Chanel – Egoiste


Posted on January 8th, by Clayton@What Men Should Smell Like in A - F, Woods. 14 comments

Chanel Egoiste

Egoiste began its creation in the mid 1980s. Legendary perfumer Jacques Polge was researching the Chanel archives and came across a formula by Ernest Beaux (creator of Chanel No5). This formula (Bois des Iles) required a high percentage of sandalwood inspiring Polge who at the time was working on a men’s fragrance to accompany the launch of a Chanel menswear line. The menswear idea was cancelled however many in Chanel HQ pushed for the fragrance to be released. As a result Bois Noir was launched and sold in limited quantities only through Chanel boutiques. The fragrance was a complete departure from the fougere style of men’s fragrances currently in the market and was never intended to be a big success. Bois Noir lasted a year before disappearing. In 1990 it was decided Bois Noir should be launched to a wider audience and thus Egoiste as it is known today was born. To accompany the launch Jean Paul Goude created a TV advertising campaign that has contributed to the fragrance’s cult status. Directly translated as ‘selfish’ L’Egoiste ad quotes 17th century French playwright Pierre Corneille staying away from the stereotypical approach to men’s fragrance marketing with semi naked male models. I recommend watching it on Youtube if you are interested. The fragrance flopped in America and did not enjoy the global success intended by Chanel. After 30 years with Chanel, Polge still names Egoiste as his favourite piece of work for the fashion house. “It was so new and singular-and still is”. Perhaps it was this ‘newness’ that lead to its failure? I wonder if today’s men’s market would be more receptive? In saying that people still pull faces when I wave a wrist of Egoiste under their noses and ask for a critique. It’s certainly not for everyone. Egoiste is a perfume icon and much more interesting than the 1994 release of Platinum Egoiste that carries the Egoiste name but none of it’s personality. Whilst Platinum Egoiste is available everywhere, sadly Egoiste is now in limited availability after Chanel lowered it’s global distribution. I still see it in parts of Asia and online.

Olfactory impressions:

If you have been raised on the ozonic men’s fragrances of the past decade Egoiste can be quite a shock to the olfactory senses although the recent trend in gourmand scents may make way for an Egoiste renaissance. I’m not sure I would class this as a gourmand scent but it is a close relative due to the high percentage of vanilla and ambrette seed. Cinnamon and coriander lend to this ‘foody’ theme, the result being something very sweet! I normally shy away from anything with a lot of vanilla but there is something peculiarly attractive in Egoiste. I bought my first bottle in South America in the mid 90s. I found it in a Bolivian market after deciding I needed a new scent to deal with the humidity and dust. In my head I can still slip back to that time when I open the bottle and take in the scent. When the bottle is first sprayed damask rose is easily identified. This is supported by carnation, which also lends itself to the spicy nature of the fragrance. While most masculine perfumes beat their chests in the base notes Egoiste shows it’s masculine nature quietly by referencing traditional men’s cologne. Once your nose makes it’s way past the vanillic assault notes of lavender, thyme and tangerine make themselves known. Sandalwood also becomes more present in the drydown.

Suggested wearing:

This fragrance has a big personality and requires a wearer who will not be easily overcome by it. Egoiste has a polarizing effect so I would not suggest it as your office fragrance. You may find you have a group of co-workers hovering over your desk all-day and wonder why some colleagues have stopped visiting. It’s better utilized as a weekend or evening scent. At night in a bar the sense of smell becomes heightened due to other senses being overwhelmed by loud music and poor lighting. Drawing a silage of Egoiste as you move through a room will ensure you can be found, even in the darkest of corners. If you live in a country where smoking in bars is permitted Egoiste is completely compatible with the smell of cigarette. There is nothing worse than the mix of cigarettes and that of fresh ozonic scents currently flooding the perfume market. Although men tend to go for lighter scents in summer I strongly recommend a dab of Egoiste on hot summer days. Especially if you are spending the day around water. It’s warm woody presence makes a nice contrast to a watery sunlight environment. Egoiste is a sophisticated fragrance which can be worn easily by the over 30s crowd. Guys under 30 should ensure it suits their personality before investing.

Alternatives:

Hermes Amber Narguile, L’Artisan Vanilla, Christian Dior Dune Pour Homme, Etro Ambra, Yves Saint Laurent Opium Pour Homme, Christian Dior Ambre Nuit.

Perfumer: Jacques Polge, Francois Demachy

Bottle designer: Jacques Helleu

Release date: 1990

Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woody Oriental





14 Responses to “Chanel – Egoiste”

  1. Andrew says:

    Hi,
    I just read you site for the first time, very entertaining :)

    I was actually searching the net because I had tried Egoiste when it was first released for some time and it was my favourite scent however when I bought some years later the scent was very different and I was looking for an answer.

    , I noticed you mentioned the rumours of a change and I am certain there was one, To me at least as different as between Egoiste and Platinum Egoiste.

    I really wish I could find some of that original version,
    I occasionally catch a note of some of it in unusual places such as a hair mousse of all places ! :) and it always returns pleasant memories,

    Andrew

    • What Men Should Smell Like says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Great to hear you are enjoying my blog : ) The original Egoiste is one of my all time favourite fragrances, which is now very hard to find in Australia because for some reason, Chanel only sell it in certain parts of the world. Platinum Egoiste is an entirely different fragrance as you picked out. If you would like a bottle, If you are Sydney based, I know of one shop that has stock (they specialise in hard to find fragrances) or the still sell it in Europe and parts of Asia. The only other option you have is to buy online, which is very easy to do in this day and age. I hope you get to smell it again!

      Cheers,
      Clayton

      • Andrew says:

        Hi ,

        Yes, I have found it very difficult to find, even on trips overseas I have not had luck,

        I would really appreciate the details of the store you mentioned, I am in Sydney BTW.

        thanks,

        Andrew

        PS,
        When I first got some I am sure the name was L’Egoiste , (with an “L” )
        and i have seen bottles with both on them, could that be when some change was made ?

        • What Men Should Smell Like says:

          The store is called Hot Times Perfumes and they are in Birkenhead Point (the outlet mall over the Anzac bridge). It’s a small family business that specialise in recently discontinued or hard-to-find major designer fragrances (ph 9181 4009). I was there recently and I am sure I saw the Egoiste bottle- if not they usually do custom orders and they will try and get it in for you. It was over $100 from memory. Strawberrynet.com or Fragrancenet.com should also have stock if you prefer to shop online. Because of the size of these online stores and they way they do business, the price likely be low.

          I think the name change from L’Egoiste to Egoiste may have been a marketing change only. If any changes to the formula have happened, they have probably happened very gradually over the years as laws (IFRA) that govern what ingredients and maximum levels of ingredients perfume can contain have been reformed. Others online say a reformulation coincided with a packaging change in the late 1990s where the words ‘eau de toilette’ which was previously written above the Egoiste name on the box, were moved to below the Egoiste name on the box. I have both versions in my collection and to be honest, I think the difference is minimal. There are many perfume fans that will say Egoiste has been changed beyond the point of recognition, but I think this is a slight exaggeration. Today’s Egoiste, which, for sure has had some small alterations, is still true to its style from the early 1990s.

          I haven’t had a chance to write a review of my bottle of Egoiste Cologne Concentree, but this is something very special, a concentrated version that was released for a short time in the early-mid 1990s. If you find this nearly impossible bottle, you can either enjoy it or hock it off for a nice sum of money. The going price for the rare bottle that appears on Ebay is $400-$600.

  2. Ferris says:

    I tried Égoïste Concentrèe and it was a bit too strong for me. I think I sprayed too much though. it is a very nice fragrance, I love the drydown especially because of the vanilla and creamy sandalwood. It is divine! The problem is I cannot smell any rose. I only smell a spicy floral note, which I think is carnation. Carnation always comes across to me as very spicy with a honeyed sweetness. It almost reminds me of the spice clove but with less intensity. I have to try the less concentrated version, maybe it will work better for me. Anyway great review. I just came across your blog and I enjoyed reading it.

    • What Men Should Smell Like says:

      Hi Ferris. Thanks for reading. I am still in search of a full bottle of Cologne Concentree. Currently a bottle goes for US$400 on Ebay. It is a beautiful fragrance but, as with most things in short supply, it’s developed a cult following and prices for secondhand bottles are astronomical. I guess carnation and rose are very similar odours. Take a basic rose accord and add eugenol and isoeugenol and you get the dry spice and honey notes of clove, it’s very similar to the odour of carnation. With my sample of Cologne Concentree I notice the musk note and the powdery animal note, reminiscent of tonka bean is much more intense. I really like it, but it is still similar enough to the original to keep me from spending $400 on a bottle. Last week a bottle of Bois Noir, which is closer to the original Egoiste, sold on Ebay for $600. There are some diehard Egoiste fans out there!

  3. JJ says:

    Is the modern day Egoiste just as good as the Vintage Egoiste from the late 80’s?

    • Hi JJ. I see some people writing about a perceived change in the current Egoiste from the older Egoiste, which was created in 1990 (not counting Bois Noir). To my nose they are the same fragrance. Any differences are likely due to new perfume legislation or maybe a difference supplier of raw materials, although the second reason is much less likely to happen. I don’t think the fragrance has been changed or altered so severely that I feel the need to search out vintage stock as I would with, for example Guerlain’s Mitsouko or more recently, Dior Homme. I am however curious to smell the elusive Egoiste Concentree that was around for a short time in the mid 90s. I haven’t been lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle as yet : (

  4. Hello Clayton, I just found your blog. Here is my question. I have been wearing Chanel Egoiste Eau de Toilette since I purchased it in Paris in 1990. I see a listing on Ebay for the Cologne Concentree which I am interested in purchasing. Since it was discontinued a number of years ago, do you think it is worth purchasing? Thank you, Ken

    • Hi Kenneth, I wasn’t aware Chanel made a concentree version of the original Egoiste. Thanks for enlightening me. It sounds quite rare, so I think why not go for it on Ebay? I did a quick look into it on Basenotes and the few reviews it has seem very positive. I have a sample of Bois Noir, to me, BN smells more lavender, less pronounced as Egoiste. It is as though Jacques Polge came up with the idea in Bois Noir- he perfected it and pushed it further for Egoiste. So I would be interested to see where he took the concept for this Cologne Concentree version. If you do win the auction, I’d love to hear you thoughts on what it smells like.

      Good luck,
      clayton

  5. This is one of my favorite designer fragrances. Amazing blend. I have recently found your blog and am really enjoying it. Keep up the good work.

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