Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jean Couturier- Kéora (Vintage Perfume)

Look at this advertisement. Isn't it amazing? The slogan translates more or less into "No emotion has ever been felt so deeply" (the American version read "Never has a fragrance provoked such emotion"). I don't know about you, but these words would have sent me sniffing right away*, and I would have expected something a lot more dramatic than Kéora, a mostly forgotten perfume by Jean Couturier, a label most famous for Coriandre, a bold rose chypre from the 1970s.

So, who remembers Kéora, a 1983 perfume that has probably been reformulated a few times before it disappeared even from the back shelves of mall kiosks?  Little reliable information can be found about this Jean Couturier perfume, except for its launch year, the advertisement above, and Michael Edwards' classification of Kéora as a rich oriental and confirmation that it has been officially discontinued.

What we're left with is our nose, the last dredges from an old bottle and a nostalgic feeling. Kéora is kind of an oriental perfume, but not in the obvious sweet vanillic way. It's delightfully spicy (nutmeg? allspice?) and quite bold from its very opening. I get something quite aromatic and herbal in the top notes, which combined with a bright floral powdery heart my nose tends to interpret as lavender, though I'm familiar with this effect and know that this is a phantom note, something that I read as lavender even when none is around. The nose is a funny creature.

I'm won over by the combination of a powder bomb and unlit incense. It's sweetish, quite assertive (we're talking about an 80s perfume, after all), and despite the warm colors of the image above and the orange box, the color I associate with Kéora is a dark murky purple. As the scent mellows down I can feel the romantic aspect of those whiffs that linger on my clothes. It's reminiscent of Parisian nights and long meaningful conversations by candlelight. And like other memories from the 80s, it can be felt quite deeply.

*The more I look at the guy I'm  reminded of an old boyfriend. Except for  the unnatural lack of thigh hair. Or back hair. So maybe not.


  1. There was a time when I took it as some sort of personal soul mission to seek out on ebay almost every vintage perfume that had an interesting list of notes in the H&R Guide - turned out to be far, far too many. What was I thinking?! Financially disastrous. Finally, to resist temptation, I came close to just duct taping the Guide shut, but, out of respect and love for it, put it up on a very high and out of the way shelf instead. However, I ended up with some wonderful perfumes and Keora was one of them. I have a thing for powder so I've definitely enjoyed this and, like you, I do get a lavender note.
    And that is indeed one incredible ad, although I can't help but totally focus now on his bizarre lack of leg hair after reading your comment about that. Completely cracks me up. :-)

    1. I love that book, even if sometimes I question the notes it lists. eBay used to be a lot more fun before the prices became so insane. Now if I find one coveted yet reasonably priced item a month I feel incredibly lucky.

  2. This was a perfume I loved & wore constantly(long ago),and,out of habit,I put it on,to attend a funeral,of someone I dearly loved...and I could never wear it again,because of the association....Funerals are like ,having surgery,or going to the dentist,or even iob interviews,etc...WEAR NO FRAGRANCE,,,,p.s.LOVE THE THIGHS ON THIS GUY!!

    1. I'm with you. Wearing a perfume to a funeral would forever embed the grief as part of the fragrance experience. I do wear fragrance to the dentist. It's a comfort thing, and since I need to be at least mildly knocked out for most procedures (extreme anxiety), it's never been an issue.

    2. I've been wearing Keora for about 20 years, and I haven't really noticed a change in the fragrance over the last two decades. I've never seen it discussed so of course I thought I was the only one on earth who knew about this, until I turned my Mom on to it and she loves it. I love this fragrance and it's always in heavy rotation through the Fall and Winter.

    3. I'm glad that you can still find it and that it smells just as good. It's not always the case and so many of us tend to kvetch about reformulations and the state of old(er) perfumes.


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