Scentzilla! » I Sincerely ♥ the 80s

I Sincerely ♥ the 80s

By Scentzilla!

One of the funnier quirks of hindsight is that despite its much vaunted 20/20 vision, it turns out hindsight still suffers from glaring blindspots.

It’s too easy, and lazy, to dismiss all those infamous 80s fragrances as stentorian blasts at the nose. So they were loud. So what. Were any of ‘em good?

Coco Ad, with model Ines de la FressageI would suggest that, yes, two decades later, some of them deserve a new appreciation.

One that ought to be revisited by those who survived the big hair, shoulder pads, and the egregious overuse of Nagel prints in the 80s is Chanel’s Coco. It’s no Chanel No. 5, but then No. 5 is so iconic as to defy fair comparisons with any of Chanel’s other fragrances.

Coco was released in 1984, its creation credited to perfumer Jacques Polge. Notes include mandarine, orange blossom, Bulgerian rose, jasmine, tonka, sandalwood, incense, leather, musk ambrette, and vanilla.

Coco arrives on the skin like a cartoon snowball doomed to tumble down the mountain into an avalanche. The force of it runs contrary to the current fad of light weightless fragrances. Yet sometimes we need a little rumbling, something to disturb the peace.

Worn judiciously, it conveys not only power, but elegance. I would argue that a quiet sense of cozy warmth hides somewhere inside the composition, as well. While Coco’s vanillic lilt lends that coziness, I would be loathe to characterize this perfume as just another vanilla.

The three concentrations of Coco all vary enough to warrant mention of those differences. All are appealing in their own ways.

The eau de toilette is predictably thinner, but neatly shows off the drier qualities of the fragrance, which gives it a rather leathery feel. It may perhaps be the most comfortable choice for men to wear out of the three.

The eau de parfum wears as sweeter, with more enjoyably spicy connotations. The heart of the edp smells like flowers run through a juice machine. I like the edt, but the edp better satisifies cravings for a rich fall fragrance.

And then… there’s the parfum. Oh my. It’s so strong as to be quite nearly terrifying. The sweetness is there in spades, and the powder evolves into the smell of pulverized cream cake soap. Darker tones in the base come across as sweetly resinous. The drydown invokes incense generally and sweet myrrh specifically, as well as calling to mind the aroma of old leather handbags. The spiciness plays softly in the parfum, noticable yet not particularly predominate.

I cannot recommend any one version of Coco over the others. (Though I am willing to dissuade folks from buying Coco Mlle. in lieu of Coco. Please.) They are all fine choices - depending on personal preference. I happen to be currently wearing the parfum, but when that runs out - who knows which I will choose next? I rather like them all.

15 Responses to this post

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15 Responses to this post
  1. Patty Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 6:34 am

    Oh, I adore Coco! Nothing is quite the same as this. I gave my parfum to my sister, for reasons that I can’t quite remember now. I need to get more!

  2. Tania Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 8:02 am

    Ines de la Fressange: you know a woman must be lovely when it is evident even crowned by the poodle hair of the ’80s. When my mother permed my bangs with the Ogilvie home kit, I am sure this was her intent, but sadly, the effect proved only that I am not quite as lovely as Ines here.

    Of that genre (the Opium-inspired ambery orientals), I think Coco was far better than, say, Obsession or Samsara. But still a bit Long Island mama for me.

    So…what about Giorgio?

  3. violetnoir Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 9:19 am

    I love Coco EdP, but when I find it a bit overpowering, or I want to wear it in warmer weather, I layer it with Coco Mlle. Yep, Coco Mlle. on top of the Coco. No, I would not wear Coco Mlle. by itself, but over the Coco, it smells divine. :)

  4. flor Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 9:54 am

    I have a thing for Chanel perfumes. I love LOVE Chanel 19, I love Cristalle, Chance, Allure, No 5, Gardenia, and Coco Mlle. The one I just can’t connect with is Coco. I have tried to love it, but every time I put it on, it’s too big for me. It has all the notes I would normally love, and I do appreciate the “pulverized cream cake soap” reference as I get that too. I believe in time I may come to like it - maybe in 10 years or so. Right now it’s a bit much. BTW, I am an 80’s child all the way, and while I recognize it was a very tacky era - we had so much fun, didn’t we?

  5. Robin Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 9:56 am

    K, do you hate Coco Mlle, or just not like it as well as Coco?

    Perfect image, by the way!

  6. sybil Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    Whoohoo, a blast from the past. I actually used to wear it (don’t recall which strength, though…). I found/find it less common and less fumy (is that a word?) than Poison and Giorgio. I tried Coco Mademoiselle and was naively shocked that it smelled nothing-NOTHING-like Coco.

  7. Scentzilla! Said:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    Patty, ooooh, nice sister you are! I bet she appreciated that like crazy. I saw a decent deal for the parfum on one of the discount sites a while back, wish I could remember which one, though :(

    Tbone, oh good lord, the Ogilvie home perms! ACH! I somehow managed to escape those, primarily I think because my mother insisted on my having feathered hair (seriously, it was winged and scary) though she’d often have her own permed and it was… well, even a poodle would have pitied my mom’s coif. Her hair is naturally wiry, which resulted in a, um, pubic looking mass. I hope you at least escaped that fate. My favorite thing about Ines were her eyebrows - the most artfully sculpted furry caterpillars ever. Giorgio… god, I haven’t revisted that one on my own skin in years - maybe since the actual 80s come to think of it. If nothing else, I should try it out again just for shits and giggles.

    violetnoir, wow, that sounds like of those “it’s so crazy it just might work” plans from the A-Team. Does Coco Mlle. wear patchouli-heavy on you? I can see that for cooler weather, but in warmer weather I’d never carry that combo off successfully. You must have that sort of chemistry that can take on challenges. I have to try that now just to find out for myself - thanks!

    flor, the 80s were fun. Not to say there aren’t silly things going on in fashion now, but the rather ballsy unconcern over tackiness was so enjoyable compared to the calculated cool and anal self-awareness we’re all supposed to have now in the noughties. I miss that. Coco is awfully big, yeah… and sometims it’s hard not to miss that.

    Robin, you know I really disliked Mlle. at first, but I’ve grown to appreciate what others see in it. But, no, it’s not really a personal like for me. It’s such a different creature than Coco, and I think it’s a mistake for folks to pick it with the idea that it’s going to be an “updated” or lighter version, when in fact it’s got a whole ‘nother thing going on.

    Sybil, hehe, if you say “fumy” is a word, then it is one. I don’t trust people who don’t make up their own words from time to time, anyhow :) My memories of Giorgio are rather distant, and I almost never catch a whiff of it from people passing by me on the street anymore. Poison is in a class by itself, though. That’s a good idea for my next post, though - thank you.

  8. chayaruchama Said:
    October 4th, 2006 at 7:40 am

    Dear, oh dear…
    The 80’s-sigh-
    Ines IS a stunner, with brains to match…
    Fun post, Robin.
    Like the parfum myself- yeah, it’s big and showy…what the hell?

    Did someone say Giorgio? [begins to gag on own vomit…]

    A part of the 80’s I DON’T miss..
    and a primary source of elevator asphyxia everywhere, I’ll warrant…

  9. Scentzilla! Said:
    October 4th, 2006 at 9:16 am

    Chaya, I’ve not worn Giorgio in soooo long - my memories of it sound just like yours. I’ve caught the stray whiff now and then on people on the street, though, but that’s about the extent of it. Eh, I might try it out on my own skin sometime - schadenfreude and all, you know :P

  10. Marissa Said:
    October 4th, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Hello! A while back, I won one of your contests and received a lovely sample package - many thanks again! One of the samples was Givenchy’s Organza Indecence, which I was very sad to find had been discontinued. I have used it many times and received so many compliments. However - I recently found it at Ulta! Bought a bottle today, and it smells the same to me. Just wanted to let you know, since I remember you writing that you liked it a great deal.

  11. Scentzilla! Said:
    October 5th, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Marissa, oh I’m so glad you dug it :) The rumor that it’s been discontinued is just that, so good to hear it’s still being found on the shelves in places. And of course, once again you are so welcome!

  12. dinazad Said:
    October 6th, 2006 at 12:34 am

    I missed Coco completely in the eighties (I missed most perfumes in the eighties, I didn’t become an addict unti lately) and only discovered it last year. I adore it’s neo-baroque opulence - we don’t get nearly enough of that these days! Giorgio on the other hand smells like dried blood. Yuck…..

  13. Andy Said:
    October 8th, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Great image! look at the blue gloves….And looking back at the loud eighties in comparision to the psst! 00’s (today): We got so hush-hush modest, clean and desperately trying to please. Ah… I want my eighties back.

  14. Greatsheelephant Said:
    October 11th, 2006 at 7:52 am

    Ines de la Fressange - that’s who Erin O’connor reminds me of.

    This was a helpful post - I’m trying to decide between Coco edp and edit. Sounds like the edt for me.

  15. Scentzilla! Said:
    October 12th, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    dinazad, oooh, I like that: neo-baroque. Very fitting description. I missed out on Coco during the 80s, too, and only really discovered it a couple years ago. Glad to see it’s got it’s fans still.

    Andy, yeah, it is a rather pssst era. I think that’s going to change again (it’s all so cyclical, really) so hopefully whatever is next fashion-wise will be a little more fun. Though admittedly, I am personally hoping the big poodle hair doesn’t come back ;-P

    Greatsheelephant, I can see the resemblence, yeah! Hope the edt is a good fit, and my description meets up with your own perceptions of it :)

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