As its name suggests, Cristalle is diamond-cut and delicate: a crisp, pretty, and very Parisian floral chypre of slightly cold-hearted mien that lends the perfume a distancing, enigmatic quality – at once a citrus-galbanum, sherbety hycanthine jasmine freshness (all the joys of spring), and yet a darker, more pensive tension lying beneath this crystalline veneer in the vetiver oakmoss base that lines the high heeled assertions with a more gossamer vein of depressive melancholy.
An eau de parfum, a clever retweaking by Jacques Polge to update and bring the (at the time) somewhat obscure Chanel scent more attention, was introduced in 1993 that overlayed the essential character of classical Cristalle with a fuller, revitalized, fruitier beginning (a more pronounced peach, ylang and mandarin note in particular), but this robust, sharper remake was also rather gorgeous, if a little shrill in comparison to the more demure and refined reach of the eau de toilette. Whichever you feel more affinity with, Cristalle always creates a pleasing impression whenever its pointed, yet ethereal, chic gravitates about a woman in a room.
I have always loved Cristalle. To me it is a very beautiful perfume that speaks , almost too self-seriously, in some ways, of rather received ideas on understatement and elegance, of femininity, and of taste – its sillage trailing behind you like a bright new morning of endless possibility (if you were born to the right class, that is): a cool, light-grey silk scarf from Galeries Lafayette, removed from its paper box: tied effortlessly, irreproachably.