What wizardry is this?


Perfume casts spells. The aura that surrounds a brand new flacon of Chanel is potent magic. From the plain white packaging with its sans serif logo, to the grosgrain or satin ribbons… all the way to the precise way in which the atomiser delivers a smooth and perfectly measured dose of fragrance. Stoppers twist on and off with aplomb, screw-on caps are satisfyingly ‘tinkly’, and magnetised caps ‘snick’ on and off superbly well. Nothing about the packaging design is haphazard or shabby. No bubbles in the glass.

My experience of perusing a Chanel perfume at full price from a Chanel boutique, (or from a Chanel counter in a department store, or a Duty Free counter) is entirely different to the decidedly uncomfortable feeling one has when stalking a partially used Chanel bargain on ebay, or lucking out in a swap. That flacon of Chanel carries a whiff of smuggled booty, as if somehow a swindle just went down and the style police may well come to pay a little visit.


The Chanel brand has long cast the glamour of the prestige archetype. By association it signifies well-heeled customers who effortlessly understand style in all it’s cool restraint. As a brand, Chanel speaks to the ‘wallahs’ of serious money, it taunts the rest of us by titillating with the imagined flamboyance of making risque choices with less serious (laughable) caches of filthy, hard-earned lucre.

‘Perhaps if I just smell right, I’ll appear to be…’.

SNAP! Caught fast in the Chanel trap, I’ve fallen for the ruse.

Chanel perfume is glorious. Culturally, it conjures a myriad of timeless fantasies – drawing unashamedly on the power of silver-screen legends who have endorsed its promise of glamour with knuckle-biting sexual charisma. From Monroe to Pitt and every sizzling diva in between.

Many perfumistas however, eschew Chanel for all its (eww!) commonality.

‘It’s passé darling, and so terribly staid’.

It’s easy to be dismissive of a cultural icon when one is questing for that scent-grail of individuality and uniqueness. Chanel just shrugs, and carries on. In sheer comfort and distracted laissez faire.


Review for Chanel 19. This fragrance is a card shark. 19 watches you approach the counter and sizes up all your vulnerabilities and waits …and then it pounces.

Your first cordial handshake is always a calculated risk at catching you off-guard by stunning your senses with the bitterness of all that vetiver and galbanum. The contents glint at you with pale green guile.

The initial blast of 19’s ‘please-get-away-from-me’ message harbours a floral fugitive that leaps out at you when you least expect it. You are momentarily distracted by the suddenness of finding yourself rolling deliriously across a carpet of hot-house blooms in a Provence conservatory, and suddenly your wallet is empty. And you’ve lost your watch. Beware the glittering green jewel.


photo above of Taylor Davidson for Teone Reinthal Natural Perfume (Quintessence).


One thought on “What wizardry is this?

  1. No 19 is the penultimate Garbo-I-want-to-be-alone scent. And yes, we all fall for that Chanel shrug and carry on regardless, draped in beige thing. Me included. (Ooops! Did I admit that??!)

    Liked by 1 person

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