Suzanne's Perfume Journal

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Chanel Égoïste: Eau So Suave!

June 27, 2009:

Because I love Chanel—and because I love rose scents on men—I decided to purchase (unsniffed) a bottle of Chanel Égoïste.  Launched in 1990, Égoïste has top notes of mandarin, rosewood and coriander; heart notes of damask rose, carnation and cinnamon; and base notes of sandalwood, vanilla and ambrette seed.  After testing it on my husband and wearing it myself for four days in a row in humid weather, my only complaint about this fragrance is that it is exceedingly light in terms of its sillage (though it’s longevity is great; I can smell it on my skin for a good six or seven hours, so long as I press my nose right up against my skin).  This rather surprised me, as (1) it’s a men’s fragrance, which usually tend towards the robust, and (2) I read so many reviews on that characterized it as being “strong” (and sometimes criticized it for being “sweet,” which I also find not to be the case), I began to wonder if the bottle I got had been reformulated, as so many things have these days.  However, despite the fact that I find the juice rather lightweight—as lightweight as some of Chanel’s more recent fragrances in its les exclusifs collection—I was pleased to find that otherwise it matched up nicely to the descriptions I’d read and was exactly what I was expecting: an elegant rose scent, lightly spiced and laced with wood.

A brief burst of barbershop (and who doesn’t like a bit of that?) is what I smell when this scent hits my skin: the standard opening salvo of gentlemen scents, an herbally citrus smell.  Oh so very quickly, though, it is infiltrated by the rose—and here you must imagine an airy and natural smelling rose, not one that is dark, jammy or perfumey, but something on the order of the beach rose that grows along the sand dunes.  This rose endures throughout the long wear of the scent, embracing subtle changes along the way: becoming more spicy as it exchanges kisses with clove-like carnation, and then more gourmand as it hugs the cinnamon, sandalwood, and vanilla in its ambery base.  In its drydown, it reminds me a bit of an Indian dessert called kulfi, a frozen dessert similar to ice cream in the way it tastes (though not in the way it is made), which is prepared with a number of traditional flavorings, one of them being rosewater.  This rose-kulfi aspect of the scent is delicate and not at all what I would call overly sweet; it lends the fragrance a cosmopolitan air, a hint of the exotic.  The scent of wood—like one might find from a precious objet d’art such as a chessboard or an expensive wardrobe—drifts in and out of this fragrance, too, from start to finish.

Because Égoïste couples this sophisticated assemblage of notes (not the sort of thing you’d find in a mainstream men’s scent) in a composition that is soft, that has this very breezy quality about it, the fragrance does smell very Chanel to me.  With Chanel fragrances, there is often this aspect of elegance combined with a sense of aloofness.  Nonchalance might actually be the word I’m searching for: a slightly haughty sense of “The world is my oyster and I don’t have a care in the world.”  And with that in mind, I can’t help thinking that Égoïste would be the perfect scent for someone who wants to create a Jude Law sort of effect. (Granted, it would take a lot more than fragrance to create the Jude Law effect, but since genetic engineering is not a viable option, let’s start here.)  Égoïste has Jude Law’s pretty-boy good looks, his flawless metrosexual appeal, as well as his easy charm.  Like Jude, Égoïste has a slender and refined sexuality rather than a burly and brutish appeal.  It’s a scent for the Vespa-riding Dickie Greenleaf (the character that Jude played in The Talented Mr. Ripley), and probably not something that would appeal to a rough-and-tumble Harley lover; but for those who are bowled over by suave manners and stylish good looks, Égoïste is one sexy playboy.

Chanel Égoïste (not to be confused with Chanel Égoïste Platinum, which isn't the same fragrance) is available from, $70 for 100 ml.

Images: actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law in a scene from the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley, is from