A Blog about my love in perfumes, the aesthetics, the hedonism, the greatness of these artistic creations of the olfactory world. It is about my wish, my dream to create something like this one day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Chanel : Coco

As it unfolds, a flurry of fruity and floral notes rush at you. It was like you were entering a closed up room, and suddenly the door opens at you and the warm air within gushes out, laden with odours within, fruits from the bowl of ripening peaches sitting on the dinning table, and the bouquet of roses, green and full of life, and the brewing cup of cocoa with the creme brulee served up beside.

Michael Edward's book, Perfume Legends, gives some insights on this fragrance. Jacques Polge who visited Coco’s hotel apartment noted that she had this baroque side to her. Amidst all her girlish simplicity and cold Parisian elegance, there was this side to her that revealed that she was full of passion and complexity, in her life story, in the way she wanted to live it.

Coromandel screens, asian antiquities, Chinese porcelain litter the cramped apartment. Yet Jacques did not immediately take this and go out to create an oriental. (Well he eventually succumb to it, when he made the very beautiful Coromandel Exclusifs).

He mentioned that Shalimar will bring you to India, and Opium will bring you to Marrakech, but Coco will be neither of those. Because Chanel never lived in those exotic lands, she just reveled in their mystery. And her baroque dream of the orient chic was what Jacques noted as Venetian at best. So he said that Coco will bring you to Venice, in its olden apartments cramped with curios overlooking the distinctly European cityscape. Coco brought you to Venice!

What a wonderous line of thought!, such brilliant inspiration that led to this brilliant brilliant floriental. And it was well that he did not just go out to create yet another oriental, but merged the best of two worlds, no, three worlds, to create such an object of sublime beauty.

As we continue, the flurry of fruity and floral notes remind me of summery florals like orchids, roses and jasmines. The fruity note is reminiscent of Opium, with its melonish opening, and a bit like Femme, with its jammy prune like opening. All these, perfectly balanced against an oriental background. Now, orientals are split between ambery orientals (eg. Shalimar) and mellis orientals (eg. Youth Dew). Jean Louis Sieuzac was one of the pioneers to combine the two into the enigmatic Opium. Mellis orientals have fallen largely out of favor, as its note is a bit overly spicy and after several decades of the success of Youth Dew and Blue Grass, seems a bit dated. Opium revived that with the addition of the evergreen ambery oriental notes, which gave it a breath of new life.

And of course, Coco added on to that, with flowery and fruity notes. This allowed the fragrance not to be confined to winter days or night time wear as a perfume like Opium would be confined to, but it would open it up to more moderate days where the fragrance will not so much overwhelm a lovely spring day, but just add a touch of warm and indoors to a cool breezy day.

Coco was an example again of an evolution of a family, from the inter-marriage of ambery and mellis orientals and then a further inter-marriage. New “categories” are created everyday, but not everyday, you see an object of beauty and imagination come to the fore such as Coco.

Photo from www.staleywise.com/collection/dahl_wolfe/revised4_03/8.html