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March 24, 2009



Another fantastic post! Superb imagery. I am definitely in the forest with you on this one and not in the boardroom! Truth be told, I am actually in a medieval church, mosque or catacomb in a hot country. The chill of Chanel 19, to me, conjures up the quiet stillness of such places, and not the chilly mood of an ice-queen.

I find your comparison to the work of JC Ellena very intriguing. This isn't something I had thought of before, but now that you mention it, well perhaps there is a link. Henri Robert went on to create Cristalle after 19, and apparently he worked on this with Edmond Roudnitska. In his original Guide, Luca Turin describes Cristalle as like Diorella transposed an octave. In Chandler Burr's book 'The Perfect Scent' Ellena talks about how much he has been influenced by Roudnitska. Perhaps we might imagine that the latter's mature style was influenced by his collaboration with Robert? And so we have Cristalle as the missing link between No 19 and Ellena's work? A bit tenuous perhaps, but can we imagine Au Thé Vert as No 19 transposed an octave?

Trisha Goodwin

I have tried other perfumes, but always come back to Chanel no 19, it is me like nothing else is. Strange then to hear it described as cold and unfriendly, as I am thought of as very friendly, open and above all, kind, which I think I am. To me, other aspects hold sway - that deep, mossy, vegetal smell, yes, of damp forest floor, which I adore outside anyway, and often use in my artwork. To me it says earthy, sensuous and real, almost primeval femininity. Certainly there is nothing artifical, plastic, flowery or pink here, this is more real, deep and bewitching.


I do, do love No. 19 - prefer vintage edt. It's one of my invisible armor scents: cool, aloof, powerful yet feminine.

What an interesting idea re: JC Ellena! I really did *not* care for Au The' Vert, however. I found it dull, while No. 19 is invigorating.


Mals86, I love the idea of Chanel No. 19 as your invisible armor. Perfume is traditionally marketed to invite attention from the opposite sex; I wonder what the folks at Chanel would think if they knew many women wear No. 19 to project, in your case, power and aloofness, and for me, my inner witch!


"its earthy, rooty notes suggest to me a witch in an enchanted forest rather than a bitch in a boardroom."

Yes! For me, it's elves... Elf queen(extrait or edp) or princess(edt) to be precise. 19 is the closest to a signature I've ever had. I find it soothing and magical... no "wire mother" (as per T. Sanchez _Perfumes, The Guide_ 2008) to my nose at all.

I just wish it was easier to find now. (I have to ask my French in-laws & friends to bring/send it lately...or be priced-gouged on EekBay)

Wonderful post! Love the Empress card too!


It is a magical fragrance, bewitching and beguiling. And now, thanks to you, K, I will add elves (Queen and Princess) to my imaginary cast of Chanel No. 19 woodland creatures!

Sarah Witherby

This is all so interesting !!

I am a long term no.19 user - the money I have spent on EDP EDT and Parfum in the last 10 years is depressing - the reformulation was monstrous! If you want to really savour the original find the body silk spray - it was divine!!

The green, the galbanum is GONE - the whole point of vintage 19 was that although WE couldn't smell it, it was there, cooking away! It lingered, it did indeed armour, it framed our skin - the new formulation spikes above it with some very synthetic chemical notes ... How can you produce a 'green' perfume synthetically? Where is that elusive vetiver whiff?

I Finally got hold of some vintage EDP on ebay and am almost happy again .. the vintage EDT (another waste of ££) just doesn't endure in the bottle (although it was always my favourite after the perfume) - the alcohol content 'turns' the fragrance ...

I am going to try some of the current perfume now, as I hear it's the closest to the original ... I just know it's going to have that telltale cheap vanilla in there somewhere -

Yes, our skin chemistry changes over the years (the well-known cry of the perfume counter sales person) but our NOSES don't.

I'm now trying vent vert vintage (Balmain) I know it won't be the same but it might just be 'dirty green' ... will report back



You are a true fan of this stuff, Sarah! Thanks for the information about how the vintage EDT might turn too easily and that the original body silk spray is divine. I appreciate this info, and I bet other Chanel No. 19 fans do, too.




I have to admit I don't understand Tania's interpretation of No.19, nor comments about No.19 being cold & chilly.

No.19 is not a Guerlain; it is not Rococo; it is not Art Nouveau.

For me No.19 is a gorgeous Art Deco perfume. If I have to describe No.19 in a sentence, that would be it. Does anybody get what I am saying? Is Art Deco style considered cold & bitchy? :(

I am rather sadden this grand perfume has been made out to be a present-day boardroom a la Cruella de Vil. To recapture what women were up to in the Art Deco 1920s/30s :-
- women of the times were boldly embracing the post-WWI new order en masse, they won the right to vote in the No.19 Amendment, the lionhearted Amelia Earhart flew the first transatlantic flight in 1928, and the list goes on.

IMO it is the true spirit of those wonderful, bold, elegant and indomitable Art Deco era women embodied by No.19.

"The Art Deco era was one of contradictions. The role of women changed during World War I. With their husbands away at war, women had to take care of matters outside their homes and they were reluctant to give up their freedom when men returned. When that war ended in 1918 corsets and petticoats were no more. Many women received the right to vote and most women now wore short hair, short dresses and makeup in public for the first time. Many women also began smoking and driving cars. The Art Deco style infused the everyday world with an elegant style of cool sophistication. Travel was in the news with ocean liners racing the Atlantic and trains crossing continents, as speed became a metaphor for modern times."

My loving homage to Chanel No.19 (ignoring changes to formulation):-

(Quoting Turin out of context) No. 19 is not a Coquette, it is a Duchess.


Hi tangbel: thanks for the interesting interpretation of Chanel No. 19! I'd be interested to hear more from you about why the notes speak "Art Deco" to you. For me, it's less situated in a time than in a mood, a state of mind. In fact, there's something timeless, green, woodsy and fairytale-ish about it. (Anyone who's ever read this review knows that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!)

The one thing that seems to come out from all our readings of this perfume, though — Tania's, yours, mine, the other commenters — is that Chanel No. 19 is for a strong woman.


I don't get Art Deco from No 19, but I don't get 1971 either, which was the actual release date. So yes, I'd agree I think that it sits outside time. I bought one of Chanel's 'Fragrance Wardrobe' gift sets for myself for Xmas (which includes mini of No 19 parfum) and I am excited and a bit nervous about how the new No 19 will compare to the one I have had all these years. I bought that in about 1989, goodness knows how I could afford it. Still a few precious drops left!


In my lifetime I have gone through several bottles of no 19 (from 1976 to the present). I keep coming back to it because it is a classic and I keep hoping to see the allure of it, which to this day, I cannot. My preference is for the vintage Cristalle.


Yes, breathe31. They have very different personalities. No. 19 is a more introverted fragrance, I think.


Barbara- just received my first bottle ever of Mitsouko last night. Unfortunately it is the reformulation but I guess the advantage of never having experienced the original is that one can love the reformulation without having the vintage to compare it to (then again my "bourgeois nez" can appreciate fine perfume but not have the sophistication to dislike reformulations!). So, here is my question: Was No. 19 trying to emulate its predecessor? For as I am sniffing away at my wrist Mitsouko brings to mind a more gentle, softer, sweeter and less bracing version of No. 19. Mitsouko and No. 19 make me think of a crisp autumn day. Any chance that one of these days you could do a post on "Scents by the Season"?


Hi breathe31. Congratulations on getting Mitsouko — from any era! (I have a tiny bit of the vintage, but haven't smelled the reformulation. Hey, as long as you like it!)

I think of Guerlain's Mitsouko and Chanel's No. 19 as very different chypres. They're both subtle and contemplative in character, but Mitsouko has that beautiful peach note, and Chanel No. 19 is green and woodsy, withholding sweetness and being almost more vegetal than anything else. No. 19 reminds me of autumn, too! I will definitely consider doing a perfume by the seasons post at some point. I should do more themed posts....


No doubt about it- I love this huff stuff. And to mention a few things you other fanatics have said... Yes to the forest and the elves... magical, bewitching...Chanel No. 19 lurks quietly in dark woods. it is
uncanny, otherworldly, moody, primeval . Well, I agree with it all except "It's just hard to imagine when this scent would be appropriate."
(sorry Barbara)... I wear it in heels, a nurses uniform, and while I'm barefooted! As long as it takes me where I want to be- it's the right time. Vintage, of course.


Cathlyn, to each her own! Wear it in your nurses uniform and I'll wear it when the moon is full and I'm reading Tarot by moonlight. :-)


Oh I wear it at the caldron with my conical hat too!


Ok, I take back what I said in March about no. 19. I had given my mother a bottle of EDP quite a few years ago because my family baulked everytime I wore it. She returned the empty bottle to me when it was done. I was in my basement the other night sniffing the caps of empty bottles when, on a whim, I tried to "eek" out whatever was left in the no. 19. WOW! I guess the last time I wore it must have been 15 years ago..funny how time changes your taste in perfume. When I came upstairs my daughters said "What smells so good?" and my husband said "I'm getting a headache!" Not only did he make me wash it off but I was forced to sleep on the couch that night because it still lingered on my skin! I thought about getting another vintage bottle because I can clearly see how exquisitely brilliant and beautiful this fragrance is (but I think my husband would kill me! It's beauty will have to live in my olfactory memory).


My impression of Chanel No. 19 is that it changes during the drydown from cold to warm, and manages to tie together all kinds of unrelated notes from galbanum to violet to amber without losing its cohesiveness.

I never thought of it as particularly otherworldly, but I can see that now that I read your review.

I'm glad someone else doesn't see it simply as the bitch in the boardroom.

Trish B

Love this review and the comments. I've been wearing Chanel No 19 since it was released, and it is my signature perfume. I'm a very, very strong introvert-and it suits that just fine. I also love the forest imagery-and the lurking lol. I don't see it as bitchy boardroom-although others would say I am (quietly) strong!


Hi Trish B. Thanks for the comment! Do you wear the EDT or EDP? The initial review was for the parfum, and even though I love the EDT, all that lurking and forest stuff was inspired by the EDP. I dont think Tania Sanchez was wrong about the bitch in the boardroom business — there is a strength and introversion as you say, and perhaps some coldness — her imagery just didnt jibe with me. It seems much more of a spiritual scent, if I can go that far with it.

Trish B

I wear the EDT-and I don't remember when I bought it. It's the refills for the square container-50 ml spray. I have half a container left-and one refill in the original wrap in the fridge. I do wish they still made the real perfume. I bought one small bottle about 20 years ago, so it is long gone. I used to be able to buy the refills in the military exchange stores (one near Wash DC has it and my mother used to get it for me). I don't know if they stock it anymore. Hope I don't have to find a substitute! You know-the coldness and spiritual ideas are spot on.


Thank you for all the reviews on this blog, and especially for your thoughtful appreciation of No. 19. I have long been bothered by the common depictions of it as "bitchy," "bitter," "cold," etc. They reveal a lack of understanding of the scent's true nature, which I think your review captures beautifully.

They also reveal a casual, offhand sexism that I find disturbing. The "bitch in a boardroom" image is more than "somewhat" sexist, implying as it does that any woman found in a boardroom is automatically a "bitch" by virtue of her presence there. One of the Basenotes reviewers you quoted here actually considers that distasteful term a synonym for "businesswoman"! So women have no place in business, or in decision-making positions? I wonder what Estee Lauder would have said about that ...

Vilifying women for simply doing their jobs and for dressing in the standard uniforms associated with those jobs (suits, heels) reflects *deeply* sexist thinking. Do we talk about "the kind of guys who wear suits and ties -- businessmen, or, as I prefer to call them, bastards"? I think not.

As for No. 19 itself, I enjoy the EDT in the fall, for its subtle leather note, and the parfum in the winter for its rosier quality. I have some vintage splash bottles of EDT but have to agree that they haven't held up well; they smell like a very oakmossy men's cologne.


Hi Nancy,

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and this post in particular. Chanel No. 19 moved me in a way few perfumes have, and made me realize how intensely a perfume can conjure moods, places and characters. As for the "bitch in the boardroom" critique, I'm sure I've lapsed into sexist or otherwise banal gender commentary regarding perfume on many occasions, so I don't want to single out Tania Sanchez too harshly. (Her comment, however, was pretty sexist.)

But alas, we live in a sexist, gender-normative society, and perfume is so drenched with ideas about gender, that it's sometimes hard to avoid. One thing I appreciate about perfume, though, is that perhaps we can bend those notions of gender in the ways that perfume sometimes invites us to. Is there a tougher perfume than Bandit (for women), or a softer perfume than Muscs Koublai Khan (for men)? Is toughness masculine and softness feminine? Does talking about perfume in a gendered way even make sense, or is it avoidable? One was for women, the other for men. Maybe Bandit is about greenness and dryness in perfume, and MMK about honey and fur?

Have our ideas about gender shifted over the years since CK One? All food for thought. In the end, yes, Chanel No. 19, in its different concentrations, is a stunner. Gender doesn't really factor into my thinking about it, which is a relief and a tribute to Chanel No. 19! So glad you have experienced it and thanks for your comments!


I have only smelled the modern edt version. I know it is a mere reflection of the vintage juice, I still like it alot. Green, sharp and sassy!

Tim McIndoo

From what I understand, Chanel 19 comes not only in two concentrations but in two colors: one yellow, one green. Or perhaps these colors apply to the EdT or EdP. My concern is to buy the (vintage) juice that is the "dirtier" of the two. I have a very very small sample and, in summer, find it an amazing fragrance. I need more!
As you can see, I am presuming that only the vintage formula will do, but I could be wrong. I'd love to hear another lover of Chanel 19 with more experience.


Hi Tim, 

Thanks for stopping by. As you can tell from my review, I'm a huge fan of vintage Chanel No. 19! Both versions. Actually, the vintage concentrations, both EDP and EDT are straw-colored (yellow). The 19 that's on the shelves now is green, and marks that formula as non-vintage. (Thanks for color-coding the reformulation, Chanel!). It's missing the complex base from the vintage: the leather, the moss, etc. It's nice, but not the same thing. What do you think about the difference between the vintage EDT and the EDP?


Thanks, Perfumaniac. I very much appreciate your knowledge and your blog.
I wish I could comment on your question. The source of my wee sample did not mark whether EdP or EdT. But it IS decidedly green. ANd it is decidedly dirty. So clearly my data is confused...and so am I.
Punchline: If I hit eBay, I should look for vintage, yes? And it will NOT be green, yes? Both EdT and EdP can be rewarding, yes? Might one be dirtier than the other?
Final query, if I may: Some sellers do not show the juice, only the bottle. And sometimes the bottle is an atomizer. Is there a distinct shape to the vintage bottle? A distinct layout of type? It's no fun to pay for vintage and receive (sometimes due to seller's naivete) a contemporary formulation.
I look forward to this info so I can continue to enjoy this exceptional fragrance in Minneapolis, where we're much better known for icicles hanging from our noses than steamy sweat dripping from our brows. But now is that steamy time for which, IMO, Chanel 19 was made.


Hi Nancy,
I'm still looking for the Chanel 19 that smells the way my sample does--strong, sharp, and indolic. I was wondering if I got a sample that did not hold up so well. But if not, it's somehow appealing! Can you describe those vintage EdT splash bottles for me? Would you be willing to part with one?


Tim, if you dont want to invest in a bottle, even a mini (or take the risk), check out The Perfumed Court, Surrender to Chance, or The Posh Peasant for 1 ml vials. Theyre all reputable, and if they say its vintage EDT or EDP, it will be. Good luck!

On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM, Barbara Herman [email protected] wrote:

Hi Tim,

Chanel No. 19 isnt what I would describe as indolic, or dirty. Its a green chypre with hints of leather. I described the EDP as woody, vegetal and oily with a hint of freshly cut leaves, and my description of the EDT is up there too. Id try out miniatureperfumeshoppe.com for vintage EDT or EDP, as well as eBay minis, and just make sure theyre straw-colored. Ill email you links if youd like.


Hi Tim,

Chanel No. 19 isnt what I would describe as indolic, or dirty. Its a green chypre with hints of leather. I described the EDP as woody, vegetal and oily with a hint of freshly cut leaves, and my description of the EDT is up there too. Id try out miniatureperfumeshoppe.com for vintage EDT or EDP, as well as eBay minis, and just make sure theyre straw-colored. Ill email you links if youd like.


A boardroom is the most boring, beige place in the world. Hardly the natural habitat of something as gorgeous and compelling as Chanel No 19.


Ramon, I could not agree more!

Sent from my iPhone


Very interesting,one could look up scent your G. mother use to smell like and may still be able to purchase it.


Revisiting this review once again, and I don't think there is anything Art Deco about 19, it was done in the 70's after all.

Much has been said about it, but no one ever mentions the woman that inspired this scent, Chanel herself. Now, the timeline is somewhat confusing, some people say No 19 is a reworked Mademoiselle Chanel No 31, which she supposedly used after dumping No 5 in her 40's or 50's, I don't think this is true, then the official story is that this is the last scent she worked on, but that doesn't add up considering it was released in 1971 and she died in January 10 of that year, so how can that be? Whether she actually worked on it or it was a posthumous tribute by the genius Henri Robert, I think it is a portrait of her, and it is what captures her best.

Most people see the success, her fame, her tough exterior, but for all intent and purposes, Chanel was a woman who lost the love of her life tragically, was a loner, never married, didn't have children, spent her later years alone and died alone too, always being the outsider, never a suitable choice for the gentlemen she loved, hence why there was never a marriage, always existing in this demimonde even when she was the toast of the town. I think she was a very melancholic character, very sensitive and frail, having experienced so much loss but still resilient and hopeful for the future.

This is what I always get from No 19, I get Chanel in her later years, and it is an incredibly moving and compassionate portrait, and so incredibly gorgeous. And sad too, but that's part of its incredible beauty, no other perfume can compare to be honest.


Cashmere sweaters, faded blue jeans, suede boots, cat-eye eyeliner and Chanel No. 19.... drove 'them' insane, made them salivate; their eyes were always glazed over. Chanel No. 19 bewitching.... That's an understatement.


how come EDT and EDP smell different? I don't understand it...I always thought that the only difference is the strength of the fragrance. But to my astonishment when I have checked fragrantica web site I noticed that both are similar but there some notes removed/replaced.
So what now I have to buy both?

Dior Poison and Hypnotic Poison does same thing both EDT and EdP smell different. I am very sad about it.

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