Friday, March 18, 2011

Perfume Review: Jean Couturier Coriandre

Mia Farrow by Roddy McDowall

If you read yesterday you already know that I choose to wear Coriandre for St. Patrick's Day. But I'd forgotten how stunning this unusual perfume is!

Brit Ekland

Released in 1973 by Jean Couturier, Coriandre is a rosey-herbal chypre that stands out for it's uniqueness. A quirky blend of green notes, playing up wood and floral aspects of the spice Coriander, the tone is deceptively light. As sheer and transparent as any scent I have, it plays coming and going tricks with you and sticks around forever. The aldehydes and orange blossom of its opening segue directly into a floral heart dominated by rose, lily of the valley and geranium. Geranium lends a leafy, prickly lemon-green giving the scent a garden freshness. The lily of the valley picks up the lighter rose notes giving the scent a high pitch and nice lift. The floral character of the scent is reminiscent of buds and early blossoms still tinged with green. The bouquet is anchored with the vegetal muskiness and sharp spice of angelica and violet roots.

Jane Birkin
Coriander is the star of this scent- warm, vaguely nutty, spicy and citrus in flavor, coriander is technically made of the dried, crushed fruits of Cilantro or Chinese Parsley. The seeds pods of this plant are packed with linalool and pinene, which give this spice it's characteristic lemon/orange flavor.  Traditionally coriander is combined with cumin in Marsala and Indian curries; I add it to spice cake, pumpkin pie and the like. The light citrus and floral nuances add a delicately spicy, slightly orange-rose tone to baked goods. In Russia, coriander is sometimes used instead of rye as a flavoring in their hearty breads. EDIT: People who don't like Coriandre invariably object to the coriander. I wonder if there is any relationship between those who don't like coriander and those who perceive cilantro as having a soapy or rank taste? Cumin is commonly paired with coriander in Indian curries and some people report coriander smells like cumin but I don't find the two similar. 

The transparency of Coriandre really shines in the base where sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver are the stars of this modern, light green chypre scent. The warm, sultry sandalwood compliments a leafy-green patchouli and grassy vetiver. Clean white musk ties the base together, and adds a smooth and radiant finish. Any civet in this scent is far hidden from my nose and must be included only for its subliminal effects.


Coriandre smells modern, fresh, young, and optimistic with a boundless energy and enthusiasm. It is green yet spicy but light- breezy and flirty without being fruity or overtly sweet. Not an easy wear for everyone, it must interact very differently with an individual's skin chemistry. When it works, it's as sweet and happy as the first breath of fresh spring air.
Faye Dunaway

Top notes: aldehydes, coriander, orange blossom and angelica;
Middle notes: violet root, lily, jasmine, rose and geranium;
Base notes: sandalwood, patchouli, musk, civet, oakmoss and vetiver.

I have a mini of the pure parfum and a 1 ounce spray edt, both light in color. The malachite style box of the edt isn't dated , but the center badge is white, not gold, as is the juice. There is a sparsity of text and lack of bar codes on the box which reads:
Ingredients: Ethyl alcohol (A) Demineralized water (E) Fragrance (D) Colorings: none/ Parfums/ Jean Couturier/ 75008 Paris/ 30 ml - 90% volume - 1 fl oz.
Both the parfum and edt smell very similar, the perfume wears a little greener, the edt has more of the rose/powdery aspect.; they layer very well for those seeking a full wearing experience.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

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