1932 by Chanel

A celebration of femininity.

1932 by Chanel

Photo by Chanel


“Ohhh” I uttered with inexorable glee. I giggled with delight, this was perfect. It was exactly what I’ve been looking for.

I’ll begin by quoting Luca Turin again, as I feel my main thoughts can be described quickly with a quote; but of course I’ll get to the linguistically long section also. I will also recommend (a must!) reading my prior 31 Rue Cambon review also.

“Beauty, immediately understood, but never quite elucidated”

1932 by Chanel hit me with an odd nostalgia, but also a rather odd sense of ‘Hey! Wait a minute’. Did I muck up my labels? I thought I was smelling 31 Rue Cambon again. However, I was assured by many fragrance hounds this fragrance is much alike… But, I think I like this more.

There’s a peculiar and yet conventional desire in fragrances, from what I’ve observed, to encapsulate gender. I’ll say I fall for it, and that’s fine, but I smell fragrances and my head clicks instantaneously: “I know a female who would wear this” or “This would be divine on a man”.

Because I was reminded so much of 31 Rue Cambon, which I stated was a “feminine-attuned, yet a touch masculine fragrance”, I immediately announced in the peace of my room: “femininity in liquid form!” when smelling 1932. But why? Wouldn’t 31 Rue Cambon do the same? Well – no.

If we were to take the DNA of 31 and remove my main complaint, the kinda ‘salacious’ and spicy pepper notes we would get 1932. Highly inoffensive, highly pleasing and just an absolute joy. There’s a level of safeness that’s gained in turn for the loss of audacious pepper, and for some of us that’s good. Some of us ‘know when to walk away’, some of us like to play it safe(-er) and some might find this underwhelming. But I like to consider the fact that we have die hard advocates for cologne, and if I’m being specific – some love the original stuff; the template herbs and citrus. I give you brave traditionalists my self-important acclaim.

1932 is effervescent in ways 31 Rue Cambon would never be. The Chanel accord is delivered in its purest form ever. Icy aldehydes, green jasmine, ylang-ylang, iris and orris root deliver the floral musk notes that way too many fragrances now attempt to emulate, without much success. Consider it the flagship female accord for Chanel (excluding No. 5, of course). This accord is the main player throughout; flouncy, cheery, and elegant; the obvious younger sister to 31 Rue Cambon. Some may say this is ordinary. I say it’s isolated beauty. It’s the scent when a heroine walks past on the street – it hits you. You pause. You smile.

We are accustomed to the smell of ‘clean’ and 1932 has a soapy, shiny-nose cleanliness that is impossible not to like. Essence of neroli, vetiver, lilac, sandalwood and bergamot create the scent of cleanliness; a gold and pink toned, honey-sweet scented prissiness. Guiltless and pure. This fragrance is also chirpy, friendly and somewhat original with the creative use of rose, a dousing of begamot (‘limey bergamot’, that is) and piquant carnation.

At the base, a little cloud of incense, baked good ‘shalimar’ coumarin and the sticky scent of sweet resin is saved for the later parts of the fragrance. They never take centre stage. If you want that, take a look at Amouage fragrances or Shalimar by Guerlain.

It’s as if this scent is the base to many of the others; the opening at least.

Alternatives: 31 Rue Cambon by Chanel (pepper & patchouli + 1932); and Cuir de Russie by Chanel (leather & birch + 1932 = heavy).

Sweet, pretty and adult florals; the aldehydic accord is fully embraced.

Subjective rating : 3/5

Objective rating: 4/5

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