Chanel’s No. 18 takes a glance into the past; from modern to yesteryear. Acting in retrospect is a very Chanel thing to do. To take something modern, and project it in a unique realm worthy of veneration. This is a modern vintage. A study of the degrees of animalics in perfume – playing with distinctive vegetal tones and augmentations of florals.
A perfume of immensely complex shading, No. 18 fleshes out the spectrum of grey with a warm opalescent crystal hue at the base. It is a sophisticated fragrance, able to be viewed from many prominent angles. No. 18 maintains a radiant quality, with a complexity that surprisingly isn’t structured in layers (as many great perfumes are). Instead, it delivers a structure which in place of being paradigmatically top-down, is rather horizontal: from left to right. Instead of having to dig deep and find things at the core of No. 18, No. 18 builds complexity through gentle additions to the point of intermediacy: Between a blurred grey abstraction and blurred warm hues, somewhat like trying to distinguish mezzo piano and mezzo forte – minute and tactically careful variances in volume. No. 18 arrives at a point of something on the tip of the tongue. Illuminated, but never totally clear. Like hearing a dramatic symphony at the lowest audible volume.
Texturally, No. 18 is rich floral perfume. With a fresh rhapsody that parallels classic perfumery. It is complex in a way that begs intellectual mediation. Something not to be analysed directly, but worn as its notes pan with fluidity.
Photo by Chanel
No. 18 begins with urgent, kinetic intensity. An imperceptible flourish. It is the scent of dust: garments stored away in wooden chests, pencil shavings, chalk dust, dried leaves, and a certain earthy peppery spiced unctuousness comparable to extra virgin olive oil. With immense olfactory vibration, it moves in a measured manner as its breadth expands. The sweetly dank mushroom-like smell of freshly rained on soil, and the piercing headiness of ripe fruits and their sweet skins.
The ambrette is the foundational note, working marvellously with a note of mild ozonic quality. It adds impressions of woods, powder, and grey hair. The minimalist composition of No. 18 never moves into watercolour territory – but rather a minimalism through reductionism. What is left are notes of immense olfactory intrigue. Ambrette gives unique paradoxical freshness: a fresh animalic. A purifying, salubrious musk which blends seamlessly with an unexpected rose adding a crisp verdant slick at the very bottom of the base.
Ambrette is indeed subject in No. 18, allowed to sing and expand with these additional notes. The iris aids in promoting the effect of a dried vegetal freshness. The rose gives a more pronounced floral feel, remaining at the back of the composition. Overall, No. 18 is pensive and delivered immediately. No thrills of an exaggerated sort, but rather, a buzzing excitement.
A beautiful rose fragrance hidden underneath melodious and soft tones with a touch of strange. No. 18 is unfussed, and rooted in a grey musk accord that is executed sparsely with a ripe headiness of fruits.
Subjective rating : 5/5
Objective rating: 5/5