October 30, 2011:

Chanel Coco eau de parfum is available from many fine department stores as well as the Chanel website; $85 for 50 ml/1.7 oz. A big thank you to perfume blogger Undina for sending me a generous decant.

Image, top of page, is of Nicole Kidman & Robbie Williams singing together in their video for the song Something Stupid. Bottle image for Chanel Coco eau de parfum is from the Australian site, Brandshopping.com.

Chanel Coco eau de parfum. Where do I start? So many thoughts and images filter through my mind when I’m wearing it, I want to scoop them up like handfuls of jewels found in a treasure chest, let them slip through my fingers and tumble onto the page as they may. Chanel Coco is golden candle light and the ambience of a romantic dinner bottled into a perfume. It’s hearing an old-fashioned love song sung by someone of your own generation and realizing what makes it timeless and classic. It’s the smell of spice given a pearlized treatment, such that it glows and projects as much warmth and sweetness as it does depth and gravitas. Coco is the scent of holidays and romance and affairs to remember.

Not that long ago, actress Nicole Kidman spent four years as the spokesmodel/face of Chanel No. 5 perfume and, perhaps for this reason, she is the actress who springs to mind when I smell Coco too. Or to be precise, Nicole Kidman coupled with singer Robbie Williams—the two of them crooning an old Frank Sinatra song in a video that superimposes the modern with the past—is what goes through my head. Just as Coco starts off with a bright and crisp hit of aldehydes and mandarin, underneath which a potpourri of spicy and sweet notes are already stirring, Kidman and Williams’ cool and elegant exteriors are all the more shimmery because beneath them there is the spark of emotions that are both playful and deeply feeling. And when it comes to love and perfume, I really like that combination of elements.

Launched in 1984, the creation of Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge, Coco has top notes of angelica, mimosa, frangipani, and mandarin; middle notes of cascarilla, orange flower, Bulgarian rose, and jasmine; and base notes of labdanum, ambrette seed, opoponax, benzoin, tonka and vanilla (this list differs according to source; mine came from Basenotes.net). It is a fragrance that smells recognizably Chanel-like in certain aspects—poised and classically French at the beginning of its wear—but which loosens up in a way that makes it freer, easier, and warmer than any Chanel I’ve ever worn. There is a sort of booziness at its heart, though that’s not quite the right adjective, as it’s too robust a descriptor: Coco has more of a discreet and polished, Cointreau liqueur-like smell to it. I suppose that’s why I have in my mind the aforementioned video duet of Kidman and Williams to represent the essence of this fragrance: there’s a sense of private tipsiness about them—they’re singing a Sinatra song called “Something Stupid” and exuding an air that is an irresistible combination of the naïve and sérieuse—of kittenish flirtation and soulful, sexual longing.

Men who enjoy floral notes in their fragrances and are open-minded enough not to be swayed by the name should give Chanel Coco a try. The yin-yang concept of feminine and masculine energies also resides within this scent—Coco's bouquet of orange flower, rose and jasmine is rendered spicy, resinous and a trifle leathery thanks to its weighty amber base. In fact, if I had only one sentence in which to describe Chanel Coco, I would call it the elixir of romance—of feminine and masculine elements so magnetically attracted to one another, they can’t be pulled apart. And then having used up my allotted words, I’d call it a day and sweetly retire to my room.


Coco by Chanel: Intoxicatingly Romantic

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