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  1. #1
    Basenotes Institution freewheelingvagabond's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I've been thinking about this lately. There was much disappointment with Chanel following the switch from EdTs to EdPs (particularly with respect to Sycomore). I haven't paid much attention to their regular releases except Bleu de Chanel Parfum and Gabrielle. I didn't think much of Gabrielle (seems to have had lukewarm reception amongst perfume enthusiasts). Bleu Parfum is nice, albeit too soft on my skin and sometimes a bit too sweet given everything else about it. All this sounds like not a great run, till we come to the Les Exclusifs releases. I think in this category Chanel / Polge have released one stellar fragrance after another -


    No 5 L'eau - This is a very nice fresh reinterpretation of No 5, modern and streamlined on the surface, but with a good amount of complexity underneath thanks to the No 5 structure, and this makes it interesting.

    Misia - Off the top of my head, this was the first Les Exclusif release under Olivier Polge. A very nice powdery rose-violet. I have a bottle of the EdT. I find it to be a moodier, more elusive cousin of Lipstick Rose.

    Boy Chanel - I was relatively underwhelmed after trying it off a sample. However, later I obtained a decant, and it has really grown on me - to the point where I feel this is one of the best 'fougere's among the recent releases. Rogalal makes a great point that one needs to properly wear this from a bottle, trying at store / paper doesn't do it justice. It really grows on oneself with time.

    1957 - This is a lovely soapy, clean musk scent, one of the best in its style.

    Le Lion de Chanel - I'm wearing this for the fourth or fifth time, and I'm taken in by how well balanced it is, warmth without sweetness, rich without being too heavy, maybe derivative but nonetheless top quality stuff.

    Les Eauxs - While I haven't tried any of these properly, they appear promising based on paper and wrist tests.


    I haven't tried the Chance flanker or the Coromandel Parfum release. Based on what I've tried, I think Chanel has probably one of the best selections right now. Especially if you consider the competition.

    Thoughts please, whether you agree or disagree?
    Currently wearing: H24 by Hermès

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I agree that Chanel has come out with consistently wonderful releases in all of their unisex lines whether they were EDT or EDP.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I agree! People always seem resistant to change and cry that the house is ruined when the head perfumer changes. But in hindsight he's really done a terrific job.

    Looking at the Chanel's I own, 3/5 are by Olivier: 1957, Paris-Deauville and Le Lion (the other two are No. 18 and No. 19)

    I think Le Lion is really his masterpiece so far, showing that he really can create on the level of the grand classics of the house.

    I also think now that the furor over the EDT swap to EDP has died down, most people have come to accept that the current EDP range is pretty fantastic.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by freewheelingvagabond View Post
    Based on what I've tried, I think Chanel has probably one of the best selections right now. Especially if you consider the competition.
    Yeah, maybe, if you're grading on a curve.

    I've been so miffed at Chanel ever since they ditched Sycomore EDT, but you're making me think I should get over myself and give them more of a chance.

    Ounce for ounce, though, I think Christine Nagel has done just as well at Hermes as Polge has done at Chanel, over the same time period (2017-now).

    (I just noticed the BN has two directory entries for Le Lion, one in 2020 and one in 2021.)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I think with all that stuff you've listed it shows lacking. None of that stacks up to Beaux's work, can't hold a candle to Pour Monsieur or Antaeus, and honestly none of the new Exclusifs can even compete with the older stuff Jacques made. I like Le Lion, but it doesn't fit into the rest of that line which artistically in my opinion shows lacking. Maybe it's good compared to the more designer stuff Chanel has such as the Coco stuff, or Bleu.

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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I find most of these nice and well built classic, but often lacking that little thing that make them stellar. The exception for me is Misia-perhaps exactly because it is deliciously retro.

    I too find that Nagel does more intriguing things at Hermes.

    cacio

  7. #7

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    It's funny I had written a paragraph about Nagel in my response then deleted it because it was off topic, but I see others are on the same wavelength!

    I was going to say, Nagel has been doing really well in equally tough to fill shoes. She definitely has a style that is distinct from JCE but still feels on brand for Hermes. As much as I love JCE (and I really love JCE), out of the 6 Hermes I own, three are by her: Galop, Agar Ebene and Myrrhe Eglantine.

    Also worth noting is that Olivier is relatively new in his tenure at Chanel, so it's not really fair to compare his output so far with the entire back catalogue of a historic house. That said, I think he's had an impressive number of hits in that relatively short period of time.

    The man created Dior Homme, for that alone he's a saint in my book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post

    Ounce for ounce, though, I think Christine Nagel has done just as well at Hermes as Polge has done at Chanel, over the same time period (2017-now).
    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post

    I too find that Nagel does more intriguing things at Hermes.

    cacio

  8. #8

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    As with most noses, I can't say I consistently enjoy his work. Of his work for Chanel, I think Les Eaux and Le Lion are very good, and his others generally quite pleasant, though I found 1957 shockingly subpar (and I'm someone who loves white musks). But even with my ambivalence, I would enthusiastically agree that Chanel surpasses its current competition by far.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    It's too soon to say like father like son to me, but it's clear that if not there yet, Olivier Polge wants to be where his father was at the height of his fragrance craft for Chanel. People shouldn't realistically compare Jacques Polge's entry into Chanel with Antaeus (1981) to Olivier Polge's entry into Chanel making flankers to pre-existing lines, because times have greatly changed for both the designer perfume world and Chanel since then. Of course, you're perfectly free to disagree and compare away if you want, but here are the points I offer as to why it's a bit unfair:

    1) When Jacques Polge entered service to Chanel on the heels of Henri Robert's exit, Chanel didn't put out fragrances as regularly as they do now, nor were the fragrances built for such profit-to-cost ratios as modern designers are, IFRA barely had any restrictions on anything (having only formed in 1973). Additionally, Parfums Chanel was directed by the Wertheimers themselves (Alain at the time of Polge's onboarding, a man who was more interested in his own hobbies than Chanel), leaving Polge mostly to his own devices. This is how stuff like Antaeus, Coco, and Égoïste (née Bois Noir) were allowed to happen. In short: it was a different time when perfumers weren't given exacting briefs to follow and used what they wanted.

    2) The number of perfumes coming out of Parfums Chanel slowly began to increase in the 90's because they were composing for Ungaro and Salvatore Ferragamo too, both whom the Wertheimers had controlling stakes in then, and Polge famously had R&D guys assisting him to crank out stuff for all 3 houses (François Demachy, then Jean-Pierre Mari, then Christopher Sheldrake who's still there). By this point, even Jacques' own compositions were becoming noticeably more commercial via Allure, Chance, the Coco flankers, Bleu de Chanel, etc. I've read interviews where marketing is also starting to butt in more about and what have you, so I can't imagine the climate being much different for Olivier Polge in his father's stead.

    3) The original Les Exclusifs were mostly a batch of resurrected or re-envisioned older Chanels made during Coco's time but sold at an up-charge because they weren't doing well last time they were a part of the regular line, plus a few new things added that also stayed relatively in that classic vein. Since the old formula well had run dry (unless they want to tap the apocryphal Swiss-made Chanels of the 40's when Coco tried to restart her house separately from the Wertheimers) the range changed more into the perfumer's personal creative outlet for things not commercial enough to be in the main line, based in the abstract on the themes of Chanel itself (in other words hubris, albeit the good-smelling kind). That basically explains Le Lion, Boy, and so on.


    Since Jacques was basically allowed to make himself at home and do whatever, while Olivier had to instead fill his father's shoes plus hit the ground running by continuing to make flankers for lines he originally had no creative stake in, plus adhere to God knows what restrictions and marketing department BS, and also consult with Sheldrake on everything he does, it's safe to say his work is cut out for him in ways it wasn't for his father. Maybe the pressure will result in the formation of a diamond like past work such as Dior Homme, or maybe there are just too many constraints now at Chanel or in the modern commercial perfume world in general for there ever to be the kind of perfumes his father once made. I liked Le Lion and BdC Parfum personally.
    Last edited by Varanis Ridari; 2nd May 2021 at 08:56 PM.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Interesting topic! I must say I've found Chanel hit and miss the past years. As a No. 5 aficionado, I'm not the biggest fan of L'Eau, especially compared to the brilliant Eau Premiere. The Les Eaux leave me indifferent, but I'm not the biggest EdC wearer so I might not be its intended audience. Boy I haven't tried properly yet, but I have a feeling I might like it despite the lavender. Le Lion is derivative, but it smells GREAT. Misia is my favourite Oliver scent; the very best in its category, as far as I'm concerned. So, in all, I'm not mad at what Chanel is doing under Olivier (well, except for the EdP switcheroo, that was a shitty move), but I am hoping that for the regular line they will at some point turn away from the flanker route and bring out a true new classic, especially on the women's side. I haven't been impressed with Gabrielle.

    I agree with VR that the comparison with the 'original' Les Exclusifs output isn't quite fair, because they had that massive back catalogue to work from.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I agree that Chanel's output under Olivier has been better in the Les Exclusifs and Les Eaux ranges than in the regular designer range. Gabrielle and Gabrielle Essence were both disappointments for me, but 1957 may be my current favourite of the Exclusifs.

    VR essentially said what I was going to say - it's worth keeping in mind that Olivier is working in a different era than his father or Beaux. I was thinking mostly of IFRA but VR has highlighted much more than that.

    Something I've often wondered is, could you put any experienced perfumer at the helm of Chanel, and have them do good work? At the end of the day does it matter who's making their perfumes, whether it's Olivier or Sheldrake, or someone else? While there are certainly current restrictions in terms of IFRA etc, it remains that whoever is making Chanel's perfumes has a lot of resources at their disposal and much larger budgets to work with than much of the competition, so I would expect good output, and a lot of their work is directed and edited by others anyway. I don't know the answer to these questions, but it's something I've wondered.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldWineMemories View Post
    I think with all that stuff you've listed it shows lacking. None of that stacks up to Beaux's work, can't hold a candle to Pour Monsieur or Antaeus, and honestly none of the new Exclusifs can even compete with the older stuff Jacques made. I like Le Lion, but it doesn't fit into the rest of that line which artistically in my opinion shows lacking. Maybe it's good compared to the more designer stuff Chanel has such as the Coco stuff, or Bleu.
    True. Nothing Polge has done even begins to compare to Beaux' stuff.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Happening to like both most of the Jacques Polge and more precisely on topic, Olivier Polge output for Chanel.
    Might have never been into this house to the currently very enthusiastic, superlative and uncommonly intense extent without the invaluable contribution (and fragrance releases) of either.

  14. #14
    Missing Oakmoss

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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    I find most of these nice and well built classic, but often lacking that little thing that make them stellar. The exception for me is Misia-perhaps exactly because it is deliciously retro.
    That's my take on it, too. Chanel used to be one of my favorite houses, but now I barely give it a thought. Like you, I find Misia to be the exception - it is indeed a gorgeous retro-rose.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I think Olivier was and remains a solid investment. As a huge fan of his work before I knew it, and before Chanel (just by counting bottles upon awareness), I would have been hugely disappointed if Chanel had not grabbed him. It was his destiny, IMHO.

    More to the point on his current work - I would own all his Eaux if I were still a Saks shopper with a Saks-grade budget. I sniffed the whole line and could not choose which one was the most impressive. So what hednic said right there. I live vicariously by his nose and shopping bag, with my tastes!

    I have sniffed neither Boy nor Le Lion, but I know they will please me. I may buy one. Misia did please me, but I knew I would not wear it enough for the price to own, because I only wear feminines sporadically.

    As for not producing with Beaux's originality, I simply don't see that happening for anybody as long as IFRA skin contact standards are a constraint. All current perfumers are forgiven on that one, IMO.

    I think Bleu Parfum and No. 5 L'Eau are both excellent, just like TdH Vetiver Intense and Galop d'Hermès. Very happy to own them all!!!

    Gabrielle is bittersweet - literally. It's tortured genius to me. I love it until I hate it, and then I love it again when I can. My life is enriched by the experience!
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Agreed. I think Olivier is doing a great job, especially with the Exclusifs. Each one has something going for it. Among ones I wear frequently, I like the edps of Beige, Gardénia and No 22 as much as or better than the edts. My only reservation is Sycomore. While I do like the edp, it has become more of a straight vetiver scent, not as complex and smoky as before, but for me perhaps a little easier to wear. I consider it a different perfume. Le Lion, I feel, is a stunning work on his part and yes, a masterpiece.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I haven’t really cared for anything he’s done since taking over at Chanel (same goes for Christine Nagel).
    In fairness, I haven’t spent time with his Excusif’s on skin, but then again I haven’t wanted to.
    I haven’t given up hope on him yet though.

    Edit: I stand corrected- I really like what he did with Coromandel edp and actually prefer it to the EDT(mainly due to the increased amount of Frankincense in the edp).

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Opiate View Post
    I really like what he did with Coromandel edp and actually prefer it to the EDT(mainly due to the increased amount of Frankincense in the edp).
    It’s actually Jacques Polge who is credited with creating Coromandel EDP. Not Olivier.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I love Chanel in general and I think Olivier is doing a fine job. Bleu de Chanel Parfum is my favorite from the Bleu line and one of the very few designer perfumes in my wardrobe at the moment. I love Boy and wear it often. 1957 is a very strong like. Le Lion is probably my second favorite of the Exclusifs line at the moment after only Bois des Iles EDT. Also, my wife's signature scent is Chance Eau Tendre EDP and her special occasion scent is Coco Mademoiselle Intense.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Wingie View Post
    It’s actually Jacques Polge who is credited with creating Coromandel EDP. Not Olivier.
    Doh!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    The directory lists these from Olivier Polge for Chanel:

    1. Misia Eau de Toilette (2015)

    2. Chance Eau Vive (2015)

    3. Misia Eau de Parfum (2016)

    4. Boy Chanel (2016)

    5. No. 5 L'Eau (2016)

    6. Gabrielle (2017)

    7. Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Intense (2018)

    8. Bleu de Chanel Parfum (2018)

    9. Paris-Deauville (2018)

    10. Paris-Biarritz (2018)

    11. Paris-Venise (2018)

    12. 1957 (2018)

    13. Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum (2019)

    14. Paris-Riviera (2019)

    15. Gabrielle Essence (2019)

    16. Coromandel Parfum (2019)

    17. Le Lion de Chanel (2020)

    18. Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privée (2020)

    19. Paris-Édimbourg (2020)

  22. #22

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    Yeah, maybe, if you're grading on a curve.

    I've been so miffed at Chanel ever since they ditched Sycomore EDT, but you're making me think I should get over myself and give them more of a chance.

    Ounce for ounce, though, I think Christine Nagel has done just as well at Hermes as Polge has done at Chanel, over the same time period (2017-now).

    (I just noticed the BN has two directory entries for Le Lion, one in 2020 and one in 2021.)
    I sometimes wonder how much of the online hostility toward H24 and other recent Hermes releases under Nagel is related to the departure of Ellena.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Bavard View Post
    The directory lists these from Olivier Polge for Chanel:

    1. Misia Eau de Toilette (2015)

    2. Chance Eau Vive (2015)

    3. Misia Eau de Parfum (2016)

    4. Boy Chanel (2016)

    5. No. 5 L'Eau (2016)

    6. Gabrielle (2017)

    7. Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Intense (2018)

    8. Bleu de Chanel Parfum (2018)

    9. Paris-Deauville (2018)

    10. Paris-Biarritz (2018)

    11. Paris-Venise (2018)

    12. 1957 (2018)

    13. Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum (2019)

    14. Paris-Riviera (2019)

    15. Gabrielle Essence (2019)

    16. Coromandel Parfum (2019)

    17. Le Lion de Chanel (2020)

    18. Coco Mademoiselle L’Eau Privée (2020)

    19. Paris-Édimbourg (2020)
    I gather he also did many of the Les Exclusif EDPs, even though they aren't credited to him. Is that right?

    E.g. I just looked up Sycomore EDP as an example, and there's no perfumer credit...but I'm pretty sure it was him.

    Which brings up an interesting question. If Sycomore EDT was by Jacques and Sheldrake (and someone else before that), and the EDPs are similar enough to carry the name but different enough to notice...who gets credit for the EDP? I can see an argument either way. Maybe that's why we have the "no credit" solution right now. Meanwhile, the Cuir de Russie EDP is still credited back to Ernst! Surely Jacques or Olivier had a hand in its current incarnation.

    Anyway. I agree. Great run for Olivier, and I like the Exclusif EDPs. Even Sycomore.

    ~~

    Re: Chanel vs. Hermes...they are following very different paths, so I find it hard to say Nagel or Polge is doing "better" in what feels like an apples to oranges comparison, at least within the "high end designer" category.

    Chanel = effortless wearability and Chanel polish. Feels very much about a consistent product experience. Hermes seems more inclined to go in potentially controversial artistic directions (H24, case in point), which is going to result in some hits and misses and strong detractors no matter who the perfumer is. Chanel doesn't have many misses, and few strong detractors, but also doesn't seem as stylistically diverse.

    I respect both for different reasons.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post
    I gather he also did many of the Les Exclusif EDPs, even though they aren't credited to him. Is that right?

    E.g. I just looked up Sycomore EDP as an example, and there's no perfumer credit...but I'm pretty sure it was him.

    Which brings up an interesting question. If Sycomore EDT was by Jacques and Sheldrake (and someone else before that), and the EDPs are similar enough to carry the name but different enough to notice...who gets credit for the EDP? I can see an argument either way. Maybe that's why we have the "no credit" solution right now. Meanwhile, the Cuir de Russie EDP is still credited back to Ernst! Surely Jacques or Olivier had a hand in its current incarnation.

    Anyway. I agree. Great run for Olivier, and I like the Exclusif EDPs. Even Sycomore.

    ~~

    Re: Chanel vs. Hermes...they are following very different paths, so I find it hard to say Nagel or Polge is doing "better" in what feels like an apples to oranges comparison, at least within the "high end designer" category.

    Chanel = effortless wearability and Chanel polish. Feels very much about a consistent product experience. Hermes seems more inclined to go in potentially controversial artistic directions (H24, case in point), which is going to result in some hits and misses and strong detractors no matter who the perfumer is. Chanel doesn't have many misses, and few strong detractors, but also doesn't seem as stylistically diverse.

    I respect both for different reasons.
    Hermès is the house of "everyone loves to hate it at first", which explains in recent memory everyone's reaction to Rocabar, Terre, Twilly, Voyage, Galop, Kelly Caleché, and H24. Hell, people still knee-jerk to Eau d'Hermès and Bel-Ami, albeit a lot less because most folks diving into those nowadays are prepared for the experience.

    I don't think Hermès has ever had any truly instant-likes (at least when new) outside maybe Amazone and Eau de Cologne/Eau d'Orange Vert, and both of those got criticism by press back then for being plain or conventional. Chanel by comparison is very much instant gratification for most of their stuff that then magically turns into long-term love, which is an impossible goal they consistently attain. I think only Égoïste on the men's side had any real controversy in the mainstream.

    Their most challenging scent for men is Antaeus, and was really par for the course in the early 80's, considered smooth and sophisticated when released compared to the wildly macho stuff flying about then (One Man Show, Jacomo, Kouros, etc.).

    Tl;dr: Chanel is a painfully exacting exercise in perfect moderation, while Hermès smacks you with a leather handbag until you eventually see stars. I feel where the perfumers matter most is interpretation of this house aesthetic, and the evolution thereof.

    Jacques started out pretty high-art then settled into a more commercial groove, while Hermès had no real house perfumer until Jean-Claude Ellena, who proceeded to do his transparent Iso E exercises he had already been doing for other houses . Nagel is less consistent (or more daring.. two sides of the same coin).

    Both Nagel and Olivier live in the shadows of their prolific forebearers, and exert that stress differently. Nagel, by sometimes imitating Ellena, and Olivier by (thus far) playing it safe and avoiding anything like an Antaeus or Égoïste in the main line, but as I mentioned above, he may also be prohibited from doing so by the MBAs.
    Last edited by Varanis Ridari; 4th May 2021 at 12:17 AM.
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    Quote Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post
    I gather he also did many of the Les Exclusif EDPs, even though they aren't credited to him. Is that right?

    E.g. I just looked up Sycomore EDP as an example, and there's no perfumer credit...but I'm pretty sure it was him.

    Which brings up an interesting question. If Sycomore EDT was by Jacques and Sheldrake (and someone else before that), and the EDPs are similar enough to carry the name but different enough to notice...who gets credit for the EDP? I can see an argument either way. Maybe that's why we have the "no credit" solution right now. Meanwhile, the Cuir de Russie EDP is still credited back to Ernst! Surely Jacques or Olivier had a hand in its current incarnation.
    My understanding was that a Perfumer gets credit for the formulation they do, even if it's for a fragrance that was created by someone else. This is why Olivier gets credit for Coromandel Parfum and Jacques Polge gets credit for Chanel No 5. EDP. The EDP was created in the 80s and didn't exist before then. For this reason I thought Jacques Polge did most of the Exclusifs EDPs, but I could be wrong about that. I checked but couldn't see where Cuir De Russie EDP was credited to Beaux - on both BN and Parfumo it is credited to Jacques, as is Bois des Iles EDP. Sycomore EDP though is a mystery as it doesn't seem to have been officially credited to anyone, and this was pointed out by Cook.bot too on another thread.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Chanel having a great run with Olivier Polge ....

    I'm not sure if Sheldrake is still with Chanel, or how much input he's had, but the EDP of Coromandel & Sycomore read Sheldrake to me. Coromandel with it's white chocolate, and Sycomore with its coffee & chocolate chip cookies reads straight out of Luten's fragranceology.




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