During London Fashion Week back in September I was lucky enough to attend a workshop at Chanel’s pop up store on Bond Street, called Espace Gabrielle Chanel. The workshop and pop up store was to celebrate the label’s first new perfume for 15 years, Gabrielle. There was a lot of hype building around Chanel’s new Gabrielle fragrance so I was really excited to see what Olivier Polge, Chanel’s in-house master perfumer had created. This is Oliviers first creation for Chanel, however he has worked on several new fragrance variations since taking over from his father Jacques Polges in 2013, including Chanel Eau Tendre and last year’s bestselling No5 L’Eau. Gabrielle, will be the first perfume he’s created from scratch.
As I entered the pop up store, I was hit with a light fresh fragrance with warm floral hints, a fragrance that I hadn’t smelt before, it was Gabrielle! Before I was whisked upstairs to the second floor of the pop up Chanel boutique to the workshop, I explored the ground floor, which gave hints of the new fragrances inspirations, the process of making the new scent, and hints of the notes within the fragrance. In a space that contained white walls, mirrors and many promotional quotes and videos, I found myself mesmerised and empowered by the new fragrance, and it’s humble beginnings.
Glass screen art installations featured white flowers contained in the fragrance, while the white walls and floor contained powerful sayings and quotes. A beautiful mirrored walkway took us to a small cinema, which showcased the fragrances promotional video on repeat starring Kristen Stewart. Littered around the store were large soft champagne-gold coloured bottles of Gabrielle, standing proudly yet understated. After wondering around the store, I was ushered by staff into a small commercial life to the first floor, and seated at a large white table.
Here is where myself, and many other intrigued guests were taken on a journey of discovery. We discovered that at the heart of this fragrance was Gabrielle Chanel, the women before she became the powerful legend we call Coco Chanel, or Mademoiselle Chanel. The woman before Chanel No5, the fame and fortune.
Before creating the House of Chanel, Coco was Gabrielle. She was a rebel at heart, passionate and free. The inspiration behind Gabrielle, the luminous new floral fragrance is Gabrielle Chanel herself, the girl before the woman. Olivier Polge crafted this eau de parfum as an ‘imaginary flower’, a radiant and sparkling, purely feminine ‘Chanel blossom’ based on a bouquet of four white flowers. A rich, enveloping heart of exotic jasmine shimmers with the fruity green notes of ylang-ylang, while fresh and sparkling orange blossom shines through, offering a glimpse of Grasse tuberose captured at its finest.
The new bottle and packaging, which took five years to be made (which is ridiculous!) were designed by Sylvie Legastelois, head of packaging and graphic design creation. She wanted it to be jewel-like yet simple and in line with the classic bottles of the house. The square bottle is colored in a soft golden shade that transmits the light, as a symbol of the sunny character of the fragrance. It was lovely, but nothing special, and for all the hype, I just expected more! The fragrance made from four white flowers: orange blossom, ylang-ylang, jasmine and Grasse tuberose, Olivier Polge crafted the dream flower. The only flower that could embody the unrestrained femininity of Gabrielle Chanel herself. As I sat spritzing the delicate fragrance around me I was surprised, that Chanel the brand, known for its heady, strong and powerful scents had created something completely different. It was light, fresh, and pleasant. Nothing new and exciting in my eyes, no avant grade notes, or complicated formulations, which is perfect if you look at the innocence of the inspiration, yet it was unusual for a Chanel fragrance. Did I love it? Well, no, I do really like the scent, but I wasn’t blown away. It was just pleasant, what else can I say? It’s a fresh floral, nice, comforting, innocent, and simply pleasant fragrance. It will certainly be on my Christmas list due to the lovely scent, but it did surprise me for being so simple. For such a lot of hype, I expected more, but was satisfied with the fragrance presented. To summarise in one word? Pleasant.
Gabrielle Chanel available in 50ml at £79 & 100ml priced at £112. Now available nationwide.