Big. Blousy. Really rather beautiful.
There were two 1980s.
The one where women wore military cut pencil skirt suits with NFL shoulder pads and went to work on Wall Street.
Where the females of the species needed bigger balls than all the men and shorter fuses than fourth of July fireworks just to get ahead.
And then there was the other one…
Then there was a world of femmes fatales with super-structure soft-brushed hair styles and wardrobes of endless sable coats and satin negligees that slipped effortlessly to shag pile bathroom floors before pedicured feet dipped into 36 inch deep baths of milky eau and sky high bubbles.
This was the world of Coco.
A world of interiors of unabashed retro-romantic re-imaginings.
So come now as we enter the faux Roman Spa bathroom, three colours of marble and a gold leafed vanity unit, and gasp as we grasp an incautious glimpse of our deshabille heroine.
First inhale the rich pot pouri of orange, peach, pomegranate and rose petal.
Then catch our unawares hostess’ perfume: a textbook exercise in the floral meets the oriental: rose rises again with jasmine and orange blossom cut through with clove.
Finally a resinous wave of bath oils as you approach her lascivious body, her beating heart.
Reaching out to touch her alabaster skin… you pause… amber, sandalwood, labandum and the animal sexuality of the Diana of the sunken corner bath suite.
You must not touch what you cannot afford.
And this is a rich beauty priced high above rubies.
Less is less. More is More.
Excess is best.
Coco by Chanel is the quintessential smell of the decade of apparent plenty.
More than a dozen years after the death of Gabrielle and a decade after the launch of Cristalle, it was time to ring the changes at Chanel: to herald the dawn of a brave new world.
The world of cool as ice creations such as No19 was long gone, their sparse feminism to be replaced with an enormous outpouring of fin de siecle flouncing femininity.
No perfume encapsulates these gestural sexual politics better than Coco.
So these new attitudes divided, so does the perfume.
Some encounter classic rose and sandalwood. Others an almost fruity almost sweet vanilla that betrays much of what was to follow within a decade. Another house holds that this is a grand floral, while others still cry animalic wood.
In truth this apparent confusion belies the truth: Coco is complex.
It is a perfume that sought to be everything to every man and woman, just as it could be argued women everywhere found themselves having to do just that at just the same time.
And yet, and yet, the overall effect is not of confusion but of an overabundance of confidence and an unquiet coherence that brings contentment to all who encounter it.
This scent maybe identity crisis underneath, but on the surface it’s a mini-series superstar.
Oh yes and my goodness did it, for better or for worse, change the game.
The cry went up:
‘Madame Chanel is most definitely dead. Long live Coco.’
At the time it would have seemed inconceivable, but today, can a man wear Coco?
Hell why not if he’s got the hotel room to go with it!
The Perfumed Dandy.