Patchouli. That is what Chanel’s magnificent fragrance Coromandel is ode to. And then amber, vanilla, and creamy white chocolate. This is unbridled Chanel . . . historic, opulent, sultry, luxurious, and exclusive . . . literally (it is only sold as part of the Chanel Exclusive range). But it is also decided modern. This is what Ernest Beaux (the nose behind Chanel No 5) might have made if he were creating the perfume for Madame Chanel in the 21st instead of the 20th century. All patchouli fragrances should be judged by this one, masterfully blending the profoundly beautiful chemical isolate patchoulol with syrupy sweet natural patchouli oil.
Coromandel is said to be an homage to Coco Chanel’s beloved lacquered, wooden Chinese folding screens and was introduced to the world in 2007 as part of Chanel’s six-line collection called “Les Exclusifs.” It was created by Chanel’s house perfumer, Jacques Polge, along with an equally famous “nose” in the industry, Christopher Sheldrake. According to Chanel’s own description on their website, “the elaborate scent unfolds in undulating detail, starting with an amber vibrato, followed by dry notes of Frankincense and Benzoin, then, soulful woody notes that add elegance and depth to the sensuous accord’s striking trail.”Description courtesy of Kafkaesque Blog. https://kafkaesqueblog.com/2012/12/13/perfume-review-chanel-coromandel-frankincense-opium-dens/
Depending on the amber base used, this formula is IFRA compliant and composed of materials easily and readily available to amateur perfumers and professionals alike. It demonstrates the construction of a modern luxury fragrance: chemicals, bases, and natural essential oils in a quantity which is higher than the norm but not ridiculously out of reach for quality department store pricing.
Polge (and Sheldrake) clearly refer to the historic “Chanelade” – the core DNA found in many of the fragrances from the house – most notably building out from a beautiful historic ambreine type base. With a hearty dose of real sandalwood and other natural oils, the perfume then heads into today with its white chocolate accord and ultra-modern musk fond.
In history this far, five patchouli fragrances stand out as superior: Patou Pour Homme Privé (in which the patchouli is tempered with sandalwood), Thierry Mugler’s Angel (tempering patchouli with sugary ethyl maltol), Dana’s Tabu (with a vanilla overdose), Chanel’s Coco with its honeyed Mellis accord, and Coromandel from the same great house, with its white chocolate accompaniment. With the publication of this formula we have now presented you with four of those fragrance greats.
Of the six new Chanels launched early in 2007, this is one that most clearly has Christopher Sheldrake’s handwriting all over it. He recently returned to his alma mater at Chanel after nearly two decades at Quest during which he was chiefly occupied with composing Serge Luten’s epoch-making line of fragrances. It must have been fun to see everyone, from Guerlain downward, gradually fall into step and pay him the sincerest compliment, imitation.
Coromandel is, to my mind, Sheldrake’s reinterpretation of Borneo 1834 done in the Chanel manner, muted, richer, less saturated, and less overtly oriental. It has enough patchouli in it to Clear the air of Indian moths for a mile around, yet out manages to avoid any hippie earthiness by a trick I am sure every perfumer would like to emulate [and now can thanks to the publication of this replica formula]. If there were such a thing as powdered white chocolate, it would smell like Coromandel. Wonderful.Fragrance review courtesy of Luca Turin. Perfumes: The A–Z Guide; Amazon.com