The 1980's was full of big perfumes, and newly-appointed house perfumer at the time Jacques Polge needed to make a big perfume to compete with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent Opium (1977) or Giorgio Beverly Hills (1981). Already having achieved a new paragon of masculinity with Antaeus (1981), Polge needed to repeat a similar success in the feminine segment, an objective that eventually lead to the creation of Coco Chanel (1984). Obviously titled after the late Gabrielle Chanel's nickname, Coco was meant to channel the strength of will and businesswoman aesthetic of the house founder, and indeed contains the essence of her often-terse and condescending manner as well. Coco is not a friendly perfume, not happy, but full of the kind of bold animalic vigor that shoulderpad blouses and teased hair of the decade often signalled to hapless men who stood in the way of the take-charge middle class 80's woman. Polge blended both opulent florals and heady spices in a note-packed kitchen sink style similar to perfumes of the early 20th century, which was a rare move for a perfumer who would later become famous his conservative restraint and plush blending, making Coco as much a young "show-off piece" as Antaeus was.
There are simply too many notes to sift through them all, but the opening of Coco demonstrates a similar aldehyde rush as the legendary No. 5 (1921), but with angelica, pimento, frangipani, and mandarin giving a sweet zing that is very feminine and fruity in the start. The very indolic heart of jasmine, rose, tuberose, cascarilla (coffee seeds) and neroli is delicious, with some iris and ylang-ylang to sharpen things up. Midway through this veers gender neutral and curious men who love animalic perfumes will start finding reward in Coco at about this point. Heavy animalic honeyed sourness of civet and styrax merge with incense elements of opoponax, olibanum, sandalwood, musk, and patchouli, while labdanum, oakmoss, and vetiver bring in a chypre-like golden focus near the end. I can't always discern which notes are doing what as stated above, but knowing the characters of each and how they mingle, the "big picture" Jacques Polge paints isn't hard to see. This is a fruity floral oriental animalic chimera which comes in disarmingly saccharin sweet at first before turning the lights down and bringing out the leather straps. Feminine to masculine, light to dark, friendly to Faustian, that was Gabrielle Coco Chanel in life, and that is also how her posthumous namesake perfume is as well.
This was likely an office perfume in the 80's, since everyone wore everything everywhere, but with the increased social consciousness of perfume use in the 21st century, Coco is best worn in evenings for romantic gatherings or just personal enjoyment. This oriental kaleidoscope works surprisingly well in all weather thanks to the brightness of the top and warmth of the heart, plus a lack of cloying notes like vanilla or tons of amber to cook on skin. Eau de Parfum is richer and more-suited to ladies, while the Eau de Toilette is sharper and a tad more raunchy, making it the better bet for men. Any version is suitable as a unisex oriental, but knowing CISHET predilections, I make my suggestions thus. Polge would settle into watery or fruity florals for women and ultra-blended semi-orientals or woody ambers and fougères for men through the rest of his career, but like with Antaeus, he really let the horses out of the stables with Coco, and it's wonderful; ravishing even. Time has taken its toll on some of the animalic heft in more recent batches of Coco, but all versions are still the strident "don't mess with my success" 80's estrogen bomb as intended, so go easy on the trigger when testing or wearing. Thumbs up!
Chanel Coco is the powerful business women. There are only a couple of people in the world on her level. She is the definition of command and control. In a field full of obnoxious, arrogant, ego centric people dominated by men and women alike, she is the only one who is of her kind. Gentle yet firm. Dressed in an obsidian Parisian chiffon clad flowy A-line dress imported from France, her long bare neck is embellished with a single Cartier diamond pendent, tiny dangly crystal encrusted drop earrings are adorning her ear lobes, shimmering under the glittering chandelier whenever she moves, she is dangerous but also elegant and has grace like no other. Her hair is luscious and smells intoxicating. However, get on her wrong side and you will see just how much power she truly has. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is not an employee but more of an employer. Executive of a Fortunes 500 Company, she does not play around. Having one assistant wont cut it when helping Coco run her enlarged empire, thats why her 3 assistants, Coco Noir, Allure EDP and Chance EDP are always present and ready. Ready to take on the world and accomplish whatever that needs to be accomplished. Even attending parties. Coco knows when to work and when to party and she wont deny her assistants the opportunity to strengthen business ties and have fun while doing so.
This is what I envision everytime I smell coco edp
It's all in the attitude. This may have been marketed for women but when it dries down, the notes bring a spiciness to it that makes it truly gender neutral if not eminently suitable as a masculine scent. A couple of spritzes to the chest does me nicely.