Released in 1955 Chanel Pour Monsieur is the venerable grand-daddy of Chanel’s line of male fragrances. I was lucky enough to find some vintage bottles of this gem.
Chanel Pour Monsieur by CHANEL 1955
Chanel Pour Monsieur by Henri Robert
Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Verbena, Neroli, Orange
Heart: Cardamom, Coriander, Basil, Ginger
Base: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Cedarwood
The three bottles here are a large splash bottle of vintage Pour Monsieur EdT, a bottle of Pour Monsieur After Shave, and a large splash bottle labelled A Gentleman’s Cologne. Pour Monsieur was marketed to the English-speaking world as A Gentleman’s Cologne during the 60s, so this is probably the same fragrance, despite the clear colour difference.
I took these bottles into the Chadstone Chanel store, and the staff there told me that they had never seen PM in those bottles, and did not think that it had ever been sold in Australia in those forms. We did some sniff tests on cards, comparing to the latest EdT. Only the after shave held up; the splash bottles had a bit of a plonky smell, suggesting that both had turned.
I decided to take one for the team, and decanted each of them into atomisers for some skin testing. I often find that, like with vintage wine, decanting old perfume can liven it up a bit.
The AGC is most likely the oldest of the three. The bottle is a different shape and has a different spout and cap to the PM bottle. My best dating puts this at 1962-1969, so it is about 50 years old. The colour looks fine, but the real test is the smell. From the first spray, this one is dominated by cardamom, with a touch of ginger. It sticks very close to the skin, and has almost no sillage. After an hour or so, the cedar has taken over, with a bit of oakmoss. I can’t make out any florals or vetiver. It is still there 5 hours later, so not too bad. As a woody aromatic, this AGC still stands up although it is clearly only a shadow of its former self.
The PM EdT probably dates to either 1985 or 1993, going by the batch code. The years have not been kind to this one, as the dark brown colour attests. On skin, it goes straight to the base notes of cedar and vetiver, and all but disappeared within a couple of hours.
The After Shave is in better shape than the other two. Some of the top notes are still present, notably petitgrain. It softens quickly though and, again, sticks very close to the skin. It’s a bit linear, and doesn’t develop the spices and woods that should be present before it disappears. Presumably this is due to the lighter concentration; perhaps more copious spraying might turn this one into a winner.
This was an interesting experiment. It was almost like being able to separate out the layers of a classic fragrance and smell them concurrently: the aftershave giving the top notes, the Cologne the middle notes and the EdT the base notes. Unfortunately, none of these three delivers as a standalone fragrance, and each is probably only good for collecting rather than wearing. It did make me keen to go full bottle on some Chanel Pour Monsieur though, if I can find a vintage bottle in better shape than these three.
(My thanks to Ali at Chanel Chadstone for her help).
See you soon,
(ED: This piece was first run on Greg’s new blog AusScents. Please zip over and have a squiz.)