Thursday, April 30, 2009

Curious things happening at Chanel USA

You had been all lamenting that stopped carrying Chanel perfumes in the previously Rue Cambon incarnation (Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie, No.22 and Gardénia), when they were "promoted" in eau de toilette form in Les Exclusifs range about two years ago.

Well, as a public service, I am in the position to tell you that they are RIGHT NOW available on Chanel USA official site! (200ml Eau de toilette for 200$) Click the Chanel link to see with your own eyes and perhaps order if you had been wanting to. The link mentions them as Rue Cambon (the previous name) although the page announces them as Les Exclusifs (so it is a reworking of the previous pages by their internet designer).
Curiously there is an abscence of No.19, not exactly the most popular fragrance stateside...

So: What is happening? I could concoct a series of theories, but I will let you offer your own first, be my guest!

Personally, I fully expect Beige to join the line-up soon... ;-)

EDIT TO ADD (May1st): An anonymous commentator of this blog, who happens to be someone from Chanel apparently by the tone of it, informs me that the lack of No.19 is simply a goof of the webmaster of the site and the No.19 Eau de Toilette and Body Lotion are still available with no plans to pull them off the USA market.
However, a different reader of mine coincidentally mailed me with questions on an auction for a No.19 embottled in a big 200ml flacon identical to Les Exclusifs! Due to having recently cross-compared a similar batch of Chanel Eau de Cologne which proved to be heavily "cut" with alcohol, I am wary of con-men having devised a way to fake/tamper with Les Exclusifs bottles. Therefore, stay tuned on more regarding this issue on No.19!

Thanks to Fumebag for the alert. Pic of Chanel vials via afternoonrain/flickr


  1. Of course i instantly checked the European site and there is No.19 still offered **phew!!**), no Exclusifs, though...


  2. EXACTLY, dear N! It's the USA site that presents the "curiosity" factor. It's rather...odd. (First pull, then raise to exclusive status, then bring back again online...hmmm...the whole exclusivity thing now is merely a monetary ~instead of limited distribution~ issue, isn't it!)

  3. Anonymous11:57

    possible (43rd Amendment of IFRA)??

  4. Hmm....but then, they're just re-issuing the same product that was circulating at boutiques at a greater audience. So, it's a sales/positioning issue, rather than product/creation issue.

  5. I hope it's OK to post ...
    Over the past several years, I've been checking the Chanel website fairly regularly, with much confusion. Fragrances seem to appear and disappear there with no rhyme or reason.
    For example, I don't see Bois des Iles there at the moment, but I could swear that I've seen it there in the not so distant past.
    It's led me to the impression that the Chanel website is sort of like the weather - don't like it now? Just wait a while, it'll change.

  6. No real theories, just a coincidence. For years, the Chanel boutique at the Tysons Galleria in McLean, VA has been out of No 22. They have a tester bottle, but no bottles for sale. Every so often, they get three or four bottles in the store, then nothing. A few weeks ago, one of the SAs called me to tell me that they had six bottles-more than usual. I wonder if they are just putting some of the scents in wider distribution.

  7. Will they stop messing with our heads!!

    Surely 19 couldn't ever become an exclusif, it's too widely loved in Europe and they couldn't have exclusifs... could they? hmm I wonder. Then I always think Cristalle is going to gently dissapear here but the flanker suggests they are giving it a boost doesn't it.

  8. Anonymous17:03

    Well, a bit odd. We know that Beige shall be available on the web but the Chanel newsletters didn't mention anything about the Beaux creations being "reintroduced" first. But I await your theory.

    Anyhow, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of Chanel USA but here's my observation. I've noticed that the branch has gotten somewhat of its own distribution strategy--being the only region that has its own e-business is one such case in point. (The brand, no matter how French-oriented it is, tends to modify its strategies from region to region IMHO.)

    But hypothesizing aside the bottom line is that Chanel has a greater plan for its Les Exclusifs range than just in-house creations. I cannot say that the strategy will apply to all regions, but the fact that we are returning to the distribution strategy shows that we'll have to wait and see how this portfolio evolves. What can I say? Stay tuned.

  9. Proximity,

    not only is it pergectly all right to post but in fact you give me great pleasure that you are doing so! Thanks for chimming in!

    How VERY interesting what you're saying. Indeed I now see that Bois des Iles is all but disappearing and the elusive NO.22 is back on. ODD!! The comparison with the weather is mightly funny too! What are they thinking anyway?

  10. Melissa,

    it looks like what you have most intelligently and intuitively figured out proves to be actually the case: some things are meant to be in larger distribution. I wonder if they will be bringing more of Les Exclusifs later on. Beige is a prime candidate being such an "easy" perfume (would certainly sell well) and perhaps Eau de Cologne might be good as it spans the popularity divide of genders, being eminently unisex. (and there isn't anything comparable in the mainstream line either, so it's not like it would be "gnawing" on another scent's share).
    Just hypotheses for now...

  11. K,

    I wish they're follow your plea myself!

    Well, I see No.19 here all the time as well, in fact both concentrations (edt and edp) and sometimes parfum and even lotion. So it's not like it's going out just yet, at least in Europe...
    But I did hear a very young woman (early 20s) who was testing frags at the Chanel "wall" at Sephora saying after spraying No.19 "ewww, that's awful!" Understanding it was the initial response from a generation raised on Light Blue and Burberry Brit (ie. totally alien smell), I hastened to say "oh, but it's their very best!" (from the selection available at Sephora it is) "you just have to give it lots of time for the bitterness to subside". To which she eyed me with a sideways glance and told me she really likes to change perfumes, although her fav is Bulgari Omnia Amethyste (*blank stare from me*). She found Fleur de Corail by Lempicka too sweet, so there's hope yet. She was also testing the No.5 and was most eager to find a Chanel to work for her, so I suggested the very nice and modern Eau Premiere. She wasn't bawled over, but didn't dismiss it either and we left it at that.

    Now Cristalle was indeed showing signs of semi-reclusion and I was wondering what would happen until I found out about the possible "spins" they were doing on it (Eau Verte, Eau Bleue etc) in August 2008 (had posted about them). Then I knew they wouldn't phase it out. Still, there's a bit too much oakmoss in Cristalle (both concentrations) so it's a precarious balance.... :/

  12. Thanks for the info, Perfumeshrine! I'm so disappointed Bois des Iles is not available there, though. That's the one I want, and I've been waffling on getting the massive edt or calling around to a Chanel boutique to get a bottle of the parfum. I'm baffled and annoyed by Chanel being so inconsistent. But maybe with economy in the dumps they are backing away from the "exclusive" marketing, which is good.

  13. A,

    I believe the Rue Cambon collection sold quite well through the official site and (and if you notice the pages are indeed still "tagged" as Rue Cambon, meaning they didn't delete the pages, they just re-worked them). Even though they might not sell well through the brick and mortar stores. But confining them to boutiques only made it difficult for the discerning clientele who was buying them in the first place to get them (just how many of those customers live at a big city with a Chanel boutique carrying them?). And them being such a big bottle, aka an investement of sorts, they needed the knowledgable customers, not the impulse buyers (who would only make the mistake once while at the boutique). Therefore the online sale was a good sales point and they re-introduced them.
    As to why them before Beige: Well, those were a fact before Beige was even a sperm idea, so it looks better if they're re-introduced first ("we have been hearing the deafening demand from our loyal customer base for wider distribution" etc etc) and THEN bring out some of Les Exclusifs one by one (OK, perhaps not all, but I bet if Beige gets on there will be more, see above comment). ;-)

    I hear there have been some complaints as to the size, making it hard to flush out for more than one or two on part of the customers; and some discussion was conducted in Canadian boutiques as to the possibility of smaller sizes (which defeats the other facet of luxury, apart from the limited distribution I mean).

    So the whole experiment is in my opinion highly revealing of whether the "exclusivity" and "luxury" card is still valid and still as playable in the industry now instead of 3-4 years ago. :-))

    I find that it is indeed a local phenomenon that won't really affect Europe, much like it was beforehand. I think it's the US market that is the lion's share (it always is with all companies, due to sheer numbers) and therefore that's the one on which such "experimentation" is crucial.

    That's my theory on the new directions regarding Chanel US at least and I'm sticking with it. :P

    What do you think?

  14. Hi Aimee!!

    So glad you're stopping by and thanks for bringing that aspect of it into the discussion. Indeed as I was saying to Albert above it seems like a "corrective" move in view of the economy right now, so glad that we're in agreement, sounds like I'm not delusional.
    I believe Bois des Iles will be brought back again, if that give you hope. It just doesn't stand to reason to "cut it out" when they're bringing the others of the former Rue Cambon collection (and after all if anything was more influenced by the restrictions it would be Cuir de Russie, more than Bois des Iles due to birch tar, coumarin, oakmoss etc).

  15. Anonymous03:15

    Dearest E (again),

    I know the rue Cambon collection sold well (if you read my previous comments I've never implied otherwise). The info I was referring to was the official Chanel newletter that I received a few weeks ago when Beige was launched in the other Chanel boutiques (remember the newest Chanel Les Exclusifs was once referred to as a NY exclusive?) when asked people to look for Beige at e-mail didn't mention the other ones so I was naturally surprised.

    As for the size debate the Vancouver SAs briefly mentioned it a couple of times. I think people asked for smaller sizes but obviously there is none, and the fact that samples are almost not distributed until after purchase makes it hard for customers.

    The size issue obviously has close tie with the persistence issue (at least for some) but we've talked about them already. So I think if Chanel wants to resize the fragrances people will have to tweak the formula again--but then they will have to redesign the magnetic cap so that's another set of investments.

    BTW if you go to the English section of you'll find only the rue Cambon collection is mentioned, which to me affirms the notion that Chanel's distribution strategy is region specific.


  16. E, I love that you were giving a consultation! it's funny how she wanted a Chanel just because it was Chanel where as I would wear anything that smelled good (although am not saying prestige doesn't help of course!).

    Number 19 is wonderful but they need to find a way of getting it on to young people's skin as it blooms on skin.

  17. Anonymous11:33

    Happy May Day!

  18. Anonymous12:30

    Chanel's webmaster simply goofed. Do a search within Chanel's USA web site, and you'll see that No 19 is still for sale online in the U.S. Both EdT and body lotion are available. The oversight will soon be corrected. HTH.

  19. Hello, dear E. It's all very mysterious.

    For Aimee's sake (and for others who are interested), I spoke with my favourite SA at the Chanel boutique in Boston, who told me that they do continue to carry Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie, and Gardenia in extrait de parfum. You have to ask for it... And I have also seen these available at Bergdorf's in nyc.

  20. A,

    you've got an excellent point: indeed the newsletter didn't announce any such development.

    It does sound like too much of a hassle for them to redesign the bottles/caps, so I can't say I am too optimistic on the score. And since Karl Lagerfeld is not too simpatico with online sales, I am wondering whether Chanel USA has been "raising their own flag"!(that's an expression of rebellion directly translated from the Greek, don't know if it makes sense in English).
    It certainly looks like a diversely regional thing to me. You're absolutely right!

    BTW,I have edited the main article to add something on the No.19 issue, as a reader of mine mailed me with a most intriguing question! Take a look ;-)

  21. K,

    yeah, she was quite bent on finding a CHanel to work for her. I have seen and read about this all too often. I can't really say I could find something to suit her. She was a pretty slip of a girl, not untilligent from the looks of it and not completely immersed in sacharrine juices, so it's quite interesting to note. Maybe I should dedicate a post to it!

    I really think I made her pause a little with your advice on the No.19: it does need time!

  22. Happy May Day to you too, D!

  23. Anon,
    thank you so much for the additional info. Good to know!

    I was wondering if you're privy to any info on No.19 joining Les Exclusifs however. I have had a reader of mine find a big 200ml bottle of No.19 in the style of Les Exclusifs on an auction site in Europe and asking me about it (authenticity etc). I have added that bit on the main article page, so if you take a look and let me know (here or on it would greatly help be journalistically accurate!
    Of course anonimity is fully respected.

  24. J,

    thank you so much. Please do read the latest addition in the article and the comments above, they are revealing.

    Thank you for providing the info for Aimee and our readers about availability of extrait in Boston and NYC. (I knew the extrait is definitely circulating in Europe at any rate so even better that US is not devoid of it)

  25. Anonymous05:39

    Dear E,

    Just want to point out a quick thing regarding Karl's view on Internet sales. I know where he is coming from but Chanel's fragrance division isn't his jurisdiction--if you recall I've mentioned that in my e-mail to you several months ago. He is entitled to his opinions but it ultimately rests on others to figure out the distribution strategies.


  26. A,

    thanks darling for commenting again. I am starting to believe that the US marketing division for the perfumes has a life of its very own! It can't be explained otherwise how things come to be how they come to be.

    (BTW will be replying to your mail, haven't forgot!)


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