Back when Chanel's Les Exclusifs came out, I wrote about Coromandel: "a modern oriental much in the vain of Prada and Allure Sensuelle, but one that I can stomach without gagging. If I happen to change my mind about it I will let you know. Promise".
Well, I haven't changed my mind. But since the patchouli series is still going, I thought I'll give it a more proper wearing and describe it in slightly more detail than before.
Coromandel has a funny name and is a thin, rather non inspiring oriental if there ever was one. Beginning with a floral-fruity mess that quickly leads to the patchouli premise everyone is hoping for, it does so with the assistance of agricultural-smelling molecules of upturned soil (geosmin?) that hints at less appetizing visions of sugar plums developing mold on the ground in late fall. Fruit and dirt might be a fertile combination, but not for the nose...
Once the chemicals quiet down, you can sense more of the patchouli, with what seems to have been its usual-accomplice (benzoin) and richer powdery vanillin that will pitch in only later.
I know Coromandel has its die-hard fans somewhere, but to me it was a very under-satisfying experience, even after the fruitsy notes left the stage. I would have expected something more polished, lacquered and poised with sophistication and depth - even if it has such a funny sounding name. In efforts to please the crowds, the result is less than pleasing and not quite befitting of the Chanel legacy. Pity, because I think it had a full potential of being one of those Chanel big-guns - Coco, for example; but instead tries to reach the younger audience of patchouli wannabes that can't tell musk from amber.