When designing his first fragrance for the French luxury brand, the nose Olivier Polge was inspired by a turning point in the life of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. This defining moment can be summed up in a name of the Chanel founder’s close friend: Misia Sert.

Olivier PolgeWhether in the realm of fashion, couture, jewelry or fragrances, heritage and transmission often emerge as key themes at Chanel. This was certainly the case in September 2013, when Olivier Polge joined the Chanel perfume laboratory, following in the footsteps of his father Jacques Polge, a nose at the brand since 1978.

For his first composition for the brand, Olivier Polge drew inspiration from the life of Coco Chanel and from the story of her dear friend Misia Sert, who left a lasting impact on the designer’s personal life and career.

“My inspiration for this perfume was not Misia herself, as a person, but the turning point she represents in the life of Gabrielle Chanel,” explains the perfume artist.

Misia: the friend, the muse, the discovery

A muse and patron to several artists during the 1920s and 1930s, Misia Sert played a crucial role in the life of Gabrielle Chanel. As Mademoiselle Coco was grieving the death of her one true love, Arthur Capel, in a car accident, Misia introduced her to Venice and its distinctive architecture, which would later influence jewelry collections and other lines at Chanel. It was during the same period that Misia introduced the designer to Diaghilev and the dancers of his Ballets Russes, among other influential figures in creative circles.

It is this vital role that Polge sought to convey in scent with his first perfume for Chanel. The composition pays homage to this period in Gabrielle Chanel’s life in part through powder notes, which are inspired by the stage makeup worn by the dancers of the Ballets Russes.

A powdery floral

The latest addition to the Chanel Les Exclusifs range of high-end perfumes, the new eau de toilette opens with notes of violet and powder, which are combined with rare and precious ingredients such as Grasse rose, Turkish rose and iris. The base is a combination of tonka bean and Laotian benzoin.

Chanel Misia will go on sale from February 28 at select stores. Price: €133 (around $151) for 75ml and €255 (around $290) for 200ml.