Chanel Coromandel, 2007

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Perfumer Jacques Polges.

A house like Chanel has to play a few different angles at once if they want to sell their products. With Cormandel they tie together a few different narratives that target a number of key demographics simultaneously. It’s an odd dance that Coromandel performs seamlessly. 

Coromandel is a Hippy Patchouli and it’s an Old Lady Perfume. It’s for the old guard and the debutantes. It’s stuffy and it’s boho chic. And it does it all without compromise. It starts with an explosion of citrus, flowers and bucketsful of bright, cold patchouli. There’s not a doubt in the world that Coromandel is a Patchouli Perfume, but it’s a clever one. It’s similar in concept to Guerlain Shalimar. It plays patchouli in just the way that Shalimar plays vanilla. In each perfume, the material is the undisputed center of the composition, but not a solo act. Neither uses the material like a flower in a soliflor or a single-note hippy shop oil. Still, if you miss the vanilla in Shalimar or the patchouli in Coromandel, Jacques Guerlain and Jacques Polge have miscalculated. 

If you don’t like the scent of patchouli there’s little likelihood that that you’ll warm to Coromandel. But if you take the plunge you’ll find every aspect of patchouli is played to maximum effect. I’ve been looking for a Patchouli-patchouli perfume. You know, a perfume that is earthy, icy, green, powdery, camphorous and potent.The whole package.But it must be a perfume, not some headshop oil or sledgehammer perfume without thoughtful composition. Coromandel is precisely what I’ve been looking for. It’s a spectacular combination of all the facets of patchouli without compromise. The patchouli is fleshed out with incense, amber, vanilla and god knows what else, but it never feels heavy or overburdened. Oh, it’s enormous. It verges on rococo, but it works without ever teetering and has an unrestrained charm that is the key to its wide appeal. 

Old ladies, hippies, spoiled rich kids and fumies can all come together on this one.

Kumbaya.

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