Chanel Coco Mademoiselle : Perfume and Dry Oil Review

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Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (2001), currently the USA’s top selling women’s fragrance, has little to do with the 1984 Coco fragrance it allegedly flanks. One isn’t related to the other, except from a marketing standpoint that has Coco Mademoiselle positioned to sell to young women and Coco aimed at an older crowd. Coco Mademoiselle is a patchouli scent that belongs to the species of Thierry Mugler Angel, the groundbreaking 1992 fruit and patchouli techno-gourmand that was responsible for many spin-offs, some of them flops and some of them, like Coco Mademoiselle, bestsellers.

The notes of Coco Mademoiselle–rose, jasmine, patchouli, lychee, orange, grapefruit, vetiver, vanilla, and musk–say absolutely nothing about the scent. It’s not possible to imagine what it smells like from that roster. So many of these notes are rendered completely abstract that what really jumps out is a greenish, herbal patchouli over which have been melted vanilla and the type of fruit syrups used to flavor water.

Until now I have been largely unable to wear Coco Mademoiselle because its sharp cotton candy-patchouli does not settle on my skin. But I recently noticed a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle dry oil spray on a Chanel counter. I adore dry oils, so I sprayed with abandon. “It’s sold out,” said the sales assistant. Of course! It was marvelous stuff, and was an instant replacement for the discontinued Touche Scintillante Elixir, which had previously been the only form of Coco Mademoiselle I could wear. The dry oil transformed Coco Mademoiselle into a soft veil of scent that within five minutes had gotten a huge rave from a fellow shopper. Her eyes widened as she asked me what this scent was and where she could buy it, now.

“It’s sold out,” I said.

Coco Mademoiselle features the same type of vaguely green and sticky patchouli used in Chance. It is this somewhat strident and sharp chord that has prevented me from truly appreciating the perfume. In the dry oil (properly “Velvet Body Oil Spray”) the note is tamped down from its greenness and rounded out with white musk and vanilla, with the smallest amount of vetiver roughing it up as a basenote and keeping the vanilla/musk from being too plastic and smooth. The gigantic abstract of the original, which suffused rose and jasmine with bergamot and orange, is given a much lower wattage in the oil version.

In the oil, the heightened artificiality of Coco Mademoisells isn’t as obvious. Now Coco Mademoiselle is no longer on an amped-up patchouli rampage, taking victims right and left in the manner of Angel. What remains is a soft-focus of the original, with all the notes appearing at the same time, glittering mildly off the skin in a way that can only be described as eminently pleasurable. I dislike describing fragrances as “sexy” (too highly subjective), but this one is, in a sneaky way that entices both sexes. I am now armed with enough feedback to know.

 

Coco Mademoiselle Velvet Body Oil Spray and perfume are available at chanel.com and at Chanel counters.

 

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38 Comments

  • Elena: I used to wear Coco Mlle. but don’t like it nearly enough anymore to replace my bottle which was broken. This sounds worth trying. I am snorting my coffee over the amped up patchouli rampage. I think the patchouli rampage is what makes Coco Mlle. unique and memorable, whether you like it or not. My mom (still!! ugh) wears straight patchouli oil, so maybe I have a higher tolerance for the stuff. August 10, 2012 at 7:57am Reply

    • Suzanna: Elena, I wear a few high-end patchoulis that smell great, but the patch in those is very smooth and “aged.” For whatever reason, Chanel’s patch used in the mainstream scents smells green, and the chemical vanilla sticky. Not so in the body oil! A combo of the soap and the body oil is sublime. August 10, 2012 at 8:03am Reply

      • smellslikeroses: You make the body oil sound so good! I’m not a fan of Coco Mlle, count me among those scared of its “patchouli rampage.” if the oil is softer, I would like it much better. August 10, 2012 at 9:00am Reply

        • Suzanna: It is–I’d not have recommended it otherwise since the perfume form is so difficult for me to wear. The body oil is sweeter and softer. I was very surprised to like it as much as I did! August 10, 2012 at 10:05am Reply

  • Austenfan: Coco Mademoiselle is a funny one for me. I have complimented others who were wearing it but have never wanted to wear it myself. The weird thing is it smells exactly the same on my own skin. Perhaps ‘for me it’s one of those fragrances that are nice to catch a whiff of, but too something to be worn by myself. Chance I find utterly dull.

    The one Angel spin-off that I wholeheartedly adore is the original Lolita. August 10, 2012 at 9:39am Reply

    • Suzanna: Austenfan, there are many Lolita fans around, and I am one! I’ve always had a bottle of it and I continue to wear it. Just lovely. August 10, 2012 at 10:06am Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: I must admit i am not a fan of coco mademoiselle. Something sharp in it seams to attack my sinuses, the same with Chance. But I will be interested to try the oil. I don t really like Chanel n 5 as it is too heady for me, but absolutely love the oil. So maybe….. Thank you for this.
    Anne August 10, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

    • Suzanna: You’re welcome, Anne. I think it’s the sharp patch that is bothering you, same as it bothered me. Give the oil a try and see if it works. I love dry oils and willingly try them in any scent I encounter. Lancome used to make a fantastic one. August 10, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

  • yomi: Patchouli is a note that is quite difficult note to tolerate for some. Interestingly this is what I posted about in your review – thinking is there too much patchouli in this scent or not? When as a perfumer one has created something that every one else loves but you as the creator notice a note or sensation that no one else seems to notice or minds.
    Some other notes when played up are wonderful. I love patchouli – but it needs a careful hand!
    Another note that I use yet sometimes wonder about but clients do not seem to mind is methyl Salicylate.
    Its in one of my fragrances – I smell it reminding me occasionally of heat balms – but the scent is our best selling male scents! I wear the fragrance (fresh energy cologne) with ease now and really love it! August 10, 2012 at 10:00am Reply

    • Suzanna: Yomi, thanks for weighing in with your perfumer comments. They are always much appreciated. I love patch, too, but I like mine to smell like aged liqueur with more than a small smoothing of vanilla. I don’t care for herbal treatment of patchouli, but rather like it smoothed out with amber or vanilla. August 10, 2012 at 10:08am Reply

  • Dan: I love when my mom wears Coco Modemoiselle. When I smelled it first time I thought: ‘this perfume is good only for much older women. Maybe for my grandma.’ But after some time I loved it.
    Now I think Coco Mademoiselle is perfect for my mom who is 43.
    And it lasts forever:) August 10, 2012 at 11:27am Reply

    • Suzanna: Dan, I don’t put age ranges on perfumes (and I am older than your mom!!!). I love it that you mom wears it. I bet it smells great on her. August 10, 2012 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Victoria: I always associated Coco Mademoiselle with young girls at my local mall who drenched themselves in it. But these days I smell it on pretty much everyone. It’s such a popular perfume. August 10, 2012 at 12:16pm Reply

        • Natasha: I agree! Its very popular among girls my age. (I’m still in college) When asked about their perfume, most girls would reply (rather gloatingly) “Oh, its..Chanel.”

          Because of its popularity, whenever I approach a Chanel counter and browse the perfumes, the SAs always insist on letting me smell Coco Mademoiselle. And when I want to buy no.19, they take the bottle away from me and say “Oh no, that’s for old ladies. Young girls like you wear Coco Mademoiselle!” August 10, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

          • Suzanna: Natasha–oh, the horror! The mention of old ladies and “young girls like you.”

            I agree about the gloating. I’ve heard it myself. But you never hear a college girl saying, Oh…it’s Guerlain. August 10, 2012 at 2:13pm Reply

            • Mimi: Shame, shame, shame on that SA. Why is the association of perfume and old ladies the kiss of death.

              I wore 19 in my late teens, early 20s before it was reformulated. Its advertisements were directed toward young women, unfortunately at middle age all I remember of them are the words devastatingly confident. Definitely an appeal to young women. August 11, 2012 at 4:12pm Reply

              • Suzanna: Mimi, I recall No. 19 being directed at twenty-somethings. Seemed to me it was marketed at young working women, or at least not young teens. August 11, 2012 at 9:01pm Reply

          • Elena: Yup. That was me buying my bottle at 19! Now that I am a little older and more confident and know more about perfumes, I would not choose it, but I will say it has more character than most mall offerings aimed at that set. To this day I would choose it over the vast majority of the heavily advertised perfumes at the counter, and as a non-perfumista, one doesn’t necessarily know that anything else or better exists! Maybe all these Mlle. wearers are merely trying the best or most interesting one out of a sea of boring stuff, and will eventually turn into perfumistas! August 10, 2012 at 10:34pm Reply

            • Suzanna: Elena, what with the proliferation of perfume blogs and magazine articles about fragrance, I imagine there may well be a new generation of perfumistas coming along! August 10, 2012 at 11:29pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Victoria, at my local mall they are drenched in American Eagle perfumes, and BBW. I don’t know anyone who wears Chanel anything here, except for me. August 10, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Natasha: Its funny but I was looking for coco mademoiselle reviews to read and here it is on the front page. I also do not like coco mademoiselle. Its too sweet! And extremely screechy! I get very bad headaches when I wear it.

    However, it smells lovely on my sister! When she passes by, I get a whiff of her fragrance and I will ask her about her perfume and it surprises me when she says its coco mademoiselle. Its a totally different creature on my sister.

    I should try the oil when I get a chance because I do like certain aspects of coco mademoiselle. Thanks for the heads up! August 10, 2012 at 12:42pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Natasha, you are welcome!

      Isn’t it funny how things smell different on different people? Sometimes I will ask someone about a scent and it will be a cotton-candy type of thing that just smells good on someone, and which I wouldn’t wear lest I smell like a county fair! August 10, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Daisy: I’m not a big fan of Coco Mademoiselle either. It’s so recognizable and everyone under the age of 25 seems to reek of it. Screechy is how I generally think about it.

    But your review of the dry oil sounds good. It’s such a shame is sold out! August 10, 2012 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Daisy, that did not stop me from ordering some from Nordstrom. It was only sold out in the one store. August 10, 2012 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Elisa: I think the drydown and the sillage of CM smell great, but the topnotes are so candy-sweet I’d never buy a bottle, especially when I have so many other more complex patchouli gourmands. The oil sounds so great though!! August 10, 2012 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Elisa, I agree that there are a lot of patchouli gourmands out there! Yes, the topnotes are pretty sweet, but it’s all subjective. I used to love sweet notes and now can’t deal with them. August 10, 2012 at 2:10pm Reply

  • annemariec: If the dry oil appeals to someone who normally can’t wear CM (I can’t either), I wonder if it will actually be a disappointment to wearers of the liquid perfume? Anyway, if I see this I will give it a go. Thanks for the review. August 10, 2012 at 6:26pm Reply

    • Suzanna: annemariec, I shouldn’t think it would be a disappointment. It’s a body product, and devotees will buy the whole range. August 10, 2012 at 11:30pm Reply

  • Apollonia: Wow! Lovely review as usual, Suzanna. I just bought my first bottle of Coco Mad last week with a gift card I had burning a hole in my purse. Love it! But when will we all stop the cliches of what “old ladies” and “grandmas” smell like? Or what the teeny-bopper set likes this week? I grant you that just maybe those of us who discovered patchouli oil in the 70’s (and musk and civet and sandalwood, aahh…..) are easy to pigeon-hole as far as our love of smoky, woody Orientals, but please don’t hold it against us! We can love Chloe and Lolita and Tresor in Love too! And some of us do! But if my Ambre Sultan and Femme give me away as a patchouli lover “of a certain age,” then so be it! I’ll smell darn good, whatever my age! August 10, 2012 at 6:32pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Appollonia, I’m in! Patchouli lover of a certain age. (There are actually a fair number of them where I live, so I’m in good company.)

      Remember those civet, musk, and ambergris perfumes? Didn’t Houbigant make a fabulous civet? August 10, 2012 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Andrea: At the risk of finding my new “must-always-have” is also sold out, I will share another dry oil discovery. It is Caudalie’s Divine Oil, and the name is not overstating things! It has roses, vanilla, musk… And it is scrumptious. When I wear it my skin is uber-soft! I hope they never stop making it… August 12, 2012 at 12:00am Reply

    • Suzanna: Andrea, I am googling this as fast as I can type it. Thanks! August 12, 2012 at 7:29am Reply

  • Mel: Coco mademoiselle was my first Chanel perfume… and also my favorite for quite a while. Its lovely when I was on the “right” side of my 20’s but I kind of moved on from it… onto No5, Coco, Bois des Iles, 31 Rue Cambon etc…

    I know age got nothing to do with scent… a 15yr old could love Opium… but I guess its all about taste, hey! September 10, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Suzanna: Mel, it’s all about personal preference, and for me what smells right at any given time. What causes something to smell right is a factor of many variables.

      Bois des Iles is my go-to “grown-up” Chanel. I have parfum and adore it. September 10, 2012 at 11:49am Reply

  • Moira: The Velvet Body Oil is available on Amazon. I’m intrigued to try it! The idea of a creamier, quieter Coco M. sounds lovely! July 6, 2013 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Lia: I’m 35yrs old I have just recently started to like and love coco mademoiselle. I agree with everyone who said that it causes headaches to the wearer but smells so magnificent on others. This is true to some extent if you apply too much. I did find myself getting a headache when I gave myself three sprays. But I noticed a wonderful difference one spray can do. It’s really potent that a little can go a long way. I shake my head sometimes to catch a whiff of it. On my skin, it smells sweet and musky but, there is a really breathtaking scent that is so attractive to the nose when you just catch a whiff of it. I think that’s what makes this fragrance interesting to some and quite demanding to sensitive noses ;-) September 5, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

  • Nati: Something happened to me which I cant understand: i have this perfume for about 2 years and although I liked it a bit, it bothered me without me knowing why, and now, suddenly I felt an urge to revisit it and Im finding it adorable!
    Why is that Suzanna?
    I dont understand myself! November 2, 2014 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Esra: When this first came out, I had a bottle. I have a feeling it doesn’t smell the same anymore. November 22, 2014 at 1:15pm Reply

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