Chanel Coco: Mam’selle’s Gothic Mama


It’s almost unbelievable to me that until today I had not tried Chanel Coco. Or maybe I should correct that and say I did not try it alone, but with four other scents and therefore could not pick it out of an identity parade.  Today I wore it alone after testing it in a small branch of a regional chain of pharmacies called the Mayberry Pharmacy ( see note) It is indeed the Gothic mother of popular girl Coco Mademoiselle, (the white lidded lovely which walks off the shelves wherever it’s sold).  It’s hard to believe that Coco begat Mademoiselle when Coco is all darkness and enigma.

First of all, I’d just like to say that I love Chanel Coco. I’m not massively keen on Coco Mademoiselle, although it smells good on those who wear it (but not I Sir), but Coco is another story.

I could tell you about the list of top notes and middle notes, but frankly, it’s the base notes that barge in and make themselves comfortable, sitting right in the middle of the flower bed and staying put.

Rich in cloves, Amber, and Smoky dark eyed Myrrh, the Mimosa, Roses and Jasmine are smoked to sepia petals and papery dry by the time the long, long basenotes kick in.

nd.611 At first spray this reminded me of Givenchy Ysatis in so far as it’s a high pitched, powdery old fashioned chypre, at least to begin with. I was pleasantly surprised that this High Street wonder smelled like something from the 1930s, whilst competing with the likes of Opium and Cinnabar from the 1980s.

This rich, heady Oriental has a Lutens like whiff of rum sodden fruit (I may be thinking about Serge Lutens Arabie), although no fruit is present. Longevity is long and clingy, like Velcro. The finish is rich, heady and powdery, with a peekaboo of leathery whispers.

I find it odd that this seems to be so unloved.  It’s flanker Mademoiselle sells steadily year after year and even Coco Noir has a respectable following, but Coco seems to be the difficult second album.  Whatever, gimme, I love it.  Out of all the Orientals on the market, Coco, I choose you, and that’s saying something as there are a lot of you out there.


You can buy Chanel Coco Eau de Parfum from John Lewis or Debenhams to name but two. It’s widely available and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding some.

Note– the Mayberry Pharmacy is a perfume lover’s delight.  This one was in Blackwood South Wales which I ended up in quite by accident today.  Just to prove what kind of swoony treasure I found there, here’s an example:  Alyssa Ashley Green Tea Extract at 9.99GBP (so rare I had never ever seen it anywhere), and Tom Ford White Patchouli 30mls at only 25GBP!!! And many others that I couldn’t remember because I had my mouth open and went all starry eyed.  It just goes to prove that no matter where you go, you never know when lightning might strike.


11 thoughts on “Chanel Coco: Mam’selle’s Gothic Mama”

  1. Oh this is my number one, all time favourite of favourites! Nothing else will ever come close. It all started in the 80s, when I was a little girl and my auntie held fabulous yearly Boxing Day parties. A few years ago when I first fell down the perfume rabbit hole, I decided to give Coco a try in Boots and was taken straight back to the Christmas of my childhood- it was my auntie’s perfume and I recognised it instantly. Absolute love : ) love the sound of this pharmacy too, I’ll have to take a drive down there! Also reminds me- there is a fab old chemist in Monmouth stocking many a drugstore classic including Jovan Musk.

    1. Hi Fuzzy! Always a pleasure when you drop by! I shall definitely plan a trip to Monmouth. The most unassuming pharmacy can have incredible treasure. H Shackleton in Abergavenny is another good one- loads of Occitiane, Roger et Gallet, Chanel, the new Balmain- it’s impossible to leave without buying something.

      As for Coco- it’s a must have isn’t it? Whilst i like Orientals, I haven’t felt the need to own Opium or Cinnabar the way I felt a need to own Coco. That’s a lovely memory about your Auntie. I love when perfumes inspire a memory or story.

      best wishes

  2. I LOVE this perfume,I first caught its scent in a department store on a lady who wafted by on its cloud ,I followed her tapped her on the shoulder and said ‘what is that glorious perfume you are wearing, it’s lovely,I then went straight to the perfume dept. and bought some .I have had it in my perfume wardrobe ever since .

    1. Hi Aileen,

      I love that story! You know it’s right when you buy it within minutes of smelling it. Coco seems to be the unloved sister but I adore it and think it knocks spots off other Orientals.

      best wishes

  3. I do love Coco – while I singlehandedly kept YSL afloat in the 80s with my purchases of vats o’ Opium, Coco found it’s way onto my skin too. I recently found a sealed vintage 80s bottle at an estate sale that smells just as good as it did back then. But I unashamedly loathe the hideous CM – I have a friend who wears it and when we meet and she hugs me, it clings to me like the Velcro you mention until I can jump in the shower in utter relief… 🙂

    1. Hi Sally and thanks for dropping by. Ah yes the ubiquitous Coco Mademoiselle! I smell it every day on different people wherever I go. It’s funny how it’s meant to be a flanker of Coco as they are not remotely alike! Give me Coco over CM anyday!

      best wishes

  4. Have you tried the original Coco (ie:vintage/when it first debuted)? Somewhere on this blog I wrote in the comments about when Coco first came out and it was gifted to me by my beau at the time….I wore it out of obligation but didn’t love it…fast forward twenty plus years later I found the empty bottle in my basement and managed to eek out one spritz and nearly swooned! I guess my tastes had changed….however, in searching it out I sampled what is selling at my local Sephora…it doesn’t seem to smell the same and I was disappointed. Do you know if it has been reformulated?

    1. Hi justbreathe and thanks for dropping by.

      I don’t know if it has been reformulated but it wouldn’t surprise me. IFRA regualtions swooped in at some point and stopped everyone using real life oakmoss among other things, so I think a lot of perfumes smell different pre and post IFRA, (which is my roundabout way of saying I don’t know what year this all happened!)

      I am jealous of your original vintage though. I best its very fine indeed!

  5. I remember smelling this waaay back in my youth, and not appreciating the rich florals and that fruity quality you noted. (Opium I loved immediately.) Now I think it’s beautiful and plush. Maybe that’s its problem–it doesn’t appeal to teenagers.

    1. Hi Laurels,

      I think you might be on to something there. It doesn’t appeal to teenagers. They are a huge part of the fragrance market and that might explain why all our teeth fall out when sniffing a Britney or a Taylor Swift!

      Meanwhile us “oldies” (over 18s) are off sniffing the classics!

      best wishes

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