I was not excited when I heard Chanel's latest addition to the Les Exclusifs collection, Jersey, featured lavender. It is not a favorite note of mine, although I love Guerlain Jicky, and oddly enough, also the first fragrance I thought of when I smelled Jersey, Brin de Réglisse. Like Jersey, Brin de Réglisse is a niche-from-a-mainstream-house sort of thing, in this case from Hermès, and the reason I thought of Brin de Réglisse right away is not because they smell alike, although I suppose perhaps they are the distant-est of distant cousins. No, I thought of it because of the lavender note in Brin de Réglisse, which as you may remember, was a molecular fraction (is that the term? I don't know the term, and admit I am not very concerned about it either way). I'll repeat a quote I used then:
[Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena] asked them to slice natural lavender into 50 distinct groups of molecules, sniffed them all, discarded five and reassembled it. “My lavender had a much purer, cleaner smell,” he says, comparing it with the natural scent. “Then I had to find something to dress it up that would be a little unusual. I chose a touch of licorice.” (via Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2007)
As near as I can tell, they do something similar (presumably using cheaper methods) with many fragrances notes, which is why notes you used to hate — patchouli! — don't bother you anymore, and why smelling materials in their natural state is no longer necessarily helpful to the budding perfumista. But back to the case in point: I only bring all this up because what I imagine they did for Jersey (and of course, it goes without saying that I have no idea what they really did) is that perfumer Jacques Polge over at Chanel had his lab people slice natural lavender into 50 distinct groups of molecules, and then discard 10, so that it was even cleaner still, and reassemble it. And then he decided he liked it pretty much as it was, and so he just added a very pale and sheer vanilla (laundry) musk. And voilà! it was done.
Does that sound good to you? If so, you'll probably like it, and you should go smell it. It does not smell so happy to me, in fact, it smells like a not very wonderful household product of some sort, vaguely scented with lavender. The Non-Blonde suggests Downy® Simple Pleasures® Lavender Serenity Liquid fabric softener, but I'm afraid she is being too kind. With the usual apologies to any fans (and I have seen nice comments, so there are most certainly people who like it) it is easily my least favorite of the Les Exclusifs — and that is saying a lot, since I'd just as soon never smell Coromandel again, although for very different reasons.
Do tell us your favorite lavender product (of any kind) in the comments!
Chanel Jersey is available in 75 or 200 ml Eau de Toilette.