Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chanel Chance Eau Tendre: fragrance review

It's always a frightful day when a respected brand falls down from the skies into the puddles of stagnant water in the pedestrian crossing. The introduction might seem dramatic, but it is necessitated. Chanel has so far benefited from a lofty image, a steel-handed management thanks to the Wertheimer brothers and an in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, who has steered the house into a more or less coherent direction for decades. But it seems that this course has lately diverted: The two flankers of Chance, Chance Eau Fraiche and now Chance Eau Tendre alongside a couple of forgettable masculines, show clearly that Chanel takes into consideration the market angle more than it is getting blame for.

In the case of Chance Eau Tendre the effect feels like dumping down, instead of modernizing an idea for a young audience; unlike the excellent No.5 Eau Premiere which took a classic and flew it into the ethers of poetic but approachable Elysium. In short, Chance Eau Tendre is only technically a well-crafted formula (good tenacity, plenty of sillage, coherent notes in unison) but artistically it's a plea to the lowest common denominator. And that's surprising from someone as skillful as Jacques Polge who clearly knows better, so it cannot be anything but a deliberate marketing decision from above.

A soapy fruity on a white musk base which recalls every similar major department store launch of the last coupe of seasons and in particular Daisy by Marc Jacobs. No offence to Daisy, but there is something seriously wrong when a Chanel fragrance starts smelling like Daisy. The fabric softener (on pale woods that read as non-descript) feel is especially in contrast to the haute ambience of other Chanels, even in their modern versions. There was a hint of a diversion when Beige by Chanel was launched in Les Exclusifs sub-line, its approachability and pastel-coloured smile easier and friendlier in its mien than other specimens. Yet whereas in Beige this worked due to the overall honeyed floral character and the suaveness of the hawthorn note which enveloped in a hug, in a fruity white musk composition any such intention falls flat and feels like an air-kiss at a social gathering of no greater importance than the pocketbook.

A pity...I wonder how well Chance Eau Tendre will sell, since similar smells can be had at a lower price. Then again, the whole axis of a luxury brand lies in selling even mediocre products just because they bear a prestigious name...

Might I remind you that the upcoming masculine is called Bleu de Chanel, scheduled for release in August 2010 with an international ad campaign shot by Scorcese as previously announced. As for the scent itself, according to the website RelaxNews, "it is fresh and woody, with notes of citrus, pink pepper, mint, ginger, jasmine, cedar and patchouli". [source]

A propos: L.Turin had said it best talking about brands: "To borrow terms first applied by 19th century journalist Walter Bagehot to the monarchy, brands have both an "effective" and a "dignified" function. [...] The dignified function is image: the buyer advertises his purchase to others.[..] That label, not the white baby sealskin bag to which it is attached, then gradually comes to mean "money". In other words, it becomes a currency. Once you have a currency, you can do lots of fun things with it. You can debase it (real Vuitton bags); you can counterfeit it (fake Vuitton bags); but best of all you can play on the fact that all currencies work by mutual consent. In other words, if you can persuade the rich to use your debased coinage, then the poor who buy real fakes and fake fakes will not feel shafted or silly and the scam becomes self-sustaining. [...] This is what is called brand "mystique" and it works best when those who produce the lies believe in them. [..]You have to believe, and to communicate the belief, that there is something intrinsically different about an object that bears a particular name. This is not a new trick: the aristocracy has practiced it to great effect since the French Revolution. A titled name used to mean having, it now means being. Titles are, in marketing terms, the human limited edition. What this means in practice: you've just bought a frog, but the ads swear it's a prince".

Notes for Chanel Chance Eau Tendre are:
Top: grapefuit, melon, quince
Heart: hyacinth, jasmine
Base: iris, white musk, Virginia cedar, amber

The campaign is fronted by Sigrid Agren, and photographed by the legendary Jean-Paul Goude, a longtime collaborator of Chanel parfums. Chanel Chance Eau Tendre will be available as an Eau de Toilette in 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz at major department stores.

Illustration via Foliadesign


  1. Yes! I immediately thought of Daisy when I smelled this...then thought, CHANEL, what were you thinking? Wondering if someone didn't do their homework. Or did they WANT it to smell like Daisy? Did they think we wouldn't notice?

  2. K,

    it would seem they were intending this to be similar. Which points out they're thinking of the success of Daisy. Which quite so good as a starting point for a luxury brand product (seeing what the masstige produces and offer sth similar).
    Or have I "read" this totally wrong? Don't think so...

  3. Anonymous03:21

    they should have just made this a shampoo and called it an honest day. to call this a chanel perfume is nuts.

    seriously. it smells like shampoo.

    on the other hand, it would be a perfect starter perfume for pre-teens. it is entirely asexual. a scent eunuch.

    - minette

  4. in the life of a chanel counter, at a dept store or otherwise, there is a very common experience where a younger woman/teen wants to buy a chanel perfume. Because her mom wears it, because it is more 'chic' than other dept store scents, because it's Chanel. And as you have written before, E., many of these women/girls cannot find any Chanel fragrance they 'identify' with and walk away. Also, many many loyal Chanel women want to give their daughters something to introduce them into the wonderful world of Chanel (and womanhood) . . . and often can't find something they think their daughters will like.

    i think Chanel is trying to do something about that.

    regarding the actual juice- eau fraiche is actually kind of fun. i don't like Chance at all, but last summer i used up 3 samples of eau fraiche.

    this one is awful compared to eau fraiche. to me, it smells like screechy synthetic peonies and, like you said, dryer sheets.

  5. Minette,

    shampoo is right. I can't understand why this craziness for laundry notes has taken over...
    I always thought that Kelly Caleche is a market case of good introductory fragrance for young women: it's light, non perfume-y, yet it has sophistication and genuine style. If only...

  6. Hi Dea, how nice to see you!

    You're absolutely right regarding the reasoning behind this: it makes perfect sense. Still, it's a boring introduction. I wonder if those who are introduced to the brand that way will ever find merit in the more sophisticated specimens later on? It always seemed to me that if we're to educate, we should start with the very best and branch from there, not the other way round. But I guess they're not working on an educational principle.
    Eau Fraiche is kinda fun! I like greener elements, because they bring freshness without surupy fruitiness/"lightness": those new "greens" are a breath of fresh air in an overscented culture.

    Hope to see you again on these pages and all my best!! :-)

  7. I beg to differ. I liked this a lot. I do not like No.5. The only other Chanel I like is 19. I got a couple of compliments wearing this too. I think it is much higher quality and more layered / sophisticated than typical pink or young department store brands like Daisy. Daisy was good but too one note for my taste. Chance Eau Tendre is a bridge between their old and new perfumes. Not just for youth. It has a bite to it. It does not say "laundry product" to me either. I would not mind it. Laundry should smell so good! It's just not so "rich old lady" smelling to me as some of their classics.

  8. Tuca,

    it's certainly interesting to differ and of course it would be a dull world if we all agreed. You're aways welcome in disagreeing here! :-)

    In view of what you say I feel like I might have been a little harsh, laundry should smell so good indeed, LOL.
    I'm fascinated you like #19! It's totally different than CET and all the other "young" juice on the market, but of course it's beautiful and sooooo cool in summer. And I know of several people who don't like No.5 so you're not alone.

  9. I still haven't smelled Chance or any of its offshoots, and I probably don't need to since I do like No. 5 and love No. 19!

    I always feel compelled to defend Daisy when it's accused of being the lowest common denominator - two years and several dozen niche fragrances later, not to mention the classic and vintage things that I love, I still like it. In fact, I like it very much. Sure, it's inoffensive and merely nice, but some days that's exactly what I want. I will leave the L'Arte di Gucci, the Dzing! and the Jolie Madame at home rather than distract or annoy people with my, um... more unusual fragrances.

    I do, however, see your point that Chanel may be debasing its identity as a purveyor of the most elegant perfumes in the world by releasing such a nonentity as CET. You may be right. It is generally true that once a company's standards for quality begin to slip, it's downhill for everything. Even when Chanel decides to pull in younger customers by offering them lighter, less "serious" fragrances, there is no excuse for slacking on quality. "Light-hearted and youthful" is fine, but "brainless and synthetic" is unworthy of Chanel.

  10. Hey Mals! I actually like Daisy and own a bottle. My point on Chanel was why create a dup? Why not something original? Made me think that they either didn't know about Daisy, or they purposely tried to replicate it. If they tried to replicate it, why? Just seems odd to me.

  11. I always think of Daisy as an example of mainstream done right. It is great to wear everyday, for all ages. It's not just a marketing ploy that makes it popular, though it is genius in that respect, as well.

    However, I didn't get any Daisy in the CET. like I said, just a lot of screechy peonies and clean white musks.

  12. Mals/C,

    well, well, this has sparked some genuinely interesting discussion I should say! It's a pleasure for me to see readers poltely argue back and forth about scents and present points and different here!

    So...perhaps I have made a disservice to Daisy. Not my intention. Not because I don't find it pleasant. It is! (in fact it reminded me in turn of the core structure of Light Blue- only the core, mind you) so obviously we're dealing with a popular recipe for success.
    My basic point was what you yourself so eloquently put in the final period (and smack! I should have worded it so perfectly!): " 'Light-hearted and youthful' is fine, but 'brainless and synthetic' is unworthy of Chanel. There is something that is indeed a bit in contrast with Chanel's heritage here. It's not that it's simple or innofensive. I can think of other simple and innofensive frags at Chanel (La Pausa, or Beige, Allure Homme too, Allure in edt) but they didn't smell like something that was already popular. Perhaps it's the imitation part that is bothering me as well? One expects originality from Chanel.

  13. Karin,

    thanks for implementing your thoughts and clarifying to Mals above.
    Yes, that's what has been bothering me as well. If they didn't know, they should have done their homework; and if they did know (and they must have, Daisy is very popular), then they're riding Daisy's coat-tails, which is rather...uncool. It happens across the market, of course, but at Chanel? Hmmm...It -at least- shouldn't.
    At least that's my view on this. Some others don't hold Chanel at a higher principle and who says I am right in doing so? :-)

  14. Dea,

    you're absolutely right: It IS a mainstream done right, especially in marketing terms, but the juice isn't too bad either. I wouldn't have trouble wearing it at work from time to time if I worked in a cubicle farm (which I don't but let's hypothesize for a minute) and that's a big plus in this day and age when everyone complains about perfune wearing. It's also fun and girly and not too sweet, which is another plus. Generally MJ knows how to art-direct scents, they're popular for a reason.

    Now, CET is perhaps much less of a success because there is no brand recognisability once you smell the juice (nothing Chanel about it) but at the same time, it lacks the upbeat and "fun" presentation that the MJ has. Unless there is a genius commercial in the works which will knock us out I fail to see how this could be anything but what you proposed as in your first comment: an introductory Chanel for the young girls who want a Chanel due to the mythos, but don't like Chanel frags on the whole. A difficult concept to get just right. :/


  15. Here is a conandrum: they say N5 is the most selling thing in the world but what I actually smell on people are Chances and Allures and Coco Mademoiselles... and never N5.

  16. I think Eau Tendre smells remarkably similar to Tresor.

  17. Anonymous02:22

    Question from someone rather new to do you feel about the original Chance by Chanel? And do you know if there's anything similar to that? I'm trying to find a good signature scent and so far Chance is the closest I've come, once it dies down it smells lovely and will literally last for days--I don't know exactly what it is but various websites list the base notes as patchouli, vetiver, musk and amber. If you have tried it, then is that what you smell on it? And do you know of anything that smells similar to the base at least? I'd like to find something a bit less flowery than Chance, but if not I'll take it for the drydown. Thanks in advance for any advice!

  18. Hi anon and many wishes for an enjoyable journey into the fragrance world! Thanks for asking, interesting question.

    While there is no question in my mind that the original Chance is far superior to the flanker Eau Tendre (which latter is closer to shampoo than perfume), I'm not exactly wild about it. While competently made, it seems somehow trying to please everybody.
    I appreciate what you seem to like, however, about it: that base. :-) I think the vetiver touch gives it a grassy, rather masculine, yet at the same time liquorice-ish quality which is rather fetching. Especially on young women with a carefree manner about them.

    Now, about similar things...Hmm, Chance really follows Coco Mademoiselle closely, it's almost the same "recipe" so to speak with a couple of twists on top and on the bottom. But it's overall stronger, more potent. Plus everyone wears it...if that's a concern. ;-)
    You might also like Idylle by Guerlain. It's in the same ballpark.

    And since you have discovered Chanels, I urge you to try Sycomore and Coromandel from their Exclusifs range (available on their site and at Chanel boutiques). Highly recommended, both of them.

  19. Veronica,

    I think I had addressed that previously, but I think it bears repeating. No.5 gets bought again and again and many times over it gets displayed and cherished like a token of elegant possession rather than actually worn. At least in the States, where Chanel is perceived a certain way (come to think of it, that's a global perception).
    I do smell it very often in Europe, on all walks of life, but then I do also smell a lot of Aromatics Elixir (which has none of the "icon" status and plenty of the great composing), so it's an equal opportunity sniffing and buying going on.

  20. Robina,

    what an interesting observation! I hadn't thought of it that way, but it's like they took that core "feminine" accord that permeated every deo, body lotion and sanitary napkin after Tresor's global mega-success and put it into Eau Tendre! Ooops, the Chanel PR dep might be after my hide after that comment. Oh well...

  21. Anonymous00:14

    Anonymous again--

    Thank you for the recommendations, at the moment I don't live near a Chanel boutique but once college and classes start up again I'll be in NYC and look forward to popping in one to try the Les Exclusifs...don't think I can afford any now, but perhaps someday.

    I've been working a part-time job at my local mall and gotten down a routine of arriving a few minutes early so I can stroll through Macy's/Bloomingdale's and try a new fragrance that sounded great from a review I read, or Chance again, to see if it would grow on me...well, the last time I tried it it literally gave me a headache.

    Well that convinced me finally to try and stay away from anything remotely sweet or flowery so I tried Coco, too spicy--at least for work, and I feel like if I don't feel comfortable wearing it while running around a store getting things for customers then it's not something I want to spend that much money on yet.

    Tried Shalimar next--I like it, but can only see myself wearing it at a dance or something, the vanilla is too much. I asked the Bloomingdale SA about oriental perfumes without vanilla in them, or with less than Shalimar, he rattled off a few and gave me a few cards and I picked one of them to try, Cartier's Le Baiser du Dragon.

    And then I tried it again along with Shalimar to compare, one per wrist, but of course while at work I couldn't tell which was the spicy one I felt surrounding me like a cloud, might have been Shalimar though.

    In the meantime it's been two full days and I can still smell a bit of the wonderful drydown of Le Baiser :) I think I've found a winner! A little spicy, not too sweet, but I'll wait and try it again, and again once the weather cools down in a few months (I'll give Coco another go too in the winter). If Idylle is in the same ballpark I'll try that too, or anytihg else if you can think of it. Thanks again!

  22. Anonymous07:41

    I love this perfume . . . so pretty . . . & a masterpiece too ! (I don't care what anyone says)

  23. Anonymous12:43

    Hello! Well This was an interesting read! So. I just received a sample of CET and I have fallen in love with it. I neverfall in love with scents-I have a very sensitive nose and get headaches very easily from perfumes. With that said, I don't like any spicy or fruity or musky scents. I love floral and light, which is why I loved CET. I also love lilly of the valley. I am looking for a signature scent that is friendly to all seasons, or at least spring/summer, fall/winter. Anything light and airy but leaves that hint of curiosity. Btw-I've smelled Daisy before and I don't remember it smelling so similar to CET. If anything, I remember I hated Daisy but loved CET. Go figure.

  24. Anonymous12:43

    Hello! Well This was an interesting read! So. I just received a sample of CET and I have fallen in love with it. I neverfall in love with scents-I have a very sensitive nose and get headaches very easily from perfumes. With that said, I don't like any spicy or fruity or musky scents. I love floral and light, which is why I loved CET. I also love lilly of the valley. I am looking for a signature scent that is friendly to all seasons, or at least spring/summer, fall/winter. Anything light and airy but leaves that hint of curiosity. Btw-I've smelled Daisy before and I don't remember it smelling so similar to CET. If anything, I remember I hated Daisy but loved CET. Go figure.

  25. Anonymous12:44

    Hello! Well This was an interesting read! So. I just received a sample of CET and I have fallen in love with it. I neverfall in love with scents-I have a very sensitive nose and get headaches very easily from perfumes. With that said, I don't like any spicy or fruity or musky scents. I love floral and light, which is why I loved CET. I also love lilly of the valley. I am looking for a signature scent that is friendly to all seasons, or at least spring/summer, fall/winter. Anything light and airy but leaves that hint of curiosity. Btw-I've smelled Daisy before and I don't remember it smelling so similar to CET. If anything, I remember I hated Daisy but loved CET. Go figure.

  26. Anon#1,

    masterpiece would be stretching it, objectively. But of course, we're all free to like what we like and not have to explain ourselves and your enthusiasm is 100% valid; if it makes you feel good, it's great, no questions asked.

  27. Anon#2,

    it's nice to hear you found something to love and I'm happy for you!
    It's probably exactly this demographic that finds full-bodied perfumes repulsive, thick and heavy which is targeted and a priori there is nothing wrong with that. I'd prefer it to be more nuanced, less shampoo-like, but that's not to stop you. If you do like airy fragrances that are light florals in genre, might I suggest -as you ask of me- Noa by Cacharel, Patricia de Nicolai Eau d'Ete, Jardin Clos by Diptyque, Kenzo Parfum d'Ete, Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley, or one of the lighter Annick Goutal scents (Eau de Camille? Eau de Ciel? Quel Amour?); they're thoughtfully constructed and pretty inoffensive without being insipid. Most of those can be worn throughout the year too.
    Best of luck and keep me posted! :-)

  28. Anonymous09:06

    It is a great combination of floral extracts giving you that fresh outta the bath feeling. It is very young and tendy. I must say everyone wants a good shampoo that smells great. But this is far from a shampoo cause its for your skin not head!!! I love the Chance range and all I can suggest is for Eau to be alittle stronger cause it wears of quite quickly!

  29. Anonymous17:33

    I'll go ahead and be the unsophisticated nose in the crowd, admitting my love for Chance Eau Tendre. Admittedly, the first time I tried it, Daisy came to mind.. Both are perfectly nice, pleasant fragrances but I think Eau Tendre is more refined and sophisticated than Daisy. It's the difference in a Freshman in Highs School and a college graduate. Both are wide-eyed & eager to begin....both want to smell pretty & feminine. Here is my problem as a fragrance enthusiast; I love perfume, I love reading about perfume, I love experimenting & learning about perfume house and notes but in the end the nose rules. I think about my own music snobbery & how I reject pop, country and all that is mainstream and simple. I want substance & depth in music & I'd like to be so discerning in the fragrance world but I find what is consider complex and innovative to the distinguished noses of the world is offensive to me. Even the ones that appeal to me in the bottle smell horrible on me. So, I will appeal to those of you with a more sophisticated taste than my own and ask for a few recommendations. I'd like to find a complex perfume that doesn't make me smell like a rich old lady.

  30. Anon,

    I suppose the real complaint is why pay for Chanel prices when you can run shampoo all over yourself instead? ;-)

  31. Anonymous13:52

    To be honest, I absolutely love Chanel Chance Eau Tendre. Claiming that it's simple or mainstream means for me that you haven't tried wearing it on your skin and haven't watched the perfume develop. In fact, it is a very well-orchestrated and smartly designed fragrance, starting with citrus and light sweetness of quince, settling down into hyacinth and rose after about 30 minutes and then becoming a light white musk. This definitely is a sophisticated and expensive perfume, it is just different from what you expected of it. I own a bottle of this and I see no resemblance to 1-note pleasant but too simple Daisy.

  32. i love this one! it's so good! :)

    you have such an awesome blog honey! i'm following! and i would love if you could visit my blog, and maybe follow me too =)
    TheNotSoGirlyGirl // Instagram // Facebook


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