There is an almost magical story behind the last one Chanel perfume, Le Lion. For those who don’t know Gabrielle – said Coco – was fascinated by the stars. Born on 19 August 1883 under the zodiac sign, of course, Leo has always given this animal a “fatal” importance, transforming it into one of his lucky charms.
In 1920, destroyed by the sudden death of her great love Boy Capel, is convinced by two of his dear friends, the painter José-Maria Sert and his wife Misia, to accompany them on a trip to Venice. More than love at first sight, it is a real rebirth. Gabrielle is captivated by the artistic and worldly effervescence of this city placed, just like her, under the sign of the lion.
Gabrielle Chanel in 1936 on Roussy Sert’s yacht in front of Venice Lido / Photo by VH Grandpierre © All rights reserved / Courtesy Vogue Paris
Protective figure of the Serenissima that attracts and inspires her, in fact the feline symbol of courage and renewal is omnipresent. Sovereign. This lucky animal that dominates Piazza San Marco, decorating the pediments and doors of the palaces, lending her figure to mosaics and stone statues, gives her the strength to move forward.
Venice is the starting point for a new life. From this moment on, his style will be forever marked by treasures of Byzantine art of this city made of contrasts, to the border between East and Occidentand, among which, of course, the lion will find a place. And since she seems to have always followed her, Gabrielle finds in the lion more than an emblem: a talisman. Bold, instinctive, sunny, she cultivates that strong and independent character that brings her closer to him. And he surrounds himself with his benevolent presence.
In his apartment at number 31 of rue Cambon in the center of Paris, the lion becomes his guardian. Worked in marble, bronze or carved wood, placed on a table or a fireplace to watch over his cigarettes or his scissors, the king of beasts protects Gabrielle Chanel’s intimate universe. To always have him near, she chooses him also in hers creations. Engraved on the buttons of tweed suits or on the closures of the bags, the lion will become, over time, a subject of predilection and an icon ofHaute Joaillerie Chanel. Today, the lion makes its triumphal entry into the universe of the Maison’s fragrances in the collection Les Exclusifs de Chanel.
Olivier Polge, the signature of this Chanel perfume like many others, dedicates his new creation to the vision that the brand has always cultivated of this animal. Drawing on the multiple faces of the lion the fragrance creator wanted to transpose on the olfactory level that brilliant strength of character which, in Chanel, is embodied by the feline. This appropriation of the animal by the Maison gives rise to the idea of marking an archetype of power with his imprint: the oriental perfumes.
Of course, the sparkling citrus – lemon, bergamot – bring the indispensable starting point that distinguishes the first moments of a great perfume. But a few seconds are enough for the fragrance with golden reflections to release all the warmth of its imprint Oriental. An amber accord softened by the savoir-faire of the Parfumeur Créateur and as multifaceted as the thousand faces of the lion in the Chanel universe. At the heart of the composition, the cistus labdanum, resin with animal notes, is shaped thanks to a specially elaborated essence. Freed from its roughness, it becomes a concentrate of scents amber and velvety, which progressively introduce the leather. And it lets itself be accompanied by an infusion of vanilla Madagascar which enhances the quintessential raw material of the Orientals.
Created yesterday by Ernest Beaux, the parfumeur of Mademoiselle, then by Jacques Polge and today by Olivier Polge, Les Exclusifs de Chanel (of which Le Lion is a part) have this freedom as their legacy. Secret yet evident ingredient, it is exactly what makes them totally inimitable and absolutely timeless.