a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR

Fragrance Flashback

ÉGOÏSTE – 1990 –
Top Notes: Coriander, Mahogany, Mandarin, Rosewood
Heart Notes: Carnation, Rose, Cinnamon
Base Notes: Amber, Leather, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Vanilla
Perfumer: Jacques Polge

Égoïste by Chanel has a fascinating history starting long before its debut in 1990. Égoïste was actually derived from an old formula by Ernest Beaux, the creator behind Chanel No. 5. The formula was for a fragrance called Bois des Iles. It contained a very high content of sandalwood and a bit of ambrette seed. Generally, sandalwood was reserved for men’s fougère fragrances and not used as a featured note. The fragrance was originally planned to be marketed under the name Black Wood with a related menswear line. The menswear line was canceled and subsequently the fragrance was as well. Black Wood was liked well enough that Chanel decided to launch it in its flagship store under the name of Bois Noir. It was very well received by the public, and when the decision was made to launch it to a wider audience, it was Jacques Helleu, artistic director for Chanel, who made the suggestion for this fragrance’s name to the company’s marketing department. Lastly, Chanel needed to buy the rights to use the name from Nicole Wisniak, who had a photography magazine called Égoïste, and the fragrance was reborn under its new name.

This classic, sexy, woody Oriental is memorable for its immediate masculine appeal and charm, but more so for the commercial advertising campaign created by Jean-Paul Goude. The Égoïste TV commercial is inescapably remembered for its film noir-like opening, featuring glamorous, but frenzied women, shouting the fragrance’s name. “Égoïste, where are you? Stop hiding, selfish man! Watch my ire! I will be implacable! O anger! O despair! You betrayed my love. Have I lived simply to know this infamy? Show yourself! Égoïste!”

Jean-Paul Goude received the Golden Lion at Cannes in 1990 for his creation of the TV advertising campaign. The Dance of the Knight from the ballet Romeo and Juliet was cleverly chosen as the films background music. When asked about the basis for his idea for the commercial, Goude explained “The idea of ​​the film is based on the ambiguity of these women. Do these women howl into the wind over their sexual frustration with this hidden seducer? Or do they accuse him of not wanting to share his perfume? The film production took place in the Brazilian desert and with the aid of 300 workers, took nearly four weeks to complete. If the building in the commercial looks familiar to you, its inspiration is taken from the balconies of the Hotel Negresco in Nice.

Despite the popularity and strong commercial exposure, Égoïste didn’t really perform as expected by Chanel and found even less interest in the United States. To boost Égoïste’s interest, Égoïste Platinum was launched in 1994. This version’s structure was more classic and better receipted than Égoïste. When asked about Égoïste, Jacques Polge openly stated that this fragrance was his favorite.



2 comments on “Fragrance Flashback

  1. peteraitch
    February 28, 2015

    so, so good. never gets old.

    • Flaconneur
      February 28, 2015

      You’re right, peteraitch, it is good, but don’t try to convince any one of its worth born in the twenty-five years after its release.

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