To understand the demise of Chunga is to realize that it is truly unmarketable in today's world: For a feminine perfume it flunks the test of being traditionally pretty or particularly becoming, demanding too much out of its wearer in both intelligence and attitude (After all it was advertised with the slogan "for women who want the world"). For a masculine (and men would be wise to try it if they can get their hands on some) it is an alien thing, being neither fresh -as is the majority of aquatic and aromatic fougeres around-, nor sexy -as are the orientalized woodies with succulent tonka and lots of sweet amber in the base. Maybe only Philip K. Dick replicas can wear Chunga by Weil right now, aside from dedicated perfumistas that is, which misses marketability points big time. But it's a shame, I can tell you that, because Chunga is a great fragrance coming from a great perfume house, the Weil fourruriers. (champions of the parfum fourrure notion)
Introduced in 1977, Chunga comes in a string of great chypres with green elements and aldehydes that are elegantly assertive and resolutely determined: Chanel No.19, Lauder's Knowing, Coriandre by Jean Couturier, the first Jean Louis Scherrer fragrance. And thus lovers of the afore-mentioned perfumes are advised to seek out some Chunga for their collection.
In the print advertisements Chunga was targeting literally every woman and that included all races and all skin colors. A pioneering thought for a traditional French house! "Comme un nouvel horizon"...like a new horizon, which marked a new interest in encompassing more ethnicities in the game of perfume, reaping the benefits of feminine emancipation alongside the "black power" that emerged in the 1970s. Another set of print ads is tagged "et la fete commence" (i.e. and the celebration begins), showing a more typical couple in black tie in the midst of some dancing move, a more or less expected extension of perfume as a fashion accessory for a night out.
The olfactory structure of Chunga unfolds like a secret drawer within a drawer: The opening is aggressive, with its citric tang of bergamot and lemony tones sparkling like marble, with the particularly sharp incision of a scalpel, shiny and new and you think that it will remain arid and bitter and gloriously ingestible till the end, until the tables are turned and a second stage emerges. The base of Weil's Chunga is redolent of powdery amber, vetiver and a slightly urinous, honeyed, sweetish musky note that is quite retro; a throwback to days when bodies weren't deodorized to within an inch of their lives and hairy regions were much hairier than recent memory...on both sexes, that is.
The comparison with Weil's more popular and well-known, still-circulating-in-some-version-or-other Antilope perfume is not without its own value: Whereas Antilope is lady-like and more properly floral and feminine in the heart notes, Chunga like its name is butcher, more incisive, with elements that translate as more masculine or sharper. My own bottle is marked Parfum de Toilette, which nicely puts in it the early 1980s.
perfume-y chypre, it's incomparable and worth the investment.
Notes for Weil Chunga: aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, peach, clove, jasmine, lily of the valley, linden blossom, orris, ylang-ylang, amber, honey, Tonka bean, vanilla, vetiver, musk
pics via hprints.com, museodelparfum.com and punmiris.com