Thursday October 4, 2012
By PATSY KAM
Chanel introduces a new mysterious and sensual interpretation to its oriental fragrance.
INTOXICATING and heady – oriental scents come on strong and sensual, and it takes a woman with a distinct personality indeed to be able to wear one and pull it off.
According to the fragrance wheel developed in 1983 by Michael Edwards (from the fragrance industry), there are four main classifications of perfumes: floral, oriental, woody and fresh.
Oriental fragrances often have amber as a dominant note, and are perceived as warm and sensual. Their bouquet can be opulent and sometimes overpowering even, as intense notes such as musk, wood, vanilla and exotic spices are often included.
In the past, such perfumes were thought to be old-fashioned and worn more by mature women. But in recent years, thanks to modern adaptations by perfumers, oriental scents are now associated with cloak and dagger encounters, with visions of beautiful women in stilettos.
Regarded as exotic and feminine, some of the popular orientals include the decadent Opium by Yves St Laurent, the sweet and luxurious Poison by Christian Dior and Shalimar by Guerlain, a very feminine oriental perfume.
Fragrance houses like Chanel have also introduced a French spin to the Orient with its oriental spicy Coco by Chanel in 1984. Warm and elegant, the key facet was clove and a very opulent white floral heart. It didn’t quite have that funky edge which some women craved and Chanel addressed this by coming up with Coco Mademoiselle (2001). Touted as independent and mischievous, the patchouli-laced Coco Mademoiselle certainly dispelled any notion one might have of elderly women, especially with Keira Knightley as the recent face of the fragrance.
Now, Chanel introduces its latest take on Coco, a new scent that’s poised between the two previous ones, called Coco Noir. Developed by perfumer Jacques Polge, the spirit of this fragrance is concentrated in its woody base and musky notes, and he believes that a fragrance, as individual as it may be, “can only exist because of those that came before it”.
When he creates an oriental fragrance, he chooses an Eau de Parfum (or Parfum) interpretation as opposed to an Eau de Toilette as it’s the creator’s first expression when composing an oriental. The interpretation is suited to a warmer, more enveloping and sensual fragrance with a more intense trail.
“The name, Noir (which means black in French), speaks radical, has an intense presence and enigmatic elegance. As one of the emblematic Chanel colours, black is at the very heart of the inspiration for this fragrance. The name was the obvious, natural choice,” he said in a press statement.
The early top notes of Calabrian bergamot and grapefruit arrest your senses at the fore, while the Absolute of jasmine, Absolute of rose, narcissus and rose geranium leaf make up the heart. The descend is a generous layer of Indonesian patchouli, Brazilian and Venezuelan tonka bean, bourbon vanilla, New Caledonian sandalwood and white musk frankincense.
Inspired by Venice and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s memories, Polge imagines the Noir woman to be seductive, mysterious and light-hearted. Gabrielle had travelled there to mourn the man she loved, Boy Capel, and drew her strength from the discovery of the city and all of the wonders it had to offer. The refinement of Byzantine art and sense of grandeur is retained, mirrored in both the scent and elegant black bottle.
Coco Noir is touted to be the “evocation of that woman in that city and all those women today who choose intensity over the bland norm; the detours of seduction over perfunctory exhibitionism, and true luxury over vulgarity”.
It is seen as a luminous (modern) oriental as it promises olfactory sensuality and warmth, and features compositions in which woods and notes of vanilla and balsam meld with spices. The oriental accord is retained, but the spicy notes are cooler.
Since new extraction methods have evolved, the materials have been made purer, lending the oriental newfound clarity and transparency.
>Coco Noir is available at all Chanel counters and boutiques, priced at RM340 (50ml) and RM500 (100ml).