By Eleanor Reader
When you are a composer of perfumes for Chanel, there is an astronomical amount of weight on your shoulders. Not only do you have some of the most iconic scents in the world to live up to, but also the challenge of preserving and every so often, reinterpreting these famous fragrances for a new generation.
Chanel’s latest perfume endeavour is the remastering of the last fragrance powerhouse commissioned by Gabrielle Chanel. We are talking about Chanel No.19 Poudré, which launches globally this August.
Christopher Sheldrake is one of the exceptional noses behind No.19 Poudré, and recently visited Australia to present the new classic to eager beauty editors. We met with him to learn the reasons behind Chanel’s decision to reinterpret another of their fragrance classics.
Despite an illustrious and celebrated reputation for his contribution to a number of iconic fragrances over his 30-plus year career, Sheldrake is modest, humble and the typical English gentleman. His velvety British accent captivated us as he shared his knowledge behind the rare ingredients and processes that went into creating this iconic Chanel perfume.
On a stormy Sydney day, we flew by sea plane from Rose Bay to Jonah’s on Whale Beach to meet the man who is set to re-write a new chapter in fragrance history.
RESCU: Did you have a certain woman in mind when you were creating Chanel No. 19 Poudre?
Christopher Sheldrake: Chanel creates fragrances for an era, not for a generation or an age group. We try not to make our fragrances in fashion, as Coco Chanel said, “fashion goes out of style.” Chanel No. 19 Poudré’s fresh and woody accords are for a woman who wants a signature, but wants to be different.
RESCU: Why did you decide to re-release Chanel No.19 and how did you go about recreating such a classic fragrance?
Christopher Sheldrake: As the in-house, custodian of the brand, Jacques Polge says, “we are working on No. 5 all the time.” A fragrance could have been perfect years ago but in this era it might not be as perfect. We don’t believe we are going to attract the classic No.19 wearer with our new fragrance. However, the note and style of No.19 was being referenced by so many fragrance houses, so we decided to go back to this icon and release it for a new generation.
We look at every single note in the fragrance and the molecules in the fragrance. Obviously technology has evolved over time so we are always looking at new ways to create perfumes. With Chanel No. 19 Poudré we aren’t trying to replace the fragrance, we are just trying to recreate something for a new generation. Creating a fragrance is like cooking, different elements go into it. On their own they might not be so great but together they create a perfect recipe, like pepper in chocolate or chilli in tomato sauce.
RESCU: Choosing a fragrance that reflects you as a person is extremely personal and often very difficult. What advice would you give to women when they are choosing a signature perfume?
Christopher Sheldrake: When you walk into a fragrance hall, you are bombarded with the number of scents in the air. Try as many perfumes as you can, but only smell these on the papers. When you get down to your short list, spray two of your favourites, one on each wrist and then leave the fragrance hall. Go about your business for the rest of the day. The perfume will change and evolve on you and you will know by the end of the day which one to choose.
RESCU: As a creator of fragrances, do you think a woman should have one signature scent or a range of perfumes?
Christopher Sheldrake: I think that’s entirely personal. Remember a scent is something that gives you confidence. You can have a favourite signature scent or a wardrobe of scents for different occasions. These are still favourites that you’ve experienced but they might be for different reasons. A fragrance in the morning could be your ‘get up and go’ scent, or you could have something soft and sensual for the evening.
Chanel No. 19 Poudré
This fragrance loses none of the original’s green crispness, but has been reworked with more contemporary, powdery notes to bring it into a new era. Iris is the most enhanced note in the fragrance, revealing a powdery quality that differs the scent from its predecessor, with Poudré meaning ‘powder’ in French.
Beginning with a freshness and zest from the Mandarin Orange and Grasse Neroli, the fragrance then reveals its feminity with powdery notes of Iris Pallida and Jasmine, and ends in a cosy cloud of white musk, which gives the perfume its soft sensuality, enveloping you in a beautiful scent that lingers on the skin.
Rescu. Road Test: Chanel No. 19 vs Chanel No. 19 Poudré
The first notes of this crisp green perfume are fresh and masculine, but it isn’t until we wore it on our wrists that we became truly captivated. Chanel No. 19 Poudré is a chic, sophisticated and extremely sensual scent. It has a deep, brooding sexiness to it that soft, fruity or floral perfumes, cannot convey. We love to wear this liberated and utterly modern fragrance on a night out to give us that extra air of sexiness and confidence. This perfume is for the rebellious Coco Chanel’s of the world, who aren’t afraid to stand out of the crowd.
The original Chanel 19 is a fragrance that even today stops traffic. Green, confident, lingering and assertive, every encounter with this fragrance has us walking taller, feeling sexier and more liberated. Chanel No. 19 is our choice for closing the deal, leaving something to the imagination and always feeling like we played our best hand. Still incredible and somehow ahead of its time. The worldy older sister to a fresh and beautiful Chanel No. 19 Poudré.
Chanel No. 19 Poudré is available 19th August, 2011 from major department stores and selected pharmacists nationally. N°19 Poudré Eau de Parfum 100mL RRP $234.00, 50ml RRP $159.00.
Chanel No. 19 Eau de Parfum spray 100ml RRP $234.00, 50ml RRP $159.99. Available from major department stores and selected pharmacies nationally.
Stockist (02) 9900 2944 / 1300 CHANEL
Fragrance 101: RESCU’s Fragrance Blogger Livia Scarcella Explains What Makes A Fragrance ‘Green’
When you think of ‘green fragrances’, you automatically think of fresh leaves and cut grass, but there are two notes that, without them, the green family of fragrances would possibly not exist: galbanum and vetiver.
Galbanum is a gum resin extracted from the Ferula gummosa plant, which is native to Iran. The scent of galbanum can vary, depending on its form. Once diluted, the scent can smell like herbs, pine, musk or even green apples!
Another common note in green fragrances is a native Indian grass known as Vetiver (or vetyver). Essential oil is extracted from the plant’s root by the steam distillation process, and its scent is deep, woody and earthy – perfect for use in the base of a fragrance.
Fragrance Expert Michael Edwards told Rescu. what he thought of Chanel No. 19 Poudré
More Chanel Articles on RESCU
1. Chanel Perfumer Jacques Polge Shares The History And Creation Of Chanel No. 5
2. Blake Lively Chats About The Chanel Cruise Collection 2011-12 Show
3. Find Out All About The Makeup At Chanel’s ‘Collection Byzance de Chanel’ At The Paris-Byzance, Pre-Fall Métiers d’Art Show