Bleu: Chanel's New Men's Fragrance
By Anne-Marie Guarnieri
Martin Scorsese and Gaspard Ulliel behind the scenes of the Bleu de Chanel short film
The Chanel Fragrance labs in Neuilly, just outside of Paris, are as sleek and modern as one would expect from a global megabrand that has access to just about every resource available. Chicly appointed lab techs in pristine white coats sit quietly around a white workspace, surrounded by vials, blotters and test tubes containing ingredients that may or may not coalesce to become Chanel’s next fragrance sensation.
Deputy perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is giving a tour of the space, including a closet filled to capacity with scents—most of which have names that he won’t let us get close enough to write down. “Chanel doesn’t launch a lot of new fragrances, but we’re always creating new ones,” says Sheldrake. Many of the scents inside the cabinet are finished and yet will never see the light of day. “Maybe they’re too challenging,” he says, as he gently steers us in another direction.
It’s a tantalizing lead-in to the reason we’re there—to experience one that did make the cut. Bleu de Chanel ($79) is the house’s first big men’s release since 2004’s Allure Homme Sport. We retire to a lounge to smell the scent with its creator, master perfumer Jacques Polge, who’s been the architect of each blockbuster Chanel launch post-No. 5, including Égoïste, Coco Mademoiselle, Allure and Chance.
“It’s simple. If I had to use three or four words, I would say fresh, spicy, woody and sexy,” says Polge of Bleu’s composition. “Very straightforward.” It also has a minty note, giving it a cool, elegant feel. The launch for the scent is a major event; for the occasion, Martin Scorsese has directed a short advertising film, starring soon-to-be household name Gaspard Ulliel and complete with a Rolling Stones sound track.
For Polge, however, the hard part is over; all that’s left is for the reviews to start rolling in. “It’s kind of passed; it’s done,” he says. “Now I’m waiting to learn from the people who wear it. Now we are waiting for success, hoping it will come.” 400 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; chanel.com
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.