my own sensitive nasal passages. I hated it, but it was too late. Upon my return to the dinner table, my dad told me that I smelled like his mother, who’s 80, terrifyingly bitter, and smokes two packs of Virginia Slims a day. Not the best look.

— Rachel Krause writes about her changing attitude towards Chanel No. 5 in An Unironic Ode to ‘Old Lady’ Perfumes—and Why They’re Worth a Try at StyleCaster.

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Chanel No. 5 ~ A Belated Appreciation

Audrey Tatou Chanel No. 5 commercial still

I thought I knew Chanel No. 5, and I thought it wasn’t for me. No. 5 was too uptight with her whistling aldehydes. It was a little, well, banal. And on top of that, not particularly pretty. In 2007, I posted a tepid review.

Wow, was I ever a dummy. Last summer, I bought a bottle of vintage No. 5 Extrait at an antiques mall, and my perceptions whipsawed. I just invested in a big bottle of the Eau de Toilette. No. 5 isn’t uptight — it’s warm and welcoming. As for banal, are soft, clean cotton bed sheets banal? How about a room’s warmth on a December day, or a napping cat? To me, No. 5 is similar in that it feels both unpretentious and comforting…

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5 perfumes: appreciating the Big Five

Like much art, some fragrances — especially the complex classics — take time to appreciate fully. At first, you might even find them off-putting. But as you spend time with each fragrance, you begin to appreciate its peculiar nature, its singular beauty. That describes how I’ve felt about the perfumes I’m calling the Big Five.

I’ll tell you a little about my relationship with each fragrance, then I’d love to hear how you’ve come to know each of them.

Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5

For the longest time, I was convinced I knew all about No. 5. No. 5 was fine, full of straw-tinted jasmine, awash with aldehydes, and charming, if fusty. But it wasn’t for me — or so I thought…

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Chanel Chance, Chance Eau Tendre & Chance Eau Vive ~ fragrance review

Chanel Chance Eau Vive

Have you noticed the trend of young women dying their hair gray? It can be startling to see a baby face capped with grandma’s hair. Sometimes it comes off as chic. But sometimes it’s an epic fail, almost as unsettling as politicians who dye their hair nut brown when Mother Nature clearly determined it should be gray — or gone. Mutton dressed as lamb, and vice versa.

To me, Chanel Chance plays this game. It doctors a big girl’s perfume for little girls by simplifying its heady oriental notes, freshening it up with citrus, and targeting its marketing to younger women. It’s like Guerlain Shalimar drawn as a kid’s cartoon and squirted with sweet musk, or like Thierry Mugler Angel with less verve and voluptuousness. To me, Chance feels off-kilter — or worse, banal. But, like dying your hair gray, it has its fans.

Chance, created by Jacques Polge, launched in 2002…

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