Choosing the best Chanel perfumes is not a big deal. The sacred rooms of the French house are teeming with magnificent scents, from the iconic No.5 to cool, contemporary clients like Gabrielle. In fact, the only thing nearly difficult about creating this list of the best of all time was to bring the numbers down to a neat top five.
But I did, because while you can’t really go wrong with a Chanel perfume, this carefully curated list will help you get it right. Whether you are looking for the best perfume for women as a gift or treat yourself to a new flower scent, perfume sales are skyrocketing – John Lewis reported a 24% increase year over year – he didn’t. So now is no better time to grab your new signature Chanel fragrance.
Whatever your tastes, you’re in good hands with the best Chanel fragrances and this list represents the crème de la crème of what the Parisian house has to offer (according to yours truly anyway). Good luck my friends!
The best Chanel perfumes of all time
No wonder this tops our list of the best Chanel fragrances, and no excuses either for picking an obvious winner. The No.5 caused a sensation when it was launched in 1921 due to an unusual overload of pungent aldehyde notes and has retained that impact 100 years later. This is thanks to an extremely balanced composition of clean and soapy aldehydes, sophisticated florals and persistent drying that should satisfy those who want to know which scent lasts the longest for day or night wear.
A lot of people catch their first puff of this scent via an older family member (thanks, mom) and in the great tradition of Stray Girls, I felt # 5 was a bit too much in my teenage years. Needless to say, I saw the meaning now. It may take a bit of maturity to fully “get” the Chanel # 5, but honestly, that’s part of the appeal. He doesn’t smell anything else, is instantly recognizable and yet never seems boring or too familiar. As always, mothers know best.
A softer spin on probably the second most well-known Chanel perfume, it’s a bit trickier than the original Chance, which may make it slightly younger in terms of fans. That’s not to say that there’s nothing frivolous about this fruity-floral blend, it’s just ultra-feminine and so much the better. “Chance Eau Tendre is the epitome of beauty, like a pink satin ribbon in your hair,” write fragrance experts Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven in The Perfume Companion: The Definitive Guide to Choose Your Next Scent.
I say that Chance Eau Tendre is a Boucle d’Or fragrance. It’s floral without being heady, clean without being tangy and sweet without sinking into nothingness. It has the crunchy lightness of some of Jo Malone’s finest fragrances but with a chic French twist. Basically it’s fair in every way and would be next to impossible to dislike. If you are looking for one of the best Chanel perfumes to give to someone that you are not 100% sure about, this is probably the one.
Call it favoritism, call it unconscious prejudice, call it whatever you like, but this understated Chanel fragrance based on the rugged beauty of Edinburgh (ahem, my hometown) is worth shouting out. Unlike many of the brand’s better-known scents, which tend to lean towards classic floral notes, this one is modern and a bit wild, made up of mossy green forests and smoky peat with a hint of bergamot and citrus.
With notes like this, you won’t be surprised to hear that this makes it one of the best colognes for men as much as the best Chanel perfumes. It is part of the Les Eaux de Chanel range, which are all potent in eau de toilette, and this certainly has an easy appeal to those who prefer their more airy scents. I would say the 125ml bottle lasts for ages, but it really depends if your other half clamps it everyday like mine does.
Like all of us, fragrances usually reflect the times they grew up, but you can still trust Chanel to bring a polished touch to a trend. “Coco was launched in 1984 during what was perhaps the loudest era in perfume and was closely followed by Poison and Obsession the following year,” Sarah and Samantha explain. “What sets Coco apart is understated Parisian sophistication where others go for excess in all areas. She doesn’t assert herself too much.”
That said, it’s still a sexy little number, with exotic jasmine and ylang-ylang blossoms, heady patchouli, and smooth, creamy tonka. Just like the best vanilla scent, there is a rich sensuality here, which is well balanced by crisp top notes. Wear it after dark and you’ll exude understated elegance, wear it during the day and get ready to get noticed – the choice is yours.
Gabrielle may be the fifth best Chanel perfume in this recap, but it ranks directly at # 1 for visual appeal. Would you like to look at this wonderful bottle? In an ultra-fine lamé-toned glass with a very cool, contemporary design, you’d never push it to the bottom of the drawer (so remember and panic – Google fragrances expire a year later).
Inside the bottle, we obtain a perfume composed of 100% floral notes, without being neither suffocating nor particularly traditional. It contains exotic jasmine, a fleshy tuberose base, and has an unexpected freshness with those many flowers involved. If I smelled this on a friend, before knowing and loving him, I might not have guessed at all that it was Chanel, these are my associations with this brand and classic perfumery. And then, if there’s one thing this list proves, it’s that the best Chanel fragrances regularly push the boundaries – they just wear it with a hint of style more than most.
woman & home thanks Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven for their time and expertise.
The Perfume Companion: The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Next Perfume is published by Francis Lincoln.