6 de jul. de 2021

Chanel Le Lion - Symbolism, Mysticism and Fragrance Review


Even though Chanel's marketing describes Le Lion as part of a coincidence capable of forging fate, this is perhaps just a way to make more palatable the strong mysticism that fostered Gabrielle Chanel, raised inside a convent of monks where number has mystical connotations and specials. There is no coincidence when talking about Gabrielle Chanel, who launched her iconic No 5 on May 5 (month 5) of 1921, a numerological date that when we have the day, month and year reduced to a single number turns, without any surprise , the number 5.

Coco Chanel was certainly versed in the power of symbols and myths and Lion is just another figure that complements the strong imagery that the stylist built for herself. Leo is the representative of the sign Coco Chanel was born from - the stylist was born at the end of Leo, on August 19, 1883. Leo is the fifth sign of the zodiac - preceded by Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer . Its name is derived from the constellation Leo, one of the Zodiac constellations located in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Greeks its name is derived from the mythological figure of the Lion of Nemea, a lion that could not be killed naturally and that was one of Hercules' challenges in his 12 works.



It's even curious that perfumer Olivier Polge mentions that he was "more interested in the iconic Chanel lion than the animal itself" since the iconic Chanel Lion is the iconic animal itself. Either Polge ignores the mythological figure of the Lion or gives an answer that masks the mysticism his fragrance personifies. In addition to being the representative of the sign of Gabrielle Chanel, the figure of the Lion is emblematic in different cultures: it is associated with God in the Jewish tribes (lion of the tribe of Judah) and is seen since ancient times as a strategic animal, of strength and many skills. Lions have been used throughout human history as figures related to magic and even seen as deities in certain cultures.

It is likely that the Lion for Coco Chanel was a mixture of the Lion of Nemea and the Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet. The Lion of Nemea mythology says that he was impossible to be killed by humans due to his golden fur, impervious to attack. The Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet was a warrior goddess depicted as a lioness and seen as a protector of the pharaohs. Sekhmet is considered a daughter of the Sun God, Ra (and the Sun is the star representing the sign of Leo). She was a protective Goddess capable of causing plagues. No wonder that Lion's symbolism is that of Coco Chanel as something powerful that protects rather than dominates.


I would say that Le Lion is a brilliant case for tying together mythology, symbolism and fragrance. Here we have one of the most classic structures in perfumery being redesigned 100 years later. Le Lion draws from the source of the classic idea of the oriental Ambreine, the accord of the unknown chemist Samuelson, who had his firm incorporated into the legendary company De Laire (which is now part of Symrise). The mythology behind this base is that a happy accident between an overdose of bergamot and the newly discovered vanillin would have led to the creation of a pleasant aroma which was composed of a base/accord that revolves around these elements and adds to them coumarin, civet ,woody notes, rose and balsamic notes - benjoin, tolu balm, opoponax, labdanum, among others.

The power of the amber and resinous notes and their association with the divine and mythical fits like a glove in Le Lion, which instead of reinventing the wheel evokes all the power of the classic with impeccable execution. Chanel shows that to impress you don't always have to innovate, sometimes it's just necessary to rescue a powerful image and use as much quality as possible. Le Lion opens with a generous use of bergamot supported by the astringent aroma of lemon. The amber accord explores the connection between ambergris and labdanum and brings a woody, slightly animalic and black aroma - it is possible that there is also a bit of castoreum here. Vanilla is certainly explored from the point of view of natural and synthetic, bringing the velvety and richness of the absolute and vanilla tincture with the potency and sweetness of ethyl vanillin. Sandalwood and patchouli complement the idea, bringing an earthy, warm and enveloping woody feel. And perhaps in a very subliminal and subtle way there is a slight use of ionones to evoke the brand's olfactory signature. Le Lion is a divine, majestic and timeless fragrance. Golden like the Lion that represents it and an idea incapable of being killed in the same way as the Golden Lion that gave its name to the constellation that represents the sign of Coco Chanel.