Tuesday, September 04, 2007

More on Jacques Polge and Chanel

I recently came about a short interview with Jacques Polge on Icon magazine (fortunately it was short enough for me to read it in the store – the magazine costs 5 times the price of a “normal” magazine, looks like a paperback cover book, and contains mostly artistic-version photographs of products that look quite mundane on the shelf but very interesting in those photographs).

Though the interview was short, it was effective enough to intrigue me and make me try to look differently at the Les Exclusifs collection. Reading what the perfumer had to say made it all seem a little less pretentious. And why? Because his passion comes through. And being known to be a quiet person who prefers not to speak, I could see that the words, chosen carefully, were in fact meaningful.

Below are a few interesting points, which I don’t believe would have been found on any other cheaper magazine raving about Les Exclusifs and go on and on with the scripts about the utter class and luxury that the collection is trying to “sell” to us (AKA simple people who can only dream about a wardrobe comprised entirely of Chanel suits and little black dresses, but can only afford some of her creative juices). I’ll make it look like little trivia items that might shed a new light for you (as they did for me) on the perfumer that has been known lately more for trend-following creations such as Chance and Allure Sensuelle than for setting trends or maintaining traditions:

- Jacques Polge was the one who resurrected the Chanel classics from the oblivion of a lab formula book, and re-issued them in the late 70’s, as the “Rue Cambon” collection.
- Jacques Polge’s Egoiste was inspired by Bois des Îles, and was a male counterpoint to a scent that originally was an unusual feminine creation (a woody women’s perfume)
- The inspiration for No. 18 was not the giant pearls and gold jewelry in the Chanel jewelry boutique, but rather – the discovery of the ambrette seed note in Bois des Îles. Jacques Polge was so intrigued by this note he decided to dedicate an entire perfume to that precious note, and rightly so.

Well, I may not like the Les Exclusifs any more than I did before after reading the article, but I appreciate much more the inspiration and thought that went into them and they seem just a tad less pretentious now. Even if these are again neither "groundbreakers" nor “trendsetters”, they are in a sense “curators” of the glamour and artistry that was the domain of perfume and fashion back in the days when Chanel has initiated this successful reunion.

I searched in vein for a website for that magazine, to be able to prove to you it even exists, but I did come across this short film, also interviewing the in-house Chanel perfumer for the past 30 years or so, and I couldn’t’ agree more with what he said, as artsy as it may sound.

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