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!

coromandel

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).

Serge Lutens : Muscs Koublaï Khän

Created by : Christopher Sheldrake

Date : 1998

Genre : Animalic musk

Concentration : Eau de parfum

I didn’t understand Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens until I saw my first Wagnerian opera.  To be specific, it was Wagner’s Die Valkyries.  When Siegmund stumbled on stage dressed in animal hides and stinking from being chased and Wotan charged across the stage in knee-high leather boots with big metal straps and a metal vest looking like he hadn’t seen the inside of a shower stall in a couple of months, Muscs Koublaï Khän suddenly made complete sense… the fur skins, the leather, the animal smells… GOT IT!

Muscs Koubläi Khän is a great big animalic musk… on steroids.  Supposedly they used all the animalic notes available to the perfumer : several musks, civet (cat urine), castoreum (beaver marking scent and urine), costus roots (wet dog), ambergris (salty whale vomit), eye of newt (OK… I made that last one up, there is no eye of newt)… but whatever is in there, it smells about as animalic as it gets.  Even armpit Eau d’Hermès seems almost tame compared to it… a cat compared to a lion. 

Muscs Koublaï Khän might not be wearable (and this is debatable) but what’s truly wonderful about it is that Serge Lutens has staked new territory with it.  I can’t imagine it will ever become a best seller but it might bring us somewhere else… far away from fruity florals… to something completely new and wild and delicious.

This one is VERY hard to describe.  I’m up to 6 tags (or notes) and I could have added more.  It’s like pastry… very much a Guerlain in a sense… but not edible.  Think of musk and honey and some rose and animal scents dancing around in there.  It’s as spectacular and as wicked as a Wagnerian opera.

When and where to wear MKK?  I have no idea!  First date?  No way.  In bed?  Too risky.  You might just buy it like I did because in the history of perfume this one stands alone… for the moment… and it’s magnificent.

Now back to our story where Siegmund and Hunding are about to fight while Sieglinde looks on in horror.  Brünnhilde  is about to appear (at right of screen) to help Siegmund against Wotan’s wishes.

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Quick Brünnhilde!  Tell Siegmund about the sword!

Siegmund, trust in the sword!  Trust in the sword!!!

Oh no!  It’s Wotan!  THAT BASTARD!

Brünnhilde!  Get Sieglinde out of there!  There’s no time to waste.  Don’t forget the broken sword!  HURRY!  RUN AND HIDE!

Sniffles… sorry, I’m too verklempt to go on.  Have a nice week everyone.

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Top image : Publicity still of Bryn Terfel as Wotan by Brigitte Lacombe for the Metropolitan Opera

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