Chanel’s master perfumer, Olivier Polge, who inherited the title from his father Jacques Polge in 2013, is two scents into his tenure. His second fragrance for Chanel, and 17th addition to the fashion house’s Les Exclusifs range, Boy, represents an olfactory departure, but one that ties the fragrance to the fundaments of the fashion house.
Boy is named after Coco Chanel’s lover, muse and benefactor, Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel. Capel who not only sponsored the opening of Chanel’s first store, but inspired its contents – the pared-back masculine silhouette of her two-pieces were inspired by the tweedy ensembles the polo-playing English aristocrat famously wore. A play between masculine and feminine dominated Chanel’s style, and has led Polge to juggle with gender himself in the creation of Boy. Avoiding the ubiquitous unisex route fragrance has taken, he took a traditionally masculine fragrance structure, a fougère, and made a feminine version. Or a version for a woman – Polge maintains that the feminine aspect appears only when worn on a woman’s skin. A fougère traditionally features lavender and geranium, underpinned by coumarin and moss. The lavender is there at the top, alongside gender-free lemon and grapefruit; even the rose geranium at the heart has androgynous minty, lemony notes alongside rose, giving an impression of lychee. The warmth of the skin gradually pushes sandalwood, heliotrope, coumarin, vanilla and clean musk accords to the fore. There is all the refinement packed into the whole that would be expected of the iconic fashion house, but with a comforting warm embrace built in.