Perfume Directory

Cristalle Eau de Toilette (1974)
by Chanel


Cristalle Eau de Toilette information

Year of Launch1974
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 300 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerHenri Robert
Parent CompanyWertheimer

About Cristalle Eau de Toilette

A light and fresh scent with notes of rosewood, hyacinth and vetiver.
An Eau de Parfum version was launched in 1993, created by 258s.

Cristalle Eau de Toilette fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Cristalle Eau de Toilette

Perfumery, like fashion, is all about selling dreams, and Henri Robert captured the perfect mix of fantasy and naturalism in Cristalle.
It's abstract, but doesn't stray too far from garden motifs: flowers, leafy green stems, thorny woods.
Cristalle has its roots in Vent Vert, No19 (of course) and to some extent the masculinity of fougères; this is not a typical feminine.
In its turn, Cristalle left a sillage that rippled out far and wide, reaching works as varied as Chloé, Anaïs Anaïs and Silences, all of which use the key notes of galbanum and hyacinth.
You might have thought one formal green would be enough for Chanel, but three years after her demise they released this, which is effectively a flanker. But when it's this good, who's complaining?
Get the vintage amber juice if you can.
07th March, 2021 (last edited: 15th April, 2021)
Henri Robert's final act as second house perfumer for Chanel was to merge the green chypre genre he helped sharpen and redefine by making Chanel No. 19 (1971), with the emerging fruity floral genre that would slowly come to dominate women's perfume in the next decade. That's not to say Cristalle (1974) is all that fruity by modern standards, and is actually fairly sharp, dry, with that "pencil shavings" accord so common in feminine chypres anchored by cedar and/or pine in the base, being a sobering evolution of what fruity floral chypres like Fidji by Guy Laroche (1966) started by adding more green and aromatic tones. Jacomo Silences (1978) would push into this bitterness further, while downmarket dreamers like Avon Emprise (1976) would merge ideas present in Cristalle with heavier amounts of oakmoss and white florals, although the next logic leap wouldn't arrive until Calyx by Prescriptives (1987) showed up over a decade later. Cristalle differentiates itself further from most other green floral chypres not just by its fruity opening, but also the seriousness of its presentation, thanks to a cold finish devoid of musk or amber. Chanel No. 19 was more of a personal gift to Coco Chanel anyway, even if it was released publicly upon her death, so Cristalle would really mark the first major feminine perfume created explicitly for public consumption in the 1970's, and something of a swan song for Robert, who passed the torch to Givaudan alum and brief perfumer for YSL, Jacques Polge. Cristalle is also the only Chanel women's perfume still being sold in the iconic metal-rimmed 100ml "column bottle" that many Chanels came in during the 70's and 80's (including masculines).

Cristalle is a very fitting name for this fragrance, which uses juicy citrus and sharp galbanum to introduce hedionic florals on a crisp woods/moss base. Cristalle is a simple and elegant creation, personifying the "liberated women" aesthetic Coco started with her fashion sense before WWII and reignited in the 50's after dubious involvement with German occupiers. Bergamot, Sicilian lemon, and galbanum opens Cristalle, and it's a slightly-masculine fruity tart opening which echos the feminine perfume sentiment of the decade: a "tomboyish" mix of mossy greens with floral and/or fruit values to "femininize" them. Cristalle isn't entirely original in this presentation, with Revlon and Lauder beating Chanel to the punch, but Cristalle pairs down the aesthetic with it's minimalism of notes. Jasmine hedione and hyacinth come after the top, with a bit of rosewood to smooth it over, and this is the main feminine character of Cristalle, and enough to keep it marketed as such. Oakmoss, cedar, labdanum, and vetiver bring back to reassert the crisp masculine green edge of the opening, with the pencil shavings accord mentioned above forever pegging Cristalle as a 70's creation to the trained nose. Cristalle is a stark, lightweight construct without any warming fixatives or oriental notes, faring better in modern company than many of the heavier green chypres from the period, plus seeming generalist enough for all seasons outside deep cold, and all occasions outside maybe romantic ones or extremely formal affairs. Cristalle is very commanding in the office space due to its dry personality, so you might want to be easy on the trigger unless you're the boss.

I think the thing which damns Cristalle the most to modern noses is how emotionally "cold" it is, as if Henri Robert was trying to infuse the "happy" fruity floral chypre feeling of something like Revlon Charlie (1973) with the notoriously insensitive, feisty, and judgemental nature of Coco Chanel herself late in her life. This coldness is also what gives Cristalle some unisex potential in the 21st century, as many intentionally-unisex perfumes marry dry and serious "masculine" notes to generally upbeat fruit and floral notes seen as "feminine" in a chemical-assisted genderfluid olfactive ballet. Here in Cristalle, a man (CIS or trans) may have a bit of difficulty with the "girly" sweet jasmine/hyacinth heart of the scent, but the rest of the paint-by-numbers chypre construction of the stuff is pretty genderless. Modern women with clearly-defined feminine sensibilities will likewise find much difficulty with the sharp galbanum, vetiver, and cedar bitterness in Cristalle, but Jacques Polge came to the rescue of modern ladies twice with Cristalle Parfum (1993) and Cristalle Eau Verte (2009), which added more fruit and florals to the original framework, respectively. Cristalle is a fitting transitional fragrance for the house, marrying Coco's serious aesthetic with the more sensual one the house would develop in the coming years, and is in general a great versatile chypre that has survived the times well (although mossier vintages are better), but with a "crystalline" stoicism which keeps a bit of Coco's intimidating spirit alive posthumously. Definitely a test-first fragrance, but particularly enjoyable for fans of sharper scents that don't rely on chemical "freshness" to stay spirited. Thumbs up!
10th December, 2018 (last edited: 11th December, 2018)
A green, luminous, fruity floral. It’s nothi special, but then, it’s only Chanel... a good classic.
23rd November, 2018
Cristalle has a shrill and piercing opening which takes a bit to settle down. It's like getting hit in the face with an icy cold snowball - so cold, brisk, and sharp that it takes a while to bring yourself back down to earth.

Cristalle was my introduction into the green scents. I recall buying a bottle in my early 20's to wear to the first job I had that required a business suit, hosiery, and heels. I wanted to look and mean business and smell like it too. I was also a smoker at the time and my young self believed that the Cristalle would counter act the heavy cigarette deposits on my clothing, skin, and hair much in the way Febreeze is marketed today - sadly I was wrong. I went on Cristalle overload, perhaps it was because my sense of smell was altered by years of smoking, and I drenched my body and clothes with Cristalle.

I also became the shining example of the one person in the office who was asked to stop wearing a perfume because not only does Cristalle pack a punch with one spray alone, but imagine 10 sprays of Cristalle on the senses of your co-workers in a not so well ventilated office space. I was banned from wearing it and I went on to try other ventures in the perfume world, playing it safe for a while.

Lesson learned - Cristalle doesn't cover up cigarette smoke, but it also wallops a punch from just one spray alone. The astringency does settle down after a hour or two and eventually fades away...only if you don't drench yourself like I used to.

While I have fond memories of Cristalle, I am not motivated to buy another bottle. I would much rather prefer spend more time with Eau de Campagne by Sisley instead.
03rd July, 2018
This was and is one of my favourites. I love the almost harsh opening blast, and the citrus, and the oakmoss (maybe nowadays sense memory is playing a part in my enjoyment!). I've loved this for a long long time - it is diamond bright and sharp and clear. There is no gummy sweet musk messing up the drydown so it's a brief pleasure. But the first hour is such a joy that I happily respray. In fact, I dream of facial wipes scented with this - it's almost a scented hanky or smelling salts experience rather than a skin scent. I adore the almost repulsively sharp green icy (and probably very prosaic alcohol) rush which wakes me up and makes me aware that there is elegance in the world. Cristalle, to me. is not a natural object but rather a perfect manmade thing, in the way a cut diamond is a manmade creation of the uncut mineral.
20th July, 2017
After lots of trial and error, I found my perfect scent to Cristalle, thanks to a very helpful and experienced SA. Been wearing it for more than 15 years.

Modern, alert, abstract, sophisticated, edgy, fresh, confident, fizzy like a chilled glass of champagne, and youthful. That is what Cristalle is.

The lemony freshness reminds me of a crisp morning in Capri, with sweet warm bergamot notes from the sun above.

Autumnal body from rosewood and some bitterness from the hyacinth, are anchoring the sharpness.

The base is luxurious vetiver, and bed head oakmoss for a sensual end.

This is a scent for the sexy tom boy with the perfect pair of legs, not at all for the bubble gum pink girly girl with the big boobs...
20th December, 2016

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