Perfume Pen Pals: Bleu de Chanel


I'm wearing this new Bleu de Chanel, the latest men's fragrance from Chanel's lower tier of cheap, gross colognes. Chanel declares it was created for "the man who defies convention", which is such banal way of selling a cologne, I immediately knew it would smell conventional. Like something for a man so conventional, wearing Bleu would be the least conventional thing about him. That's conventional!

All I know is, when it comes to the inexpensive lines, Hermès kicks Chanel's butt. Bleu smells like Allure Homme Sport. Or Platinum Egoïste. Or the hundred other crappy non-Chanel sporty things for "the man who defies convention," typically by grabbing dinner at TGI Friday's before checking out the new Matt Damon flick. (And he calls it a "flick," that's how unconventional he is.)

It's one of those metallic citruses I smell all over town. And whenever I do, I imagine the wearers are tourists because I don't want to feel badly about my town and if I can't keep it from smelling like sleazy marketing reps, then I'm going to pretend all the sleazy marketing reps are here on vacation from Houston. It's my version of visualization and it helps me relax.

I got my sample of Bleu in the new Vanity Fair, which features the 2010 International Best-Dressed List. The honored females were asked to name their favorite fragrance (the question was not asked of the men, presumably because they defy convention and thus it's assumed they're all wearing Bleu), and most of the answers were disappointingly conventional: Fresh Pear Cassis (Helena Bonham Carter), Jo Malone Grapefruit (Nora Ephron), Calvin Klein Beauty (Diane Kruger), Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien (Tatiana Santo Domingo), Stella McCartney Stella Sheer (Cindi Leive...I don't know who she is either).

Only Wendi Murdoch, bless her, named a challenging perfume: Boudicca Wode. Although the rest of her life doesn't exactly defy convention, having hooked up with the evil Rupert Murdoch, a thousand years and a zillion dollars her senior. Still, I bet she smells good and if Rupert makes her walk two steps behind him, it's his loss.

Okay, I'm going out and pretending I'm from Houston.



I'm with you on this. Bleu blows.


Businessman from Byran Bonn
Rupert and Wendy Murdoch at the 2008 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala


  1. Ouch, seems poor Dan found a scrubber!!!

  2. I agree, I smelt 'Bleh' at my local drugstore (yes, they carry Chanel, they're obviously aiming to appear a little more cosmopolitan) and it was frustratingly boring and almost as bad as the new Hugo Boss Night(?) which was probably the worst thing I've layed my nostrils on in the last decade. Think gym clothes with lingering sport deodorant remnants shoved on the bottom of gym bag for 3 weeks. Horrible. I shoved the sample card in my brother-in-law's face and he exclaimed, "It's Lomani!" I'm not sure if you guys are familiar with Lomani but to me it's the ultimate representation of the 'sleazy marketing reps' of the world.
    On a more positive note, today I tried for the first time Iunk L'Ether, Serge Lutens Gris Clair and the discontinued Yojhi for the first time and I was very, very happy indeed! Why can't they all be more like these gems I ask?

  3. The only thing worse than the syrupy fruit cocktail smell of the woman's perfumes that I often smell around me is the nose-piercing citrus-wood man's bug-sprays passing as cologne. I have yet to smell Bleu. Or maybe I have, but I mistook it for mosquito repellent? We do have the wicked Asian Tiger variety here in the DC area. Maybe some of these colognes would do battle.

  4. Dan,

    You are one brave soul for trying it. I for one haven't even bother to try it. The ad's alone make you feel like your some poser wearing it. And why did they bother spelling it like Bleu cheese dressing? Maybe its a mistake and they really did want to enter that market, but forgot to tell the Ad company! Personally I think that a company that gets as big like Chanel, loses it drive to produce top notch scents. Once a company loses it focus it will just continue to knock off third rate products. I am afraid Chanel is well on it way! That is a crime too considering it did produce Chanel No.5!


  5. this was so so funny! haven't tried Bleu but I know what you both mean- although i do like a classic man smell. Terre De Hermes is hard to beat for me if a man wants something classic ish but interesting. Or Acqua Di Parma.

    The Vanity Fair list was annoying because some people obviously won't give their scent and it makes me want to shout at them. i don't really care what watch they wear- I mean it's quite interesting but it is unlikely to be one I can afford. Still Wode was surprising- nicely surprising! perhaps she is a wode fighting his media dictatorship from within?! maybe not.

  6. I am with rossm on this one, though I have not smelled Bleu, and am unlikely to rush down to Boots to do so. This disagreeable "metallic citrus" accord so common in men's perfumery also reminds me unerringly of gyms and sports jocks.

    The word "bleu" connotes "very rare" (well, in steaks anyway), but as you say, this is sooo conventional. To complete the look, are you also wearing white towelling socks and slip on shoes?

    And Wendy isn't Rupert's adopted daughter, by any chance? : - )

  7. melisand61 & flittersniffer, You've essentially smelled Bleu. In the "nose-piercing citrus-wood men's bug-spray" category of next year's Perfume Encyclopedia, Bleu will be the lead entry.

    And Gojira, Chanel's focus is to cash in on the prestige and exclusivity of its name by offering affordable everyday items. That was the idea of perfume in the first place, providing everyone a taste of luxury. But in Bleu's case, luxury tastes like bug-spray and I'm afraid Chanel has been overly magnanimous (cynical?) about trying win over every young man in his twenties, which potentially has the long-term effect of undermining that prestige. Nobody wins with Bleu. Not even the bugs. Not even the cheese.

  8. Rose, I agree that it's annoying to not get the "real" perfume deets from these glittery folks. Well, maybe some are their real choices, but I'm throwing a little shade on Diane Kruger's selection of Calvin Klein Beauty, since she's face for the soon-to-be-released...Beauty. And Cindi Leive, who is the editrix of Glamour magazine, might have advertising concerns...or might want to seem relateable to the young women who read her magazine. Or, shoot - maybe she just loves Stella Sheer!

  9. rossm, not being familiar with Lomani, I assumed it was a humorous truth-in-advertising name for the "Imposter Designer Fragrance" dupe of Armani.

  10. Oh yeah! Wow, I've just had an epiphany! You're right, maybe that's were those guys were going - you'd think if that was the case though they'd aim a bit higher maybe, like, I don't know, 'Ammeage' or 'Steve Lutins' or 'Jerkoff' or something. I know I would! Why settle for old-man Armani?

  11. It's the old "go with what ya know", rossm.

  12. " . . . this new Bleu de Chanel, the latest men's fragrance from Chanel's lower tier of cheap, gross colognes."

    And this is why the gods created Perfume Pen Pals.

  13. Ha-ha, nathan - I'm not sure if the gods would care to take responsibility...

  14. God, that stock pic of the businessman. So perfect for these scents. But you know, I can think of at least 10 designer men's fragrances that make me want to saw my nose off at the slightest whiff, and Bleu doesn't even come close. It's not intellectually stimulating, artistically groundbreaking, or even notably distinctive, but it's also not another tin foil/laundry detergent/public pool water/Lemon Pledge cocktail of evil, at least in my opinion, and for that I am grateful. It strikes me as a slightly more expensive-smelling CK Eternity, know, all pretensions dropped and in the right state of mind...isn't...really...half bad a scent. I mean, relatively. (Don't look at me like that.)

    Really, though, every time I walk through a department store and see another guy browsing the Armani, Lacoste, Burberry, or Hugo Boss selections, I feel like grabbing him by the shoulders and pushing him toward the Dior counter. I could happily smell Fahrenheit or Dior Homme on every man I encounter for the rest of my days. Too much to ask?

  15. You're right, Darryl. This fragrance review game is all one of perspective. Bleu is better than some, worse than others. It may be blah, but perhaps a well-built blah.

    And Fahrenheit and Dior Homme are both fine by me, too.

  16. Bleu de Chanel smells like a cheap drugstore or one of the fragrance strips that fill magazines.
    It is great if you are a teenager, but should be packaged in a can.
    After Egoiste, what a shame.

  17. freshman, the more "classy scent strip" fragrances Chanel releases for men along the lines of Bleu, the more Égoïste seems like a divine aberration. Égoïste was only released in 1990, but I guess that's a lifetime in perfume years. Or is a lifetime in perfumes years something more like 2 years?

  18. I received Bleu de Chanel as a gift. I doubt I would have ever bought it. I'm more of Kouros or Azzaro Pour Homme kind of guy (with lashings of Habit Rouge when the mood takes me). But for some reason I keep applying Bleu.

    We all have those days when we're not sure what fragrance to put on. Well at least I do. On those days when I really can't decide and I feel like wearing nothing more than jeans and a crumpled shirt with rolled up sleeves, Bleu de Chanel works just fine for me.

    I think it is actually a very well crafted fragrance. The vetiver, pink pepper, cedar... all blend into (on my skin at least) a very dry, slightly spicy, woody scent. And its not unpleasant. Yes, its not the sweet joy of Egoiste or the sublime perfection of Pour Monsieur but its way better than most of the 'sports', 'aquatic' or fresh 'marine' colognes out there.

    It has to be worn on skin. I tried this on a strip several times and loathed it. Totally different on the body in my opinion. Everyone on the blogs are saying 'oh it smells like Axe'. Well if thats the case this is Axe's multi-millionaire older brother

    The marketing, the advertisements etc... all pap and pretty loathsome. Fragrance reduced to pure commodity. But thats not what really important. The only thing that matters is the juice and I don't think its anywhere near as awful as everyone else seems to think.

  19. mjcr77 - thanks for your input on Bleu. Sounds like you've been able to make your peace with it. I totally understand the need for an easy "jeans and crumpled shirt" fragrance. In that dept, my pref is for another Chanel, Allure Homme Edition Blanche.

  20. Hey, I i'm not frangrance expert.
    But I don't know why everyone posting has such a dislike for Blue. I smelt it on a Chanel makeup artist ( she was selecting a foundation for me) and it was amazing on her. I wear it, when I need a break from Stella or Chanel Coco and on women I think it smells alluring and different. Would I wear it around my boyfriend...? no. But for a change of pace, sure i'll slap it on.

    Love your blog/YT videos Katie!

  21. KL: well, "fragrance expert" is merely being a Smell Nerd. This nerd's feeling on Bleu is that it's simple and annoying. Simple is fine, but I can't shake annoying. Both Mark Jacobs Bang and Comme des Garçons Wonderwood both exhibit shades of Bleu, but somehow they sit with me a little better.

  22. This is a big part of what I LOVE about Katie's site. Not only do I find Katie's video reviews reliable and entertaining, and Pen Pal Dan is a superb counterpoint to Katie, but the comments from true fragrance lovers round it all out. And no one's opinion is punished, it's just opinions. My take on Bleu? I wish I had one. I stopped into Sephora with my daughters and wife the other day and in the midst of my overzealous sampling, I literally couldn't smell Bleu at all. Everything else broke through the growing cloud to be distinctive, but Bleu was undetectable to my nose by the time I tried it. I have a hope that it would be good, but that is mostly because I could just lick the Chanel Coromandel bottle it is SO delicious and that elevates everything Chanel in my mind.

  23. Katie ,i dont know where to ask you this ,but i alwaus tresure your opinion about fragrances so i must-Have you ever tried Hermes Equipage?

  24. Even my love for all things Chanel can't make me like Bleu. I tried. And tried. And tried again. And I almost got myself to say, "Hey, this isn't bad!" Then it became this thing that reminds me of all the other generic smelling men's fragrances out there. I literally can't tell the difference and they all annoy me. A lot. I don't know what that smell is. They all smell the same. I so wanted to love Bleu. sigh.