Monday, September 6, 2010

Jacques Polge, Egoiste, Blue, Sex and Clean: an Interview

"Egoïste is about seduction. I have a funny anecdote about sex and smells. An American woman once asked me if French people took showers before or after sex. I answered, “After, of course.”

"Bleu is the opposite of Egoïste. Egoïste was inspired by a woman's fragrance* [Bois des Îles], whereas there is nothing feminine about Bleu. I wanted to do something very direct. You know, men's fragrances are still very linked with shaving. When I find myself in planes, at some point I always see those business men coming from the bathroom smelling of aftershave. So Bleu is spicy, woody, and dry. There is no fantasy."

"I started my career in the United States. Perfumes were then made of both good-smelling and bad-smelling ingredients. But the bad-smelling ingredients, when used in a certain way, brought something sensual and interesting to the final scent. The first time I arrived at work, they told me, “You want to work here? Then smell this.” They made me smell chives. With American puritanism, all these kinds of fragrances disappeared".

*Hence its original name, Bois Noir. Only offered in Chanel boutiques at the time, Bois Noir was in production for only a few months in 1987 before it was withdrawn from the market, later to be replaced with the more widely available Egoïste.

Thus reminiscences Jacques Polge, the master perfumer at Chanel since the 1980s and responsible for the marvel that is Egoïste. Read the entire interview following this link.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine:
Bleu de Chanel (new fragrance for men),
Pushing Boundaries in Perfume advertising,
Why the French grow up to love smells while Americans don't,
Top 10 Masculine Fragrances.

Link brought to my attention via nowsmellthis/twitter. Pic of Bois Noir bottle via basenotes, still from Egoiste ad from my archive


  1. So there's no fantasy about Bleu de Chanel, according to him. That's very unfortunate for Bleu de Chanel, for receiving a comment from the father. I am so sorry.

    And I admire Jacques Polge even more for commenting Bleu like that.

  2. C,

    thanks for commenting.
    The way I see it, Polge is feeling like he's out of his waters. The latest releases (mainstream) do not reflect his taste from what I know: according to my info he's an old-school intellectual and a reserved, elegant man.
    He must be muttering under his breath he has to go into the well- troden path.

  3. kathleen15:19

    Bois Noir was my husband's fragrance. We still have a wee bit of it. He's tried Egoiste, and says, in comparison, it smells "watered down"

  4. Kathleen,

    how lovely! I'm sure that for commercial purposes the concentration would be less intense. It wouldn't be too cost-effective either, if full of high quality Mysore sandalwood either.

    Enjoy (your &) his precious Chanel Bois Noir!


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