Chanel Égoïste is a fragrance that is really special, it really doesn't smell anything like 80-90% of male designer fragrances out there. I believe that if this were released today it would be considered niche, and cost perhaps up to twice as much as what it does. I would go as far as to say that this is a masterpiece of male perfumery, probably the most confidant, mature and elegant masculine release of the last generation, and one of the greatest perfumes for men of any time, whether considered niche or designer.
Égoïste is the embodiment of a confidant, masculine, spicy oriental, and Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge (who has done every Chanel perfume since 1981) has called this his proudest work. I can see why. This fragrance doesn't remind you of anything else advertised for men out there. It's the complete opposite of the generic, sterile-clean aquatic releases which have almost saturated the designer market today. It is rich, deep, elegant, strong, confidant. It makes a statement of quiet confidence and assured masculinity. It's really for the man who is strong and assured yet who is loved by all. The strong man with a kind personality, I would call it.
The story goes that this was a fragrance meant for the Chanel CEO at the time, as a private scent for him. Later, they released it to the public. It didn't sell, because the majority of people like to buy fragrances which remind them of other fragrances (just look at the aquatic craze of the last 20 years). Chanel Égoïste smelt nothing like anything else at the time. Nevertheless it survived, and even today still has the same effect.
Jacques Polge based the composition on Chanel's "Bois des Iles", a heavy sandalwood-based fragrance released 5 years after the famous No. 5. Égoïste is also centred around creamy sandalwood, which is surrounded by spices: Cloves, Cinnamon, Coriander. It also has a beautiful rosewood note which is joined by real, natural smelling Rose, and sharp Carnation in the middle (this is what some have called the "dated" aspect of the fragrance); before finally drying down to a wonderfully warm and creamy Vanilla-Amber-Sandalwood base. I find it very similar to Coco, which he made for women 6 years previously, except a lot more woodier, spicier, and overall more masculine.
It's absolutely beautiful, but very hard to appreciate because it doesn't smell like many of today's popular releases, and for many people, this will either be love or hate. It's warm, bold, spicy... and it takes confidence to wear. If I had to compare it to anything, it would probably be Frederic Malle's "Musc Ravageur" which is a deep, spicy and sensual fragrance but marketed as niche.
Chanel Égoïste might not be for everyone, it takes an amount of confidence and maturity to pull it off (it would also work very well on a woman I think), but it really is a special journey... and a complex one at that. I have a real feeling that 70-80% of people will love this (women especially on a man). It's warm and inviting, but also confidant and relaxed at the same time. Like stroking the warm, beautiful fur of an exotic, tame pet tiger...
I hope that Jacques Polge's proudest creation stands as a testament to all that is possible with male marketed perfume, and show that not all male fragrances have to smell the same or conform to the same standard set by others. I hope that this classic will always be there as a reminder that men can wear something created for them which is just as complex and beautiful as anything made for women; and to also prove that men can give off an aura of being strong, confidant, warm and gentle simultaneously. Nothing more can be said of Égoïste. Well done!