There are very few brands which reach a significant size without finding a way to balance innovation and popularity. That is especially true for the ones which pride themselves on being the leading edge. If done well a smart brand will follow behind the more lauded creativity with something which is meant to please the masses. I doubt there are many who have done it better than the fragrance side of Chanel.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s into the 2000’s perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge re-wrote the concepts of masstige perfume making. By 2002 they would release Chance Eau de Toilette. As Chanel has done brilliantly over the years, they wanted to make a fragrance which would appeal to a younger demographic. Anecdotally they succeeded as Chance was easily the most commonly worn perfume on my travels. I smelled it everywhere. That continues until today. Chance is a monument on how to make a crowd-pleasing perfume.
Now seventeen years later Jacques Polge’s son Olivier Polge has succeeded him as in-house perfumer. It is his turn to make a crowd-pleasing perfume for the latest young demographic. Olivier Polge would approach this in an interesting way by making a more concentrated version of a flanker of Chance that his father and M. Demachy composed. It shows its past as there are previous ingredients which hew to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school. Olivier Polge also finds a way to make his own prominent contribution on top of that foundation which is the “if it ain’t broke give it a new coat of paint” school. If that sounds like damnation with faint praise you would be mistaken. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum is praiseworthy for the perfume in the bottle.
M. Polge approaches this Eau de Parfum counterpart to the earlier version by simple variations at every stage. It starts when he adds the herbal quality of baie rose to the signature top accord of Chance; grapefruit and quince. That herbal-ness finds the tarter qualities inherent in both fruits. What surprises is M. Polge also lightens up the top accord. If you’re going to make things tart you don’t want them to slap you in the face. The biggest change is the removal of iris and hyacinth as the partners for the heart jasmine with rose. This is that lighter debutante rose which gives some gentility to the more prominent jasmine. There is still a powdery effect from the rose but much more attenuated than in the original. The warm base accord of white musks and amber carries over with M. Polge choosing to add a hint of vanilla along with patchouli to provide sweetness and earthiness around that core accord.
Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Parfum has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
By releasing Chance Eau Tender Eau de Parfum just in time for Valentine’s Day and spring I expect that Chanel will have another best-selling crowd-pleaser. I should expect nothing less from the brand which could teach the class on crowd-pleasing 101.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Sephora.