The Perfumed Dandy’s Scent Today…… Bel Respiro by Chanel

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Breathe in deeply!

Inhale the green air of cut grass and verdant leaves.

Imagine that Summer is with us again and the darkness of winter has departed.

Can this really be the beauty of the of the months without and ‘r’ between them bottled?

How lovely if it were…

Following its selection by your good selves, The Perfumed Dandy will now take a few days to deliberate and cogitate the merits and mischiefs of this fragrance fair or foul and will, in due course, provide his report on relations with the new discovery by means of a scented letter.

Another opportunity to place a new perfume on The Dandy‘s skin will arise with the next instalment of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade.

In the meantime if you would like to thrust forward a fragrance for future fame on The Hit Parade simply visit ‘Suggest and old scent or recommend a new one’ and leave your suggestion there.

Have an especially fragrant day.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “The Perfumed Dandy’s Scent Today…… Bel Respiro by Chanel

  1. Mary E.

    So much to think about as go for that scent today. I envision Coco mourning her true love Boy Capel who died in an auto accident. Bel Respiro was intended to help her grieve and feel close to him. She then invited Igor Stravinsky & family to stay where he composed a string quartet and ballet while living there.

    • Dearest Mary
      Now that is a backstory to a scent!
      Then Coco went in for them… think of Cuir de Russie, or in its own way No. 5.
      I wonder which ballet it was, what a way to have one’s mind taken off things, eh?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • He perfected his Rite of Spring, which led to the famous riot in 1912 or so. According to the film version that I talk about below, Chanel was in the audience for the original, and helped support his work on perfecting it. She also secretly financed Diaghilev to put it back on, where it finally received rave acclaim in 1921 or so. All of this seems to be rather up for debate though, and dependent on Chanel’s own word. I’m a bit dubious about Mademoiselle Chanel as a person…..

        In any event, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jacques Polge had the Bel Respiro scent draw some subtle inspiration from the themes of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

      • Mary E.

        Mr. Dandy,
        I read that Igor completed completed ballet Les Noces Villageoises which he had struggled with composing. I also believe that Coco said that Boy Capel had previously owned Bel Respiro where he planned to live with the other woman he married, so that is why she purchased it. Cuir de Russe is another lovely scent that Lanier Smith just posted a beautiful YouTube review.
        Yours as well,
        Mary E.

    • Dearest Mary and Kafka
      So, the whirlwind of stories surrounding this scent gets more intense.
      The house may have been the location of the creation of one ballet and the refinement of another!?!
      I also had no idea that Coco financially supported the Ballet Russes.
      And as for the personal narrative to go with the perfume, Mme. Chanel bought the house that her dead lover intended to live in with his life?
      Alors!
      Of course, we’re relying on Coco’s recollections to be absolutely accurate in all of this, and I suspect that, in common with many great artists she may be as creative in relation to the formulation of her personal history as she was to shaping her ideas into reality.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy
      PS. Oh yes, Lanier is lover of Cuir de Russie and I adore his take on it!

  2. Ah, that house! Did you see Coco Chanel et Igor Stravinsky, the French movie that Mary referenced up above? I watched it over the holidays, and that house, that HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From what I’ve read, they got permission from Chanel Inc. to film inside Chanel’s Paris studio, but surely they used Bel Respiro as well, because how else could they replicate that stunning Art Deco decor?! (And let’s not start on the obviously Couture line of Chanel clothes that the actress, a former Chanel model, wore.)

    There is actually a bit of fuss as to whether Chanel ever really had a turbulent affair with Stravinsky. His 2nd wife (and once lover for over 15 years, going back to the early 1920s) categorically said No, never. But Chanel told a biographer that she did, so that book and her claim is the basis of the film. I don’t know if Chanel was in a self-aggrandizing mood when she said that, as she was in her slump phase, suffering the impact of her ostracism post WW2 and before the House of Chanel returned to success. Honestly, I could see it as being either a total lie, or the truth. She certainly had voracious appetites in those days, and she had a thing for the Russians. (The Stravinsky affair is before the one she had with the Romanov Grand Duke.)

    I’m blathering on too much, as you probably know all this. With regard to the perfume, I have a sample, I think, and will try it soon. 🙂

    • Mary E.

      Kafkaesque,
      Your words inspire me to go see the movie as I’ve read the book. Coco Chanel was such a remarkable woman and one where mystery and her affairs will probably not be fully known. It is so wondrous to be able to have others like you and Mr. Dandy so enamored of her and what she could realize in her life and time.
      Yours truly,
      Mary

      • I hope you enjoy the movie, Mary. I should caution that it may be better as an utterly spectacular visual and stylistic feast than a really engrossing film. In a way, the aesthetics are a character of their own.

        As for Mademoiselle Chanel, I’m actually not a fan. At all. I respect her deeply and acknowledge her enormous accomplishments in fashion, style, and trend-setting, but I have little admiration for her as a person. All too often, I find people confuse the facade and the brilliant style with the woman that she actually was. For me, it’s not only the WWII stuff, but many other things as well that make her unpalatable and distinctly unpleasant. On the other hand, I acknowledge that greatness does not always go hand in hand with integrity, honour, substance, compassion, generosity, or a worthy character. Witness Wagner, Hemingway (another sore subject for me), and many others. Coco Chanel may be a legend, but, IMO, she was also a thoroughly horrible, narcissistic, opportunistic, morally bankrupt person.

        Er… sorry for the strong words. I feel rather deeply on this subject, and I didn’t mean to come off quite so forcefully. Please accept my apologies. I should perhaps have clarified my position a little less emphatically. lol. Forgive me.

      • Dearest Kafka and Mary
        Certainly a genius, certainly flawed.
        Two quotes come to mind from two others who fit this same description. First WH Auden:
        “Private faces in public places
        Are wiser and nicer
        Than public faces in private places.”
        Secondly the rather nicer Harold Nicolson:
        “We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.”
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

    • Dearest Kafka
      Just like Mary your words have inspired me to see the film, which to date has eluded me.
      One of the things I admire about the French cinema is that it continues to play a core role in the artistic life of the nation: so Chanel may well have opened its doors, assisted with the costumes and advised on the recreation of Bel Respiro (though my cursory research suggests the interiors may, astonishingly have been screen sets).
      It recalls the glory days of Hollywood when great talents such as Edith Head, Hubert de Givenchy and Hermes worked within the old studio system.
      What a rich discussion this has turned out to be… thank you!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • My darling Beau Brummell 😉 and Mary,
        Were the interiors really set pieces? Good God, someone needs to give an Oscar to whomever did them, because I’m telling you, I spent half the film freeze-framing sections showing the house and Bel Respiro’s decor.

        I don’t think the film is really the best one, though I think Mads Mikkelsen is perhaps one of the best of the under-appreciated acting lot. He’s truly brilliant in so many things I’ve seen, and this is no exception. The problem with the film is that it is rather lifeless for something that covers two forces of (narcissistic) nature who collide. It was stilted, perhaps a bit suffocating in feel, and even the passion felt…. too constrained. The film could do more with such rich, fertile territory, but it merely scratches at the surface of who Chanel and Stravinsky were. They are surprisingly one (perhaps two) dimensional for such enormously complex creatures.

        To avoid going totally off topic, the one reason why both you and Mary, along with any other fan of Chanel perfumes, MUST see the film is… the perfumes!! There is a 20-minute segment, in all, that shows her interest in creating a perfume, the reaction of those who first heard of her plans (bewilderment), and then, really excitingly, her meeting Ernst Beaux. She goes down to his studio, and the film details (briefly) the process by which they came up with Chanel No. 5. She was a tough task master, and she also knew what she wanted.

        Honestly, for me, that part was priceless to see. So descriptive, but it also showed how far ahead of her time Coco was, as well her thought process behind it all. She definitely was a visionary, unpleasant as she may have been as a person. No doubt about that at all. What was also interesting to me was Beaux’s discussion of synthetics, and the attempt to make a fragrance that lasted and projected, without you taking a bath in it.

        So, yes, I definitely think it’s worth seeing, for a variety of reasons, but don’t expect a truly brilliant film. I think they squandered a lot of opportunities, and it could have been so much better.

        My apologies to you all for such a massively long comment. You know that brevity is not one of my strong suits. lol

      • Dearest Kafka
        Oh, I quite enjoy watching a film just for the look of it. In fact silent film is one of my great passions and there, quite often plot is secondary, personality no where: it’s all about the spectacle.
        Now, as to those interiors and designs Lagerfelt (who has made his own impossibly awful short films on Coco himself, I mean, too, too bad to even think of watching – I switched off out of embarrassment) allowed access to rue Cambon and the Chanel archives.
        However ‘Bel Respiro’ and much else were purpose built or decorated by Production Designer Marie-Hélène Sulmoni and Set Decorator Philippe Cord’homme.
        From the stills I’ve seen the job they’ve don is quite remarkable and for those alone I would be quite happy to watch it.
        But now this added lure of a scented section… I shall have no option but to view.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

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