As some of you may know, I am working my way through the Chanel Exclusifs samples I recently received. Today I am wearing Coromandel, a fragrance that is apparently inspired by the Coromandel Laquer screens that Coco Chanel had in one of her Paris apartments. I've read differing views, but it seems like Coromandel was created by Jacque Polge with some input by Christopher Sheldrake. The theme of Coromandel, certainly to my nose, is patchouli and amber, with a smidgen of incense, and I could be wrong here, but just a hint of lily and tobacco. The reason I say this is, about half an hour in, I notice an accord that bears more than a passing resemblance to Versace Dreamer, albeit toned down dramatically. I could be speaking total rot here, but to my nose, that is what I smell. I think if I were to introduce a friend to patchouli, this is the perfume I would get him or her to try first. Coromandel is a wonderfully well executed patchouli fragrance, but it is not overbearing, which patchouli can be sometimes, and I think this frightens some people off it as a note. I actually like patchouli, but then, some of my staples are fragrances like Mazzolari Lui and Intrigant Patchouli by Parfumerie General, both of which are in my opinion hard-core patch fests. What I love about Coromandel is that has that inimitable Chanel feel of understated luxuriance. The patchouli is most definitely there, and it smells like proper patchouli, unlike some of the dross that is churned out these days in the name of patch. But, and this is a big but, the patchouli in Coromandel smells polished and refined, like if you were to attribute an alcoholic term to perfume, this is triple-distilled and then aged in mellow casks. When I say polished, I find the patchouli, in combination with the amber, takes on an almost woody, waxed-and-polished feel. Some people have compared Coromandel to Borneo 1834 by Lutens, and I can see where they are coming from, although I think Borneo carries a much edgier feel with its camphor and coco notes, and overall, it has a far greater oriental feel to it. But perhaps there is no coincidence in this comparison when one considers that Sheldrake has worked with both Lutens and Chanel.
When all is said and done, I find Coromandel to be a compelling fragrance. I wouldn't say that it is uber original, but it is incredibly well-crafted, and like I said earlier, it carries that Chanel hallmark of understated elegance and chic, which is a hard thing to pull off with such a dominant note as patchouli is. So far, the Exclusifs impress me, although more will be revealed as I move on to some of the others. As with Bois des Iles, I can't recommend Coromandel highly enough.