Cristalle Eau Verte by Chanel (2009)

Thumbs Up

Sometimes I wonder about these decades-later flankers or opposite-sex iterations. Rarely you get a winning match as with Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955) and Chanel Pour Monsieur Eau de Toilette Concentrée (1989) or Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (1971) and Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2002), but rather instead end up with two completely incompatible entries under the same name like Rochas Moustache (1949) and Moustache Eau de Parfum (2018) or Yves Saint Laurent Y (1964) and Y for Men (2017) with perfumes being culturally worlds apart. Jacques Polge seems to be an exception to this, and keeps his successors or flankers connected to the vibe of their predecessors even if they were penned by a different perfumer or are stylistically different. The original Cristalle (1974) was previous Chanel house perfumer Henri Robert’s final work for the maison, and is an icy-tempered fruity floral chypre of exceptional character, meaning Jacques Polge had a tall order to fill flanking it some 35 years after its launch.

The main premise of Cristalle Eau Vert (2009) is to be a greener take on the theme, which might seem impossible at first due to the sharp grassy galbanum note in the original, but the green of Cristalle Eau Vert is rather more atmospheric than that. Jacques Polge gives us a scent that opens lighter, softer, with fuller citrus tones than the original. Bergamot and lemon do their thing while a jasmine hedione and neroli bring in a summery freshness with a touch of vetiver that becomes the heart of Cristalle Eau Vert. No resemblance to the original is found here but the white floral mix of ylang-ylang and iris with a returning hyacinth feels like they share the same family tree at least. The base is a similar light woody musky chypre affair but with oakmoss turned down low to modern tastes while white musk and a wisp of cedar do most of the talking. Sillage is moderate but longevity is a bit of a problem unless you use this as a before-bed fragrance. Despite the labeling, this feels more like an eau de cologne than a concentrée to me.

Cristalle Eau Vert is really the summer to the original Cristalle’s wintery gaze, and a good complimentary flanker that doesn’t smell redundant next to the original nor like an abuse of the name. Die-hard vintage perfumistas will likely hate this anyway just because it isn’t keyed to the impossible expectations that arise from waiting three decades to make a flanker, but anyone looking for a softer and friendlier scent to compliment their Cristalle or even Chanel No. 19 (1971) should give Cristalle Eau Vert a try. I wouldn’t call this my favorite by a long shot but I respect the work done here, and my only real grudge is Cristalle Eau Vert not being stronger or at least coming in a parfum but knowing Chanel, that would result in an entirely different experience. Testing Cristalle Eau Vert should be easy, as it seems this gets put out on counters more than the original due to the style more or less being in vogue for 21st century green florals. Thumbs Up.

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