Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, 2007

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(image source digitized by Alba Prat)

Perfumer Jacques Polge

Discussion of the state of the chypre in 2007 included a lot of hazy, cautious terminology. The faux-chypre, the neo-chypre, the nu-chypre. 31 Rue Cambon was Chanel’s perfectly judged entry in the swarming chypre-but-not-really sub-gengre and to give credit where it’s due, 31 Rue Cambon actually does conjure the shape of a chypre. The perfume takes advantage of a number of the tools in the Chanel shed and creates a polished, luminous woody-floral that recreates the inner workings of a chypre.

Polge was smart to pay close attention to dynamics and 31 Rue Cambon has all the heft and gravity that a “real” chypre has. 31 Rue Cambon is effectively a floral oriental folded into the shape of a chypre. Chanel’s classic singing florals, all iris and aldehydes, align with a nicely worked-out mix of woods and resins. Without oakmoss, there isn’t the shadowplay between bitterness and sweetness that characterizes a chypre, but there is a nuttiness that melds with the buttery amber and suggests warmth and skin just as a chypre does.

It’s an effective take on the contemporary chypre dilemma and I’m surprised it’s not more emulated.

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