In 2007, 28 La Pausa was one of six new perfumes that joined an existing four to be known as Les Exclusifs de Chanel. For this scent, perfumer Jacques Polge took inspiration from the vacation villa Coco Chanel had built along the French Riviera in 1928. With a view of the distant Italian coast, her holiday residence at La Pausa creates the perfect muse for Chanel to reference one of perfume’s most revered materials, iris pallida. The villa, which went on sale last year (the reported asking price was AU$51 million) was visited by Coco during summer months. She received guests that included Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Winston Churchill. Slow to rise in the morning, she would often receive her guests whilst still in bed. 28 La Pausa meanders at a similar andante pace. If it were music, it would be performed as a solo concerto. The orchestral accompaniment would be minimal, representing the light touches of vetiver and pink pepper that play along side this precious soliflore. One of the joys of owning a recently purchased Chanel is the improved dispensing mechanism. When I purchased 28 La Pausa the Chanel consultant compared new bottles with older stock of Coco and No 5, advising me the company would eventually replace their older spray mechanisms. The fine and constant mist these new dispensers create is a welcome update to packaging that already exceeded my expectations.
The Les Exclusifs collection has increased with the addition of three new scents since 2007. If ever a story could be told through perfume, this is it. Each fragrance represents a chapter from the biography of Coco Chanel. The florals in this collection represent the femininity of the brand, enabling Polge the opportunity to showcase the effervescent aldehydes that launched ‘le monstre’, Chanel No 5 in 1921. Creations such as Cuir de Russie, 31 Rue Cambon and Bois des Îles display the austere, almost masculine style that Chanel popularized for woman during les annees folles, Paris in the 1920s. Iris 28 La Pausa, green Bel Respiro and refreshing Chanel Eau de Cologne all represent a woman or man at ease, relaxing in the South of France away from the busy streets that surround Chanel’s Rue Cambon atelier. For any iris fan, 28 La Pausa is a must-try, if not must-buy. Simply described as pure iris on a base of vetiver, the complexity of the scent is all in the iris. I did not understand Jean-Claude Ellena’s Iris Ukiyoé until I wore 28 La Pausa. Polge’s creation provides an uninterrupted study of the iris note as it unfolds over time: its characteristic ionones, the watery green sheerness, the waxy petal-like qualities reminiscent of white lilies and the powdery base with wood nuances. Chanel mentions pink pepper, a note I find adds a subtle texture to the iris and vetiver gives a parting farewell as the fragrance performs its final disappearing act.
Masculine iris perfumes tend more towards the woody, powdery, sometimes carrot seed type of iris note than this watery floral note seen in 28 La Pausa. It is often too easy to forget the note comes from the root of the plant and not a magical flower with the power to emit this beautiful purple scent. Most likely created for a female wearer, Chanel’s 28 La Pausa is yet another feminine scent I have appropriated for my own use. The vetiver base adds to my conviction a male can easily wear this fragrance. I find the iris progresses quickly on my skin. If you wish to extend the note you could try applying the scent to a handkerchief or pocket square which can be worn in your jacket pocket, a trick that I find will assist in slowing the perfume’s evaporation as it is not in contact with warm skin.
Prada Infusion d’Iris, Cartier L’Heure Promise, L’Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida, Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile, Serge Lutens Silver Iris Mist
Perfumer: Jacques Polge, Francois Demachy
Bottle designer: Jacques Helleu
Release date: 2007
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Soft Floral