Chanel Coco Noir

Chanel Coco Noir

Venice possesses an otherworldliness. There’s the feeling when you’re there that time is fluid, that a 15th-century masquerade could emerge from the inky blackness at any moment. Echoing footsteps, the rhythmic and endless lapping of water; both continuing until you don’t hear them anymore, becoming part of you or rather you becoming part of it. That is Venice. It’s a ghostly, beautiful, sad and sensual place.

And it is, as the story goes, the darkly romantic place where Gabrielle Coco Chanel went to mourn the loss of her one true love, Boy Capel.

“The Venetian night simply confirmed what she already knew,” say the historians at the iconic French fashion and fragrance house, that “for the moon and stars to be beautiful, they had to be absorbed and transformed by the water and the sky.”

So, svelte black against ornate, Byzantine flourishes. Dark masculinity and severe lines paired with details of extreme sensuality and femininity.

We are reminded that Chanel’s piled-on pearls and gilded cuffs would not have been nearly as striking or memorable had they not been worn with the most refinely cut jet-black jersey.

The juxtaposition is so Chanel.

And so Coco Noir, the new Oriental fragrance launching this month from the brand that Gabrielle built.

Where Chanel No.5 is considered by many to be Paris-in-a-bottle, Coco Noir is a luxurious perfume created by house perfumer Jacques Polge to evoke the grand romantic city of Venice, or rather Gabrielle Chanel in that grand romantic city.

Polge’s olfactory metaphor focuses on a Venetian play of shadow and light. Bright and lively notes (pink peppercorn and grapefruit, fresh white jasmine, rose and narcissus) sparkle against Coco Noir’s darkness (sandalwood, vetiver, frankincense, patchouli, vanilla, tonka bean and musk). To cut the opulence, the perfumer also laces in cedar and rose geranium leaf.

Not only is Coco Noir, the fragrance, worth collecting—desirable for its richness and relevance but also how it smells like we’ve always known it; a definite new classic—the perfume’s lacquered flacon is likewise covetable.

Sitting on a dressing table, one would notice Coco Noir’s glossy blackness and bold lines, but might not know if it was a man’s or woman’s toilette. That mystery seems part of the point, and the appeal of this new darkly elegant Chanel perfume.
—Deborah Fulsang

Chanel Coco Noir, $158 (100 ml),


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.