Monday, September 5, 2011

Two from the Permanent Collection

I'm still on vacation, officially. This is a reprint from November, 2008, about two old favorites: Coco by Chanel, and Scherrer II by Jean-Louis Scherrer. I'll be back on Wednesday, September 14 with a new post on "Miriam" from Andy Tauer, and Brian Pera's film "Woman's Picture." 

Before I became a semi-perfumista, I had two scents that I wore from time to time, but only in winter. They were Chanel No. 22 EDT and Jean-Louis Scherrer 2. Both were strong and sultry, and I thought of them as “old and French.” (This is not a joke.)

They just didn’t smell American. They weren’t light or fresh or clean. They were accessories for a Big Night, obviously seductive, with huge sillage and forever longevity.

The Scherrer, especially; to this day it is my longest-lived perfume. And this is EDT, mind you. (A disclaimer here: my bottle is from the early Nineties, as is the Chanel, so chances are we’re talking about real, unreformulated juice.) I always thought of these two in tandem. They’re different of course; different notes. The Scherrer is a rich, dark take on the white floral. The Chanel (also early 90’s EDT) is all about aldehydes and incense. But they share a table.

I don’t think anyone reading this needs to know more than they already do about Coco Chanel and the Chanel fragrances. No. 22 seems to be in great demand, particularly the perfume, everywhere. The Scherrer is different. It's a bit of a secret. (Jean-Louis Scherrer also makes the excellent big green Chypre “Jean-Louis Scherrer,” released in 1980. That one is a little more well-known than this, but not much.)

I got curious about Jean-Louis Scherrer, the designer. It appears that he dressed some of the world’s most opulent women: Queen Noor, Francoise Sagan, Sophia Loren. (I use the past tense, because in 1992 he was fired from his own company due to financial problems. He sued and won some money, but not the use of his name.) He dressed many wealthy Arab women, a specialty. My guess is that Scherrer 2, released in 1986, was made for them.

Chanel No. 22 was released in 1922 and, I was a bit surprised to learn, has been associated with bobbed hair, ropes of pearls, chemise dresses – in other words, flappers. I think of Habanita in those terms, but this would make sense, too; the sparkly aldehydes bubbling up like champagne; the in-your-face, supremely modern quality it would have had at that time. One couldn’t have ignored it then. One can’t ignore it now.

The Scherrer, though, is my favorite of the two. I love its dark honeyed floral essence. This scent says “rich.” It’s an Eighties fragrance fer sure, with that long, long list of notes. I can smell it on a fur coat, not that I have one. If Chanel No. 22 is pearls, then this is pigeon-blood rubies, or maybe big flashy diamonds, or how about pigeon-blood rubies surrounded by big flashy diamonds? (Hey, I didn’t say it was subtle – it most certainly is not.) To me, it still smells “French.” And it comes in a beautiful Art Deco bottle.

Once in a while, it’s kind of nice to feel rich. To give up the tasteful lady act. Like on Christmas Eve, or New Year’s Eve. Especially when one can find something like this for around $35.00 at the online discounters.*

Hey…I won’t let on about that if you won’t!

*Scherrer II has been discontinued and is rarer than it used to be, but is available here and there for around $40. 

Notes for Jean-Louis Scherrer 2 include aldehydes, bergamot, “green notes,” pineapple, anise, jasmine, Mandarin, orris root, peach, Lily of the Valley, honey, rose, musk, sandalwood, amber, vetiver, benzoin and vanilla.

Notes for Chanel No. 22 include aldehydes, jasmine, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang, incense, vanilla, opopnax and vetiver.

Photo of Parisian lady by Eric for Paris Daily (


ScentScelf said...

Olfacta, do you mean to say that the Scherrer available at the discounters pleases you as much as your early '90's bottle?

[She awaits answer, fearing the affirmative, as wallet is to remain closed to further scent purchases until after holidays...] ;)

Olfacta said...

One can never say with certainty, but the Scherrer One I bought from a discounter about a year ago, and it was exactly the same as the older bottle I was replacing. My guess is that, because this isn't well-known, the stock may be from previous years -- a good thing, in this case. But no one really knows, with reformulations.

ScentScelf said...

Yes, I wondered if that might be it...this would be the perfect time to run over to your door with a pie and a request to sample your Scherrer...every now and then, I bump against the invisible wall of this virtual community. :)

Just ran across some JLS2; will look for 1, and probably let it sit in a shopping basket for a while...

...which is okay, because I'm in the middle of sampling a bunch of other pleasant little vials which await my attention...

Thanks. :)

brian said...

Now I'M Woozy.

I LOVE Scherrer, the grassy chypre. It's so dry and aloof. 2 I've come this close to buying innumerable times. I believe I have a little vial of it hidden away in my cabinet. I was able to find an EDP of Scherrer but not Scherrer 2. Interesting to learn he's still alive. I had no idea. Do you like No 19? I love it, can't remember what 22 smelled like (isn't it an exclusif?), but bought 19 in Europe recently in EDP. It breaks my heart it's so lovely.

Perfumeshrine said...

Great post: love Scherrer (both scents you reference) and No.22 (so, sooo elegant!)
I gather the Scherrer couldn't be tampered with, as it was quite new at the time, although the No.22 surely must have gone through a few minor adjustments to the length of the pearls and the hem of the chemise, etc. since the 20s :-))
Great choices, you must have always smelled fab!