Chanel Boy


Gabrielle Chanel considered Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel as more than her soul mate; he was her double and her alter-ego. Inspired by their love, BOY CHANEL is a vibrant, perfectly balanced scent that challenges tradition and transcends gender.

Dear Parfums Chanel,

Hi guys! Me again!

Boy is very good. In general, Chanel fragrances are very good. I will continue to buy them, because that money goes right to the Wertheimer family. But I beg you to stop this romanticized, obsessive fetishization of your literal Nazi founder. Your continued insistence on waxing poetic about Gabrielle “Documented Nazi Spy” Chanel and the minutiae of her not-nearly-miserable-enough life makes me so, so twitchy.

Boy is the latest in a long line of fragrances paying swooning tribute to Chanel’s “soul mates”, her “confidantes”, her favorite color, even her goddamn home decor. THE WELL IS DRY, CHANEL. IT WASN’T EVEN A GOOD WELL TO BEGIN WITH. You cannot make me care about Coco, Chanel. You cannot make me care about her lacquered screens or her “soul mates” or her goddamn prom date. I promise that there is more exciting perfume name source material than the woman who reported directly to motherfucking Heinrich Himmler¹.

If you’re having trouble thinking of names that aren’t inspired by the petty, small woman who took advantage of Nazi laws forbidding Jewish ownership of property to petition for the seizure of Parfums Chanel from its legal Jewish owners², may I offer a suggestion? Your current head designer, Karl Lagerfeld, is the owner of the cutest cat in the world. Choupette Lagerfeld is a veritable fount of potential perfume names! How about Francoise or Marjorie, Choupette’s full-time maids? What about all of the models who’ve had photoshoots with Choupette? Gisele! Kendall! Laetitia! Linda! Name one after her favorite iPad app!

Choupette must love Pokemon Go so hard.
Choupette must love Pokemon Go so hard.

And then you put Choupette in the ads, okay? It’ll go more viral than Brad Pitt, promise.

Cats in perfume ads. Inevitable.
Cats in perfume ads. Inevitable.

Don’t worry about my consulting fee; not having to write one of these posts every time you release a fragrance dedicated to good old Gabby is payment enough.

I know it might feel a little silly at first to name your products after a cat, but I promise that it’s no sillier than naming them after the woman who paid for the medical, living, and funeral expenses of Walter Schellenberg, head of SS Foreign Intelligence, until his death in 1952³. (SEVEN YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR II, for all you “she did what she had to do to survive the war” apologist schmucks.)

Good talk, guys! Can’t wait for Eau de Choupette!

P.S. Boy is an intriguing, multifaceted lavender softened by heliotrope. It is both more interesting and less masculine than the “aromatic fougere” it is being advertised as. Nice job, Olivier Polge. (In all seriousness, Olivier, Eau de Choupette is one of my all-time best ideas. Get on this.)

¹ Vaughan, Hal. Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011: p. xix (Prologue).
² Mazzeo, Tilar J. The Secret of Chanel No. 5. HarperCollins, 2010: p. 150.
³ Vaughan, Hal. Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011: p. 205-207.

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored (could you tell?) and does not contain affiliate links. I sampled Boy at my local Chanel boutique. 

22 thoughts on “Chanel Boy

  1. Arielle, I love you! I do not think
    I have laughed and cried like this in a long time! Maybe Chanel
    would consider a fragrance called Collaberator, featuring notes of deceit and over weening self interest. Keep selling great perfume and kicking Chanel’s ass.

    1. Katy, it means the absolute world to hear that you enjoyed the post as much I enjoyed writing it! The Wertheimers are definitely in a tricky position; if Coco’s reputation is damaged, their perfume sales could suffer. But surely there’s a middle ground between denouncing her and deifying her!

  2. Dear Arielle, I learned something today. Thanks.
    I feel a bit ashamed that I had one strand of thought going “NOOOO how can I live without Beige and Cristalle Eau Verte??” There is a lot of craziness in the perfume world.

    1. Thank YOU for making me feel educational, Jen! 🙂 You have absolutely nothing to feel ashamed about- the thought of life without Cristalle (of any kind!) would distress anyone! But there’s no reason for you to go without Beige and Cristalle Eau Verte! Chanel fragrance purchases haven’t benefited Chanel herself since she sold the rights to Parfums Chanel to the Wertheimers in 1947. Buy your Beige without guilt! (And hopefully before the dreaded Les Exclusifs price increase next month!)

    1. Thank you so very much, Victoria! I’m pretty proud of this post, even though I know I’ll have to edit it as soon as my mom sees the word “motherfucking”. She’ll calling any minute now… 🙂

      1. Hey, I’m probably younger than your Mom and “m-f” is one of my favorite epithets. Tell her I support your use of that particular use of profanity in this instance. Nothing else will do.

  3. An excellent post. I hope you Tweeted it to Chanel. For I surely will. Hugs from the uncomfortably close to where it all happened, Austria. Hugs. Val. xxx

    1. Val, I’m so touched and heartened by your comment. “Uncomfortable” is the perfect word- that part of our history should still feel uncomfortable, and pressing. It could all happen again so easily. The scariest part is that Coco’s selfish, bigoted opportunism seems alive and well in so many others today.

  4. Excellent post! I also love the idea of Chanel Choupette. Maybe it could be the first civet fragrance in the Exclusifs line?

  5. I feel guilty about liking the Chanel aesthetic as much as I do. Your post nails it, as Portia says, while also offering a positive way forward. I read this when you first tweeted the link this morning. It’s been on my mind all day. Thanks.

    1. You have NOTHING to be guilty about, Suzy Q! No one can deny Chanel’s talent or influence. As long as both sides of the story are being told, as long as we acknowledge that Chanel was both a fashion revolutionary AND an enormous creep- that’s all anyone can ask for.

  6. At the beginning I wasn’t sure where you’re heading, I already wanted to comment “ok, if you don’t want the spy, then replace it with collaborateur, or fan, supporter, …”. Anyway, I got it few words later. And I want to say Thank you for this post, Arielle.

  7. Yup, I feel the same about the juice!
    Thanks for the awesome post. I adore your fact supported candor and knowledge of history. When are you planning to run for elected office?

  8. Hi there, Ari girl! I dislike Boy. I have tried to like it by wearing it quite a few times. Perhaps I shall try it again in Spring/ Summer, as it may well be better then. Also ,thanks for the history lesson…I wasn’t aware of her part in the war

  9. Ahh, Darling Arielle, you sweet little shana madeleh, words cannot begin to describe how overwhelmed with happiness I am to see what you just wrote about Nazi-lover Coco Chanel. I have been experiencing guilt pangs for years over my continued love affair with Nos. 5, 19 and 22, which I probably will never stop keeping on hand, but which annoys me to no end knowing what a Jew-hating miserable bitch she was. Thank you for writing that letter. I wish I had the chutzpah to do it myself. I will love you forever for doing this.
    My eternal thanks!

  10. This. Was. AWESOME. Because being a gifted artist (or rich or famous) doesn’t earn you a free pass.

    I’m glad your mom didn’t make you take down the cuss word!

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