Tag Archives: Comptoir Sud Pacifique













Coconut is the airhead of perfumery; the fluffbomb; the beachy, pineappled ditz, and a note that seems to invite scorn from a large number of seasoned perfumists. When coconut is listed as a note in a perfume, there are many who seem to almost panic at its presumably nut-brained, bimbo IQ; its lithe, suntanned flesh, its sheer happiness, who must be assured that the coconut note in question is not too prevailing, that there is just a hint, isn’t there? (as in Olivia Giacobetti’s tastefully coconut-laced fig perfumes L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier and Philosokos); that its swaying, palm-fringed tropicalia will not infringe too much on their delicate, rose incensed senses.


I am quite the opposite. I love coconut. In food, in drinks, as perfume and incense, even to bathe in ( I use Phillippine coconut cooking oil once or twice a month for this purpose – it is fantastic for the skin), and I think, ultimately, that for some bizarre whim of destiny, I probably suit coconut scents more than any other (even vanilla included).  It is a smell I find comfortably effortless and pleasing, an aroma  that I love to emanate from my skin.  I find it nerve-binding; optimistic; an escape into easier, balmier climes and skies that let me breathe some relief and simple ease: to me it just smells delicious.


And so, as a committed coconut lover, and as a kind of coconut ‘coming out’, and as someone about to go on holiday to a place where coconut is in virtually everything (apparently the area of Java I am going to is famous for its rich, coconut laced dishes..) I present to you, here in brief, some of my lovely bunch of perfumery coconuts . If you know of any more worthwhile scents that any of us coconut lovers out there would be likely to enjoy, please do feel very free to share the hairy love.




















In my view, the best perfume bargain in the world.


I do not exaggerate. We all have a staple in our wardrobe, often one that is cheap for when the pricey and cherished stuff runs out or feels too precious for us to touch, and this happens to be mine. Coconut, yes; but not piña colada, or too creamy, or too synthetic, or ‘too’ anything.  Rather, this lovely perfume is a vanillic almond coconut, as cosy and pleasing as a big new white bean bag on the floor of a brand new apartment, and as comforting as your favourite coconut almond shampoo and conditioner ( I used Boots’ best for years at university, and this scent reminds me of its sweet, soothing perfume).

A scent of easy calmness and perfect balance, Noix De Coco, which I first discovered in Mexico City (YES! there is an Yves Rocher shop right next to our hotel…I will sneak in and buy loads of perfumes when Duncan is having a sleep!), and which seems to vary in colour from transparent to lactic cloud depending what country you find yourself in –  I personally prefer the latter, for the illusion of just-cracked fresh coconut milk –  may not be a complexly orchestrated, artistic ‘masterpiece’, but then it doesn’t need to be (and to me, to be honest, it probably smells nicer anyway: for the price of a bottle of By Kilian’s Playing With The Devil, for example, I could literally buy 20 bottles of this, and I know which one I would rather smell of).


I use Yves Rocher by itself, or sprayed on clothes, in summer or in winter (when it really cheers me up on a cold January day), or else I find it works as a delicious extender and mixer of other scents that either comprise a coconut note that you feel needs augmenting (Cacharel Loulou, Montale Intense Tiare, Givenchy Ysatis), or else a novel and unexpected addition for intrepid layering (Kouros works beautifully with this, as did, to my counterintuitive surprise, vintage Calèche parfum).


And at around 9 Euros for a 50ml bottle, an absurdly low price I think for such a pleasant scent, you can use this little coconut treasure as often, and as much, as you like.


I personally try to never be without it.







A more luxuriant, delectable, rounded and, amazingly, 100% natural, organic coconut is I love Coco, from Parisian outfit Honore Des Près.


This fleshy, almost airy, soil-drinking white coconut scent comes onto the skin living and breathing: the beachy breeze blowing through the rough hairs of its shell; the cool, milky inner chambers moist, threaded and full of essence. As the day goes on, the scent gets fattier, creamier, but nonetheless remains a real, caressing, high quality coconut perfume that in my view is one of the best on the market.






This is a sheer, coconut water for the moneyed and the rich; for the Russian-minted oligarch and his monogrammed tailored white shirts, sipping cocktails with his blonde, bodied consorts on the French Riveria. Elevated, fixed, a Creedishly silvery and dashing coconut note is cleverly and effortlessly shot through with an extended addendum of lime for summery, emphatic effect. Unusual, lingering, and strangely sexy, this is a scent with a definite vacational je ne sais quoi.






Probably the funniest scent in my collection, this unwearable party trick is a far less upmarket cocktail – more cheapo 18-30 Club Med – the lads and lasses chundering into the swimming pool  – than the immaculate, smooth-pressed, ‘beautiful’ yacht people above. I do kind of like this though : a syrupy, boiled sweet pineapple colada steeped in leeringly sweet, condensed, coconut juices that is always a fun way to get a party started ( ….”fancy a spritz?”)


(…party guests wailing and rushing for the bathroom in instantaneous, insulin shock…..)





I have been wearing G recently at work, and this scent is the only coconut I can imagine being suitable in the office. G is apparently what La Stefani herself wears, and I really like it too, a lot. Slim-lined, sheer, a touch ozonic; but a long-lasting, clear and surprisingly robust modern coconut perfume with an imperceptible, ‘green apple’ top note and a pleasant, but never acrid, woody, cedary base note that works as an excellent counterpoint for a workday, contemporary tropical. G  manages that desirable, but rarely adroitly accomplished, feat of persistent, idiosyncratic subtlety. It may be simplistic, but it is a scent that is executed without pretence and that does its job very efficiently. I have been very pleased with its performance.


There is also a special summer version, ‘G By The Sea’, available, which I am quite eager to get my  hands on as it is apparently more oceanic and tiare-laced than the original and sounds like the perfect summer perfume, though the chunky plastic mermaid (gargoyle in drag?) of the bottle will not be accompanying me to the classroom, I can tell you.  





When I first smelled this at Berlin’s KaDeWe department store a couple of summers ago, I was beachfoaming at the lips with want, but  simply didn’t have enough cash left to purchase it as I discovered it right at the end of my holiday.


What I smelled and sighed over at that time was a creamy and rapturously delicious infusion of natural smelling plumeria/tiare,  sponge-petallish and alive, with vanilla, raspingly fresh coconut and an unusual, ravishingly delicate and ethery top note from the banana tree – fruit; leaves….


If this all sounds too much, it probably is ( on the card I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven as it really seemed to somehow capture the essence of that warm and tropical breeze I so adore, but I found it, on skin, a touch cloying when I came across it again at London Liberty last year, so definitely try it on skin first).  


Nonetheless, I still have my languid, stolid, coconutty eyeballs fixed ignobly in its direction, and will simply have to get my hands on it again at some point. This is lapping, lulling beach in a bottle, a  coconut symphony; a  sigh of sappish sweetness and light.


SEXY COCONUT (pour lui et elle) – JEANNE ARTHES


While the popular image of Japan – austere, severe, exquisitely beautiful – is certainly true in many respects (particularly in traditional cities such as Kyoto and Kamakura, where I happen to live), there is another much more fun, trashier side to this country that finds its expression especially in the summer time here, when kids from the city flood to the coasts and get tropical. Jeanne Arthes is a low-market brand that does quite well here with its Sexy Boy and Sexy Girl fragrances, and, interestingly, this sweet, appealing take on Chopard’s Casmir (also a coconutty, drippingly luscious vanilla sandalwood worth looking at) is the only one billed as ‘unisex’ (one of the many fascinations of Japan is its intriguing twists on gender, particularly among the youth..)

See those skinny, pretty young Nihonjin splashing in the waves, emerging for some beer and some pizza, and a quick spritz of Sexy Coconut, a sharp and fruity top accord over coconut, peach and ambery sandalwood, before they head off to some reggae, rockin’ beachside bars..   





A cold, streaming blast of coconut; joss sticks, a cocktail of nuclear-strength noix de coco synthetics and reconstructed coconut flesh that means real, high gravity coconut business. I do find Coco Extrême a bit much sometimes ( it could almost be a Marvel Comics super-hero; Coconut Man, shooting through the city skies, leaving vapour trails of cocolo nimbus in his wake as he battles his nemesis, the bile-firing, pit from-hell-screeching OUD COP)  but I have to say that I do sometimes use my (now almost empty) bottle of this perfume as a top-up, a tiny touch on the neck to complete, nicely, an outlandishly tropical profile ( I once went to a party wearing Loulou, Yves Rocher Noix De Coco, and then, the moment I arrived, just a touch of Coco Extrême, and I can tell you the compliments came rolling in like a lovely barrel of coc…




I have in my collection a coconut body lotion I picked up at the Tokyo flea market for almost nothing one Sunday, something by a Thai company called Ma Praw, and it has the most hilarious, deliriously lip-dribbling effect: it smells exactly like a Thai meal has just been put on the table:  a coconutty, jasmine steamed rice that fills up the entire room,  putting Etat Libre D’Orange’s intriguing limey, coconut Fils De Dieu to shame with its strength, delectability and intensity.


We had some friends staying recently, and one, Elaine, had sneakily put on some of this body lotion after her shower. As I mounted the stairs soon afterwards I found my mouth involuntarily watering in some Pavlovian response ( I adore Thai food ), the entire air from the bottom of the stairs to the top vibrating an edible coconut rice that seemed bizarrely incongruous in the context of perfume: can you actually imagine going out of the house smelling like this? ( I can, and have, and will, naturally…).


Indian Coconut Nectar may not have the same gustatory power, but it is a very foody, almost savoury and edible coconut perfume all the same that reminds me somewhat of those delectably sweet coconut desserts you get in Indian restaurants; or the spice-laden coconut ice creams they serve known as kulfi. It has that dense, stranded, honey-infused and dessicated thickness that I associate with such desserts, and in the solid perfume version that I have, makes a very pleasing and strength- inducing firmness that I like to dab on the wrists and neck  (with a furtive drop or two underneath of the unctuous Ma Praw for good measure).  




And so to the night. The sun has gone down, we retire to our beach huts, or our condo, and shower up for the evening’s pleasures ahead. This little number, clearly influenced quite strongly by Dior’s doughy sex bomb Hypnotic Poison, isn’t a bad way to sit at the bar, perfumed up for the night, tipsy and sunkissed, the feeling of the sun still pressing your shoulders; your eyes roaming the joint; the condensation on your iced glass pleasingly wet and promising.









Then later, why not slather on the sinful, almost sickeningly sweet decadence of the Coudray amalgamating of thick, ambery vanilla notes with the boudoirish creams of coconut…..smear yourself down, oozy and glistening, with the crème de corps; spray on some edt, smothering away all your anxieties, and with warm, voracious slowness,  bite your way out, then, into the coconutty; palm-laden; fecund; tropical night.  




It is yours.
















Filed under Flowers

HEAT ME UP WITH CINNAMON : Ambre Narguilé by Hermès (2004) + Vanille Cannelle by E. Coudray (1935) + Rousse by Serge Lutens (2007) + Incensi by Lorenzo Villoresi (1997) + Ambre Cannelle by Creed (1945) + Noir Epices by Editions de Parfum (2000) + Cinnamon sherbet by Comme des Garcons (2003) +..







It is  absolutely freezing here in Kamakura today. Grey, icy, miserable, with the possibility of sleet or cold rains tumbling down this afternoon as I have to head out into the sticks to do my evening classes.


Ugh. While the temperatures this week, hovering just above or below zero, might seem positively balmy to some of you reading this, especially those suffering under the current deep freeze in North America, the particular problem here is the heating systems, or lack thereof. With a country as hot and humid as Japan is for much of the year, the traditional houses here are not insulated at all, and there is no central heating as Europeans know it, with the hellish result that any heat generated by the detested ‘air conditioners’, those nasty machines that make you sweat yet always seem to have a top layer of cold wind circulating to make you shiver unpleasantly at the same time, or the throat-drying, and dangerous, kerosene heaters we are compelled to use in our house to keep warm, seems to immediately dissipate the minute you switch them off, disappearing like a bastard through the draughty cracks in the doors and windows. I HATE it, and am really yearning for the stolid, stable heat of English hot water radiators, for the suburban living rooms where it is so warm you can just lounge about in a t-shirt and not even think about being cold, or else for spring to just hurry up and arrive.


January, a time of overwork, tons of pre-exam classes, and basic lack of physical well-being, is thus usually somewhat miserable for me, an overextended period of gloom and grey, with no possibility of any warm sunshine for at least another three or four months, and of nothing but neurotically obsessing about how many layers to wear the whole time (the misery of a sweat soaked t-shirt beneath those hot layers, as you deliberate between the dilemma of keeping on the wet t-shirt and hoping it will dry, or having to head into a public convenience and contort yourself into ludicrous positions as you renegotiate your clothing).





Moaning aside, though, to generate some warmth right now, both physical and psychological, one of my pleasing and simple comforts is herb tea, especially just before bed. I have experimented with many kinds of tisanes over the years (lemongrass, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm) and know now which ones have the strongest physiological effects on me personally. Whereas in the morning I need hot, steaming coffee and lots of it, at night my tea of choice is rooibos, a South African plant that is incredibly soothing and sends me to sleep even when I am overtired and agitated. This winter I have been experimenting quite a lot with my night brew,  adding different combinations of spices for an added boost, in particular ginger, my vanilla pods from the Javan plantation, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and it has really struck me recently quite how carnal, almost animalic in fact, cinnamon can be, particularly when combined with natural vanilla pods. Where spices like cardamom and nutmeg have a fresh, bracing quality; ginger Chinese verve and fire, and cloves an almost uptight, dark elegance in comparison to cinnamon, my night teas, especially if left brewing for a long time, sometimes take on the slightly naughty aspect of the filthiest orientals: a trace of civet; a very human, bodily aspect that can be almost disconcerting but also deeply mollifying, in a childlike way, when the cold air is surrounding you, and your senses concentrate instead solely on this mothering,  sensual taste. The thick, body-hugging glug of mulled wine that has been steeped in cinnamon sticks;  cinnamon hots; the smell of cinnamon-sprinkled buns and cakes drifting out from a city bakery as you walk along that dark path with hands tucked in coat pockets as if the world couldn’t really be as bad as you thought ( your senses perking up without your even noticing and you find you have plumped for that Starbucks hot cinnamon roll and latte instinctively,  realizing to your horror that you have just consumed 800 calories in one indolent go). Oh well: cinnamon is a palliative: a remedy. Though it is not my favourite spice (that would be clove, or cardamon, or even perhaps saffron), I do think that there is nothing more balancing and heart-repairing in the world of spice. It is the great balancer.

The effect of cinnamon in perfumery is similar to its culinary use –  surely the most trustworthy and unthreatening of the spices; easy, familiar, emotionally warm, and although it does not usually feature as the main theme of many fragrances – probably because it is seen as precisely too foody –  blended, usually, with orange, mandarin, balsams, exotic florals and other spices for the oriental cargo effect (Cinnabar, Opium); or with animalic ambers and vanilla (Obsession, Obsession Men, Cuir Mauresque) – all of which feature a prominent note of the spice that lends their blends a touch of  patisserie snugness and repose, the perfumes we are looking at today are more overtly cinnamonic: tailor-made, surely, for these darker months of winter…….




Sunday: 6pm. It has been raining; dark, freezing cold.


You have just done something really bad – been shouted at and belted: and after bawling out your eyes in your bedroom upstairs, and are lying prostrate, aimless, and self-pitying, on top of the bed covers; the taste of hot, angry tears still swirling in your head.

Then – suddenly, after who knows how long, the warm, delicious smell of your mother’s baking apple pie finds its way up the reproachful bannisters, and, gradually, life is again alright.

Warm apples, slow-burning cinnamon; mouth-watering aromas of rich buttered pastry; the lilting promises of melting vanilla ice cream.


This is Ambre Narguilé: an exalting perfume that seems to provoke obsessive reactions in some people (an olfactory method of regression therapy? ‘Remember the pain. But also remember the good times….’), a scent that is truly designed for cuddling up.


An hour after spraying it on, after the sweet shock of the apple strudel opening, Ambre Narguilé is an edible and addictive patisserie classic; gorgeously moreish and emotive with a vivid cinnamon underlay. To get to this point, though, you do have to go through stages of ambery, sugary bulimia; and to be honest, I’m not always sure I am going to make it each time as for me it is just that little bit too sweet. Still, I seem to have got through most of my bottle in one way or another, and I do feel that this scent has really stood the test of time. It is is worth seeking out if you are having a crap week; it is freezing with rain; and you need a sweet, sensory escape.


The perfection of the perfume’s  ending, as it hugs to your skin in the softest, dessert-like caress, is the sheerest wintry succour.







Discontinued, so probably hard to find now, but I once had the pleasure of using the E Coudray Vanille Cannelle bath oil on a cold winter’s night when staying at a friend’s house, and with the ambery vanilla-orange thickness tumbling from the lip of the bottle I just melted into the steaming hot water in total bliss. That bottle, of the very old Parisian type, standing beside to me on the side of the bath like an old friend, just added to the sensation of romance and escape: a perfectly judged dose of cinnamon, and sweetly clinging vanilla, in the manner of the best, most delicious, French cakes.





Rousse (‘the red head’), one of Serge Luten’s less talked about orientals, is a very different, but equally appealing, scent possessed of red-raw spices that jump out and devour you; the fiery taste (and 3D texture) of real cinnamon sticks and cloves in an ambered, woody, and resinous Lutensian setting. It is direct, pungent, and somewhat simple-minded (in the manner of Louve, Lutens’ cherry-almond), but if you like to wear your spice on your sleeve, as I most certainly do, this rough, flushed, russet perfume is perfect: a chic cinnamon bomb to take on the night.






A serious cinnamon. As you’d expect from Mr Lorenzo, Incensi is a languorously layered, complicated scent with a certain integrity, the incense of the name not prominent until the drydown where the main feature in this curious blend is more a ginger-bolstered cinnamon emerging from a blast of strange greenness (elemi, leaf notes, galbanum) than the more liturgical scent you might be expecting: the preferred, cooler incensed notes of antiquity lying calm and serious beneath like a cellar  (frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, styrax), while the note of cinnamon –  unsweetened, potent,  and vaguely ecclesiastical, remains curiously prominent throughout.


A cinnamon scent, perhaps, for Pope Francis.







If you are male and have always secretly wished you had worn Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium – that brilliant and unforgettable classic for women from the 70’s –balsamic, spicy and orange-laden – but were just too embarrassed to buy a ‘women’s’ perfume, for whatever reason, then here’s your chance. Ambre Cannelle is apparently a part of Creed’s men’s range; and admittedly there are fewer flowers;  its physiognomy has more sinew, it’s formula perhaps more refinement, but this scent was obviously the inspiration (along with Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew) for the whole swooning-Jerry Hall-Roxy-Music-addict phenomenon that was Opium – just thirty years before. It is quite a nice scent, actually, with a sexed, ambergris/ musk base that clings to the cinnamon-amber-flecked accord with air of tightened, bodily mystique.


It IS somewhat old fashioned, though; check it out for yourself first before committing (in a floor length fur coat).







A very well respected and original cinnamon spice that many cite as their favourite from the Frederic Malle line, for the tightly woven structure; the dense, spiced treatment of orange and geranium over arid, woody finish, and I can certainly see the Noir Epices’ fan club members’ point, but on this occasion, I am afraid, I must beg to differ.


While I can certainly see the appeal of this perfume’s  fat-free structure (no musk: no fluffiness: no soft, vanillic contours), its stark angularity,  like Campari and orange, which I like in theory for its bitter sunset red but in reality can’t drink, the vile bitterness of this perfume’s orange makes me shudder. I find it quite unendurable on my own skin, though I have to say that I was astonished to find that the perfume I was complimenting on my friend Justin one night at karaoke – warm, sensual, compelling and sexy – was in fact Noir Epices.


Yet another argument for the fact that some perfumes really do smell utterly distinctive on different people.






Of the three jaunty little perfumes in the Comme Des Garcons sherbet series, to me, Cinnamon is possibly the least successful. The Rhubarb is surely a delight: the Mint the greenest, mintiest thing you’ve ever smelled, but the cinnamon, with its contrasting (jarring?) notes of hot and cold, is less loveable.



On the other hand, the freshness of the scent and its resemblance to more spicy, ozonic scents like Issey Miyake Pour Homme make it the most commercial of the three, and rather an original take on the note of cinnamon. Like all the sherbets, it is quite fun.






Other cinnamons:

VANILLE CANELLE/ COMPTOIR SUD PACIFIQUE Just what you’d expect from Comptoir– a warm, sexpot aroma of cinnamon in a sweet, ready to wear (for evening) setting.

CINNAMON SPICE/ BODY SHOP Serviceable perfume oil that does the trick in a mumsy, down-at-the-shops kind of way.


CINNAMON TOAST/ DEMETER  Olfactory holograms for cinnaphiles with bulimic appetites.



Do let me know if there are any other good cinnamon perfumes you can recommend that I am not aware of: I imagine there must be quite a few good ones out there that I haven’t mentioned and I am really in the mood for this smell and taste.




Let’s cinnamon!


Filed under Cinnamon, Perfume Reviews, Spice