My First Unsniffed Purchase: Chanel №19 Poudré

It started completely innocently: less than two months ago another perfume blog (APB) published a brief article about the upcoming launch of Chanel №19 Poudré. It was a big surprise for me. Not because of the launch itself but because this was the first time I heard about it, and the information was coming not from my “regular sources,” big and well-known sites and journals (I read a lot of perfume-related noise) but from a fellow-blogger. First, I thought I’d somehow missed it so I went and searched all my usual suspects. Nothing. Then I searched Google, Facebook, Twitter. With similar results: all I found was a couple of vague tweets from random users and trademark registration information. Of course, within a week the picture changed, there were articles appearing here and there, but I still think that APB pioneered with that information in our perfume-related part of the blogosphere; and I felt strangely intertwined with it.

When I read that Chanel №19 Poudré was going to be available for preview at Selfridges in London starting June 1st and no specific date for the U.S. launch, I felt I couldn’t wait. I wanted it. NOW. Luckily (?) for me a friend of mine was on a long business trip to the U.K. and he agreed to buy this new Chanel’s flanker and hand deliver it to me. And he did.

Rusty and No 19 Poudre by Chanel

Chanel №19 Poudré – created in 2011 by Jacques Polge, notes include neroli, galbanum, jasmine, iris, white musk, vetiver and tonka bean. It comes in the eau de parfum (EdP) concentration.

I’ve been testing it for the last two weeks in different environments and combinations – in the office, during the weekend and on a vacation; in sunny weather and under the rain; alone and alongside with Chanel №19 in all possible concentrations – EdT, EdP and Parfum. Here are my thoughts.

Chanel №19 Poudré opens very nicely with a strong iris note which I like more and more with every next wear. While anxiously waiting for my bottle to arrive, I read so many discussions and speculations about the perfume that now I’m not sure if it actually was just a speculation, but I want to state that I do not think it’s a powdery scent at all. The iris in №19 Poudré doesn’t smell powdery, or cold, or earthy, or dirty as in many other perfumes that I like. Iris in this perfume is very well-behaved and appropriate, it’s soft and creamy. And just a little daring – like a single hair lock carefully places to look like it spontaneously broke out from the elegant updo hairstyle. This is the most interesting stage of this perfume’s life cycle, and it will probably sell it well to those shoppers who make their decision at the perfume counter. In ten-fifteen minutes iris subsides almost completely, and №19 Poudré becomes a softer, “rounder” and, in my mind, less interesting version of the original №19 EdP. I only have a manufacturer’s vial of Chanel №19 EdP of an unknown vintage, so I do not know how the current version smells but assuming it’s not too far from the one I tested, №19 Poudré EdP has much less character than the original №19 EdP, though it strongly reminds of it.

Unless you’re one of those people whose body constantly produces heat, I should warn you that an air-conditioned environment (and maybe cold weather but I haven’t tested under that condition) kills this perfume for me: I could hardly smell it on my skin after a generous application in two hours in the cool office. On the other hand, on a warm and humid day six hours into wearing I can still smell it without pressing my nose to the skin.

If your favorite Chanel №19 concentration is eau de toilette (EdT) №19 Poudré might be not a bad idea since it’s even farther from №19 EdT then any “native” variations. But if you love №19 EdP or parfum I do not think №19 Poudré will work for you: it’s not different enough to justify the changes.

My cat Rusty who favors Chanel Beige when offered two wrists – one with Chanel №19 Poudré EdP and the other one with vintage №19 EdP, sniffed the latter for much longer and much more attentively. I think he prefers the classic one.

Do I regret my unsniffed purchase? I’m not sure. Yes and no. I will be using it from time to time, I do not dislike it. But I think should I have tested it in the store I would have bought Chanel №19 EdT instead. But it’s definitely not the worst outcome.

Do you remember your first unsniffed purchase? Was it a hit or miss for you?

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Image: my own


23 thoughts on “My First Unsniffed Purchase: Chanel №19 Poudré

  1. Undina, I’m all kinds of excited about this one since Chanel no. 19 in its EdP and parfum versions are among my Great Immortals, the ones I never want to be without, and I’m lucky enough to live in a world where air conditioning – or even the need for it – is not that common. Where I wonder about Poudré is whether it’s been…neutered, so to say, tamped down to the extent that makes it suitable for those who prefer understatement over sillage. (I’m not among them, but you know that, right? :) ) So this is the first Chanel release in untold ages I can’t wait to try, hoping it might be as good as their re-engineering of no.5 with Eau Premiere. Reading your review, though gives me some pause for thought…and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! ;)


    • Tarleisio, definitely try it first and see how it works on your skin. I was surprised how much it opened on me on my fourth or fifth wear – just because the weather was different.

      I prefer №19 EdT but ironically own just a tiny decant of it and I spent money on parfum bottle which I like but not as much as EdT (that is what you get when you cannot try before you buy – and I don’t remember ever seeing testers for either Chanel’s or Dior’s parfums).


  2. Rusty is so cute! And he obviously has very good taste. I admire this review. You’ve done a really good job describing this, and you’ve obviously been really thorough about the testing. I’m glad you wrote about it; the first real review! I will definitely be referencing back when I have the chance to revisit this. Your review should be a must read for all those who would make a quick decision at the counter.

    As far as unsniffed purchases, I made my first unsniffed purchase recently too, a bottle of Coty La Rose Jacqueminot. Luckily for me, it has turned out well.

    P.S. I’m adding something No 19-related to your envelope, which is going out today. :)


    • Thank you. All that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for your reading habits.

      As you can see, it wasn’t a complete disaster, I’ll enjoy using it for a while but I should learn from that excercise and choose my FB more thoughtfully.


  3. Thanks for the review! I’ve been waiting to hear something about this. I think I like the leather/rooty aspect of the EDP, so I’m not sure I want something softer and rounder, but the great thing about Chanel is that they keep the original formula too, so I can have either!


    • Sometimes negative results of testing are good results: you do not feel an urge to have that one more exactly the same but completely different pair of black shoes.


  4. Hmm…I’m still going to try it. I actually prefer No. 19 EDT, so maybe I’ll like it? But, body temp is “cool” so I doubt it will ever “warm” up on me.

    Rusty does have great tastes. Beige wears very nicely on me too.


    • My “problem” with EdT which I also prefer to all other versions is that it’s too… available. I keep telling myself that I will be able to buy it at any moment. Meanwhile there are so many perfumes that are either limited editions or too expensive to buy anything but a decant. Or something else that makes them more desirable at the moment. But №19 EdT for me is clearly a FBW perfume and I shall buy it soon.


  5. I LOVE it. More than Chanel no. 19, more than a lot of things. Poudre is right up my alley, and I must buy a bottle, I will wear the crap out of it all summer long. Ok, so that’s my hastily penned opinion.

    My most recent unsniffed purchase was Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial, and I got lucky, I do love it. Still need to review it, but The Non Blonde reviewed it yesterday if anyone is interested in another’s opinion. :)

    Undina, you’re my Poudre Hero, I so appreciate the chance you’ve given me to try it, now I can buy with confidence. Buying full bottles unsniffed is rather stressful!


    • Carrie, I’m so glad you liked it. It’s such a joy when you find something new that excites you. Now you’ll need to find a scent mule to bring or send it to you from the U.K.

      Is the Parfum Initial going to be available from any department stores? I haven’t had much success with Guerlains so far but I keep trying: I’m sure there is or will be at least one perfume that I’d love. I just need to find it.


      • Hi Undina- yes the new Shalimar is available at Saks now, I’m not sure where else but I seem to remember one or two other dept stores as well. I had it on pre-order from Saks and they shipped it to me last week, which was a few days ahead of schedule (lucky for me!).


  6. Hmm…thanks for this useful review, Undina. I’m a No 19 EDP devotee, and for the reasons you’ve described (longevity, interest factor, AC vs body heat), I think that Poudre is likely to be decant-only for me.


    • Try it when you have a chance: who knows, maybe without having too much expectations you’ll end up liking it.

      Buying unsniffed or impulse purchases are, in general, a bad idea. But most of us (but those on a very stricks budget) should make those from time to time – for the joy of a sudden success, for “the team”, for the sake of swapping if nothing else ;)


  7. Very nice review!

    I still want to try Poudre when I can – which might be awhile, because none of the stores near me carry No. 19. I’ll probably have to purchase a sample from TPC. My favorite concentration is EdT, preferably vintage, but I love it for its backbone, so I’m thinking I might welcome a softer variation.

    I will usually take a chance on decants or splits unsniffed, but not full bottles at retail price. Though I have been known to buy discontinued bottles on the cheap without having smelled them first, notably Cuir de Lancome and Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, both of which I absolutely love. OH, and Mariella Burani, that too. Haven’t had any unsniffed disasters in full bottles, though some of the decants I thought I’d love were bad ideas…


    • Thank you, Mals.

      I think that No.19 flanker is a milestone and any perfumista who has any feelings about the original perfume just cannot miss it (if only other brands would release a flanker every 40 years! ;)).

      I think I’m done with unsniffed purchases – be it full bottles or even decants – for a while (4-5 months, I think). But I’m sure it wasn’t my last purchase of that nature.


  8. Hmmm … in the winter I prefer the EDP and parfum concentrations of No 19, and the EDT in the summer. So I’m still not sure how I will go with Poudre. What does interest me is just trying it – being part of the event. Once every 40 years is amazing. Thanks for the review.


    • If you do not absolutely love it the first time you try, do it at least two-three times more. Once you have no expectations you might have a different response.


  9. I have it on since 3:00pm & it is now 10:09pm. It’s very, very light…maybe a little too light. I can’t really smell it unless I press my nose to my skin. To me, it smells like Bvlgari, Pour Femme but without the top notes of the the roses. If you like Bvlgari, Pour Femme but wished the perfume was less sweet then give this a try. Also, try it directly on your skin & not the blotter. The scent is different is completely different. As hours go by you will see the scent evolve into a scent that is much closer to Pour Femme, without the strong, rosy scent Pour Femme has.


    • At some point I stopped trying different perfumes from Bvlgari. Not because I disliked any of them but because I could hardly tell them apart, they all smelled very similar to me.


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