As I waited for the assistant to spray some of the new Chanel at the boutique in Yokohama’s Takashimaya ( for a more in depth ‘introduction’ to the themes and concepts of the perfume I would have had to wait in line for a ‘consultation’ ), I decided to reacquaint myself will the Chanel Les Exclusifs.



They smell really good. From the classics Cuir De Russie and No22, through Gardenia to Bel Respiro, Sycomore  and  Misia, my instinctive feeling was that someone is keeping quite a nice eye on quality control. Almost all of them smelled fresh, ‘timeless’, and alive.



The newest addition to the line, 1957, is also quality stuff : rigidly so, attaining an almost fascistic perfection, but for me, like 1932 and Gabrielle, from the mainstream collection, it is also wan – potently so – and uninspiring.




Citruses, some florals, white musks – in profusion; this ‘bridge between France and America’ is awash with them; an overdose of vetiver – although it is said to be cedar, and iris, form an enwrappingly, worryingly unintimidating perfume that, with its effacement of all flaws and vulnerability, almost fills me with apprehension.



Some popular perfumes – say Kenzo Flower, or Prada Infusion D’Iris, which 1957 reminds me of a bit, as well as soft vetivers like Jo Malone (and for a terrifying moment, the top notes made me heave slightly when bright, unnamable florals reminded of perhaps my most repugnant perfume of all time, Miracle by Lancôme), these perfumes exist, for me, despite their undeniable ‘niceness’, as almost passively aggressively ‘professional’, libido-less, officious and ‘amenable’ scents —–  you know, at least on the surface, that they can do ‘no wrong’ ; infallible:    the blinding white of the photocopier ……………………….the enemy: the people who hide behind facades, keep up appearances – – – –   – – and reveal absolutely nothing.





1957, quite an insistent scent, intricately balanced in its genderless, clean, very affable manner,  belongs very much to a recent trend of the major fragrance houses promoting dull, unaccusable perfumes – and feel free to argue with this if you think I am going too far with this – actual NEGATION.





In Japan, as sexual desire , according to researchers, is gradually dying ( more and more people choose to become single; lifetime virginity is the norm for a quarter of the population; sex is considered ‘troublesome’; most marriages after childbirth are celibate ; cyber alternatives are often preferable),  and assertion, quite rightly in some regards, becomes taboo, perfumes like 1957 somehow compound this feeling of wanting to be just bland and anonymous; to blend in but be accepted; liked; but not to dare to express any kind of quirks or odd facets of individuality, god forbid feral longings  ( I remember once,  in an office I worked at, a woman in her fifties, who was having an affair with a younger male colleague , wore Rochas Mystere, and Christ did she smell sultry: it was like wearing the adultery in the air, perturbing; slightly dirty, but earthy, enigmatic, magnetic, troubling, NAUGHTY – and utterly amazing and memorable ) – and she had got it just right. She didn’t reek of it: it was only when you moved in close that you were ensnared ( and presumably one of the very reasons that he had fallen for her in the first place ).






Yes, there is a place for ‘pleasant’ fragrances : I have psychologically imbibed enough of the powerfully repressive work culture of my own immediate office environment to realize this intuitively, and dutifully also hypocritically opt for this route myself (recently I have been combining an appropriately green and very ‘shower fresh’ Japanese shampoo with a touch of the original Envy by Gucci for a clean and boring sillage ); but ultimately, perhaps for unprocessed and unresolved personal issues, I find the almost AGGRESSIVE, unrelenting pleasantness of a dense and opaque citrus musk perfume like 1957, despite its excellent technical olfactory precision, but BECAUSE of its indefatigably fake, polite smile –  almost offensive –  – you might even say damaging –  –   –  to my spirit.









Filed under Flowers, for those who need to hide, Musk

47 responses to “THE ANODYNE ANONYMITY :::: :::: ‘LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL’ 1957 (2019)

  1. I realise this review is rather intense!

  2. rprichpot

    Really fascinating post!

  3. Nancysg

    I keep wanting to love one of the Chanel Exclusifs, but have yet to find one that warrants me pulling out the credit card for it. Guess I am more of a Dior person. I find their exclusive line interesting by and large. And am lucky enough to have a bottle of Mitzah.

    • I myself have never fallen for a Dior exclusive ( though I have not smelled some of the recent ones ); they are a bit ‘oily’ and overdone, somehow. I know Mitzah is held in high regard though.

  4. Persolaise

    Errr… trying once again to leave a comment… except that I now can’t remember what I said…

    I completely agree that this style of ‘pleasantness’ is to be derided, because in perfumery terms, it’s essentially the same as cowardice, and that’s not a quality I admire in fragrances or in fragrance houses.

    And yes, I find it offensive too, because it doesn’t treat its audience with the intelligence they deserve.

    • This is probably I wanted to say, about not treating the audience with the intelligence they deserve. And you WOULD feel slightly thick wearing this, I reckon

    • Amy

      I loved watching you fight with this one on your last Love at First Scent!

      • He is so fair in that I think it is brilliant. His WIFE wears it, FFS. But his unimpressed heart can not be hidden.

        Strangely, at first, when I heard citruses vetiver and musk I was actually going to ask Dariush if I could have the bottle if nobody else wanted it, because I can do white musks for work in small doses – but the reality of the perfume when I smelled it actually made me angry.

        It’s that SANDING DOWN OF ALL ROUGH EDGES aspect that drives me crazy. It feels like censorship, lobotomy, or sterilization

        – or AGAIN ::, DO I GO TOO FAR ?

      • Persolaise

        Okay, for some reason I need to submit my comments twice, so here goes again…

        Ha! Thanks very much 😊 And yes, ‘fight’ may well be the right word. Struggling to bridge the gap between what it is and what I so wanted it to be.

      • Persolaise

        Neil, I don’t think you go too far at all.

        But I shouldn’t have said that Madame Persolaise ‘wears’ it. She’s just worn it once or twice.

        Having said all of this, I am now going to make a contribution to the discussion that’ll shove a spanner in the proverbial:

        I think the scent is much more interesting on skin than on paper.

        Mind you, I suspect ‘pleasantly clean’ was the intention all along, if this was overtly intended for the North American market. I believe Chance had a similar remit, and was based on the idea (??!) that Europeans have a shower after making love whereas Americans shower first.

        Probably a load of nonsense, but it makes a nice marketing anecdote.

      • True, and I WAS aware that La Persolasina has only been testing it, not ‘wears’ in the every day sense and yet I was fascinated by the idea of that scent hanging in the air of your house…

        In truth, NO perfume should be judged merely from paper, though, so my review is, in some ways, unfair .

      • Persolaise

        Oh, it goes without saying that the ultimate ‘canvas’ must be skin (although some scents are actually more interesting on paper and fabric) but this one seems to display an especially wide divide between the two ‘media’. Maybe the citrus notes were more prominent on skin, which just ‘lifted’ the whole, somehow.

        But note: I am not saying it suddenly becomes a masterpiece just when a few drops land on your wrist.

      • Persolaise

        Well, it doesn’t 😂

  5. You nailed how I felt about this when I smelled it on paper only. Perhaps I will like it better if I gave it a chance on skin…

  6. Phyllis Ann Iervello

    Your review was riveting! I have not tried this one but am familiar with the older EDT’s in the Exclusif line and have had some of the same feelings but could not figure out why. Your review and some of the comments gave me the answer.

    • I was actually a bit embarrassed after posting this review as I actually have a bottle of Flower by Kenzo and have very nearly considered wearing Infusion D ‘Iris as well ( meaning I am also my own enemy, which is probably true ).

      Still, what I was trying to say with the comparison to Mystere was the sheer EFFECT of how perfume can come across is being eroded into these placid, docile, conformist blends that I personally think would horrify Gabrielle Chanel.

  7. Mrs Holly Cranmer

    Oh the bland, boring perfumes – suitable for the office so that no one is offended, but realises that you are wearing something.that has a nondescript smell. There are many culprits Bamboo by Gucci, Carat by Cartier, the new Joy. These joyless perfumes tell the office world that you have cash to buy the perfume, and it’s an upmarket brand. It’s all about the labels nevermind what it actually smells like.

  8. Hee hee, you make it sound like the fragrance of the Stepford Wives: I’ll stick with No. 22, thanks.

  9. Katy McReynolds

    I was able to smell the Chanel Exclusives several years ago. I really like Sycomore and Coromandel but then they relabeled and reforumulated and now I just do not care anymore. I love me some Chanel No.5 and No.19 in all their iterations and Chanel Pour Monsieur. I wear all of these with great pleasure and do not feel the need to contribute to the dumbing down of a once great line.

    • Pour Monsieur !

      So lovely.

      It is strange what you say here though because I thought the opposite about the quality of the current Exclusifs. Then again, without trying them on skin I don’t know what they might end up like

      • Katy McReynolds

        You are certainly correct but I had an impression of them that is now changed so would I love the new and improved as much as I loved the past and arguably less good formula? It is too much to even contemplate because I cannot get samples anymore, thanks Chanel, and the nearest Chanel boutique is several hours away in Northern Virginia…..

      • For sample stress you should try Japan. The idiom involving blood and stones hardly begins to cover it. Even if you BUY a really expensive bottle, you are hard pressed to get a sample, and even then, only one. It galls me no end, I can tell you.

  10. Tara C

    I am not a Chanel person, I dislike several and am indifferent to most of them. 1957 sounds particularly bloodless and boring. If I were standing in front of a tester I would sniff it, but I can tell you categorically I am not the intended audience and could never see myself wearing it. Hand me the Rochas Mystère.

  11. Amy

    Haven’t tried this one and in no rush. It’s hard to see the point. When I wear a Chanel perfume I want it to be *imposing.* That’s what I wear them for, to set the mood when I need to be that person at at the meeting getting shit done – and not letting anyone else get away with nonsense. I wish I liked one of he Dior exclusives, because I love the bottles, but they all go flat and headachy on me.

    By the way, I am very much looking forward to your book.

  12. Lady Murasaki

    This reminded me why I was always wary of the obsession people have here with Jo Malone, especially English Pear & Freesia. Brazil is a perfume loving country, but the profile of the people who praise this scent in special is that kind of people who are clearly trying to emulate some idea of the upper class, American bourgeoisie, and dissociate themselves of ”lesser” people who enjoy cotton candy fragrances or bombs like the Mugler creations. They always will say something about how clean it is, how it smells like ‘rich women’, how inoffensive it is, how it isn’t an ”old lady perfume”, and obviously, how expensive it is and how this is so important (”It makes it exclusive!”). I can only think of Serena Joy with a perfect white smile and a very blonde crown of hair wearing it.

    The facade image you mention really applies to this one for me, specially the libido-less part. The only reason I can think someone would choose something who uses pear and freesia as the main theme is to cover up a deep inner coldness with a bright, pleasant smell.

    • That last line speaks volumes.

      My impression of 57 was more of a drab, inner warmth

      but now this post is getting SERIOUSLY negative and bitchy…..WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME……. IT MUST BE THAT POINT IN THE TERM

  13. OnWingsofSaffron

    I spritzed 1957 the other day, and wasn’t thrilled.
    If I think of a different genre, opera, and think of when listening to a new CD on the market. Every now and then, say one out of 20 or 30 CDs, there is a moment, a run, a trill, the timbre sizzling, a cri de cœur when you have this visceral gut-feeling. When it really hits you, and you wail/shout orgiastically yeees!, then you know you’ve hit gold.
    Back to my 1957 spritz: the result was a matter-of-fact sniff of my wrist which I had drenched, a “hmm, okay, not bad, now let’s see what happens?” Analytical, emotionless, appreciative.
    By the way, there are Chanel exclusifs which I do like: I snatched a mega bottle of N° 18 on ebay and am enthralled; I have the two La Pausa’s (edt/edp) which I adore; and I have some vintage N° 22 for that special N° 22 moment.
    So, all in all I don’t think my critique would amount to bitchiness: it is exactly what I felt when smelling 1957.

  14. OnWingsofSaffron

    Rather weird, considering it’s Chanel and not some high end Comme des Garçons! It starts off like a shot of grappa with a slice of chilled pear. Somewhere I read it is somewhat “Scandinavian”. Or perhaps Bauhaus? This is Chanel sans frills and pearls. Then there is a carroty smell, and lots of vegetal scents, probably the ambrette seed, I don’t get the rose others smell. It is clear and pristine. Could be a bottle of eau de vie made with Alpine herbs.

  15. Robin

    Hmm. Generally, I enjoy wearing vintage Mystere, et al, but I appreciate the Exclusifs and wear them a good deal. I’m partial to 31 Rue Cambon edt, Coromandel edp and either version of Gardenia and Beige. I loved the original Sycomore and 28 La Pausa but liked the replacement edps less.

    Just tried 1957 on Tuesday. I think your review makes great reading (as usual) and understand exactly your criticism in theory. In practice, I can’t agree. I fell in love immediately. It just felt right, legible, perfectly detailed technically and not at all dumbed-down. It is unique, despite its lack of challenging or original notes; I would recognize it immediately if I smelled it “in the wild.” The floral iris note is outstanding. It’s hyper-realistic on one hand and highly stylized on the other. It makes no sense that Polge would try to make a new Exclusif that was lobotomized. Not at $240/75ml. Chanel has a lower tier for that. So . . . Maybe I do think you are being unfair.

  16. This fragrance was so typically “American girl next door” I couldn’t stand it. It is clean, it is polite, it is fresh, it is downright boring and so terribly uninspiring I could hardly wait to be home in the shower.
    I could hardly wait to put something interesting on apres bain. I went for one of my heavier vintage potions, just to rid myself of that insipidness that was 1957.
    I usually am fond of most of the Chanel Les Exclusifs, but this one, not in a million years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s