It is hot and humid. Lilies, hydrangeas, magnolia trees in full bloom : the torpid, leaf-tinged breeze bringing with it the scent of clouds; moisture, undergrowth, chlorophyll.

What could be more perfect in these close, sweaty evenings than to come home, shower, and find a stash of miniature vintage perfumes bought for a penny on the kitchen table? Shiseido Masumi, Soir De Paris Bourjois (never experienced except in parfum before: I love the aspirin / medicinal Savlon smell of it), a mini Nº19 edt….. but best of all, the green, delicate, chypric enigma that is Coriandre By Jean Paul Couturier.

Coriandre, in extrait, never quite clicked with me: the rose too dense and syrup-deep red; too concentrated, oily; insufficient freshness. The small eau de toilette D brought home for me the other night, however, is clearly the correct strength of this cooling, wily antidote: a perturbing, aphidic anointment of herbaceous angelica and coriander, drawn like a grass-skeined floral veil over a classic – (but light , this really goes with the June rains) – delicately chypric base of patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, civet, and musk. In edt, Coriandre is a dignifying, and distancing, scent that refreshes the senses: reaching out, and definitely ‘chic’; while also still retaining some privacy. I need a full bottle.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Truc N.

    Those Coriandre bottles are so cute and squat. I remember that tiny parfum you found at Salvation Army once.

  2. All is yeasty-beasty, muggy-buggy, fetid and festering this June Monsoon on the banks of the great, grey-green, greasy Gandaki River all set about with fever-trees, O Best Beloved.
    One of my mom’s sisters used to wear Coriandre. I had completely forgotten about it. Chanel No 19 & Lancome’s Magie Noire were her other 2 faves. Dignifying and distancing would describe her personality well, as would her white pantsuits and church lady sandals. I am certain she was appalled by my mom’s penchant for Giorgio and Bibi wearing her trendy 90s ethyl maltol bombs.

    • This, as everything you write, is pure gold. I actually really love Giorgio, but am more the Magie Noire / 19 dame in question. This is my favourite genre of perfumery. No question.

      How did she smell, though? To me, there is something slightly ‘wrong’ about Coriandre. I know this. I accept it. But I love that point nonetheless. And am thus, in all probability, nothing but a sad, deluded, snobbish sicko.

    • Ps. At least you are still alive.

      What is the vaccination scenario chez vous? Mine is TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      My clothes are already tinted with 19. I am thinking about wearing Coriandre as a top up . Because why the fuck not?

      • Thank you!
        My aunt smelled mostly of Virginia Slims cigarettes and the Elnette hairspray that she plastered her over-dyed brunette chignon. Coriandre seemed sophisticated and serene on her, despite the smoke and musky shellac. Her shoes and handbags always matched. But she had the smack on the entire central California country club set!
        I do recall being surprised when I first sampled Coriandre edt in the 90s. I was expecting the carrot-like greenness of the fresh herb. The fragrance was more about the citrusy pine terpenes of the seed or spice. I know what you mean about something being off in Coriandre, for me it’s the sulfurous and garlicky note of asafoetida. It is subtle and slight, just enough to warm up the florals and give it an animatic tinge along with the civet. But on me the rotten egg facet of the asafoetida stands out. Still, I have smelled it on other people and it’s not bothersome.
        There is still a vaccine shortage here in Nepal. China is stepping in to supply vaccine as India reneged on its vaccine contract with Nepal. Vaccinations are being limited to Nepalis over 60 years old. Lockdown is being eased even though cases and deaths aren’t going down. I spoke to the head of a local teaching hospital, he said we have nothing to give Covid patients other than paracetamol and oxygen. Everyone is just resigned to the 2% death rate it seems. The bigger tragedy now is that half of Nepalis have lost their jobs, elderly are choosing to die at home rather than saddle their families with hospital debt. Food scarcity is becoming a problem for most, prices are rising too. I’m just going to skate by on my Covid antibodies that are hopefully still hanging around since last October. I’ll wait to be vaccinated on my next trip to the USA. I would prefer an elderly Nepali get the benefit of any vaccine available now.

  3. Robin

    This is an incredible description of Coriandre and that’s terrific that you own an excellent specimen, Neil. Exciting to think you’ve got a multitude of drops to enjoy on your skin.

    I tried Coriandre on and off for years and years when I was young but I couldn’t ever get onboard with it. There was something a teensy bit sour and greenly, herbaceously medicinal about it, vaguely vegetal and certainly sharp. I know I don’t always get along with angelica, and wondering if that’s the culprit, combined with coriander seed. I kept going back to it because I was always attracted to green packaging signalling a green fragrance within, but something always wasn’t right.

    You make yours sound ravishing. Now I want to hunt down the vintage. I’ll probably never find it in Canada. Funny, Yendi just popped into my head and somehow related to Coriandre. Although I couldn’t come around to Coriandre I loved Yendi to bits.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Definitely vegetal, R: something not right. Morbid even. But there is something deadly chic about it that I am really enjoying. It takes me over to the other side. I even wore it to vaccination, perhaps tempting fate. As Bibi says, perhaps the asafoetida, which is a hideous ingredient all told. (I hope you get the vaccine soon, B, by the way: this situation in Nepal is atrocious -all the best).

  4. I have worn and adored Coriandre for as long as I can remember. I do not even recall how I was introduced to it, since my Mama di not wear it, neither did anyone else I knew back then, but I somehow managed to procure a bottle and have had it in my collection throughout the years. Of course I now purchase vintage when I can find it. It just brightens my day.
    I do agree that the parfum has something much more intense lurking around in its depths than the edt. I love both versions equally though, how can I possibly choose between them.

  5. Tora

    I blind-bought a bottle of vintage Coriandre EDT after reading this, Neil. My very first and second thoughts were L’Arte de Gucci! This is easier to wear, a bit greener, and easier for summer. I know the herbal aspects influence the cooling nature of this but I can’t detect them exactly. Thank you for the review, I am enjoying this!

    • Oh good. Great to hear. It’s a tad strange; a tad cerebral ; a tad detached – quite nice, no ? Peculiar but I think I could become obsessed with it when I need to feel a bit elegant and removed. The use of patchouli is quite sublime in my opinion.

  6. smokeytoes

    I’ve loved Coriandre for years. I love rose/chypres, in all their forms, since I was a child. This, Knowing, L’ Arte di Gucci, Gucci No. 3, and Aromatics Elixir share the same DNA, roses over a patchouli/chypre base, exquisitely balanced. Coriandre stands alone in that it’s uniquely refreshing and herbal, perfect for hot summer weather.

  7. I was looking in your book for a review of DS & Durga’s “Coriander” which I just purchased. There wasn’t any. But I found this Jean Couturier’s “Coriandre” under the chapter heading Chyrpe. I wonder if there is any similarity between “Coriandre” and “Coriander” and how you might classify DS&Durga.

    • Hi. I am not sure I have ever smelled the DS & Durga, to be honest – or maybe just in passing. Couturier’s is more of a rose with herbal facets and patchouli; very of its day. DS tend to be quite bright and vibrant and very modern. Are you enjoying it? I like their Cowboy Grass.

      • Ironically, I have had Cowboy Grass for several years. I purchased it for a ridiculously low price of $27 from a “going out of business” store. I don’t really care for it, as it is very dry, grassy, etc. I

        The Coriander however, sparkles. It is subtle, herbal, with just a hint of spice. It might be a great scent for Japan, which you have said is allergic to strong smells. Because this one is really under the radar. I think it would be perfect for very hot days too.

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