Chanel Le Lion Eau de Parfum is all about smoky, leathery labdanum that becomes blended with spiced resins, golden amber, and musk that dries down to an amber-patchouli blend with a touch of vanilla. The opening is bright, sharp, and lemony but that was a fleeting moment, swiftly subsumed by smoke and leather. Chanel listed the notes as “a rich amber accord” with “bold notes of bergamot, lemon, patchouli, and sandalwood.”
The opening phase began with fresh, lemon and its rind, just peeled and off to the side–a little bitter as an undertone to the brighter, sharper lemon. Alas, it was only a flash of lemon because five minutes later, it smells of smoky, leathery labdanum; it read as drier, aged leather. It had an earthier, spiced wood element come through after 20 minutes of development, which blended well with the leather and took away some of its intensity, and I felt like I could detect a touch of lemon back in the mix but not consistently.
Stronger, spiced resins and more golden, ambery sweetness started to rise through the smoky leather after an hour of wear, which was also the point where the projection had dropped to only a couple of inches above my wrist. There was an underlying muskiness that wove itself just beneath the smoky leather, as it was more clearly detectable the closer I got to my wrist (further away, it was more spiced amber).
The sweet, spiced golden amber pushed more and more to the foreground and overtook the leather’s place and moved it to the background to blend with the musk after three hours before it progressed into its drydown of amber, patchouli, and a touch of vanilla.
For testing, I used three sprays, which were applied to the underside and topside of my wrist area on my left arm. I’ve typically used two sprays when testing scents in the past, but I noticed that Le Lion seemed to pull particularly smoky and leathery on me with less depth, so I tried three sprays, which yielded a significant better progression with smoke and leather both present but not to the degree they took over. I’ll be paying close attention to see if my skin amplifies leathery characteristics going forward.
I used an unscented moisturizer prior to applying the scent as this is also my swatching arm (aka, incredibly parched at any given moment) as I found scent did not hold well here otherwise. Le Lion had moderate projection and sillage for the first couple of hours before dropping significantly before becoming more of a skin scent after five hours of wear.
Subjectively, once I used more sprays and was able to get a better bouquet of notes, it really was something I enjoyed, especially about an hour and a half in, when the golden amber makes its presence known. I don’t know that I need a bottle, but I purchased one for the purpose of review this time around so I am certainly happy to have it anyway!
- 2.5 fl. oz. for $250
- 6.8 fl. oz. for $400