The Smell Test: Gabrielle Chanel

The Score: 4.2
The Verdict: Chanel’s first new fragrance pillar in 15 years, meant as a Millennial answer to No. 5, failed to fully impress our panel of exacting judges. While the scent was immediately recognized for its luxurious blend of ingredients—or, as one judge put it, for smelling “like money” and a few found it “elegant” and “delicate”—the general consensus was that Gabrielle is a bit of a snooze. Despite the criticism, at least one judge realized the house of Chanel’s ambitions with the fragrance, calling it “an ode…to ladies who—still—lunch."
“A boring, fruity floral like so many since the Nineties.”
Artistic score: 2
Innovation score: 3
“When you spray the perfume, you have an immediate feeling of a very rich fragrance…but then it becomes too heavy. There is a lack of clarity and distinction—certainly extremely quality raw materials, but not mixing well together.”
Artistic score: 3
Innovation score: 6
“An ode to old-school perfumery and ladies who—still—lunch.”
Artistic score: 4
Innovation score: 6
“An elegant white floral, subtle yet tenacious.”
Artistic score: 7
Innovation score: 5
“Delicate and harmless, but not distinctive and a bit boring.”
Artistic score: 6
Innovation score: 4
“A trendy floral with fruity accents. Well-crafted, but neither exceptional nor original.”
Artistic score: 5
Innovation score: 4
“Nothing attractive and new to the scent…no artistic value.”
Artistic score: 2
Innovation score 1
“It smells of money in the quality of the raw materials. The juice is overwhelming, the perfume is not balanced—a floral soup. It’s nauseating and without signature.”
Artistic score: 2
Innovation score: 7
ABOUT THE TEST AND JUDGES: This is a blind test. Panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques, which are unattributed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging in an effort to find and showcase excellence. WWD Beauty Inc buys the products at retail, like any other consumer.
THE ESTEEMED JUDGES:  Michael Edwards, author of “Fragrances of the World” and “Perfume Legends”; Paul Austin, chief executive officer of sensory storytelling agency Austin Advisory Group; Jean-Claude Delville, cofounder and master perfumer at The Society of Scent; Victoria Frolova, fragrance industry analyst and Bois de Jasmin editor; Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer at DreamAir; Nathalie Pichard, owner of training and evaluation agency Topnotes; Chantal Roos, cocreator of Roos & Roos Co.; Jeanne Doré, cofounder of; Yves de Chiris, industry expert and developer of the Angel by Thierry Mugler fragrance.
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