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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Perfume Review: Les Exclusifs de Chanel - Coromandel

Whereas 31 Rue Cambon represented the duality, the balance and the conflict between the sober elegance of Chanel’s fashions and luxurious extravagance of her tastes and private surroundings, Coromandel breaks free from the chic confines of refinement and pays homage to the baroque. The scent was inspired by lacquered Coromandel screens, which Chanel adored and collected, and with which her private apartments on the Rue Cambon was said to be practically packed.

I am not quite sure what to make of Coromandel. On the one hand, it reminds me of a plethora of scents and I am tempted to proclaim it unoriginal and derivative. I have heard Coromandel being compared to Borneo 1834; however it completely lacks the camphorous aspect, which for me is a very important part of Borneo, something that actually constitutes its identity. The beginning of Coromandel is more comparable to a patchouli soliflore. Not just any pale, dry soliflore, but something deep and sumptuous, perhaps something like Il Profumo’s Patchouli Noir. The patchouli note here paints an image of luscious, black soil, the kind one is tempted to run through one’s fingers, sniffing the raw, strangely sweet smell. After the wondrously rich beginning, the note looses some of its oomph and becomes patchouli as rendered in so many Angel-inspired scents. At that point it especially reminds me of Prada. Luckily, the Prada stage does not last long either; in a little while an unexpectedly fruity accord creeps in, the same one that I smell in Black Orchid, honeyed, candied, overripe, dark, with an incense-like undertone. The scent becomes softer, fluffier, more vanillic. I believe I also smell some myrrh here. The base has a certain delicate, ambery spiciness which reminds me of the drydown in Fifi Chachnil, which, in turn reminds me of gentler Obsession, so in a way the base notes of Coromandel remind me of that fearsome Klein classic. And so you understand my problem: so many similarities, with so many scents, that can’t be good, right? And yet…

And yet, every time I wear Coromandel, I cannot stop sniffing myself compulsively. The sheer amount of changes it undergoes is enthralling. It is a kaleidoscope of a scent, it never stays the same. It also has a strangely delicious quality about it, it is almost edible in a way…The patchouli is beautifully rich; the vanillic-woody-incensey drydown is wonderfully comforting. It might not be the most original of the six Exclusifs, but it is extremely attractive, at times even striking. It is easy to love and I have a feeling it might become the best selling new Chanel. Do I need it? I know that I don’t need a 200ml vat of it, but perhaps, when my miniature is empty, I will spring for a decant or even split a bottle with somebody.

Coromandel is available in Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman, $175.00 for 200ml

The photo of Chanel apartment is from, the image of the bottle is from


Blogger Unknown said...

See, see? It's haunting you which means you're not indifferent which means (and mark my words), there'll be a day, perhaps in a year, perhaps sooner, when you'll fall head over heels with Coromandel. I just know it. ;D That said, on me it's very ambery, slightly resinous, and the patchouli is but an undertone of wet earth. Love it beyond belief.

11:15 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, thanks for you predictions, "Sybil" :-)
So are you saying that patchouli is not a predominant note in Coromandel, on your skin? On me it's quite a patch monster. I say "monster" lovingly, you understand.

11:18 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

hooookay, now you're going from perfume Circe to perfume tease, and back again. I may have to storm the bastille of the Rodeo Drive boutique this weekend. I will come back with samples or jail time...

11:19 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I humbly predict that would perhaps like this one a lot. Storm the Chanel fortress and then report!

11:21 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nope, not predominant at all. *whistles gleefully*

11:27 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

No, I don't really mind it, especially when it is Il-Profumo-like and not Parad-like, I was just wondering.

11:28 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coromandel is neither here nor there for me, although it is definitely pleasant. When I smelled the new Chanels with Mr. M.R. (I happened to have samples in my purse), he pronounced this one to be his least favourite. He loved La Pausa and No 18 the most, for the record. :) So, we are in good company.


11:56 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ah, for some reason, I'm not surprised Mr. M.R. loved those two. ;D

12:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only smelled Coromandel on paper so I can't comment on all its changes, but to me its top notes were very earthy patch -- it actually had some soil in it. Like you, I can see myself going for a bottle split or a hefty decant. Mr CC who has hijacked my Bornéo and is going through it as though it didn't cost more than Axe (he's got good but expensive tastes) didn't like Coromandel, though, so the two definitely have different personalities.

4:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*tingling with anticipation*

But the postie's already been, without bringing the goods...

4:32 AM EST  
Blogger Anne said...

I'm not even going to try to be PC on this one. An AMBER/PATCH MONSTER grew on my arm! There is a very loud scent that several people at work wear with sillage that arrives before they do and stays around to torture me when they have left. Coromandel reminds me of that. :(

The opening was amazing though so I will try again. :)

6:48 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

I truly do love this one, and you're right - it does have an almost edible quality about it. The more I smell it, the more I lose the initial strong similarity I got to Borneo, but I think part of that was that it seemed - and still does - extremely Serge like to me. However, w/ a scent this intense, the concept of having 200 ml just makes no sense for me. I've never really cared if I finish my scents or not (almost never do), but there's still something bizarre about the size. Reminds me of having a jug of wine w/ a screw on top instead of a nice, decent sized bottle. Chanel was all about editing for elegance. This size is not elegant and should have been edited.

7:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I was not interested in Coromandel, when I started reading people's reviews of it. Now you have me interested. I was thinking of just getting decants of 31 Rue Cambon and No. 18 (when my nobuy ends, of course), but now you have me wondering if I need this as well...Do I?

7:25 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I've got to say, against my better judgement, that ,for some reason, folks love this on me, especially the drydown.
You'd think it would put them off- but it doesn't.

There are lots of other ambers I own and wear, that are more complex and subtle, but I do like this, and will wear it today, for my 16 yo [who likes it]..

He's wearing Habit Rouge today.

7:30 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

hahahhahaaa! (evil laugh, rubs hands together) what Ina said!!!

Yup, no Camphor = no Borneo (thank God.) I keep seeing different notes listed; what else is new? But that Allure article, which seemed fairly well-informed, said frankincense, and I'd buy that.

Not that much patch OR Prada on me (smiles).

8:01 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I seriously need to fall in love with La Pausa now. I don't know why I can't...I wonder how Mr MR thought it compared to ISM :-)

8:35 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think they are his kinds of scents too :-)

8:36 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I would just be thankful that he is not using Axe! :-) What a great taste he has.

8:37 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I wish that postie hurried up!!

8:37 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

This is not a shy little scent, that's for sure. It's the most sillage-ful of the bunch.

8:38 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think what happend was- the scents were not that expensive to make and Chanel was just being honest (kudos to them) by not overpricing 50ml and 100ml bottles. But selling those size for $44-$88 did not seem exclusif enough, so they went to for the whopping 200ml vats instead just to keep the price on a chic level. That's my theory. :-)
I think they also wanted to pay homage to the humongous eaux de toilette bottles of the days past. You know, I recently noticed on my 2oz bottle of Diorling EDT it says- for the travel. Can you imagine, in those days people thought it was travel size! :-)

8:42 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd get a sample of this and then- if you liked it- move on to a decant...or, who knows...a bottle? :-)

8:42 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think this and 31 are "your" kind of scents. Really, I do :-)

8:43 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You are positively gloating :-)
I don't really get frankincense in there, but I think I get myrrh.

8:44 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Ok, OK, I'll try this again! Ok, OK, I like it OK. But it is really a PATCH MONSTER on me (with a little amber monster peeking out underneath). Amazed that Ina and March get only a little patch on me. I think my experience with this is closest to yours.
Il Profumo? check
Prada? double check
Borneo? not really, but no loss IMO
like it? Oh, Ok, I do--but I don't NEED it. I need it less than any of the others.

9:14 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

sigh. . . . that Ina and March get only a little patch FROM THIS. . not "on me" obviously--there's lots on me. I am having so much trouble just posting with Blogger today that I'm amazed I can get anything right!

9:16 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

It seem to love my skin too, I am not sure it is mutual at the moment. I go back and forth on this one...

9:17 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

What's blogger doing to you this morning? It seems suspiciously well-behaved, on my end.

9:17 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I get a lot, a lot of patch and am very surprised others don't. I don't really mind patch, it's just that...I don't know, something about Coromandel leaves me kind of cold.

9:18 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well (apart from my usual difficulties in getting the secret word right), I tried to post my comment much earlier, and got a message about some kind of problem that the blogger engineers were currently working on! Seems to have been specific to me.

9:39 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

No, I don't mind patch, either. In fact, I have a number of patch fragrances I really like. That's perhaps part of the reason I don't NEED this.
(the other thing blogger seems to do now is ask me to for another word verification after I have already verified if I want to edit, change, and publish (or sometimes just preview and publish). This is such a pain (b/c I am terrible at word verification) that I have often decided just to publish right away, warts and all.

9:44 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sorry about it! Blogger is a pain you know where. GRRR.

9:52 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I see how, if one has several favorite patches already, this would really not be necessary. Unless one is a patch collector along the lines of leather collector :-)

9:53 AM EST  
Blogger StyleSpy said...

::sobbing:: Can I respectfully ask everyone to stop talking about this until I get my sample? I'm DYYYYYYYYYYYYYING!!!!!!!!

10:12 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

We can't, we are obsessed. We have to talk about them. :-)

10:15 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Coromandel is really, really hard to remove from skin. All I'm saying on the subject :-)

11:04 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Somehow I gather that there isn't much love lost between the two of you :-) I agree, it is indestructible. Even a nice hot shower doesn't wash it completely off. I wish 31 lasted that well.

12:35 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would someone who knows coromandel and zino by davidoff please tell me if they see the resemblance between the two? it's the first impression i got of coromandel, and it won't go away. i think it's in the hay/leather/patchouli area of the scent. thanks! - minette

2:53 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sorry, I am not familiar with Zino :-( Hopefully someone else is and will compare.

2:56 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be trying the Coromandel perfume soon. Always enjoy Chanel.

8:36 PM EST  
Blogger Baraka said...

Ack - blogger ate my comment!

Ok - so Coromandel was the one perfume that brought me running back to Chanel the day after testing it on my wrist.

I also compulsively smelled myself, smelled the amber & Prada - but no patchouli which is odd because that usually leaps out & smells sick on me.

I wish they had samples of this because I love it - but can't see springing that much cash for a huge vat right now.

I do have a sample of their Gardenia which just disappears on me - anyone want to swap? :)

Thanks for the review!

11:11 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just tried this and got a sample. Love it - but the price is just over the edge for me and I found others in the same range that I prefer. Still, I might go for it later - after all, it is Chanel. It's one of those "love it or hate it" scents, I think. I do love it.

10:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Mao said...

I am a 29 year old professional male. Ive changed and changed perfumes for all my life. Ive finally found myself in Coromandel.

10:23 AM EDT  

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