Misia is surprising. There is a new and optimistic heedlessness to this scent that sets it apart not only from the dignified and beautiful classics from this house – as well as its big commercial blockbusters – but also from the more preened and ‘luxurious’ stablemates from the house of ‘Les Exclusifs’ – 28 La Pausa, Bel Respiro  – with their glimmering – if sometimes strained and diluted – facades of Parisian and New York chic.

A new perfumer is at work.  Olivier Polge, son of Jacques, in-house perfumer since I978 and soon to become the chief Chanel scent creator himself, has authored his first creation for the house, and judging from this exuberant and outgoing perfume it seems that he may well be about to take the company’s fragrances in a different, more uninhibited direction. I had heard of course that Misia was a ‘retro’-influenced perfume, based on the smell of lipstick and powder, of violets and roses (but then I had also heard that I932 was a ‘jasmine vetiver’ and my expectations couldn’t have possibly been more deflated by a perfume than that pitiable creation), meaning that I was expecting something watered down; ‘just so’; revised, clear – finding instead upon smelling it yesterday at Takashimaya department store in Yokohama that this was a blast: a fun-loving, hedonistic, thickly made-up creation that didn’t strike me as being particularly Chanel-ish but which reminded me immediately instead of the lovely Teint De Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi and also the delectable La Rose De Rosine, a scent I sometimes wear come this time of year because it is just so carefree, full, and sense-fillingly nonchalant that it makes you almost want to get down and can-can.

On further inspection, as you get into the drydown and the heart of Misia, you realize that despite its apparent ardor and simplicity this is in fact a Chanel: the perfume is no way near as poignant or touching as the Villoresi, nor as loose at the seams and louche as the Rosine; there is still that porcelain Chanel backbone somewhere at the centre – that Rue Cambon throw. Nevertheless, the initial violet-drenched rose (there is a lot of violet in this perfume) is a gorgeously sweet and heady blend of the typical rose de mai with a more voluptuous and throaty Turkish rose essence that took me quite aback for its full-throttle, powdered ambush: less a prim, ladylike portrait of a slim, mirrored compact, this was more pierrot to me: costumed, exuberant…… and in fact the perfumer has said that he was influenced by Diaghlev’s Ballets Russes and the clamour backstage as the dancers foist themselves into their costumes before heading for the performance; the feminine scent of skin, bodies and thick pancake commingling in the high octane excitement of the dressing room throng (an idea also interestingly explored in Pierre Guillaume’s Poudre Riz). Misia Sert herself, the perfume’s direct inspiration, was Gabrielle Chanel’s best friend and confidante, muse to many artists of the period – featuring in paintings by Toulouse Lautrec and Renoir – and a decadent bohemian and sensualist who was involved in scandaous ménages a troix and drug use while simultaneously maintaining a successful career as a concert pianist.

But though certainly a supremely confident scent, I don’t really think that any of the subtleties or complexities of this woman, as I read of her, can be said to be present in her twenty first century perfumed incarnation. The Chanel scent inspired by her name is in some ways rather thick and simplistic (though it is certainly no mean feat to make something that eludes to the past but still smells new and contemporary in this way): Misia is a barrage, almost a cloy, of violets roses and smooth, sexual benzoin resin and tonka beans that I can imagine becoming a little overinsistent were you to be in constant daily contact. But while it might lack that Chanel, standoffish finesse, there is also a new brightness here, an uplifting, posey punch of confidence and vitality – unbounded and unfettered, comfortable in its own skin – that suggests that Olivier Polge might be able to give Chanel, whose perfumes in truth I have not been very excited by of late, a much needed new lease of life.


Filed under Rose perfumes, Violet perfumes

34 responses to “MISIA by CHANEL (20I5)

  1. Beautiful review for a beautiful fragrance. I have been delighted with this Exclusif more than any others and keep going back to it over and over again.

    • It definitely had a strong sniff at first sight quality for me as well: instant, easy like.

      I want to smell it on someone and see what the overall sillage and ambience is like. I loved the basic smell but wondered if it had any nuances.

  2. Cath

    I’m glad you finally found it dear Neil. I’m still hesitant about this one. If they sold the 75ml size in Japan I would get it. It’s the 200ml size bottle that scares me off.

    • Totally. And in Japan as well! Can you imagine any Japanese woman buying such a huge bottle of perfume?

      They never would. 30 ml would be nearer the mark.

      Thanks for the heads up. I went the next day.

  3. emmawoolf

    A lovely review, Neil. It does sound quite delightful (although I doubt I would be able to, or indeed want to, pull this one off). But why does it have to come with an extortionate Les Exclusifs label?

  4. emmawoolf

    I wonder if they are intending to mimic the smell of their cosmetics with this one? Chanel lipsticks and blushers (I am addicted to them and have far too many) have a lovely powdery, rose scent. Importantly, they smell expensive, which is one of the many reasons why I worship them.

  5. Holly

    Yet another fascinating review!
    I’ve yet to try this one. I thought when I saw the photo you used that you would soundly trash it!

  6. I tried this about 3 weeks ago on my birthday; I went to the Chanel boutique just to spritz it. I fell in love with this immediately! I adored the rose-iris-violet combination so much, well, if I did not already own so many scents: it would have been mine.
    It is funny how it is based on the scent of lipstick and powder; I truly adore my Chanel lipsticks, which might be why I adore this also. Just love that Chanel-ness of their make-up, that comforting, yet luxurious, scent.
    I have to say, the sillage and staying power of this scent are phenomenal. I put it on around 14:00 hours and could still smell it nicely around 22:00 hours. Even after showering, I could still discern traces of the scent wafting from my skin; did not need to parfum myself that evening.
    I might end up splurging on this, I really liked it THAT much. Next month I will be in Vancouver with hubby, his business trip, and I plan to try it again while there. If it still moves me, I might just have to break down and purchase it. I would also have to start selling off more of my too cumbersome collection. I really, really like this one enough, well, enough that it could replace some others.

  7. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    Do you think the upcoming new Chanel blockbuster Gabrielle, the first for a good many years – and supposedly an ‘abstract floral’, which for me is never a good sign – I can’t stand dull chemical swirls like Jour’d’Hermes or Guerlain Idylle – could possibly be enjoyable, like Olivier Polge’s Misia, or will it just be boring, like Boy?

  8. Tara C

    No idea about Gabrielle, but I’m not overly optimistic given the low standards set by recent releases in the “luxury” perfume sphere. I do love Misia though (I have the edt). The delicious rose iris violet cosmetic accord is wonderful, I could sit around inhaling my lipsticks all day long just for that smell and now I no longer have to. 🙂

    • Do you think it was just a one off then, or because it is more expensive so they could do a decent perfume? I actually imagine that Gabrielle (which I don’t think works as a perfume name any more than ‘Neil’ does) will be chemical dreck dressed up as perfume, but then again you never know. Would they really DARE to put out yet another cotton candy boob job perfume a la Vie Est Belle?

      • Tara C

        La Vie est Belle is intolerable, could not get it off me fast enough, so I sincerely hope there will be no similarity. I do think Misia benefitted from being part of the exclusive range. Like you I expect Gabrielle will be in the chemical dreck category but I am reserving judgement…

  9. I fell in love with Misia the first time I tried it, Coromandel close second for me.

  10. I should be called “freaking Chanel sad case” lol

  11. Enjoyed this review very much. Haven’t tried the new Misia EdP since they discontinued the original EdP; have you yet?

    As for Gabrielle, unfortunately it has been created to be another “pillar” in the mainstream range, to do for the Chanel coffers what Coco Mlle has done, i.e., to sell in mass quantities to the masses. Therefore, it will probably be a huge miss for me. But, you never know. Maybe Son of Polge will do something palatable. That would be something!

    • Sorry, the original “EdT.” Ack. Would love an Edit function as I invariably make a mistake or two (or three) when I post.

    • That’s why I was still a smidgen curious about it ( and have they really already reformulated Misia?)

      • I’m curious about it, too.

        As for Misia, my mileage varied, as they say; I love it in EdT and think Polge Jr. had a promising inauguration (yes, it’s already gone; I guess they had to be consistent about the changeover to EdP in Les Exclusifs). I wasn’t as crazy about his No 5 l’Eau. To my nose, it was lacking in every department but for a persistent sour citric note, which it had in relative and unfortunate abundance.

        Given the market, I’d bet Gabrielle will be too sweet, too synthetic, too dull and too derivative for my tastes, with sillage that operates in a fifty-foot radius. Like Coco Mlle, It will probably be a runaway best-seller.

      • In a way I hope so as then they can hopefully come up with more intriguing underlings with the money.

        I do DESPISE Mademoiselle though.
        Airport patchouli.

      • Good point about underling-funding.

        Airport patchouli. Love this.

      • I kind of feel the same way about La Petite Robe Noire. If that black cherry bullshit keeps a few truly beautiful perfumes alive down at the Champs Elysees headquarters (have you ever been there? I almost fainted when I walked in through the agony and the ecstasy and the sheer LUST) then I am happy.

      • I probably walked right past it on the way to a wine shop, sadly. But I can just imagine “the agony and the ecstasy and the sheer LUST.” Seriously, I think those jewel-toned juices and the contrasting grosgrain-ribboned bee bottles look almost drinkable. And those are mere amuse-bouches compared to the original extrait bottles, the museum pieces, which in my mind’s eye are in a glass display cabinet somewhere, the original VdN propeller, the snail and the tortoise, the Chamade and the Chant d’Arômes.
        I would probably be in tears with the frustration of it all.

      • And I want to go into the dusty basements and just STEAL

      • And as far as La Petite Robe Noire goes, I’m with you. Y’know, someone gave me a bottle of the Couture version when it came out, supposedly the most sophisticated one (but then it’s all relative, innit) and to this day I keep going back to it, expecting to finally see the Guerlain light. And I never have and doubt I ever will. It’s got that vile combo of sour fruit, rank fake patch and pervasive ethyl maltol. I hear the lineup makes more money for them than anything else. Success!!!!!! BAH.

        You will be taking a break from us soon for the sake of your new knees. You’ll be in my thoughts. Take care, Neil.

      • To be honest, I doubt I will be taking a break for long. Expect wrung out grotesquerie from the hospital bed.

      • Morphine can conceivably make the fingers fly in new and unexpected ways. It would be interesting to see what your writing sounds like “under the influence.”
        Then again, you might just feel like holding Duncan’s hand and looking out the window. And that would be fine with us, too.

  12. Lilybelle

    I’ve always wanted to try Misia. Perhaps some day I shall. 🙂

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