Chanel - Coromandel (2007)

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I hardly ever buy fragrance anymore, despite having a fairly good collection of mens fragrances from the early 1980s through until the mid 1990s. The reason for this is simple. For nearly two decades, I have rarely found anything truly memorable. The last fragrance I bought was a Jil Sander fragrance in 2011.

Coromandel is a fragrance released in 2007 under the Les Exclusifs range. This is basically a more upmarket collection of predominately women’s fragrances. Chanel have been something of an issue for me over the past twenty years because they basically released Allure and then spent goodness knows how many years churning out spin-offs that were dizzying in number. Only in 2010 with the release of Bleu did they create another mainstream consumer product for men. And yes, there has already been a ‘Parfum’ edition released. This is a trait that has become something more than a trend over the years as all major designer fragrance houses have succumbed to the idea that you can just release endless products with little or no imagination and know the general public will still buy in to it.

The Les Exclusifs range was created to appeal to people with more money to spend and wanted something I guess could be termed as ‘niche’. I find the phrase very annoying because it’s always very difficult to actually define what is meant by that in the context of fragrances.

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The end result of Chanel’s efforts these past twenty years have meant that since 1990, for me at least, Chanel lost their way. Coromandel is finally the return to something that is actually worthy of their name and history. It only took seventeen years.

This a fragrance that despite the marketing seems like a scent that any man could wear with absolute ease. Yes, the entire collection is aimed at women but Coromandel is definitely masculine. Sometimes, I wear it and wonder what exactly are its feminine qualities? Coromandel also smells expensive which is something you should always consider when buying pricey fragrances. On occasions, I’ve tried scents from Tom Ford and Armani only to find that despite the (relatively) high price tag, smell so ordinary, cheap and unmemorable. Coromandel is reminiscent, at least to me, of older fragrances like Egoiste and Dior's Fahrenheit in an as much as it has a very distinct character all of its own. That’s something not easily achieved anymore. Longevity is very good and the scent is perfect for winter days.

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The patchouli dominates for quite some time and gives the fragrance a serious and yet somehow spiritual feeling. An opening of bitter orange and musk create a quality that is familiar and strange in equal measure. There are hints of chocolate and buttery powder too. It's a really powerful mixture of things. Absolutely gorgeous. It's also rich and yet restrained, whispering its comforting and high-end luxury qualities.

The packaging is beautiful and minimal - subtle off-white colouring, the tasteful thickness of the card box. The bottle even has a magnetic top - a nice touch that trickled down later into their mainstream ‘Bleu’ range.

If you have the money, this is the best men’s fragrance Chanel have produced since Egoiste in 1990. It’s a fantastic, classy and unique scent that I would have no trouble recommending.