There's nothing that smells like No. 18, except, weirdly enough, Egoiste. It took me ages to make the connection, but once I did, it was unmistakable. It's the rose that does it, and it took No. 18 for me to recognize the rose in Egoiste. Strange how Chanels are all interrelated in such surprising ways.
To me, No. 18 is Egoiste with the spices swapped for herbal teas and the sandalwood for heaps of ambrette. It has a Scandinavian feel to it; all clean minimalism and cool, muted colors, but it also registers as organic and wholesome due to its carroty health store notes.
It's a very calming, clear headed scent to wear, and one that has been slowly growing on me.
Stir these ingredients (pear slices, pencil shavings, a tiny, tight-assed rose, and the wee-est mouse dropping of sour musk) all together in a metal bowl using a metal spoon. Then leave in a sterile, air tight room until nearly all of the moisture has had a chance to dissipate. Put the remaining mixture into small, square shaped bottles and call it Chanel No. 18.
The Chanel EDT Oddball. First glance seems almost futuristic.
Ginger Ale and Grappa opening. Then an abstract artist's notion. Ambrette streaks across the Universe to meet a singular note of a Floral Essence Rose perfection. Then a snap back to a notion of something Icy
and soul-less. Pure and Austere.
Very soon a fade into a memory.
Beautiful and very nearly Transcendent.
A humongous bottle of this in EDT I am search of.
So I may jump right in.
It was No. 18 that made me realize how much I love the smell of ambrette seed. It's a sort of icy, high-pitched, ecstatic, outer space carrot smell with hints of violet. No. 18 mixes it with iris, which gives it a weird ice cathedral vibe, as well as a purple plum rose, which hums in the background smelling like yeasty wine, pulling all the icy outer space fireworks down to earth.
I can see how I skipped over No. 18 for years. It's not an easy smell. The yeasty iris and wine cave darkness played against the extraterrestrial sharpness of the ambrette seed makes for some complex, unusual sniffing, but I really like it now. One of those perfumes I had to grow into...