As Égoïste has now been allowed to take its rightful place at all UK Chanel counters (until very recently, it was available only at the brand's own boutiques) the time is right for a brief re-assessment of its merits. Yes, the drydown of its original, 1990 version may have been smoother (you can blame any deterioration on the current price and scarcity of sandalwood) but its 2013 incarnation remains in the Top 3 chart of mainstream masculines bearing the double-C logo (with the other two places occupied by Pour Monsieur and Antaeus, of course). Much has been written about its aromatic, fruity, syrupy aspects - which is wholly justifiable, given these elements' dominance in the scent's construction - but I'm always amazed by how few people seem to notice that this stuff is seriously combustible. Sure, it places heavy emphasis on woods, but there's smoke too, and plenty of flames. The main focus may be on apples, trees and herbs, but they're perpetually alight, making this one of perfumery's most compelling bonfire of the vanities.
Confession time: I adore No 5. I realise this places me at the very centre of cliche country, but I couldn't care less. The perfume is elegant, graceful, sensual, endlessly sophisticated and it never fails to stop me in my tracks. So I was pleased (nay, giddily excited) to discover that it's now available in a new bath range, comprising, amongst other delights, a cleansing cream, a limited edition "intense bath oil" and a "hair mist". The latter must be a re-issue of an item I picked up years ago for Madame Persolaise at a Sephora in northern France (Lille, I think it was). In many ways, it was a frivolous purchase; there's nothing to stop us from spraying any of our favourite scents onto our hair, so a formulation designed specifically for follicles is pretty redundant. But I couldn't resist the impulse to spend my pennies on the thing: I just wanted to give Madame P another excuse - and another opportunity - to spray this most heavenly of scents upon her person. This new version of the hair mist is just as effective as my Sephora buy: it catches you unawares, stops all the clocks and, for a few moments, makes you realise that perfection does exist.
[Review of Égoïste based on sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2013; review of No 5 bath range based on samples provided by Chanel in 2013.]