The arrival of a new Exclusif by Chanel is always an event in the fragrant blogosphere. Olivier Polge had already seduced us last year with Misia, an ode to Coco’s friend and muse Misia Sert, whose femininity is expressed through a “lipstick” accord with notes of rose and violet.
The new opus in the Les Exclusifs line again draws from Gabrielle Chanel’s universe. It borrows its name this time from her great love, Arthur Capel, who was commonly nicknamed “Boy”. His death in a car accident in 1918 meant the end of their history and left her distraught with grief. This lover not only marked her life and her heart, he also contributed to the style of the designer, who, fascinated by his blazers, put a masculine touch in the female wardrobe of that time.
Olivier Polge has deliberately not made a unisex fragrance, but aimed for a duality by working a typically male accord that women could appropriate at will. This Chanel offering within Les Exclusifs is a fougère, the iconic kind often used in masculine perfumery. A fragrance that a woman could use to make her universe deliciously androgynous, in the same way of wearing a man’s shirt on her bare skin for example.
Being woven into the fabric of a fougere, Boy takes the famous lavendercoumarin accord, whose freshness is pushed ahead by citrus notes (bergamot, lemon, grapefruit). We perceive at once the Chanel signature with its tinted floral heart of the faithful rose and jasmine duo, illuminated by orange blossom. Geranium, emblematic of the genre, is present as well, accentuating its rose notes, citrus and menthol, the aromatic and floral facet of the perfume.
We quickly are met with sandalwood that embraces the floral bouquet with its woody and milky notes as a wink to the beautiful Bois des Iles from the same collection. Oak moss also brings the chypre sensation, on a colored background of musk, vetiver and heliotrope. I perceive some more animal notes in the background, as well.
Everything complies with the Chanel collection, which means good quality, rich in beautiful materials and terribly elegant. The question is whether it will appeal to both women and men, but there is no doubt that its facets play two registers. On the one hand a masculine fougere, at least on my skin, on the other a languid floral heart on a bed of sandalwood which may bring to mind many fragrances of the house that were dedicated to women.
Note that this is not the first time Chanel cultivates ambivalence in their creations. The pink jasmine-sandalwood accord is reminiscent of the female Bois des Iles, whose form was echoed decades later in the famous men’s fragrance Egoiste… But that would be forgetting Jersey, another Exclusif, whose name refers to this fabric for men, hijacked by Gabrielle for women’s fashion, and whose sublime scent of lavender, a material with many a male connotation, is made softer and rounded by pear, musk and vanilla, blurring the gender line again.
Boy is exclusively for sale in the new Chanel boutique on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais since March 24, and will be in all points of sale of Les Exclusif starting June.
Because it is an eau de parfum (while the rest of the collection is available in eau de toilette and extrait), this new edition is available at a price of 175 euros for 75 ml and 320 euros for 200 ml.