In the whole line of Les Exclusifs, one scent stands as trully lasting and sillage worthy. It's Coromandel, a dry ambery oriental advertised as "an oriental fragrance using a tree resin called benzoin, which has vanilla-like properties" inspired by the chinese lacquered panels that were abundant in Chanel's apartment, Coromandel denoting the company producing them and not the style of the panels.
The baroque appartment of Gabrielle/Coco Chanel on Rue Cambon, although not her place of actual abode (she used to stay at the homonymous suite at the Ritz in Paris), served as a background drop of her innermost luxury hedonist. And it was the basis of inspiration for another one of Jacques Polge's perfumes, Coco original, a spicy oriental, back in 1984. In it indeed a very opulent composition is evoking odalisques spread on leather sofas, weighted down by copious amounts of bronze and antique gold jewels.
Coromandel is described as "not innocent", as it is "weighted by frankincense" and "contains a hint of the heavier spices of the East".
Although I am a spicy oriental type, this sounded a bit like a rehash of Coco, of which for better or worse I a not a great fan and so before sampling I was almost certain that it would be too much for me, reserving instead my expectations for no.18. It soon proved that I was mistaken.
The initial impression is that of a citrusy, orange-like pipe tobacco mix rolled in powder, much like the one encountered upon meeting that vixen little scent called Fifi by lingerie designer Fifi Chachnil or a slightly less milky Fumerie Turque. In fact it could very well be a similar idea to that explored by the newer Burberry London for men.
Perhaps the orange impression derives from the inclusion of frankincense, a resin that sometimes gives off a sweet citric tang while burning.
A sweet lush note throughout is echoing subtly like vanilla pods immersed in fruity liquor and it opens up and expands on the wings of aged patchouli, mellow, soft, sweet and inviting. It would seem like the most glorious thing, if it were not for it being a little derivative of their Allure Sensuelle with a touch of Borneo by Serge Lutens and Prada thrown in for good measure. The influence Angel has had on the market in general is astounding to behold! Never mind that my favourite patchouli ever is Film Noir by Ayala Moriel.
Yet where Borneo is an inconoclastic dark patchouli laced with dark roasted coffee and Prada is an insolent single-minded young rebel that wants to shock her conservative environment in a relatively safe way, much like Muicia herself liked to do, Allure Sensuelle and consequently Coromandel do not dare push the envelope even in playful jest. They are not terribly innovative, although between the two Coromandel is much more complex and alluring.
Luckily, the pervading dryness along with just a touch of frankincense for a sense of mystery, not showcasing amber in any great degree all the while, provides a great balance to the sweeter vanilla elements and makes the whole not puff up in blue clouds of smoke, but stay the night on warm skin and well used sheets.
Sexy, yet not terribly imaginative. A cinnabar-hued brocade jacket, upper button undone with black camelia Chanel earrings. C'est ça!
Art photography by Chris Borgman courtesy of his site.