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Chanel Antaeus: the Myth, the Perfume, the Legend

Thursday, 10 December 2009

chanel antaeusAlthough the first Chanel women's perfume was presented as early as 1921, the legendary Coco Chanel spent much less time and effort on the creation of men's fragrances. The first Chanel fragrance for men - Pour Monsieur - was created more than three decades after the launch of the French perfume brand, in 1955. It was meant to be the «Chanel No.5» for men and quickly became a classic. However, the most successful Chanel fragrances for men were conceived when the great Coco was already gone. Chanel Antaeus is one of them, a scent that perfectly captures the spirit of a male powerhouse fragrance of the 1980s.

In 1980-s, men's interest in perfumery was finally legalized: young, bold and handsome Europeans and Americans were no longer afraid of being accused of feminization. Empowered by the momentum, they spent on fragrances nearly as much as women did, and men's perfumery market began to grow rapidly which phenomenon was immediately exploited by the many perfume brands as they saw their future in the finely manicured hands of the men. The Chanel Fashion House was among the first to recognize the incipient changes, presenting Antaeus in 1981, shortly after Karl Lagerfeld was introduced as the head designer at Chanel.

Antaeus was created by Jacques Polge, the famous «Chanel nose», who composed a number of iconic Chanel fragrances, including Chanel Allure, Chanel Egoiste, Emanuel Ungaro Senso, and Chanel Coco. In Antaeus, the famous perfumer managed to combine all the trends of the 80-s. The new Chanel fragrance shamelessly advertised the wearer's virility like an open declaration of blatant machismo, combines power and complexity with the sensuality of seduction. Chanel Antaeus makes its wearers more masculine and sexy, though initially it was designed for a very specific type of man - a powerful, courageous adventurer with a strong will and modern view of the world, open to new trends and impressions. Antaeus was designed to demonstrate that the modern man is no longer the brutal roughneck who thinks that perfumery is the domain of the woman; it is an open-minded guy who knows grooming.

Similarly to many other men's fragrances of the eighties, Chanel Antaeus exudes masculinity and strength set off by the gentle sensual notes. It starts powerfully with sage and lavender, then a warm evolution of patchouli from the Seychelles and a sandalwood note. An amber and botanical note of labdanum segues into honey and leathery hints of rockrose and spice. The slightly astringent, green coriander wilts under the pressure and then withers away into nothingness. Overall, the composition includes several dozens of ingredients, which, as it is a tradition with Chanel fragrances, combine to form a unique and abstract blend.

The name Chanel Antaeus was not randomly chosen. There's a philosophy behind this name: Antaeus was a giant in Greek mythology, the son of Poseidon (the god of the sea) and Gaia (goddess of the earth). This invincible fighter, who was invulnerable as long as he stayed in touch with his mother Earth, met his downfall only when Heracles (Hercules in Latin) overcame him by holding him above the ground in a vice-like grip. Men can be both strong and vulnerable, and the Antaeus fragrance reminds us of this by alluding to the theme of virility with tenderness and indulgence. The sensual symbolism of the Greek myth comes alive with a delicate floral accord, accentuated by purely masculine notes of leather, oak moss, coriander and nutmeg sage.

The overt virility of the fragrance is highlighted by the bottle design and bold color combination - mysterious black of the bottle is set off by the daring red of the box. Aren't those the colors traditionally considered «macho»?

Interestingly, the obvious symbolism of Chanel Antaeus was a very non-traditional solution for Chanel, as its perfumes for women have never been so easy-to-read. However, this simplicity, in no way commonplace, does not prevent Chanel Antaeus from being one of the most legendary fragrances of the iconic French fashion house.

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