Ménage à trois; Chanel Egoïste, Egoïste Cologne Concentrée, and Bois des îlles

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I went on a quest to a few months ago, to get my nose on “vintage” Chanel Egoiste. Vintage in that, it pre-dates the hack-job/reformulations for the 2000’s, whilst in fear of uncertainty, I was told to look for formulations in the 90’-93’ range. Holy Pandora’s Box! Conversations quickly turned from me looking for JUST a 5mL decant of vtg Egoiste, to “Oh, if you’re looking for old Egoiste, you must find Egoiste Cologne Concentree, its better!” or “If you like Egoiste and ECC, look for pre-Les Exclusifs Bois des illes!”, the fragrance community can be a real pain in the a** for my wallet.. Well, I walked that road, I fell in love, (still in love) but past the infatuation stages. The trio is perfect, Egoiste was “niche before niche”, the Cologne Concentree addition, was like strapping a turbocharger to the original formulation and Bois des illes, gosh, *mouth waters* BdI was already on Mt. Rushmore of fragrances. The questions is, must someone have all three? I think from a man’s point of view, they are all necessary to try – you can’t check out one without nosing down the other two, but presumably, most women’s first impression started with Bois and it can end there, here’s why.

Egoiste (vintage) 50ml/100ml/250ml $70-$350

The most chaotic blend of all three. I get an immediate blast of citrus and what I believe to be sandalwood at the start. Harsh, but still lovable. It’s really not a discernable concoction just yet. It intertwines between citrus, cinnamon, tobacco and a harsh woody notes; mahogany, sandalwood, it evokes the inside of a chest or armoire. There is much more rose and carnation in the heart, an ode to the powerhouses of the time, but still more refined.

Egoiste Cologne Concentree 50ml/100ml $200-500+

ECC has a much tamer opening, in the first ten minutes, I’m met with a juicy tangerine that stays persistent throughout. There is also a recognizable sweetness throughout, provided by the bourbon vanilla. The woods are in the background for far longer than Egoiste, but they do hit their peak in the heart and dry down. The hearts are quite similar, but ECC is much thicker and milkier. I wouldn’t say “intense” because there’s nothing intense about the mid-way point of either. I still get dusty, dark, varnished woods becoming creamier and creamier. Testing them out on top of my hands, and the other full wearing’s; Cologne Concentree is obviously the higher concentration, but Egoiste would ghost for a bit, then come back stronger. At one point I asked my girlfriend her thoughts at the exact point I believed Egoiste to be stronger of the two. She pointed to Egoiste, “That’s watered down and sweet…” then to ECC on my other hand, “That’s stronger, like alcohol strong.” What would I do without her!? Ah, yes, buy more perfume. She’s right though, she usually is.. I guess my nose was playing tricks, ECC is much more persistent in strength than Egoiste, MUCH MORE. Is the higher concentration worth the premium, don’t think so.

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Bois des illes (pre-Les Exclusifs)

BdI, honestly, it’s better than Egoiste. If most men could get past the adelhydic opening. The ride into the dry down is fantastic and the dry down is heavenly. That’s the thing, to my nose, all three of these compositions share the exact same dry down, SANDALWOOD. My sore, or not, the sandalwood is prevalent. It’s creamy, milky, airy, velvety, and I don’t think anything in this era compares. Sandalwood lovers should skip Egoiste/ECC and just obtain a bottle of Bois des illes, and the Egoiste’s are still 10/10, no doubt in my mind, just a little less heavenly. Then again, some days I can do without the dark woods, and others I can do without aldehydes. So maybe the wise choice is 2 out of 3?

Hi I am Narada! I discovered my love for all things fragrant after two years of living in France and running out of my sole bottle of cologne that I took with me, YSL L'Homme. Probably the greatest place on earth to run out of your signature scent. I tried to visit every perfumerie from Spain, all the way to Hungary. So, many of my reviews, stories and shorts may reference my travels. Enjoy!

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