October 8, 2009 by

Perfume Review: Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere


Categories: aldehydic floral, Chanel, Perfume review

This is the first of several posts in which I’ll be reviewing perfumes that are similar to, or are based on, or that remind me of, Chanel No. 5. First up is Chanel’s own flanker, No. 5 Eau Premiere, created in 2007 to modernize No. 5 for the current taste.

Opinions have been rather divided on Eau Premiere, with perfumistas typically taking one of two positions:
1) It’s No. 5, slimmed down and warmed up, palatable to modern consumers and quite wearable.
2) It took all the glory of No. 5 and sold it out, dumbed it down, ruined the perfection.

I take Position 1. Bear in mind, though, a few facts: I like aldehydic florals. I have generally found No. 5 to be a little on the cold-and-powdery side, at least until I discovered that vintage parfum I wrote about in the last post. Slight differences from classic No. 5 actually make me happy, because I can wear the scent without smelling exactly like my mother. And lastly, I tested Eau Premiere before I found that vintage parfum.

The listed notes for both No. 5 and Eau Premiere are, duh, pretty much the same:
T: aldehydes, neroli, bergamot, lemon, ylang-ylang
H: rose, jasmine, LotV, iris
B: vetiver, sandal, patchouli, vanilla, amber

I suspect that the differences in smell come from changes in the proportions of the notes. Eau Premiere, which is an eau de toilette, starts off with a burst of juicy citrus, only lightly veiled with aldehydes. I never smell citrus in the original, and I’m guessing that the aldehydes simply overpower the citrus – or maybe the citrus is only there in light proportions, to keep the aldehydes from smelling too soapy. From that pleasant, smiling citrusy start, EP moves fluidly into its floral heart. This is the point at which it tends to smell most like its famous ancestress – that creamy ylang, the floaty jasmine, the cool powdery iris. The rose is more prominent to my nose in EP than in the original, and that seems to make EP more friendly, more romantic, and, possibly, less whip-smart, as if the EP girl has taken off her reading glasses to entice her chem lab partner into asking her for a date.

(No. 5 wouldn’t have bothered. She’d have stared him down through those lenses, model-beautiful nonetheless.) This floral stage lasts about two hours on my skin – by and large, Eau Premiere seems to develop less than No. 5, with stages flowing into each other instead of the striking changes of No. 5.

EP finally moves into a sandalwood-vetiver-vanilla-and-musk drydown. It is nicely balanced between dry and sweet, between the vetiver and vanilla, but it is quite light, and does not amaze like the cool-warm/dry-rich base of vintage No. 5. The sandalwood is, sadly, not the full-bodied and gorgeous thing one finds in the vintage No. 5 – but then, what is these days? I don’t even smell the same sandalwood in modern No. 5 parfum – it’s nice, but not jaw-droppingly beautiful as it is in the vintage. I have read several complaints that Eau Premiere’s drydown seems to just disappear, but that hasn’t been my experience. Scents, especially edts, don’t last very long on my skin: usually I can expect three hours from an edt, four tops. Eau Premiere, on the other hand, lasts 6 hours + on me, with the last half of it emanating a decidedly citrus-musk blend. I think – I am not entirely sure, but I think that I’ve read that there exists a particular musk that has citrus overtones, and my guess is that this musk is present in EP. Toward the end of the story, it is all I can smell – a light, clean musk, with a hint of citrus.

As promised, the skin difference anecdote: I bought a small bottle of EP for my mother, the No. 5 girl, for her birthday. While I was visiting her, she gave me one spritz on my neck and one on my wrists, then spritzed her own. An hour later, we were in the kitchen peeling potatoes and I leaned over to sniff her neck. Hmm. I sniffed again. Mom smelled like your average ditzy fruity-floral mall frag. I sniffed my own wrists: Hmm. No. 5. Mom again: peachy floral mish-mash. Me: No. 5 (except less powdery). No peach. Three hours later, she smelled like No. 5 (more powdery than I had smelled), and I smelled like citrus musk. Weird. Of course, this may all be simply my perception, but it is odd that it doesn’t smell the same on me as it does on her.

I find Eau Premiere very lovely, and like its famous precursor appropriate to any number of occasions. It is more citrusy, more rosy, more friendly, more linear, while being less aldehydic, less cold, less complex, less powdery. In short, it is designed to suit the modern taste. I think it does so admirably.

Images are Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere at fragrantica.com and glasses model 0072 by gwg_fan at flickr.


5 Responses to Perfume Review: Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere

  1. Daisy

    Hi Mals, I really enjoyed reading your impressions of the Chanels along with your history with them. Growing up I wished and wished that my mom would wear perfume so I could get my greedy pre-adolescent hands on a spritz here and there. Alas, my mother the Amazon scoffs at the very idea of perfume. At which point I was certain I was a victim of nefarious baby switching and somewhere, some young Amazon was languishing with a wonderfully perfumed mother, longing for a new rifle or western saddle for Christmas… But now, after reading about your mom and her Chanel, after hearing tales from others about their mother's or grandmother's (aunts and sisters) signature perfumes….I'm relieved that I have very few "relative-perfume-associations" –all the perfumes of the world are available for me! Not a bad place to be, eh? Back to Chanel no 5……ahhh, Chanel no 5…my first love in the world of fragrance. I don't recall how I even first came across Chanel no 5; living in a house full of males (and one Amazon) but at 13 I had smelled it and loved it and needed a bit of it….using my very limited 13 yr old funds, I managed to get my hands on a small bottle of No 5 edt….I was in heaven. The rest is history. Today I have EP on one wrist and 1980's No 5 parfum on the other for side by side comparison…I also have a dab of Amouage Jubilation 25 on my inner elbow but THAT is a whole different story. I do love aldehydic florals, will probably always be drawn to them. EP gives me that burst of creamy citrus in the opening and flows seemlessly into the floral heart….as you said, there's more rose to it than the original and a touch of the lemon lingers on my skin long into dry down….did I mention that I love citrusy scents as well? The opening of Chanel no 5 Parfum gives me no citrus notes at all, just aldehydes and jasmine…lots and lots of jasmine. For a few minutes they are close sisters, maybe not twins exactly but still very close. Then the EP settles in for the duration as soft, slightly citrusy, rosy jasmine floral , and that's how she stay, and she stays a long time. No 5 parfum however exits the sisterhood as she dries down darker, more mature and and a musky jasmine takes over the show. This girl isn't even concerned about the glasses, she pushes that cute lab partner up against the table and let's him know how it's gonna be! I like both fragrances but they are for different moods, different days. The CEO prefers the Eau Premiere, but let's face it: to get a really enthusiastic response from him, I'd have to paste chocolate chip cookies all over my body, run around clutching a football and shouting out things like "HIKE" and "OFF SIDES" and other terms I haven't a clue of the meaning. Men are like that. I wear perfume for ME. 😉

  2. ScentScelf

    In the spirit of True Confessions, I have to admit…I rather prefer Eau Premiere to the original. The original is to aldehydic, too "soapy" for me. Always has been, and has continued in that vein, even as I have come to appreciate other scents.Interesting about you and your mom. An excellent anecdote for the "your mileage may vary" basket.

  3. Mals86

    Daisy… aw, doesn't your mom wear perfume now? And no sisters to share with either – that's sad. Although I'd point out that MY sister never shared her Dune, her ckOne, or her Vanilla Fields, either. (Okay, okay, Dune was the only one I liked.)You were a precocious 13-year-old to have picked up No. 5. I should always test your favorites.

  4. Mals86

    S, I think there are just some people who are not going to love certain classics… I don't think I'll ever love Mitsouko. It's one of those things that I "get," intellectually, but it makes no impression on my emotions, other than leaving me bored and waiting for it to wear off. I suppose that's just another way to say, "Chacon a son gout," which is not necessarily bad. How boring would it be if we all liked the same things?

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