It Was a Very Bad Year
Such a striking bold blue bottle from an ultra niche exclusive house, I'll admit, I had pretty high expectations for Coton Egyptien by Phaedon. I was nearly ready to unzip my purse and bare my wallet, purely based on the perceived compatibility of its online profile, fool that I am.
Before I explain my sampling experience with this fragrance, indulge me in a little background information, please. As a winemaker, the bane of my existence is Cabernet Franc, which grows robustly and prolifically in my region, but produces some of the most daunting and harsh wines when not blended with less aggressive varieties. One of the main issues with this grape is its unique ability to produce aromas of green bell pepper along with a bizarre array of other notes such as violets, tobacco, raspberry and cassis. The resulting discord between the green bell pepper and the soft sweetness of fruits and even powdery flower notes is often times unbearable. Cab. Franc was rarely sold as a stand alone wine until recently in the US. Now that some Americans have become a little more sophisticated and comfortable with drinking wine it's become hip to ferment unique solifruit varieties- let the green peppers, fruits and flowers unite, throw a snazzy label on a blue glass bottle and someone will buy it! This is exactly the problem I have with Coton Egyptien. This fragrance has been high up on my test list for a year, only rumors of its impending discontinued production drove me to get a sample, A.S.A.P., incase it ended up being my one true love. I just mentioned true love intentionally, I'll get back to that in just a second...
With some of my favorite notes Galbanum, musk and cotton...what could go wrong? Well, let me see, Coton Egyptian is a split personality fragrance that is having a disturbing and public confrontation for all to smell. There are two main streams of consciousness occurring here each trying to drown the other out. First there is a bracing harsh masculine green bell pepper and bitter dandelion stems greens. Perhaps this harsh green bell pepper/capsicum note is the result of unrestrained galbanum, but still the effect in this composition is nothing remotely like the lush grassy soothing galbanum in Chloe's Eau de Fleurs Capucine, one of my new favorites in the hot lazy Dog days of Summer afternoons in August.
Coton Egyptien's strident green bell pepper opening is underscored by a smooth soft pretty little girl's floral musk, with a little bit of that baby oiliness I find in Elizabeth Arden's True Love, but also very similar to Laurence Dumont's tender Musc Blanc. While I happen to like the bite and flavor of fresh green bell peppers and I also like Laurence Dumont's Musc Blanc on occasion...the discord created by tossing these two aromas together is confused and wretched, IMHO.
After about 2 hours the green bell pepper/capsicum note dwindles and a thin, barely perceptible powdery sweet white musk note remains for another hour. The whole poorly executed show is over within about 3-4 hours on my skin, thankfully. Finally...Coton Egyptien is a completely, absurdly non sequitor name for this fragrance which is neither cotton-like nor reminiscent of anything that I ever experienced in Egypt. Every once in a great while, I have to concur with a house's decision to discontinue a fragrance; let's just chalk this up to a bad vintage and move on.