Bel Respiro was the name of Gabrielle Chanel’s chic country house outside Paris, also nicknamed Noix de Coco (coconut), in a play on her own nickname.
Bel Respiro, the fragrance, is part of the Les Exclusifs Collection. It was actually the very first I ever tried and it was love at first sniff. So why did I wait so long to review it?
It has one major flaw, as do others from the line I adore (most notably 28 La Pausa), it is as evanescent, as ephemeral, as diaphanous, as fleeting, wispy and transient as an angel. It smells like one too, and that is why I love it. And love is all that matters in the end, however fleeting it may be. Some loves are not forever, but we are still glad having experienced them.
Bel Respiro was released along with its colleagues in 2006, notes include crushed leaves, rosemary, thyme, rose, lilac, hyacinth, green tea, aromatic grasses, myrrh and leather.
One cannot fail but notice the kinship to other green Chanel creations, namely Cristalle and N°19, but Bel Respiro is an almost transparently green colored scent (olfactorily speaking), the galbanum is there, but softly, softly, only whispering its presence. The green of Bel Respiro is more herbal, more natural, less lady-like and contrived. It evokes images in nature rather than a woman, like N°19 does for me.
In its heart Bel Respiro becomes more floral, without losing sight of the green though. A soft bouquet of lilac, rose and hyacinth, underscored with a little herbal spiciness, finally gives way to a base of green grass on soft leather. Soft being the operative word throughout.
In its defense I must say that Bel Respiro is hard to experience in full from a sample vial (I have a mini), but is one of those “must spray” perfumes. I did just that, went into the Chanel boutique and doused myself in Bel Respiro from head to toe and swanned out again, beatific smile on my face, quivering at my own audacity underneath. The things I do for the sake of blogging… (the swanning part is also not easily done while pushing a stroller containing a somewhat dirty 15 month old complete with his snack and propensity to chuck pieces of banana around, they were sure glad to see me go.)
Bel Respiro is a wonderful, beautiful perfume, refreshing and cooling in summer, lifting your spirits in winter. It is elegant, but fresh, refined but happy.
And if you are prepared to use copious amounts of it (that is what the huge vats are for, if you have the cash to spare) it is perfect. If you want to make your mini last through the years, it is not going to work well for you.
Bel Respiro is certainly angelic, an Angel surrounded by green leaves, grass, dew. My garden angel (pun fully intended).
I sometimes dream of walking into the Chanel boutique, banana-throwing toddler plus rollerskating child in tow and buying each and every perfume of Les Exclusifs I want, some even in the big bottle. Somehow that daydream is about revenge as much as it is about perfume.