Coco Eau de Toilette (Chanel)

One of the oft-spoken truths about postmodern perfumery is that the difference in concentration between a perfume's Eau de Parfum and its Eau de Toilette counterpart undoubtedly equates to a difference in structure. Yes, both concentrations share the same name, but in actuality they're two different fragrances altogether. Sometimes the differences are subtle, not played-up in any overt manner, and are merely examples of how a particular fragrance profile can vary (Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water are good examples - I've always felt that the latter is the EDT version of the former). In the case of Chanel, the differences can be more extreme. Coco EDP is a rich, dense, fruity, spicy oriental, big-boned and big-haired in a darkly eighties tradition. I have little use for that concentration, but the EDT is more accessible and easier to wear. Neither version fits my personal style, but the design aesthetic of Coco EDT is something I admire.

The original perfume was Jacques Polge's first creation for the house of Chanel, and as such reads as a Big Bang theorem on his stylistic trajectory with the company. He started working with all of his hallmark signature notes crammed together in Coco's gravity-challenged tapestry, and as his design sense evolved, these elements dispersed and often became the centers of their own separate universes. Just look at how Polge handles synthetic patchouli today, compared to thirty years ago. Ditto for stewed stone fruits, resins, and even aldehydes. Allure, Chance, and Coco Mademoiselle all bear some relation to the original Coco, and I find it fascinating that this famous nose has never directly addressed his ever more casual approach to structure and composition. If Chanel's notes-as-cosmic gases keep expanding away from each other like this, Polge's work will someday become indistinguishable from Jean-Claude Ellena's.

I can smell a semblance of this in Coco EDT. It opens with the usual pop of aldehydes, but enters fuzzy, "Chanel-esque" territory very quickly, with transparent and dry-sweet notes of opoponax and myrrh supporting a looser semblance of the parfum's amber. Unlike Coco EDP, the EDT's amber has a dryer, cooler aspect, and never feels overwrought. I don't get much citrus out of the EDT, but if I exhale from a sniff close to skin, I get a slight orange note, and perhaps a hint of peach. It's not a stretch to think the molecules found in citrus rinds were simply stripped of their fruity associations and molded into characterless aldehydes for this perfume. The floral notes are the least successful element, smelling neither green nor creamy, but rather aloof, flatly sweet, and powdery. This sends Coco's vibe into the granny zone for me, a place I rarely find myself. But every woman has her own skin chemistry and personal style, and there's no doubt that this lighter, fresher version of Coco, while different from its source material, satisfies those who understand it best. Expect seven hours of longevity and a good throw of three or four feet in projection, and apply sparingly - as with all Chanels, this one has punch.


  1. Nice review Brian👍 my girlfriend wears this and it smells divine on her. Probably my favourite womens perfume mmm so good. Has a slight sherbet nuance that is utterly addictive and unique.


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