Chanel is one of handful of perfume houses with a distinct perfume voice. Say “classic Chanel” to perfume lovers, and likely they envision a greyhound of a fragrance — aldehydic, elegant and restrained. If you’re a Chanel aficionado, you’ll likely love Chanel 1932, the latest fragrance in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. Really. Start saving up now. If you like your perfume big and dirty, 1932 is unlikely to convert you.
Jacques Polge, Chanel’s house perfumer, is credited with 1932. The Chanel website says “1932 evokes a dazzling array of diamond stars and comets. Created petal by petal, the soft, woody fragrance expresses an enveloping heart of White Jasmine.” The name commemorates the year Chanel first offered fine jewelry. Notes listed for the fragrance are jasmine, vetiver and iris.
Unlike gem-studded jewelry, which I think of as hard and cold, 1932 is tender as chiffon. Its initial neroli-iris burst whispers soft, airy aldehydes. The iris smells slightly pulpy, as if infused with violet petals. Iris quickly takes a backseat to rose and jasmine. 1932’s rose is a new summer rose, barely open. Its jasmine floats all around 1932, more a tingling aura than an olfactory spine.
1932’s heart feels spring-fresh. I also smell what I swear is a touch of apricot that reminds me of Parfums MDCI Promesse de l’Aube without the moss. This is not the juicy rose-plus-apricot of Lancôme Trésor, or even the more assertive iris-jasmine-peach-rose of Chanel 31 rue Cambon, but a subtle lactonic caress.
1932 stays tender right down to its last whiff, about four hours after the initial spritz on my skin. I still smell the barest hint of iris, and more sandalwood than vetiver greets my nose. The fragrance is quiet, and I can comfortably wear three or four sprays from a sample vial on one arm alone without messing with my enjoyment of dinner. For some people, 1932’s gentle wear will be a drawback. Who wants to spend over $50 an ounce for something that no one can smell unless they lean in? Other people will reach for 1932 whenever they want to dazzle quietly.
1932 is pretty. Beautiful, even. If you’re a wacky gal wanting to make a statement, if you plan to dance on tables or trot out that Thierry Mugler bustier you paid a bundle for on Etsy, pass up 1932 and dig in your perfume collection for something with more wit and presence. (Among Chanels, try the gender-bending Egoïste.) If you want something you can wear on romantic evenings, to christenings, or to PTA meetings, something your children will remember you by, consider 1932. You’ll smell like a wisp of heaven, easy and lovely, friendly yet irreproachable.
I bask in 1932’s charm and could smell it all day, but I doubt I’ll shell out for a bottle. 1932 wouldn’t sit well with my messy house fluffed with pet hair and littered with books. My hair could never be neat enough or lipstick straight enough or manner gracious enough to merit it. Maybe someday I’ll get there.
Chanel 1932 is part of Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. A 75 ml bottle of the Eau de Toilette is $130, and a 200 ml bottle is $230.