Coco Noir… Light by Chanel


For many years Chanel and I weren’t getting along. I knew the brand had iconic perfumes. I knew it was well-loved and famous. I kept trying No. 5 and other perfumes again and again still wondering after each attempt what I couldn’t smell that others could.

A couple of years ago on my way home from a pleasant trip to Sonoma wineries I stopped by a perfume counter at Nordstrom (I’ve never been to that store before or after) where I met a sales associate who was really passionate about Chanel perfumes. I didn’t try any other brands that day but I left the store in an even better mood and with five Chanel samples. And that was how it started.

Chanel Coco

That Christmas  I bought my very first bottle of Chanel perfume. It was Coco. Since then I enriched my collection with numerous bottles and decants from Chanel including some Exclusifs. Some of them went much higher in my personal hierarchy. But Coco holds that special place by being the First one.

Coco by Chanel – created in 1984 by Jacques Polge; lists of notes are slightly different depending on the site, I’ll go with NST: jasmine, peach, frangipani, mimosa, orange blossom, cascarilla, rose, clove buds, angelica, labdanum, sandalwood, tonka bean, leather and opopanax.

If you want real reviews here is Angela’s (now smell this) and here is the most recent by Suzanna (Bois de Jasmin).

Three days ago I casually asked my friendly SA if she knew when they would be getting the new Coco Noir perfume and she very secretively handed me two samples saying that they weren’t supposed to show them yet, but for me… (She’s always good with me and I try to give her as much of my business as I can).

I do not trust my nose too much and I trust my ability to describe scents even less (not trying to be modest – just stating the fact) so these are just my impressions from testing Coco Noir in parallel with the original Coco.

Coco Noir is definitely Coco’s close relative – a younger sister maybe? She thinks she is all grown up and should be taken seriously; she tries really hard to be like her older sister who is effortlessly elegant and confident. But even through her thoroughly applied smokey eyes, dramatic lipstick and cynical gaze one can still see the freshness of the youth and innocence. But enough of the metaphor. In my opinion, the only “noir” part of this recent Coco flanker is the bottle – and what a beautiful bottle it is! I’m glad it isn’t dark blue or I wouldn’t have been able to resist.

Coco Noir by Chanel – created in 2012 by Jacques Polge; the notes include bergamot, grapefruit, orange, jasmine, rose, geranium, patchouli, tonka bean, vanilla, sandalwood, incense and white musk.

Coco Noir smells fresher then Coco; it is brighter because of a more prominent citrus note and it doesn’t last as long as the original version. Coco Noir is “younger” than Coco in modern perfumery sense as well – it’s fruitier and sweeter in the opening. A younger sister who prefers fruit punch on a sunny day to a glass of cognac next to a burning fireplace. If anything, Coco Noir is lighter than original Coco. But they couldn’t have used that beautiful bottle for Coco Light – right?

I do not think Coco’s fans will prefer Coco Noir and it’s not distinct enough to either justify the second bottle for a fan (unless you really want that bottle) or make a friend out of those who really disliked Coco. But if the original perfume was just a little too much for you Coco Noir might be an answer.

Victoria (Bois de Jasmin) today published a real review of Coco Noir.

Chanel Coco Noir

If you’d like a chance to win a sample of Coco Noir you have until 23:59 PST on Saturday, August 4th. You do not need to do anything, just mention in your comment if you want to be in the draw. The only condition: you have previously commented on this blog at least once (I’ll know, no need mentioning that).


Images: my own.


First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco


Last Sunday, July 8th, I spent the day at the First Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco. You’ve probably read something about it already so just to recap: twenty artisan perfume companies presented their perfumes at the Gallery 4N5. There were also wine and chocolate tasting as well as some talks and presentations.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll try to write more about some of my personal discoveries at this Salon but I want to share with you pictures of those stands that I managed to take before there were too many people. Keep in mind that pictures on walls were a part of the Gallery decor and participants weren’t allowed to change those. Notice how perfectly some of the stands and art came together. I’m not sure if there was any special thinking behind those designations or if they just happen to come together by chance but some of them really played out. Click on pictures to see more details.


Yosh at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Both Yosh (above) and Sonoma Scent Studio (below) found an elegant solution to the over-perfuming the small space: pre-sprayed glass containers. I really like the idea because in addition to the benefit mentioned there are multiple others: you do not need to remember which paper strip you sprayed with each perfume (which is even harder if you were given a blotter sprayed by a perfumer); you can revisit scents multiple times without trying to juggle those multiple paper strips and, finally, if you didn’t like the scent you do not need to decide if it’s polite to discard it right there, in front of a perfumer/presenter, or if you have to take it with you.

Sonoma Scent Studio

Sonoma Scent Studio at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Many people were disappointed that Laurie Erickson, the nose behind Sonoma Scent Studio, couldn’t attend the event. On the positive side, there was her newest addition to the line Forest Walk and the stand looked very elegant.

Artemisia Natural Perfume, perfumer Lisa Fong

Artemisia Natural Perfume at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

For a while I was considering one of Artemisia‘s perfumes – Ondine because of the name (it means the same as Undina, just a different spelling) but I’m not too good with all-natural perfumes, usually they don’t work for me. I should have probably bought a sample (though now I cannot remember if this table offered any for sale) but I was so overwhelmed with everything that I wasn’t thinking straight.

Ineke, perfumer Ineke Rühland

Ineke at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Ineke had a very nice spot and they decorated it just perfectly. Do you see the stack of sample sets on the left? They were all sold out quickly. On the off-chance somebody doesn’t know that, this is one of the best discovery sets out there: for $25 including shipping you’re getting the cutest box with seven 2 ml individually wrapped samples and that price is redeemable for a purchase of a full bottle.

Ineke Discovery Set

Probably half of all participants didn’t have any samples for sale and I think it’s a mistake. I understand that for a small company it might be prohibitively expensive to give away samples and I didn’t expect them to do that. But it’s also hard to expect that people who have never smelled this brand’s perfumes (and sometimes haven’t even heard about its existence) before will distinguish any of the perfumes out of literally hundreds, fall in love with it and decide to spend $40-$135 on the spot for a full bottle. Some brands at least offered purse sprays under $20 (Sonoma Scent Studio and Olympic Orchids) which is a much more reasonable option.

En Voyage Perfumes, perfumer Shelley Waddington

En Voyage Perfumes at SF First Fragrance Salon

Shelley Waddington presented her newest The Cosmologie Collection. I liked A Study in Water on a blotter but I didn’t have a chance to test it on skin. I’ll need to revisit it one day.

Olympic Orchids

Olympic Orchids at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Ellen Covey, the perfumer, in addition to the main collection, also introduced her new collection created for the Devilscent Project. I found my favorite out of five – Dev 2.

Olympic Orchids at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Roxana Illuminated Perfume, perfumer Roxana Villa

Roxana Illuminated Perfume at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

The name 40 notes perfume seemed somehow familiar but I couldn’t remember where I read about it or what. I liked brand’s esthetics and thought that Miriam, the perfumer, was really charming. But I caught her later in the day, she was tired and wasn’t sure it was the best time to pose for a picture. I promised her not to use it, so here’s just a picture of the stand:

40 notes perfume

40 Notes at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Those beautiful green and gold paper boxes are sample sets. Since perfumes are oils they are expensive. While I understand $5+ for 1 ml, there was just one perfume in the line to which I was immediately attracted so I just couldn’t justify paying $40 for the sample set. Maybe I should have… Well, I have time to think about it since those can be ordered from the website.

Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Perfumery

Velvet And Sweet Pea's Perfumery at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Leila Castle Botanical Fragrance

Leila Castle Botanical Fragrance at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

smell bent

SmellBent at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Smells & Bells Organics

Smells And Bells Organics at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Rebel & Mercury Pure Botanical Perfumes

Rebel & Mercury Pure Botanical Perfumes at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

Sarah Horowitz Parfums

Sarah Horowitz Parfums at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon


Persephenie at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

One more brand that decided to use glass as a medium for perfumes testing (though it bothered me a little that there was three glasses of one form and one of another). If I ever come across this line I’ll test it more: I was too tired by the time I got to them.

And, finally, there was one brand new brand that launched that day at the Fragrance Salon – Cognoscenti. There are just three perfumes in the line (that is how brands/lines should be launched!) and I liked one of them enough to put on the skin. I will test all three more and see if I have a story to tell.

COGNOSCENTI, perfumer Danniel Sergent

Cognoscenti at SF First Artisan Fragrance Salon

There were several more stands – Ayala Moriel Parfums, Divine Life Perfume and Parfums DelRae but my pictures of those tables are too blurry to share.

I enjoyed the event: friendly and warm atmosphere, beautifully decorated stands and an unimaginable variety of perfumes, perfumed oils, body products and other scent-related items.

On the negative side – music in some areas was too loud, it was hard talking to people; too many perfumes were sprayed in the area without a proper ventilation and just simply NOT ENOUGH TIME to try even brands about which I knew before – leave alone completely new ones. But I really tried.

I hope this will actually become an annual event because I want to go to the next one already.

Images: my own

(Open)Sky is the limit?


Sometimes a small stupid thing rubs you the wrong way, you keep thinking about it and just can’t let it go. Usually I let it steep for a while and then just drop it. But sometimes I feel like I still want to say something. This is one of those cases.

Many popular perfume blogs published recently information about the upcoming Chandler Burr’s project, which he runs under the umbrella of a “social shopping” (whatever it means) site I won’t repeat PR information but if you somehow missed all the postings about this project I refer you to the post on Olfactoria’s Travels from which I learned about it first.

 Sky and palm

The idea

For anybody whose interests are in the perfume field the idea of a blind sniffing isn’t new. Basenotes monthly blind sniff threads come to mind (e.g. March Blind Sniff Orient Express – The Red Line). Earlier this year I read about Blind Sniff Roulette: pronti, via! Ready to go! project at La gardenia nell’occhiello blog (you can read also Christos’ story Pomegranate Noir: the joy of blind sniffing revisited about his participation and re-discovery of one of his favorite perfumes). I even ran my own blind comparison projects (Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral and Déjà vu, Episode 3: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental vs. sandalwood jasmine). And these are just off the top of my head. Why do we all it? Because we know that we’re susceptible to external factors (brand, packaging, LT&TC’s opinion, you name it) and are curious how we’ll feel about the scent if we remove any surrounding noise.


The implementation

“Definitely let me hear from you. Keep in mind, please: This isn’t about guessing what the fragrance is. The point is the experience of a work of olfactory art on your arm without a name or anything other than what the artist set, in its purest state, before you. So gives us that experience.”

Does anybody need a 50 ml bottle to experience “a work of art” on their arm? Let’s say it together: NO!

I usually complain about 50 ml of the perfumes that I know I like…Why on Earth would I want to pay $50 (+$3.75 S&H) for an unknown scent? To prove what? Chanel No 5 and Shalimar are extremely well made and beautiful perfumes – with or without the packaging and marketing hoopla. But I wouldn’t want to wear any one of them even if I got them for free – leave alone paid for an ugly decant bottle.

Just to make it even more real, would you want to pay $50 for a decant of Paris by YSL, Le De by Givenchy, Calyx by Prescriptives or Cologne by Thierry Mugler? I didn’t just come up with those perfumes – I got them from different Burr’s articles where he gave those very high ratings.

On Birgit’s blog the argument was made that Art can’t live without money. I completely agree that art requires investments! And I do not mind paying for going to a gallery or an exhibition. And I wouldn’t mind paying for a carefully curated blind sniffing art project: ten 3-5 ml unidentified sample bottles for $50-$60; plus an option to buy an actual manufacturer bottle of the perfume you liked for an offered price but still not knowing the name. I understand that a shopping site is supposed to generate an income to those who run it so actual names might not be revealed for some time (more than a month) to prevent people from going and finding them cheaper somewhere else. Something along these lines might have intrigued me enough to gamble.


“Don’t trust anybody. Trust me. “

I do not think Chandler Burr is in this project for money (we’re talking about $5,000/month revenue even if all 100 decants will be sold – it’s nothing). But it’s definitely not for the art. This probably is Art. OpenSky is commerce. And marketing. And publicity: see, we are talking about it.

So, buyers shouldn’t be influenced by brands’ ad copies, clips, packaging and names. They should doubt their own perception of a perfume because it’s distorted by “sensory noise”. But it’s OK to buy a 50 ml (sorry, I can’t get past it) bottle because Chandler Burr said that “it’s one of the few scents I know that smells like a state of grace” and that it is “almost unnervingly perfect. It has an astonishing olfactory texture, soft, cool, precise.” Because it’s not like he’s trying to sell them anything, right?


Dark Amber & Ginger Lily is back

In June I featured Dark Amber & Ginger Lily by Jo Malone, a part of a limited edition Kohdo Wood Collection, in one of the episodes of my weeklong test drive of the brand. Back then the perfume was long sold out but rumored to be brought back eventually. This time rumors proved to be true.

Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger LilyJo Malone re-introduced Dark Amber & Ginger Lily as a part of their permanent Cologne Intense Collection. This is good news. Bad news is that this collection comes only in 100 ml bottles (goodbye to my dream of getting that cute 30 ml black bottle) and most stores in the U.S. that carry Jo Malone line do not offer the Intense Collection. But if you know and like that perfume you can order it from Jo Malone official website.