Chanel : Les Exclusifs – Coromandel

Created by : Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake

Date : 2007

Genre : Patchouli amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

After being addicted to Coriandre for a couple of weeks, I decided to try some diversion therapy and my magic closet did not disappoint.  I remembered having worn and loving Coromandel so I gave the patchouli-centric marvel another try and it seduced me once again.

Now, you must know that I have two friends who wear straight up patchouli and I really don’t like it.  I don’t know where they buy it and I haven’t asked them but it smells like some kind of headshop essential oil.  A former friend used to mix it in with his shower gel so that it really reeked when he got close to me.  Thankfully, we were only friends and our get-togethers were mostly restaurant affairs where he sat across the table from me so I could eat without the patchouli.

In contrast, Coromandel couldn’t be more beautiful.  Its perfectly calibrated amber heart of vanilla, musk, benzoin and frankincense is topped off with a gorgeous patchouli veneer that stays fresh and interesting for several hours.  There are moments at the beginning when the vanilla sings slightly out of tune but the patchouli seems to keep everything in check and the sweetness subsides almost as quickly as you notice it.

My eau de toilette lasts me all day long and I NEVER tire of it.

If you are looking for a bottle of Coromandel, Chanel has strangely retired all the eau de toilette concentrations of their Exclusifs line and are offering Coromandel only as an eau de parfum.  I don’t know how much it has changed to the original, mine dates back to circa 2010, but it is certainly worth a try.

When Coco Chanel first saw a Chinese coromandel she thought she would “faint of happiness” and so she decorated her apartment above the 31 rue Cambon atelier with several coromandels.  What a lovely way to live!


From Coco Chanel’s apartment.

Chanel : Les Exclusifs – Eau de Cologne

Created by : Jacques Polge

Date : 1929/2007

Genre : Eau de cologne (best in class)

Concentration : eau de cologne

Chanel’s über-class Eau de Cologne was on my radar a very long time before I decided to spend the money to buy it.  I knew it would be good… although I didn’t know that it would be THIS good!  You see, I had tested a sample which I received from a mail order service several years ago and I remember it being perfection… but then I tucked that thought away in my memory and kept waiting for the right moment.  I don’t know why I waited so long.  I guess I got distracted.

According to the Chanel website, this 2007 version is Jacques Polge’s reinterpretation of the original of 1929.  Then the marketing copy goes on to say… “The highest-quality citrus fruits have been used in the composition of this cheerful and dynamic Eau de Cologne. Mandarin Orange and Bergamot unite their zesty freshness with airy notes of Neroli. A generous and deliciously floral Cologne, for a radiant celebration of summer.”  All of this is absolutely not true… or rather, it is true but highly understated.  This is THE eau de cologne… every other eau de cologne which I have tested in the past pales in comparison except maybe Hermès’ Eau d’Orange Verte and the Guerlains (of course).  Chanel’s bouquet of quality citrus oils composed of lemons, limes, and oranges literally dance around in the top and middle notes… it’s absolute perfection.  The floral heart acts as an out-of-focus backdrop and the musk drydown smells cleaner than clean laundry.  There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about this one.  Even the timing is right… two to four hours, which is what one would expect from an eau de cologne.

I’ve been layering this one with Chanel’s Pour Monsieur Bath and Shower Gel. FiveoaksBouquet suggested it might go well with Chanel No. 19 soap and of course, she is so right.  And you could add Pour Monsieur eau de toilette to it at the end of the day for an evening or Chanel No. 19… or No 5.  In fact, I don’t think there is any Chanel product that couldn’t be added to that exquisite quality musk (probably Firmenich’s Muscone, according to Luca Turin).

Anyone can wear this one… men and women of all ages.  It’s timeless.

So.. while trying to find an image of perfection, the “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” number from the movie Follow the Fleet (1936) came to mind featuring a quartet… Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Irving Berlin for the music and Bernard Newman who designed the gown!  When I think of perfection, I think of this number (even though the image is reversed, it is still perfect).

Sycomore and Encre Noire : vetiver versus vetiver

Sycomore created by : Jacques Polge

Date : 1930/2008

Genre : Classy vetiver

Concentration : Eau de toilette

I’m new to vetiver in a sense because when I wanted that distinctive green woodsy scent, I simply wore Guerlain’s Vetiver.  I thought it was the ultimate vetiver with its clove note until I tried Lalique’s Encre Noire and then I got stuck on Encre Noire… for awhile.

Chanel’s Sycomore and Encre Noire are similar with Encre Noire being more bitter and more angular.  If you’re not a fan of a bitter vetiver, you should try Sycomore because it is rounder, slightly sweeter and more balanced.  It also smells richer and I suspect this is coming from iris butter.  I compared it to Chanel’s 28 La Pausa and the two share some DNA.

Sycomore is clearly the more refined of the two.  It’s what you expect from Chanel.  Encre Noire is slightly rough around the edges but lasts longer.  After 6 hours, Sycomore dries down to a musk while Encre Noire is bottomless… its heart hangs in there so much so that I wash it off before going to bed because I find it too invigorating.

Of the two, I prefer Sycomore (but only very slightly) although I wish it would last longer.  Both Sycomore and Encre Noire share the same heart or rather, like the Fridas, the same circulatory system.  Both are suitable for both men and women.

While rereading this post before publication, I realize that I’m not very passionate about vetiver.  It’s beautiful and I wear it often but it’s not a scent I get very excited about.  It’s kind of like a favourite sweater.  It goes anywhere and I never regret having put it on but it doesn’t make much of a statement for me.  It’s like a fallback scent.

Have a nice week everyone.

P.S.  Thanks to FiveOaks from Perfume of Life for this great post idea!

Image : Las Dos Fridas (1939) by Frida Kahlo

%d bloggers like this: