N°19 Eau de Toilette (Chanel)

Although it has unfairly been called a "bitchy" fragrance for cold, "wire mother" types, N°19 EDT has proven time and again that it is in fact a friendly floral-green composition, full of softened edges. I've yet to wear the EDP and parfum extrait, so I can't comment on those, and they very well could be meaner than the EDT. But true to its advertising, I find the lower concentration of 19 to be full of spring colors and smiles. Compared to its snarling Panther sister, Jacomo Silences, it's just a frisky little kitty in a dewey glen.

The main difference between this Chanel and Silences rests in the uses of citrus and galbanum. N°19 opens with fresh bergamot and iris, commendably the same Biolandes synthetic and orris tincture found in the pricier Les Exclusifs, with its velvety, truffle-like aspect carefully balancing a few drops of gin-dry fruit. Galbanum and oakmoss are present, but noticeably muted, lending just enough bitterness to last into the far drydown. Pale shades of rose, hyacinth, and muguet bring sweetness and warmth to the heart, which rests on a simple base of vetiver and musk.

N°19 is very green and cool, but it lacks Silence's eeriness. Jacomo's interpretation of the green theme begins with an intense, almost overwhelming cloud of grey galbanum, with no bergamot, or any discernible citrus to speak of. If you squint, you can just barely catch the same dessicated edging of woody citrus found in fragrances like Grey Flannel and Polo, but it remains lost behind that incredibly bitter top note. Eventually iris and hyacinth push their petals through the haze, and Jacomo's very different approach to iris becomes obvious; Chanel consistently renders a "true" iris, while Jacomo, perhaps due to budget constraints, opts for an abstract, powdery-grey gauze. In conjunction with crisp hyacinth, muguet, and rose on a near-identical base of vetiver, oakmoss, and musk, Silences is but an angrier N°19. I must say, I prefer it to 19, for that reason alone.

Nevertheless, 19 smells terrific and is notably quieter than Silences, which may make it easier to wear. The great thing about these green florals (I'd call them green-floral chypres, but purists would howl about the absence of labdanum) is their ability to usurp fresh ozonics and sports aquatics while maintaining an air of discreet sophistication. They're aloof and unsavory, dry enough for men to pull off without feeling self-conscious, and fresh enough for the dead heat of summer. There's really no excuse to wear Polo Blue or Chrome, not while these are still being made. And it saddens me that today's woman reaches for the sweets instead of these classy sours, as the many Angel flankers and "body mists" found in malls far outnumber classical chypres.

How can I impart to women of the twenty-first century that they're sexier in iris and vetiver than cassis and ethyl maltol? Hard to say, but I can tell them here and now that N°19 is Lady Brett Ashley in a bottle, so go read your Hemingway, travel the world, and figure yourself out. I'll be here when you get back.


  1. If we can modify your last sentence to "read your Fitzgerald, travel the world, and enjoy having figured yourself out enough to not be particularly concerned about figuring yourself out further" then I am already on board with this, and wearing No. 19, too. Can I pat myself on the back?! :)

    1. prefer Fitz to Ernie do we? well fair enough! and you wear No.19? good lass!

  2. What can I say? It's a matter of loyalty, and Ernie was an arse to Fitz, without having half his talent. I've never forgiven him for A Moveable Feast. But I digress. :)

    1. Ooh, disagree, Hemingway was groundbreaking, both stylistically and substantively - Fitz was equally great, but to me not as inspiring. A Moveable Feast is semi autobiographical, what did you dislike there? I always felt The Sun Also Rises was one of the greatest works of literature under said sun.

  3. So Silences also been "reformulated" ... Chanel 19 has been taken, has become cheaper components and not on price, which is worse. Silences Too bad I wanted to try but I'm to find out which is the vintage.
    What you mention perfumes for women is a reality now only seeks smell nice and sweet things, like tiny girls, Chanel Mademoiselle or E Saab are examples of that theory, and over expensive.
    I also love the space you spend Puig signature, as I knew Spanish very badly the heir sold to Puig and Myrurgia now goes from "nose" and niche and all you want "Ramon Monegal"
    Like Alvarez Gomez? colognes were ever in Spain, then there was a good perfume .. Guerlain or Caron Grandma's but with floated colognes heat in Spain.
    One need only look at perfume sales in Spain see fresh fragrances
    clasic as Eau de Rochas, Adolfo Dominguez, DyG light Blue ... I think what I did not know Mr. Puig is to give their best material and classical compositions packaging change, because really wisely saw that the working class was the one who used them and did not want to scare them. I remember an awful smell "male dandy" was the representative of the years of dictatorship in Spain, the male scent.

  4. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how the classic No 19 compares with the new No 19 Poudre and which you feel is superior. Add it to your list, would you? Thanks.


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