Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chanel Coco Noir

It's all about expectations. If you read Angela's review of the new Chanel Coco Noir perfume on NST you probably noticed her disappointment with this flanker of the 1984 Coco. I agree with every word; but I actually felt Coco Noir was an almost pleasant surprise. Almost.

See, other than a mild affection towards the elegance of the Les Exclusifs collection and a real appreciation of perfumer Jacques Polge's achievement in No. 5 Eau Premiere, the last modern Chanel feminine perfume I loved was Coco. The larger than life 1980s oriental in its original formula was divine. Almost everything else that followed-- new releases, flankers, and reformulations were not to my taste, to say it mildly. And if I'm being completely honest, I absolutely hate most of them. Thus, I was dreading the release of Coco Noir.

Coco Noir is a fruitchouli. A gentrified one, but still a big and annoying fruitchouli. Any top notes it may sport are drowned by a purple geyser of an abstract fruit juice (berry? grape? pomegranate? all of the above?). It's reigned in somewhat by the distinctly Chanelerific floral heart. Really, no one else does a rose-jasmine quite like Polge and his team, and it is there that you get a glimpse of that famous elegance that relates directly to Coco Chanel's aesthetics and design. But that porcelain and crystal moment fades quickly and is replaced by a slightly more grownup version of all that is bad in Coco Mademoiselle, Chance and Allure. Yes, it's all very much on trend and will appear under Christmas trees from here to eternity, but did Jacques Polge really need to drag our beloved Christopher Sheldrake from the warm lap of Uncle Serge into this hot mess to create the million dollar version of Euphoria?

Coco Noir is not a scrubber on me (I have a high tolerance for purple patchouli), but that fruity lolipoppy presence is not my cup of tea and it overstays its welcome by many hours. I can appreciate how well done it is: somehow Coco Noir avoids being too cloying and too loud. It's an assertive fragrance and if you have scentphobes in your immediate environment Coco Noir might make them protest; but otherwise this is a friendly and enthusiastic prom queen of a perfume.

Notes: grapefruit, Calabrian bergamot, rose absolute, rose essence, jasmine absolute, narcissus, rose geranium leaf, Brazilian tonka bean, Venezuelan tonka bean, Indonesian patchouli, New Caledonian sandalwood, bourbon vanilla, white musk and frankincense.

Chanel Coco Noir ($98, 1.7 oz) is available at the counters and from chanel.com. My sample came from a kind and brave friend.

Chanel Purple Lollipop by Massimo Gammacurta


  1. I'm feeling more and more disappointed by every new review I read of Coco Noir. How sad that it's so heavy on the fruit, I was really hoping for something darker (duh, given the Noir part) and smokier. Some spice from the original would at least be appreciated.

    Will still try it when it arrives in Australia, but expectations are super low.

  2. As I commented on the NST piece, I also was pleasantly surprised by this, thanks to extremely low expectations. Like you, I've hated everything since Coco, except in my case 19 Poudree which if it hung about for more than 90 minutes would be a staple for me. In fact I beyond hate Coco Mlle and Chance - they seem like a brand betrayal to me. For me the fruit and sweetness in Coco Noir is what links it directly to Coco - I see a distinct similarity.

    Nonetheless, I still think it's an opportunity missed and plan to try and create a better Coco Noir by layering Coco with other dark fragrances, maybe something oud or leather based.

  3. What a perfect illustration! Way more truthful than the Venise babling of the press release...

  4. I too am very disappointed. ”Noir” it is not. I bought a bottle with great hopes, and despite the negative reviews. I took a sample, so that I could really try it before I cracked open the packaging. On my skin, the top notes are odd - sort of bergamot-y, but almost generic. I felt like the ghost of the original Coco peeked out in a somewhat defeated effort at spiciness. I could detect its presence. But Coco Mlle (not my favorite from the get-go) is alive and well, and dragging around some sort of confection - perhaps cotton candy. Thank God it faded quickly on me, it seemed to disappear in a little over an hour! The only hope in Noir is, as you mentioned, the bit of respectable Chanel floral notes. Boo hiss. My wallet is safe. For now...

  5. I agree that I expected more, and that it could have been a flanker (but then we wouldn't have got the gorgeous black bottle).I'm a perfume neophite, meaning, I can't make out notes and only go with what appeals to me on a gut level :)
    I like it, a lot. I can't wear Coco, it's a screamer on my skin (but lovely and plush and soft on my mother-in-law, not fair!) and Coco Mademoiselle is one of my favourites even though it is not a favourite in perfumista circles, I even bought the body products which I also love. That said, Coco Noir on me is very very soft, close to the skin and office friendly. The only complaint I have is that I can barely smell it on me after a few hours.
    Maybe people can approach it with no expectations and maybe they'll be pleasantly surprised, like what happened with me with No 19 poudre.

  6. Hmm..I don't know much about perfumes. I only know what I like and I rather like this one. Most perfumes I can't even wear. Something in my chemistry changes the way perfumes smell a few minutes after I spray them on. This one I can wear and I like it and will purchase it in the 3.4 oz bottle when I get the chance. I can't wear much of the other Chanel perfumes; Chance, Fraiche, Allure, Mademoiselle, etc or other colognes for that matter. I can wear No.5 which I adore...But again I do like this one. - charlotte m.

  7. To me these types of reviews don"t sound harsh they sound bitchy.


  8. Bitchy? I think we should be able to express severe disappointment at a much hyped and very expensive product without being accused of being bitchy. Would you call a man bitchy if he gave a negative review to a disappointing car?

  9. I don't think it is a bitchy review, I think it is a very honest review. One that I greatly appreciate.

    Where I live, Dillards is the 'big department store' and with detailed reviews, helps me decide which ones I want to seek out to sniff when I am able to travel to bigger department stores.

    Gaia, thank you! This has firmly landed into the sniff catagory instead of the lemming catagory.

  10. At Macy's yesterday, they wouldn't give me a sample -- only sprayed it on a card. Coco Noir? I'd say this is CM Fresh. Nice bottle, though.

  11. You cant beat Euphoria by Calvin Klein

  12. I do want to smell this before the Gaga one, though.. ;)


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