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.

Ex Idolo : Thirty Three

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

Created by : Unknown perfumer

Date : 2013

Genre : Rose patchouli

Concentration : eau de parfum (at least)

One of my favourite courses in library school was Collection Development, i.e. what to buy! With all that is being published and evermore shrinking budgets, libraries are becoming more and more choosy. The Acquisitions Librarian of a large library in Québec City gave us a presentation of their purchasing policy. It was detailed and complex and fascinating. And the presentor ended it with, “And, of course, we NEVER buy first novels!” I said, “Excuse me, did you say never?” He answered, “NEVER!” (Unless of course the novel becomes a best-seller or a subsequent novel becomes a best-seller or the first novel wins a literary prize… but I digress.)

So… here we are with a first perfume launched by Ex Idolo from an unknown perfumer. Should I review?  Well… the creative force behind Ex Idolo, Matthew Zhuk, sent me a lovely email and a sniffing expedition was in the works so I decided to give it a try.

Both Matthew and the SA at Etiket talked about Thirty Three as being an oud… “thirty three” being the age of the oud which was used… but actually, it’s not really an oud perfume, not on my skin anyway. Yes… the oud is front and centre for the first 20 minutes, but it quickly takes a backseat to a beautiful, quality rose-patchouli accord which is the heart of Thirty Three. Yes, there is musk and some powder and maybe the oud is in there somewhere but for the most part it’s an exquisite red rose-patchouli… not yellow roses, not pink, RED! Over time, the patchouli disappears, the powder lingers as does the rose, and a soapy note emerges (perhaps the musk) making me smell cleaner at the end of the day than when I stepped out of the shower that morning!

So… what impressed me most? I would say the quality of the materials. That rose note is exquisite.  In addition, the composition is good… no rough edges, no overly chemical smells. It has a few twists and turns but I like that in a perfume. The longevity is similar to extract strength. And, Thirty Three is totally legible which I think is a plus in these days of “just feel the perfume.” There are others in the same genre but this composition straddles deftly between a rose soliflore and one of the many big rose chypres on the market making it quite unique. I would say its closest competitors are David Yurman and Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud. Evidently, Matthew Zhuk has been able to steer Thirty Three through a narrow opening on a crowded dance floor.

Now people who read me regularly know that I never discuss bottles or names but I love the bottle and I particularly like the art deco-inspired font. There is some marketing savvy behind the packaging.

Overall… it’s very beautiful and if you’ve been thinking of adding a quality rose fragrance to your collection, check this one out.


Ex Idolo's Thirty Three - beautiful presentation!

Ex Idolo’s Thirty Three – beautiful presentation!

Hermès : Terre d’Hermès

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Created by : Jean-Claude Ellena

Date : 2006

Genre : Bergamot patchouli

Concentration : eau de toilette

I’m sorry I’ve been away from the blog recently.  You see, I usually have a pretty good idea how I feel about a particular perfume but sometimes it takes me awhile to sort things out.  Take Terre d’Hermès for instance.  When it first came out in 2006, it soon became the 4th best-selling men’s fragrance in France and with very little advertising.  A woman at work who smelled it on a scent strip exploded… “Ah… it’s like an aphrodisiac… I wish my husband wore this!”  And, a waiter at my favourite weekend hangout restaurant said, “Yes!  This is it!   This is what I’ve been looking for!”

So why don’t I absolutely love it?  I don’t know.  I mean, don’t get me wrong… it’s very smart… maybe even bordering on genius!  I would never hesitate to wear it on any given day. But to my nose, it’s “aloof”.  There’s nothing warm about it… nothing that says, “hey… come closer”.  Or for that matter, nothing that says, “woah.. back off!”  To me, it has no feelings of any kind… it’s more of an intellectual thing.  It’s all in the head… with no heart.

As for actual scent, Terre is an icy accord of bergamot and wood-centric patchouli.  There is no “terre” in sight… even Jean-Claude Ellena admits to that in his “Journal d’un parfumeur : suivi d’un abrégé d’odeurs” of 2011.

Maybe Terre is cool because Ellena himself is an intellectual.  That comes out loud and clear in his book.  Or maybe I’m just not used to Jean-Claude Ellena’s shorthand style.  When it was first launched, Terre was reported to have only 13 notes!  I think I need more notes… a bigger orchestra.

I would never hesitate to wear it because, intellectually, I “know” it’s beautiful… but I don’t feel it.

Image : Portrait of Nietzsche (1844-1900) who coined the phrase “God is dead.”

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