Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Coco

In 1970, in collaboration with the perfumer Henri Robert, Coco Chanelcreated her last fragrance. She named this bracing green blend of iris, neroli, vetiver, and cedarwood No 19, after her birth date, the nineteenth of August. Mademoiselle made No 19 as a gift for herself—after all, it had been 50 years since she created the iconic No 5. Seen as subversive for its unusual pale-green color and strikingly modern composition, No 19 launched quietly at first in Switzerland, becoming a sleeper hit over the years with a loyal corps of the devoted. 

“Once a man stopped me in the street because of it,” Coco recalled to her friendCarmen Tessier. “As I was leaving the Ritz, I felt someone touch my shoulder. Before I could sharply brush off this intruder, he said, with an American accent: ‘Excuse me, I’m with two ladies who would like to know what perfume you are wearing.’ I told him, ‘Why don’t you follow me.’ And I took them to the Chanel boutique.”Today, to celebrate what would have been Coco’s one hundred twenty-eighth birthday, Chanel launches an update on the original: No 19 Poudré. PerfumerJacques Polge’s soft new interpretation stays true to the original’s neroli top notes, iris heart, and vetiver base notes, adding mandarin orange, jasmine absolute, white musk, and tonka bean.

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