Like its legendary sibling Chanel N° 5, N° 22 is classified as a floral aldehydic, and the two scents, created in perfumery’s Golden Age, are considered to be closely related. But where Chanel’s glamorous icon, still beautiful after ninety years in production, is a scintillation of champagne aldehydes, roses, and jasmine – a caress of timeless, confident femininity – her sister, the sweet, opalesque N° 22, is a very different, more plaintive creature: perfumer Ernst Beaux’s masterful dualism of warmth and cold; of wistfulness and optimism. A slow repository of calm, like a dream of white flowers falling softly from a riverbank tree on a passing swan’s down.


The perfume opens on an iridescent flourish of aldehydes and white summer flowers: orange blossom, lilac, tuberose, ylang ylang, white roses, and a sweet, powdery orchid; the bubble-bath fresh, bright aldehydes adding strength and light. This heady opening will not be please everybody, and N° 22 has the assiduous tenacity of a prima ballerina: it is, in fact, one of the most long-lasting perfumes I own – even in the deliciously delicate vintage eau de cologne, it lingers, beautifully, for over twelve hours – longer, even, than some extraits. With such a melodiously sweet opening to the scent, it might seem counterintuitive, then, to say that this perfume is thought to be suitable as a masculine, and has something of a cult following in that regard. But this is where the true artistry of the perfume is revealed. The gradation from the opening of elated flower essences, to the gentle, reflective, base is cool and poised, and perfectly calibrated; the final accord on the skin an unexpected delight: a grey, smoked incense over vetiver, and a sensitive embrace of dusted vanilla. It is a statuesque note of cold white stone that is fused to the main floral theme in absolute balance.


It is this unassailable heart that I love in N° 22. It is a meltingly gorgeous smell that I choose to wear when alone, or to close myself off from the world. For me it is the ideal scented soundtrack to days of dreaming, just existing. A far more profound creature than the exuberant N° 5: tranquil, calming, with exquisite inner resolve.


Filed under Floral Aldehydes, Flowers

26 responses to “SWAN FEATHERS: : : CHANEL Nº22

  1. White flowers on swan’s down, oh my yes. I have always “seen” this fragrance as all-white. Wore the parfum in the mid-seventies as a very young woman — or perhaps it wore me. For a couple of years, I don’t think my skin ever did NOT smell at least faintly of it, its persistence was so extraordinary. A piece that does it justice, Neil, and thank you.

  2. Quite so, but still worthwhile and worth considering if vintage proves elusive!

  3. Both Chanel No. 5 and 22 are bedtime scents to me. They each evoke comforting memories from the past for me.

  4. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Alluring to glide down those shadowy, mossy, tree bordered waters. Branches bowed down by their leafy guirlandes …definitely a twilight perfume, light in the touch

  5. Lilybelle

    No 22 is my favorite Chanel. I love it. The current version is perfectly lovely, not ruined. It is said that it is derived from a fragrance that had originally been created for the Tsarina Alexandra.

  6. veritas

    Like Robin I wore no 22 in the late 70/early 80s …I always associate it with my youth…like Lilybelle it is my favorite of the Chanels running neck in neck with vintage Cristalle…(current Cristalle is not the same for me)…..I have sampled current 22 and like it …

    • It is so downy and soft, yet never banal, that it is almost transcendent, I think.

      Cristalle is cooler and more chic, 22 is doolally romantic.

      • veritas

        Transcendent!!!! Oh yes, that is the right word! Even the reformulation is adequate….I could wear it….but it irks me that it is no longer available in an affordable smaller size…..( I paid under 50 dollars for a 1.7oz in the mid 90s)…..when it became an “exclusive” I boycotted….what I have in my possession is a sample that I made myself when the salesperson refused to give me a sample…..

      • You would be arrested in Tokyo if you tried that!

    • Lilybelle

      I ❤ Cristalle but I only wore it years ago, not the current version. I would probably like it anyway.

  7. This truly is a white bouquet done to perfection. An absolutely exquisite scent that is undeniably long lasting and rich with emotion. I have a vintage extrait of this that I treasure. I will probably not start wearing it until the weather is warm enough. For me, this is a true warm weather scent.

    • That’s interesting. I am not sure I had ever really thought of it that way. More summer than winter, you reckon? Of an evening? I am intrigued.

      (and delighted we are having this conversation).

      • Yes, I have always thought of it as more of a summer scent. Certain scents, especially florals, seem to work best in the warmer weather for me. I also enjoy putting the extrait on after my evening shower and just basking in its sweet, aldehydic aroma. When I had the edt, I would wear that during the day, but the extrait longs for evening and nighttime wear.
        Sorry I haven’t been more interactive lately, I had shoulder surgery 2 weeks ago and I have just been so exhausted. Recuperating quickly, but stamina is at an all time low. I have not been wearing too much scent during this time either. I don’t know why, but I am just not craving scent during my healing.

      • I didn’t know you had had surgery: I hope you are fully on the mend! And the lack of scent makes sense to me, completely. When you are recovered and more robust you will crave it again I am sure. O-dai-ji-ni: get well soon.

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