digging (into) vintage: Chanel 19, 1970

Perfumer Henri Robert

I agree with many of the characterizations of 19: venomous, aloof, off-putting. 19 has a wonderfully chilling scent of nail-polish remover and cardboard. The Eau de Toilette is a floral fragrance, but less so in the topnotes, where the iris root dominates, than in the heart. The chill remains, though the acetone recedes, and the rose/jasmine heart continues the green trend right through to a grassy, vetiver drydown that I would ultimately categorize as woody-floral.

If I could make any perfume moment last forever it would be the topnotes of 19 EDT. (Aside: I feel similarly about Cristalle and Pour Monsieur. I love them. I just want to drink them in.But, sadly, all three edts are brief experiences.) Despite its passing nature, though, I love the shape of 19.  It is a beautifully worked-out fragrance and has a coherence of tone from start to finish that is both effusive and calculated.

My dilemma: the concentration. The various Chanel concentrations are notorious for their qualitative differences. The edt isn’t just a dilute version of the edp or of the extrait, it’s a different formulation. I’ve fallen in easily with one concentration of the other Chanels. No 5: I understand the EDP; I enjoy the EDT.  Cristalle: I don’t quite understand the EDP (it has a niceness that defeats the pretty brutality at the heart of the perfume) and want to live in the EDT.  For 19 I want both the EDT and the EDP.

While there is a similar componentry, the EDP is leathery and warm where the edt is a cool, rooty/grassy floral. The evolution has a much slower timeframe than the EDT, and gives a warm treatment to its flowers, rose in particular. Though distinctive, the EDP winds up a broken-in green, leathery chypre not far from the drydown of Scherrer’s Scherrer.

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