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