Chanel house nose Jacques Polge’s talent is most evident in Bleu de Chanel’s carefully rendered citrus top notes. Indeed, as long as they persist, Bleu de Chanel is a satisfying citrus composition anchored to a mild spiced wood foundation. While the citrus does endure for longer than it might have, it still leaves the stage to the woods and spices within an hour or two on the skin. From there on Bleu de Chanel’s arrangement of nutmeg, cedar, ginger, and pallid jasmine is innocuous at best, and certainly too timid to hold my interest in the absence of the citrus.
After Cartier’s Roadster, Guerlain Homme, Polo Double Black, Allure Homme Sport, et alia, peppercorns (pink or black) and mint threaten to become for the 21st century what Calone and ozonic notes were to the late 20th. Bleu de Chanel includes pepper (pink) and mint, both probable prerequisites of any commercial masculine release this year and next. Such ingredients-of-the-moment are meant to be hip, but more often leave a fragrance smelling dated the minute it hits the shelves. To Jacques Polge’s credit he avoids hackneyed aquatic notes despite Bleu’s hopelessly clichéd “clean, fresh” brief. Even better, he eschews the grating, over-amplified phony wood base notes that mar so many recent masculine drydowns, employing instead an understated blend of vetiver, cedar, and very clean, herbaceous patchouli. It’s utterly forgettable, but in the context of contemporary mainstream scents for men, that’s pretty good.
It’s a long time since Chanel brought out a masculine scent to stand beside Antaeus, Chanel pour Monsieur, and Égoïste, and Bleu is not that scent. Bleu de Chanel isn’t bad, and given a recent track record that includes Allure Homme, Allure Homme Sport, and Platinum Égoïste, (to call any of these “bad” would be generous,) that’s a step in the right direction.
Nose: Jacques Polge
Notes: pink peppercorn, citrus, peppermint, nutmeg, vetiver, grapefruit, cedar, labdanum, jasmine, incense, patchouli, ginger, sandalwood