DISCLOSURE: I am not a big fan of Le Male. I find it sweet. I recognize though that this is a historical fragrance that changed what we consider a mainstream masculine scent should smell like. I bought blind a 50ml bottle of Kokorico because in an era where standing out is a four letter word (I was thinking of “Bleu”) this bottle changes the way a perfume bottle should look like and this gave me high hopes.
Yes, the bottle feels as good as it looks. You want to hold it, rotate it and eventually spray it. And what does it smell like? Looks like the chrysanthemums that got lost from De Profundis found their way to the bottle of Kokorico. The opening is an autumnal whiff of golden yellow chrysanthemums, flowers, leaves and all. It reminds me of the opening of Byredo M/Mink, only less skanky. The difference is that in Byredo’s perfume the flowers are stepped on, crushed and left to rot. Here they are fresh and radiant. Now I know that fig leaf is supposed to be in the notes and believe me I know fig. I can see how a fig note may contribute in the chrysanthemum accord but I can taste no figs in this cocktail. The flowers pop out of the bottle to herald the opening and then retreat leaving a herbal bitterness that characterizes the entire composition.
About twenty minutes into the development enters the patchouli. This is not a camphorous patchouli. It is rather green dusted with powdery iris. It reminds me of the deep drydown of Borneo 1834 or even Cuir Ottoman, a dry, powdery patchouli but still no sweetness in sight. Suddenly the base starts shining with a glossy note that stands somewhere between extra dark chocolate and a dry cleaner’s accord. Shiny black leather shoes maybe? This phase reminds me of Byredo Baudelaire, another green patchouli, that unfortunately didn’t get raving reviews by perfumistas.
To wrap this up, this is a good fragrance. First of all it is masculine and it is not fruity! That certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. Then it is not sweet, which is a big relief for me. And to make things even better there are no woody-nutty notes, the kind that one finds more often than it is needed or tolerated in masculine designer scents. Despite the reported fig and cocoa notes Kokorico is not a gourmand. The fig, and I have no reason not to believe it is there, smells more like chrysanthemum leaves and a little like fig leaves. The chocolate is more like the pungent smell of mexican 90% unsweetened baking chocolate that serve as an ingredient to mole poblano and less like the belgian desert chocolate. It’s bitterness sticks to the throat. The base is intriguing because it feels more like a top with its pungent varnish like gloss. I don’t think this will ever reach the epic following Le Male had and still has because it is a lot more discreet and reserved but it certainly brings a fresh alternative to the ever growing army of dull, fruity masculine releases. This was a successful blind buy! I wish the top notes lasted longer.
Notes from Fragrantica: fig leaf, patchouli, cocoa beans, cedar, vetiver. This is officially classified as a woody oriental but I guess only because it couldn’t fit anywhere else. It is not sweet nor spicy.
Notes from my nose: chrysanthemums, patchouli, powder, unsweetened chocolate, varnish, dry cleaner’s accord