Patchouli is a herb that I met before but I want to get to know better. Chances are you already know it too: if you’ve ever tried Angel by Thierry Mugler (other examples would be Prada Amber for Women and, quite unexpectedly, Pasha for men in the base notes), it’s the note that makes you want to bite the air (apart from cotton candy), as if a ripe fruit materialized under your nose. Except that patchouli won’t smell of any fruit in particular, it will just deliver the concept of ripeness.
Now I have four samples of patchouli fragrances lined up for reviewing, so here’s the first one: Coromandel by Chanel.
It opens rich and gourmand, with a meaty patchouli and a sugary sweetness, and equipped with spices, which give the edible cloud a sort of frame. The main counterpart to patchouli at this stage is a sour side, that comes from a resin called frankincense. There’s a couple of things in the background too: a green note in a corner, reminding of patchouli’s vegetable origin, and also florals. They are potentially dense, but they won’t stand a chance in this type of environment, although they make the air less thick.
Among the secondary notes, the sour one is what stands out for a short while, and when it subsides (fortunately so, as it didn’t quite fit), the fragrance is free to go oriental. Frankincense gives a more definite camphoraceous attitude, and patchouli is most likely naked under that smoking incense blanket.
Vanilla starts poking it though, and towards the end (after many hours, expect this to last long) it will be joined by woods. The meatiness of the start is no more, and Coromandel will continue the same way, but its oriental-ness will be placid and not aggressive.
The name of the perfume comes from the lacquered wooden folding screen from China (sources Fragrantica and Wikipedia). And that’s what Coromandel fragrance is: warm and enveloping, protecting and reassuring.
So why always wear perfumes that “match our age,” why not, for once, let a more mature perfume give us a sense of protection.