One Thousand Scents

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yum: Chanel Coromandel

Coromandel isn't just a made-up perfume name: it's a thing. In case, like me, you were wondering just what a coromandel might be, it's one of these:

a panelled screen made of inlaid wood. (Coco Chanel had a bunch of them.)

In case you were wondering what Chanel's Coromandel is, it's gorgeous.It opens with a gourmand quality, but, perversely, a sort of gourmand that doesn't quite call food to mind: it doesn't evoke any specific food, but it has a thick, silky richness that you can almost taste, and a little of the pipe-tobacco quality of Ambre Narguilè. This lies atop an extraordinary patchouli-frankincense accord; dense but not overwhelming, voluminous without being suffocating, as complicated as a symphony.

When I first started this blog I didn't care for patchouli very much, and I still can't wear the pure stuff: Patchouly Indonesiano was impossible on my skin, though I could appreciate its qualities in an abstract way. But I think two things have happened in the last few years. First, I've experienced a lot more patchouli-based scents, and I've grown accustomed to it, in the way that you can gradually come to accept and even like a strange food; and second, patchouli itself in perfumery has changed, and shows up in many forms, from the cleaned-up, tinkered-with version that shows up everywhere (such as a favourite of mine, Midnight Poison) to the hardcore dirty-loamy version of the Indonesiano, and everything in between. Coromandel's patchouli falls a bit nearer the dirty end of the scale, but it's too tasteful to have any serious filth to it, and it's balanced out by the incense and by a luscious amber-benzoin base which bookends the deliciousness of the opening.

Once again, I have to say that the idea of buying a 200-mL bottle of anything is a complete impossibility for me, and it's not going to happen; but I've never been so tempted in my entire life. You could wear it like a beloved jacket and never tire of it. Coromandel is magic.


  • "[I]t doesn't evoke any specific food, but it has a thick, silky richness...."

    Maybe it's because I just got up, but my reaction to this was "Coromandel smells like MSG tastes."

    By Blogger D.J., at 7:42 AM  

  • I think I know what you mean, but have you ever tasted pure MSG? Yikes. You used to be able to buy the stuff as a food additive: it was called Ac'cent, and I can't seem to find out if it's still available, but I vividly remember putting a few grains on my tongue as a child, and alongside the salty-meaty quality it has a peculiar, metallic undertone, like deliberately licking an aluminum saucepan.

    Luckily, the top of Coromandel does not actually make one think of Ac'cent. It's more like eating a silk and cashmere blanket dipped in vanilla.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 8:03 AM  

  • Coromandel is one of those scents it took me time to find the love for. That could have been because my nose was evolving in general, or because I needed repeat experiences with it in particular.

    What I know is, as of two weeks ago, I can agree with you entirely when it comes to being enthusiastic.

    Hanging out in the overall effect, I get the chocolate vibe from the patch/spice overtones, but in that cool, smooooooooth Chanel way. Deeper, this one...I am with your non-specific food vibe; my thought was that this was Chanel's way of presenting a gourmand. Love it. But, I feel no need for a FB of this is going to be one of those luxe visits. I did participate in a split, however, and am sure I shall seek to replace my share when it is gone.

    Loved your previous post..need to get back and respond.

    BTW, you *can* still get MSG. Straight up. In large quantities. ;)

    By Blogger ScentScelf, at 12:14 PM  

  • It's the one Chanel that works for me. I used to say that my dream job would involve lying on a chaise lounge while reading novels and eating bonbons. If I ever get such a job, Coromandel would be the perfect scent to wear to work.

    By Anonymous Aparatchick, at 3:38 PM  

  • A chaise lounge, you say? You didn't happen to read my other blog before posting this comment, did you?

    By Blogger pyramus, at 5:58 PM  

  • This one makes me feel like a fragrance philistine. I feel that, due to inferiority (whether inherent or due to lack of knowledge/experience), I am not "getting" the greatness or appeal of it. Everytime I open one of my adorable little Chanel bottles (given to me by the very generous and knowledgable Chanel woman at my local Nordstrom) and reintroduce myself to Coromandel and Rue Cambon, I am flooded with Bad, Cheap and Tacky Christmas Smell. Honestly, I see a swarm of second-rate green and gold and red ornaments, fake fir swags, ribbons.
    I do like La Pausa (my most expensive perfume purchase to date) and despite my dislike of vetiver, can respect the austerity and single-mindedness of Sycomore.
    Ah, the vagaries of fragrance proclivities...

    By Blogger Clare McLean, at 12:51 PM  

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