Today is the birthday of Pierre Guillaume (he of Parfumerie Generale fame), and I would just like to say two things. First of all, joyeaux anniversaire! And also, thank you so much for making Coze.
Coze smells like someone picked up the nicest smelling things in the world – coffee, pepper, dark chocolate, hash resin, patchouli – and shoved them into a perfume. Well, that’s not entirely true, because that implies that this perfume was a happy accident, whereas, in truth, Coze is a great example of a perfume that pulls off a complicated balancing act without alerting the wearer to its complex underpinnings. In other words, it’s a smart, quasi-gourmand whose genius occurs to you when you choose to look at it closely.
For something that references both hash and the stuff we eat when we get the munchies, this is as far away from the druggy atmosphere of a teenage boy’s bedroom as can be. I think that’s because the hash note has been cleverly married to a host of green, herbal, and woody elements, thus yanking the whole thing outdoors. Whenever I wear this, I feel like I am in the company of friendly lumberjacks, sitting down in a forest opening to coffee, brownies, and a “funny” cigarette or two after a morning of cutting down trees. It is the type of perfume that makes you feel happy in an uncomplicated way.
The opening is rather dry and dark – a brief boozy moment followed by ashy tobacco and a “brown” dust that can only be dark cocoa powder. It is delicious and also slightly spicy. I can smell hot pepper and maybe woody cloves. I like the way that this dark, dusty layer is fitted closely over a sticky green hemp base, and then finally set to smolder and smoke on a base of mahogany wood chips. It provides a perfect balance between edible and inedible, dry and balmy, and smoke and cold, clean air. Technically, it’s probably correct to call Coze a gourmand or quasi-gourmand, but its genius lies in dotting the foody notes so evenly around a dark, woodsy, smoky base that it would never occur to anyone to call it “yummy”.
I’ve heard tell that Pierre Guillaume composed Coze when he was just twenty-five, which might give any sane person reason enough to hate him, even if he weren’t so jaw-droppingly beautiful. But how can I hate someone who gave the world Coze? Or someone who apparently has sprayed Coze onto his skin during exhibitions and licked himself to demonstrate how natural and harmless his perfumes are when ingested? I too have licked my wrist while wearing Coze and I can confirm that no harm came to me. (I cannot say the same for Montale’s Chocolate Greedy, which gave me a third-degree burn on my lip when I tried the same thing). Lovely stuff all round.