Magic Cloak – Review: Chanel N°19

One of the timeless classics in my perfume closet is N°19.

Sadly, it is neglected in favor of many, many others that shout for attention . Annemarie’s story of the importance of N°19 throughout her life on Beauty on the Outside, reminded me to get it out again and wear it, and promptly it took me in again with its cool charm.

The number 19 refers to the birthday of Coco Chanel, August 19. The perfume was launched in 1971 when Coco Chanel was 87 years old, a year before she died. It was created by Henri Robert, a perfumer who created many other perfumes for the Chanel house.

-excerpted from Fragrantica

N°19 includes notes of galbanum, neroli, bergamot, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, vetiver, sandalwood, leather and musk.

N°19 is extremely elegant and even more typically Chanel than even N°5 in my opinion. The juxtaposition of the sharp, green, cool opening of galbanum paired with citrus notes and the unexpected heart of soft and warm florals, encompasses everything I perceive as elegant and refined. It is like a warm-hearted woman who laughs easily and is well loved wherever she goes. She is always immaculately dressed, wearing gloves and a hat and therefore is perceived upon first look as cool and aloof, staying at a distance, always commanding respect, but that impression dissolves with the first peals of her laughter. Everybody is smitten with her from then on.

After the initial galbanum boost recedes, an incredibly warm and softly powdery iris emerges, decorated by rose and jasmine and ylang. Eventually it dries down to a woody leather-musk that is soft and unassuming, but still captivating.

When wearing Chanel N°19 I feel elegant, regal almost and transported to a time when such attributes where sought and coveted. I walk a little more upright, no matter that I am in jeans and a t-shirt, Chanel N°19 gives me an invisible (but undoubtedly green) magic cloak or rather a cape and matching gloves, transforming me into a woman who manages to exude an inherent grace, while laughing in the face of adversity, laughing with the sheer pleasure of living.

This review is about the Eau de Toilette, I smelled the other available concentrations, Extrait de Parfum and Eau de Parfum only at the store, so I cannot really say much about the differences. Let me refer you to Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, who wrote an excellent review with many details regarding different concentrations, formulation and background.

Image source: chanel.com, vintagevogue.com
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This entry was posted in Chanel, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Green, Iris, Leather and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Magic Cloak – Review: Chanel N°19

  1. lady jane grey says:

    I agree, it’s sooo Chanel and sooo elegant – but somehow in an effortless and easygoing way. It’s a stable of my mother-in-law – she’s a petit, doll-like person and this scent suits very well to her. Sigmund (Freud) would probably confirm that the mother-in-law issue might be the reason why I don’t really wear this scent… Plus it’s very light on me, lasting some 2 hours only – however, I’ve never tried the stronger concentrations either.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I understand you perfectly, I wouldn’t wear a perfume that was one of my Mother in law’s staples either. ;)
      Thankfully mine sticks mostly to Pleasures, so we are both safe.

    • annemariec says:

      The EDT is short-lived on me too. Maybe that is why I managed to get through so much of it back in the day when No 19 was almost my signature fragrance.

  2. Ines says:

    Wonderful! I got goosebumps all over. :)
    Very well described – I’m so glad I love this one and you’re completely right, it does make you walk straighter and bolsters your confidence.

  3. Undina says:

    I’m speachless… I read the name of your post and couldn’t believe my eyes because today I decided to wear this perfume (last time I did it for St. Patrick’s day more than two months ago), finished the sample I had, was astonished by how much I liked it and by the fact that I didn’t realized before how beautiful it was; and decided to move it on top of my “to buy” list.
    I enjoyed your review even more than usually because today I’m in love with that scent.

  4. Marie says:

    I agree with your perception of No. 19 – I’ve never seen it as an aloof and distant – or distancing – scent like some do (was it Turin and/or Sanchez?). I wear it quite often – particularly on those days when I need a little extra composure – that’s when No. 19 comes to the rescue. I wear the EdP – have never tried the EdT but will. I like it enough to explore the various concentrations.

  5. annemariec says:

    That is a terrific review. I think you have captured in words that amazing dual quality that No 19 has: the warm and the cool, the sparkle and the hint darkness (which is perhaps more noticeable in the deeper concentrations). Actually, now I think of it, I know someone rather like the woman you have described. She has had a tough life and tends to keep chaos at bay by dressing in quite a formal way and she can be very aloof with people she does not know well. But underneath that, she is extremely warm, sympathetic, and interested in people. Her perfume? Not No 19: Coco Mad!

  6. Suzanne says:

    I haven’t put on any perfume yet today, so when I do, I’ll make it Chanel No. 19 in honor of your lovely review. I have a decant of the edt and it has lasted me a long time because, when I’m in the mood for an elegant and womanly Chanel scent, I usually can’t resist going with No. 22, my favorite. And when I’m in the mood for a galbanum-heavy scent, I find that it’s hard to stay my hand from reaching for Estee Lauder Private Collection or Deneuve, both of which have more warmth and elegant drama on me in terms of their florals. But now that you’ve got me thinking of No. 19, I recall how dewy and beautiful the rose note is as it emerges from those green depths, and I can’t wait to put some on. :)

  7. Suzanne says:

    P.S. Your new photo is exquisite, Birgit!!!!

  8. James Dennard says:

    This is a wonderful review, Birgit. And No. 19 is my favorite Chanel feminine. I love that fragrance.

  9. Lucy says:

    Wow, didn’t know it was related to Chanel’s birthday, my own as well — all the more reason to enjoy it all the more from now on.

  10. deeHowe says:

    I know that you schedule you posts in advance, so am surprised to see this review, since I just wrote to you about no. 19 last night! Crazy!

    Well I love it. In jeans, or in a structured shift dress, I’ve never worn 19 and regretted my choice. I started with a 10mL decant of EDT, and then after Ann-Marie’s review bought a bottle of EDP. Have I mentioned LOVE yet?

    Since the hubby loves and wears it often as well, we’re almost half-way through our 50mLs, and I’m beginning to anxiously eye bottles on eBay. When Chanel does something right, they really do it RIGHT.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I had to laugh that you mentioned 19 yesterday, it has been scheduled for a while… :)
      I absolutely agree with you, a good Chanel is a really good perfume, no doubt about it.

  11. I’m almost ashamed to admit I still haven’t tried no. 19, but I really, really want to, as I’ve developed quite a taste for galbanum. The other notes sound just perfect, too!

  12. Tarleisio says:

    B, as you well know, no. 19 in any version is one of my all-time diehard Top Ten Immortals…it’s never less than perfect, never less than beautiful, and never less that precisely what I need and when I need it! I’ve worn the extrait, I’ve worn the EdT, I’ve worn the EdP…and love all of them, but I will have to say that the ones I love the most are the extrait and the EdP, because they’re so…rich and richly elegant. I’ve adored and worshiped it with a passion and a fury for 28 years. I’ll probably love it for at least forty more! :)

    This was a review that once again made me realize why I love to read your blog so much! Asd if that weren’t enough, you’re gorgeous, too!

    Just like no. 19…;)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Since you say it, I really want to try the extrait, it must be gorgeous.

      Thank you for your compliment, it means so much to me! I am glad to have such wonderful readers and commenters. And they all smell great. ;)

  13. This is a wonderful review! I have been spending a lot of time with No. 19 lately as well. I got to this one on my iris list, and I sort of just stalled, because I didn’t want to move on to something else! As others have said, I think you really captured the spirit of this fragrance. I too feel a little more polished when I wear it.

  14. This is a magnificently composed scent. I own the edt version and I enjoy wearing it myself even if it means that I have to against gender specificity, but anyway I am not a very big fan of gender labeling fragrances. I chose the edt because the bitterness is more pronounced and I can pull it of. My skin chemistry also allows me to wear other feminine scents as well, like Feminite du Bois.

    A nice layer I did experimenting is No 19 with Egoiste. Layering fragrances from the same house can produce excellent results quite easily.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I do not hold with gender-specificity either. A good perfume is a good perfume, period. :)
      I have to try Egoiste soon, I keep hearing very good things about it, but it somehow has always escaped my attentions so far.

      • Marie says:

        I tried Egoiste earlier today – and it is great! Why it is described as characteristically masculine in several places, I don’t know. On my skin it is soft, a bit sweet and with just the right amount of spice, not too little, not to much. It is wonderful and I know that I will buy and wear it a lot.

        • Olfactoria says:

          Even more curious now. Thanks for your take, Marie!

          • Marie says:

            For a soft, spicy rose it could turn out to be a favorite of mine. Easier to wear than Lady Vengeance, for instance, which is also good, but louder, somehow. Egoiste is not vengeful, at least not overtly ;-)

        • Exactly Marie! Egoiste IS very wearable by a woman. Funny if you think that in forum discussions some say that it is too much of a 90′s super butch masculine scent…

          • Marie says:

            Yes, isn’t it? I was so surprised when I smelled it on my skin – there was this beauty of a warm, soft scent. With regards to the super butch label , I rather think that it goes to show how much we can be influenced by our knowledge of the history of a fragrance and f0cus on that instead of the scent itself.

  15. Axum says:

    I like and wear a lot of perfumes, but I had to take just one bottle, it would be No. 19. Whenever I smell it, it enlarges my sense of what is possible in perfume. My favourite Chanel, by far.

  16. I really like 19 and I prefer the EDT. However, I must be in the “mood” for No. 19. I always feel like it isn’t one that is easy for me to parade about it. Too polished? IDK.

    Strangely when I want a “green” Chanel, I wear Pour Monsieur!

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  28. dkchocoman says:

    i have to get a large decant of N 19 edt. GreAt review!

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