Summer’s lease… Cristalle by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter


Before the warm season ends, seize the chance.

Throw open shutters for soon they will be closed against the sadder colder months.

Let sunlight in.

Squinting in brilliance perceive a sea of lemon trees: leaves waxy, elliptical fruit vivid in their summer coats.

Pause to take in clear air still sharp with morning’s first coolness.

A crisp white cotton shirt on yesterday’s browned skin will guard against today’s rays.

Descend stairs and enter a world beyond the darkness within.


A garden.

Here dew-dusted wild grasses are balm to life-sore, care worn feet and high, cultured hyacinths kiss breezes that caress a face that once turned from the wind.

A peerless note of Jasmine rises like a song from your host.

Working in the grove, she thins the crop to ensure a sweeter, more bountiful harvest and treats deciduous mosses cruelly to keep them from claiming too much ground.

You walk into the middlemost part of the citrus forest to be alone with sunlight, fruit, wood, flower, grass.

To be alone with sunlight.

To be alone.

To be.

Cristalle is the cleanest, purest and, perhaps, most piercing of the fragrances from the house of Chanel.

Like the atomically ordered masses from which it takes its name, it is easy to perceive, its lines clear and sharp, its heart transparent, legible.

So much Sicilian lemon and citrus bergamot to start, then hyacinth and the characteristic ‘Chanel Jasmine’ as recognisable in its own way as the ‘Guerlainade’.

Wild grasses and cut wood follow, then bark and moss compete with the higher notes that, on my skin at least, are never quite ready to let go.

It may be that over-familiarity with this journey from fruit to flower to stem and soil has made it contemptible to us.

And yet in this shimmering semi-precious gem of a perfume the classic narrative is magically rendered.

This is a real life fairytale of a fragrance.

Not gooey and hopelessly Hollywood saccharine, but sharp, taut and in the best possible way very Brothers Grimm.
Be sure not to disregard this Mediterranean marvel, to do so would be a great disservice both to it and to yourself.

For days when a clear head and a good conscience are required, this fragrance, be you man or woman, is a wonderful tonic.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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30 responses to “Summer’s lease… Cristalle by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. rosestrang

    Seems I can ‘like’ the post but not comment! (still having trouble with wordpress!) Will see if this works..

  2. Lilybelle

    I love Cristalle. There is no finer crisp “white shirt” summer fragrance, imho. It does have that something extra. Maybe it is the Chanel jasmine, as you say. Lovely review, Mr. Dandy.

    • Dearest Lily
      Yes.. it is (underline) that *something more*, a certain quality that separates this genius scent from the countless others that share almost identical notes.
      Perhaps it is the jasmine, or maybe the undercurrent or oakmoss.
      Whatever it is, I’m so glad it’s there for us to enjoy!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Tom

    I have to go back and try this again. I remember it was all the rage in the 70’s in a certain kind of New England-type girl (went to Smith or Bryn Mawr and wore Jaques Cohen espadrilles in summer), but the last time I smelled it a few years ago it was reformulated and smelled thinner and a bit off. But if AG got Hadrein back on track I’m sure Dior can do it with Cristalle.

    • Dearest Tom
      Welcome to The Dandy’s… thank you for calling by, and do make yourself at home!
      How splendid to have such a specific association to go with a perfume. Little secret doorways to our own back stairs and stories, that’s what scents are.
      The EdT is undoubtedly less full than it once was, but I am rather a fan of the Eau de Parfum, which perhaos some of the glories of the past.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. batkitty

    I was little when Cristalle was released, but I remember it was my favorite of all the perfumes I had smelled, so bright and cheerful! I have fond memories of dabbing it on from the little mini bottle my mother brought me from a day of shopping, and it’s past time for me to find another bottle for myself.

    • Dearest Batkitty
      Cristalle does have a youthful feel, you’re absolutely right, light and alive with energy.
      However, unlike some other scents it stands up to the test of time well and can be safely enjoyed as an adult!
      Do give it another turn around the park and I’d love it if you were to share your thoughts when you do!
      Oh, I’m wondering… how long did you manage to make that mini last?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • batkitty

        Oh, I think I guarded that mini with my life for several weeks! Sneaking little whiffs and applying the tiniest dabs I could to make it last….. I wish I could smell the original now. Anyway, I will report back as requested when I have some Cristalle in hand.

      • Dearest Kitty
        Isn’t it funny that as children we are either able to eke out the tiniest amount for an eternity or splash liberally all over with gay abandon… oh for the innocence and wisdom of younger years!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  5. I love the Eau de Parfum and wear it quite often whe I what to be chic and sharp. What a lovely review!

  6. Alice

    A lovely review! I admire the sparse style, perfectly reflecting the crisp translucency of the perfume. I wore it exclusively for 10 years, and still admire it hugely, although it gets a lot less wear these days. It’s my ‘summer’ Chanel – providing some backbone to my softer, hazier, favourites.

    • Dearest Alice
      “Translucency” what a wonderful and wonderfully apt word! Just the sound of it speaks of wonderfully lucid perfumery.
      And this truly is a perfume which is matched perfectly to it’ name.
      I wonder, do you find No.19 suitable for summer too?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Agree with all you say! This is piercing, but in a good way. Cristalle is my go-to ‘kick ass’ business scent – that’s ‘business’ as in the office, not in the way in which Katie Puckrik customarily uses the term…And it has to the edt for me – it is more cristalline!

    • Dearest Vanessa
      Welcome to The Dandy’s… do make yourself at home!
      I can absolutely see this as a ‘I mean business’ scent, it is direct and to the point, has very little fat or softness about it at all.
      As to the EdT vs EdP, I really do like both though the toilette is certainly more angular than the slightly (ever so slightly) more curvaceous eau de parfum.
      Tell me what sort of work attire would you think best goes with this?
      I can’t get an Issey Miyake pleated suit out of my mind for some reason.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Cristalle was one of my pre-Chanel phase’s perfumes and I haven’t tried it since “I found Chanel” 😉 I will one day. Probably. Is it even still produced? (see, how bad I am?)

    • Dearest U
      You are awful!
      Of course it and its sibling ‘verte’ are still going and selling surprisingly well this year in the UK according to a very friendly SA of many year’s standing at leading London department store.
      Has the ‘Chanel phase’ ended now? Will it be a blue or perhaps better a ‘green period’ next?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Dear Dandy, quite the opposite! I thought Chanel wasn’t for me until about three years ago when I suddenly became a Chanel fan girl, though, mostly, the Exclusiffs part of the collection.
        I did try and liked Cristalle Vert and I don’t remember why exactly I never came to testing the Cristalle. Just because. I’ll fix it soon.

        As to the other phases, green is my color (in perfumes only) and blue bottles seem the most appealing still. I’m currently testing a couple of perfumes based mostly on the color of the bottle (sigh).

      • Dearest U
        Yes, aren’t the Exclusifs a temptation, perhaps unsurprisingly Cuir de Russie is amongst my favourites, thugh I so also enjoy Cambon.
        Do try Cristalle, I’ve a feeling you might enjoy its briskness and spirit.
        Your testing perfumes in certain coloured bottles reminds me of a character in one of Paul Auster’s novels (Leviathan, I think) who eats food of only one colour everyday. The character was created to inspire the eccentric art of Sophie Calle, the French conceptualist, who then replicated the actions of the character exactly in real life.
        Preparing, photographing and eating monochromatic meals and collecting them in her work ‘Chromatic Diet’.
        Perhaps you could create similar piece ‘chromatic olfactory stimulation’ and take the conceptual art world by storm!
        Just a thought…
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  9. Dear Mr Dandy,

    You are really spoiling me this week. I have worn Cristalle for around twenty years and currently have the EDP on my dressing table. I wore it when I met my husband eight years ago, and on my wedding day and I still wear it very often today. It is my favourite out of all the Chanels, and I even like the Eau Verte too.

    Cristalle is a classic: crisp, sharp, clean and I feel so at home in it I almost don’t smell it on myself any more. It has a lot of competition these days in so far as I wear so many others now, but for nearly twenty years it was just me and Cristalle making our way through life together. It’s a staple and I will never be without it.

    I loved your review, you did it proud.

    Your friend

    • Dearest Iscent
      How wonderful to have had a scent to call your own for such a period of time and still be in love with!
      I too would place it amongst my favourites of all les Chanel, though Cuir de Russie and No. 19 do give it something of a run for its money.
      You have me thinking now about the perfumes that have been my longest travelling companions.
      Do hope you’re on the mend.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Dear Mr Dandy,

        I was faithful to Cristalle before promiscuity took over! I’d be interested to know who your most constant travelling companion has been!

        Your friend

      • Dearest Iscent
        Another summer scent, perhaps we go for them on account of our capricious climate in this part of the world…. Eau de Campagne by Sisley.
        I would never be without a little (well a lot) of galbanum nearby!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • Dear Mr Dandy,

        I have only tried Eau de Soir. I believe I did spray Eau de Campagne the same day but my arms had about six scents on them by then and my nose got scent fatigue. I was on a sniffathon in Cardiff and broke my golden rule of one scent to one arm and then LEAVE.

        Your Friend

  10. Cristalle! I love you! Perfumed Dandy, thank you for this lovely scented letter!

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