As a teenager, I was tightly wound: aloof, careful, “tart” (but certainly not a tart!) My parents were always telling me to loosen up — “Get a tan!” “Go on a date!” “Learn to dance!” I remember the night my attitudes about myself started to shift. I had just turned 18 and was preparing to go to school at night for a yearbook meeting (where my “tart” comments were always expunged from photo captions of fellow students). On that spring evening (what got into me?) I did several things out of character: I wore jeans, I put on a tight white sweater (without a t-shirt underneath, risqué!), I used gel in my hair…and I wore perfume — Chanel Pour Monsieur. Back in those days, there were no “makeover” shows on TV, but the reactions I got to the “new” me were very What Not to Wear — post-consultation. Several friends stared at me as if I were an alien. I got compliments. I began to understand the “power” of appearances.
Swirling around this incident were feelings of freedom ahead. In several months, I’d head off to college in New York City. I could start living the way I wanted to live. I was about to begin my exploration of the world. When I wear Chanel Pour Monsieur, I always remember that night, and I associate the perfume with youth, spring, hope, and transformation.
Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette
“Original” (1955) Chanel Pour Monsieur was created by perfumer Henri Robert. The Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette formula lists notes of bergamot, lemon, petitgrain, mandarin, neroli, cardamom, “Cyprus accord” (oak moss, patchouli, labdanum), cedar, vetiver, musk and vanilla.
Pour Monsieur begins with lovely, warm, rich citrus aromas, especially bergamot, blending with cardamom. Quickly, I detect clean moss and slightly bitter/powdery labdanum notes that lead straight to sweet, vanilla-accented cedar and lightest musk. Pour Monsieur is a well-blended perfume; its transitions are streamlined. Pour Monsieur is not a showy fragrance; it smells “classic” and expertly crafted (with fine ingredients). After all the years I’ve worn it, Pour Monsieur still smells “new” and vibrant. Pour Monsieur is the perfume equivalent of a wardrobe staple (a black sweater, for instance) that’s made with such care, such beautiful tailoring and wonderful materials, it transcends its genre and is special, not mundane. Better still, though it was released in 1955, Pour Monsieur doesn’t smell at all like an “old guy” fragrance; it smells ‘ageless.’
Chanel claims that Pour Monsieur’s formula has not changed since its launch. (Doubtful, I know.) I remember my ‘high school’ Pour Monsieur smelling stronger than it does today, with more moss, but its character has not changed dramatically. (I bought a vintage sample of Pour Monsieur to back up my memory.) Pour Monsieur has never had great sillage or all-day lasting power (I like its quiet nature) so a “concentrated” formulation was made: Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée.
Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée
Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée was released in 1988 and was developed by perfumer Jacques Polge. Pour Monsieur Concentrée has notes of lavender, petitgrain, mandarin, cardamom, nutmeg, oak moss, opoponax, vetiver and vanilla.
Pour Monsieur Concentrée is a sweet, linear perfume. The notes that “pop” out are “bright” citrus, cardamom and nutmeg with the slightest hint of lavender leaf; moss and opoponax are in hiding. Pour Monsieur Concentrée veers dangerously close to sport-scent territory. Compared to Pour Monsieur, Pour Monsieur Concentrée is simpler, sweeter, and has less character. Don’t think of Pour Monsieur Concentrée as a stronger version of Pour Monsieur; it’s more like a flanker (with a ghost of its parent floating in the bottle).
Aromas attach themselves to experiences, so the start of my youthful reinvention is linked to a 56-year-old cologne. Pour Monsieur (and I) lucked out. Pour Monsieur got a loyal customer, and I got a great-smelling cologne to mark a memorable moment in my life.
Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette is available in 50 and 100 ml. For sale on Chanel’s European and Canadian websites, I never see Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette for sale in the U.S. (though the image of the slim Eau de Toilette bottle – with green-tinged juice -- is often used to advertise the perfume online). Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée is (widely) available in 75 ml ($65). If you plan to buy these perfumes (samples or full bottles) online — be careful; Pour Monsieur Concentrée is almost always sold as “Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette” (no “concentrée” mentioned).
Note: top image is Pierrot Lunaire by Paul Klee via Wikimedia Commons.
Loved, loved, loved your descriptions of the memory you associate with Pour Monsieur! Great reviews, thanks, Kevin!
Thank you…and you’re welcome!
I agree with Jill: what a wonderful scent association.
I like Pour Monsieur. To me, it’s a straight up, good old-fashioned chypre (a blast of bergamot on top, moss in the drydown) vaguely reminiscent of Mitsouko. I’d be happy to smell it on any man but – just like other classic masculines such as Habit Rouge or Eau Sauvage – I think it could be worn by a woman quite easily too.
I’ve never tried Concentrée because I never noticed it at any counters and I’m not sure if it’s even available in Europe.
Yes, I have a acquired a few samples of Pour Monsieur over the past year, and I think it’s entirely wearable!
Marjorie Rose: did you get “original” or Concentree?
Well, now I can’t be sure! I don’t remember it saying “concentree” on the bottles, but since it was a local Nordies, does that mean that’s what it was?
MR: Nordstrom doesn’t carry “original” PM now…only concentree.
Abyss: funny how Concentree has become the US version and the original hangs on in Europe/Canada, the rest of the world.
Hi Kevin, my husband and I bought this fragrance because of your review an we both love it. We tested both the edt, and the concontree, but decided on he regular edt. Thank you so,much for a great review
kevin, do you recall chanel “for men”? a different beast altogether than the pour monsieur they tried to sell me in the eighties. thoughts?
Stellaglo: Pour Monsieur was sold as Chanel for Men way back in time in the US…then everyone got Chanel Pour Monsieur
I have seen and bought both at Madrid duty free. I prefer the regular to the concentree, as Kevin pointed the latter is not a higher concetration but a flanker, in my opinion more old fashion than the smooth Original one
Racine: I’ll check duty free the next time I travel…need a new bottle!
Mine it’s almost half way gone, so I guess it will need replacement by the end of summer!
Bu the way, love your story of black duck turned into white swan, I guess We all have that experience at some point during our teen years.
Thanks for a fine review. During my pretty recent fragrance awakening, PM was the first fragrance I sampled that elicited in me a response of simple and instantaneous pleasure. I didn’t have to think. I spent not one second wondering, “is it good?” It was unmediated enjoyment. That feeling was a minor revelation and has become a kind of benchmark for me. I buy PM in decants from TPC and enjoy it. I realize that, next time I’m fortunate enough to go to Europe, I need to buy a bottle.
(Some of my other “pure enjoyment” frags are also older: Caron Pour un Homme, Yatagan, PdN New York)
Donnie: those are pretty good choices for a “novice!”
influenced by expert critics such as yourself, so thanks. I could not possibly have found my way in so far so fast otherwise.
and furthermore, although Turin-Sanchez’s blurb about Yatagan kind of put me off, I’m pretty sure it was you who wrote the piece on NST that got me to try it (or was it Erin? You both seem to be Caron fans.)
Donnie: I wrote the Yatagan review but Erin may have praised it too…glad you like it.
I’m sorry, Kevin! When I read “with a ghost of its parent floating in the bottle,” I got a very gruesome image in my mind! Like the animated corpses guarding Voldemort’s horcrux in the cave. . .just about to grab you! (Or for a more classic reference, the bodies of the fallen warriors in the swamps near Mordor in The Return of the King!–sorry to geek out on you!)
Marjorie Rose: HA! This ghost is less lurid…perhaps a nicely coiffed ghost in an YSL suit?
Kevin: I love PM edt. I always thought of it as a more wearer friendly No 19, which, in it’s original form has that tremendous sharp leathery/vetiver in the base. PM always seemed so mellow in comparison. I wish I had bought some years ago when it was easier to find. I only see the concentree, which is still ok, but not $FBW for me. Thanks for the nice review. Chanel Coco was my just gone to college “breaking out” scent, and I recall all those feelings as well.
Anns: do as I do…keep track of your friends’ travels too and BEG for perfumes (most people don’t mind shopping for it if they know what to buy) I”m lucky…I’m near Canada so can get PM pretty easily.
Good tip. I wish I knew someone traveling somewhere not in the USA. My husband and I keep threatening to take a small trip to Toronto or Quebec City….
Oh, AnnS, do go to Toronto – you’ll have Holt Renfrew, Guerlain, and Noor within blocks of each other…
Anns: I vote for Montreal/Quebec City!
After such enthusiastic comments, my mind is made up: I’ll have to visit both!!
I also vote for Montreal. It’s about an 1.5 hrs from my hometown, Ottawa.
The Guerlin Insitute is a favorite..most helpful staff EVER! the also have every Guerlin still in production.
Ogilvies has a L’artisan counter with the full range, and Serge Lutens.
They also have the Chanel Pour Monsieur original plus Egoiste.
Holt Renfrew has the Chanel Exclusifs (Cuir de Russie, Coromadel etc), plus Montreal is a great City to visit. When I need to smell hard to find stuff….that’s where I go. Worth the trip!!
Yes, Montreal is great. The bay has all kinds of lines, and holt Renfrew as well. And then the Guerlain Institute. Look up the address, as it’s tucked away up in Westmount. They have EVERYTHING!!
And they will give you amples. And the store staff are very knowledgeable and nice!!!
I’ve been using pour monsieur for at least thirty years (I’m 72) and every time I put it on I’m flooded with memories…the power of scent.
I cannot wear the concentree, it’s totally unrelated to the other.
the same with monsieur de givenchy (wearing that for 50 years)
the concentree is unwearable,for me.
the original chanel gardenia was something I bought for my wife
right after we were married (45 years).it was then discontinued
and reissued ,I believe,in 1980.We ran to the chanel store to get it
and discovered that it just wasn’t the same. It had changed. when we took it back to chanel,they agreed and so we exchanged it for chanel 5 ,which continues to be my wife’s favorite along with norell.
she desperately misses Caron’s Farouche. anyone know where
we can get it?
I think Farouche may be Nina Ricci? It is discontinued. You might be able to find some on ebay.
Clearly you and your wife have excellent taste!
Arvin/Mals: …and are incredibly loyal!
Farouche is Nina Ricci, and it’s very gorgeous! I have about 2 mls of it, and I treasure (eg, rarely wear) it. I used to see bottles of the parfum (very $$$) on some website last year. Good luck!
Thanks for the reviews Kevin. I’ve been on the point of buying minis or decants of these and did assume that the Concentree would just be a denser version of the original. I think I’ll avoid the Concentree now. (And, as we know, the EDP of Chanel No 5 is significantly different to the much older EDT. Same perfumer (Polge) , same era (1980s).)
I’m curious though: where did you get that Pour Monsieur that first night you wore it? Was it yuor father’s?
AnneMarie: Yes, my father’s…given to him by yours truly.
A good story all around.
Agreed. And I’m going to have to try Pour Monsieur!
Wonderful story, Kevin – so glad you chose the perfect scent for emerging from your cocoon! Must include a sample in my next TPC order.
Noz: make SURE it’s EdT, not EdT Concentree…you may want to ask before purchasing.
TPC’s description sounds right for EDT (originated 1955 and so forth) and they usually seem very fastidious in their differentiation of fragrances. For example, when I ordered AdP Profumo they specified it was the reissue, I guess so I wouldn’t think I was getting vintage. And I am pretty sure their decant, which I’m wearing this morning, is not the same as the Concentree, but I haven’t sniffed the Concentree for a year or more.
Thanks, Donnie and Kevin!
I tried the original in a store here in Canada last year, and my overall impression was of bracing lemon and talcum powder. Very clean (yet not “fresh”) and elegant, with silky-smooth development and excellent lasting power, but missing a little something. Your review makes me want to retry it with my newfound appreciation for quieter, more “dignified” scents (I was all about blaring orientals in the early stages of my perfumista-hood).
I’m mystified by PM’s status in the U.S. as a rarity – does the Concentrée sell that much better and appeal to that many more American noses? Really? Have they stopped carrying the original Égoïste in favor of Égoïste Platinum for the same reason? Baffling.
Subhuman: it IS strange…I see Concentree EVERYWHERE…so it must sell…and Egoiste is rare here.
Oh my gosh!! I had no idea I’ve had a bottle of the concentree sitting in my collection all this time! I didn’t even see the word down there hiding underneath the EdT!! Crap!! I used to think I knew what PM smelled like, but now I realize I’ve been deceived all this time! Those sneaky Chanel people….
Jared: you’re not alone…I bet lots of men think they are wearing PM EdT when they have Concentree instead
Years ago ı was smelling a hint of cherry or prune note on the classic Pour Monsieur. As the ingredients change according new UE directions or because of the price of the raw material they change the smell .
Thanks for this review of great classics! Could you review the original Armani Pour Homme sometime? I love it!
VMF: I have a long line of classics to get to…will add the Armani to the list.
A lovely review, Kevin! Thanks.
Thank you for a wonderful review Kevin, as usual.
You can buy the “Original” at The Bay, a large Canadian department store across the country, Also at Ogilvies, which may only be in Montreal now. ( I don’t work for either of those stores btw)
Me and Hubby just bought some original last night at “The Bay” in Ottawa. it’s gorgeous stuff.
I asked the Sales Associate at our Chanel Counter what the difference was between the “tall” bottle and the “squat” bottle, as both say “eau de toilette” the concentree is really in such small print that I did not even see it, as you had pointed out.
The sales associate said they are really two very different scents…and she preferred the original.
peony63: Oh, good. Glad you found it and love it!
I have and enjoy both. I agree – the original is the better fragrance (and obviously 5 star). But as others mention, you have to order it from Europe if you live in the U.S.
Thing is…the Concentree isn’t so bad. If more people wore Concentree instead of bathing themselves in Luna Rossa or Light Blue, we’d all be breathing better air.