Fanfare for the uncommon man… Coriolan by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent


Sour, spare, spicy and indefatigably cerebral.

‘Male’ chypres are almost without exception contrary and intriguing creations.

Jean-Paul Guerlain‘s short-lived Coriolan does not disappoint: it is as conflicted and elusive as it is possible for a perfume to be.

Like Coriolanus, the warrior turned putative Consul unprepared to accept the will of the proletariat, from whom it takes its name, this is a difficult and daunting character.

The flacon with its fair approximation of mediaeval armoured headgear signals from the start that this is a fragrance without use for fun.

Classic bergamot-bought sharpness is brought to the point of a lethal blade by generous amounts of petit grain and a metallic sage at the opening.

The transition through to the spicy centre is uncomfortable, anxious and unsteady, like a journey into battle across blood sodden fields.

Nutmeg, coriander and fennel seed are never truly freed of the earth for it is the oak moss underscoring them that is the indisputable signature of the scent.

With time a fine vetiver and polished leather accord, again recalling an imaginary knight’s equipage, comes to the fore, slightly sweetened by benzoin then in the next instant made bitter by resurgent moss, supported with patchouli.

If the description sounds complicated, a series of checks and balances, then it should be made clear that in fact the sum of the parts is much less complex than the whole.

This is a mass of contradictions held perpetually in tension, conceived entirely without complacency or the desire to simply please.

Coriolan is a masterwork of stand-offish olfactory mixology.

A Renaissance Prince of a perfume based on an idea of an ideal of classical proportion.

Its high, honourable ambition and discernible hauteur were undoubtedly its undoing in the common market place, but should recommend it to fragrance heroes everywhere.

This is no perfume for the common man (or, indeed, woman…).

This is a fragrance for the uncommon man.

The Dandy, is in raptures and enrapt with Coriolan today as it guards him against blustery Autumn’s intruding winds and insidious rain.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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14 responses to “Fanfare for the uncommon man… Coriolan by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent

  1. Lilybelle

    I love your juxtaposition of photos, Mr. Dandy (as usual). They alone almost tell the story. I’ve never tried Coriolan but I’ve always mean to, and now especially if the sum of the parts is less complex than the whole.

    • Dearest Lily
      This, I think, would work well on a woman. It has the air of those great herbal classics of the 1970s Alliage and Aromatics Elixir, but sweeter and lighter and more friendly than both.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        Herbal, yet sweeter and lighter and more friendly than AE sounds lovely. I will make it a point to try Coriolan in 2014.

      • Dearest Lily
        I would… discontinued as it is it may not always be as plentiful as it seems on line at present.
        Gosh… the New Year is calling, but we have some festivities to contend with first!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. To borrow an oft quoted classic from the San Fernando Valley… “OMG! Me dost think there can be no other elixir for mine nose than this! Of rings and things I have no desire but pray my lord, your description of fair Corilan doth light my fire” Act V of Dudio and the Valley Girl

    • Dearest Lanier
      Now I really can picture (or should that be smell you) in this. Have you ever dipped your toe into the sublime Aramis siblings? If you like Devin or 900, I have a feeling this will be one for you too.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. rosestrang

    What an intriguing description, I love all those notes and might be tempted to wear such a scent myself to steel me against the winter skies!

    • Dearest Rose
      As I was just saying to Lily, I really do think this a perfectly wearable scent for men and women. It calls to mind an age of more robust and complex perfumes and is all the better for that.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Hikmat Sher Afridi

    Thanks Dandy for a well explained description of Guerlain Coriolan. This is my new signature scent from the last two months. I love it and recommend to others as well. I think a must have in a perfume collection.

    • Dearest Hikmat
      What excellent taste you have!
      This would make an excellent signature as it has a beautiful and skilled composition and is slightly out of the ordinary without being too experimental.
      Quite wonderful!
      Mind you snap up a bottle or two before they all disappear.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Miss Misty

    Coriolan is one of my favorite male fragrances by Guerlain, besides the classic Vetiver and Habit Rouge.
    I once gifted this to a boyfriend, he didn’t like it much but wore it to please me. Poor guy…in retrospect I can see it didn’t suit him at all.

    • Dearest Miss Misty
      Now, I can see that you would like this very much. After all male chypres are such uncommon and (almost with exception) well made things.
      Vetiver, Habit Rouge and Heritage are all great favourites chez Dandy, though I also have a soft spot for L’Eau Boisee and even Derby, which always seems to get such an unfair press.
      I spare a wry smile for that gentleman suitor though, for I can imagine many men feeling terribly uncomfortable in Coriolan.
      I think presently of the ‘male’ chypres only le 3eme homme de Caron has the edge for my affections.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Andre Moreau

    Really nice review from an unconventional point of view. Different from other -conventional-ones. One of my favorite scents!

    • Dear Andre
      Welcome to The Dandy’s! Thank you for popping by, do hope to see you here again soon.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the review and that we share a passion for this scent.
      Might I say I love you blog’s name: what fun. I will check it out.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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