Chanel's first new scent in 12 years is meant to have universal appeal, but does it make women feel alluring?
Ask anyone to name a perfume and the inevitable answer will be Chanel No 5. Launched in 1921, the fragrance has become one of the oldest, most easily identified and most loved - the bestselling perfume of all time. It has become so famous that its success is self-perpetuating. Yesterday, Chanel launched a new fragrance, its first in more than a decade. But will Allure have the lasting appeal of No 5?

The last Chanel perfume launch was Coco in 1984, created by Jacques Polge, the man who has spent the past 10 years developing Allure. Coco was a fragrance of its time, epitomising the style of the Eighties as powerfully as Sade or black Lycra.

In the Seventies, there was Cristalle, launched in 1974, and No 19 in 1970. Cristalle is a delicate, fresh fragrance, with lemon, honeysuckle and Vetivert, while No 19, so named because Mademoiselle Chanel's birthdate was 19 August, is floral and woody. Between the Twenties and the Seventies, there was No 5.

The new fragrance is trying to be something for everyone. It is not a unisex scent, like CK One or Paco, but it hopes to appeal to as many women as possible. The name was chosen because it is supposed to have universal appeal (although some perfume counter assistants have had difficulty with the name, mishearing it as Allo, as in Allo, Allo!) And while previous Chanel perfumes have been associated with a single face, Allure has nine relatively unknown models in its advertising campaign. The theory goes that most women should identify with at least one face.

Similarly, the fragrance comprises six equal notes - fresh, fruity, timeless floral, imaginary floral, woody and oriental - instead of the traditional top, middle and bass notes. No one note dominates, giving it an indefinable quality that shifts from wearer to wearer.

We tested Allure on eight women around the Independent offices and beyond to see how Chanel's promise of everlasting allure translates into real life. Some loved it, some hated it. Others thought it was too bland for words. Men who caught wind of the smell around the office were positive.

Dianne K Morris (wears Dream by The Gap)

I like Dream, it smells clean, fresh and light, and most importantly it is not CK One, which seems to be everywhere, and I hate that. Allure doesn't seem to be the sort of perfume a modern girl would wear. But it did grow on me. It knocked me out at first, but after a while it became very soft. I wouldn't buy it for myself, but I wouldn't find it offensive if one of my friends wore it.

Amanda Platell (doesn't usually wear a scent)

I don't usually wear perfume, in fact I haven't for a few years. I really liked the smell of Allure, and even after a night's sleep and a hot shower the smell lingered. It wasn't overly pungent, I hate that in a scent, and it was womanly, unlike some of the so-called Nineties perfumes like Issey Miyake and Kenzo. Did I feel alluring? Well, I think the thing that would make me feel more alluring is losing a stone! I do think that I wear perfume ultimately to please myself - I like to get a waft of a perfume that I'm wearing and think "I smell lovely today", and I did feel that wearing Allure.

Sue Matthias (wears Cristalle by Chanel)

When I first put on Allure I didn't think it was anything special. In fact, I thought it was rather ordinary. My husband only ever seems to notice that I am wearing perfume when I wear Chanel No 5. I'm sure it's because his mother used to wear it. The interesting thing about Allure became apparent after a few hours of wear. I had to go to a drinks party after work. I travelled down to the bar via Canary Wharf's supersonic lifts with two male colleagues. After I had had a few glasses of wine I plucked up the courage and asked, do you notice anything different about me? To my utter surprise my first colleague said, "Yes, I noticed in the lift that you smelled rather wonderful." After hearing that, my second colleague said, "I noticed that, too - is it Chanel?" This I found amazing. If there had been a hidden microphone I would have sent the tape to Chanel. It was like the perfect advert. A new scent by Chanel that wasn't even available yet is instantly recognisable as a Chanel scent. Wow. I like it, but I'm sticking to Cristalle.

Hilly Janes (wears Chanel No 19)

I found it a bit too soft and sweet for me, and also a bit bland. It's the kind of scent that is inoffensive, innocuous and everyday. It's fine for office girls who don't want to distract the boss. I prefer Chanel No 19, which is a far greener, fresher scent.

Diane Coyle

This perfume didn't make me feel irresistible or alluring unfortunately, but the boys at work did like it, and commented, but only when prompted. They said things like "subtle" and "nice". I found the perfume sweet, and quite pleasant to wear. I did not, however, find the scent subtle. I think I will buy it if it is not too expensive. It lasted well and smelled better with time.

Arlene Wells (wears Femme by Rochas and Chanel No 5)

I went out in search of a honeysuckle scent last summer and none of them stayed fresh. This has jasmine, honeysuckle and fresh citrus scents and stays true over a period of time. It's the perfume I've been looking for. It has the same pure essence as Chanel No 5. I like the bottle too, but not the typeface on the box.

Victoria Lukens (wears Jungle Gardenia by Coty and Carolina Herrera)

This perfume is trying to be a classic, and it would succeed if the year were 1955. For me it is too obvious a "scent" - too heavy and lingering. I have a feeling elderly ladies who lunch would find it "alluring" but it really isn't for me.

Susan Glen (wears Kenzo parfum d'ete)

I was surprised because I generally like the Chanel range of perfumes. In fact, I have three of them, Cristalle, No 5 and No 19. I'm also very open to trying new scents. However, I instantly disliked this one. My first impression, I'm afraid to say, was of furniture polish. To be fair I imagine this scent would work well during winter at a grand function, but personally I find it too heavy for a spring day. I think I will stick to my current favourite, Kenzo.