Monica Miller the PerfumePharmer, organized an incredibly voluptuous experience via the mails by sending a number of us helplessly enthralled perfume-aholics a slew of blind-labeled original all-natural perfumes, composed of at least 25% patchouli, and asking us to pick three favorites.
It is an ongoing festival of patchouli, and the perfumers participating are among the finest of natural perfumers, but even so, everything was labeled strictly by number alone. Interesting too, how the color of the liquids varied, from gold to reddish amber. I felt like a character in a fairy story set an impossible task. Among the 13 were so many beauties of surprising variety it felt like trying to pick Ms./Mr. America from a classroom full perfectly beautiful teenagers. Each one is beautiful in their own way.
So what can you do in such a situation except go with your personal predilections? I went with the brunette style of perfume beauty because it suits me the most. To my mind brunette beauty covers a wide field. It can mean you want to bring out the inner Ava Gardner, crossed with some wild pre-Raphaelite artist/model type of lady, or alternatively the elegance and restraint of an Audrey Hepburn ballerina persona. It was incredibly hard to choose because there were so many that were outstanding in this type alone. Because I had to decide, the three I picked were dark, deep, and rich versions of patchouli that were so beautiful they all reached into realms similar to those of sandalwood and aoud, but perhaps those ingredients were also present in the ones I chose. Which were #2, 3 and 14. (I know, one number short deliberately because 6 and 9 are hard to tell apart graphically).
This effort to rehabilitate the reputation of patchouli more than succeeded with me, and others too as this project presented at one time a wide range of styles and treatments showcasing alternate sides of an element that has a reputation of overpowering all others. These were all compositions that were identifiably and definitely patchouli predominating but with the balance and detail of true perfumes.
Good patchouli is dreamy. One of the most intense ways you can get the full experience is to try it on a day of warm and overcast humidity. Hence the Summer of Love theme, calling both to the past and the present. During the week, after a couple of rainstorms, with some sun peaking out to partly dry the streets and reviewing the full range of the patchoulis I was sent, this atmosphere expanded them like clouds around me. Later days of dryer sun and heat called certain more astringent aspects up to the front. It is also very true you become more aware of how your mood and state of mind affects your perception of a perfume when you don’t know who made it or exactly what’s in it from a provided list of notes.
Be that as it may, #2 has an expansive, celestial quality arising from a soothing depth. There is a soft powdered precious wood aspect after the initial strength of the hypnotic liqueur burns off.
#3 a heavy sunlight thickly dappled on dry hay, a little herbaceous, with a wild edge to it, perhaps the warm fur of an animal lying down beside you. Sun on dark hair or fur, is what I mean.
#14 has a sacred hint to it, like myrrh mixed into amber and a reference to a bit of fine sueded leather.
There are more than three that I loved and I will get into them next. It will be very interesting to find out if there are any that show up in the top three repeatedly and who the perfumers are for my favorites.
There will be a giveaway in the next posting, so come back and be sure to keep an open mind toward all perfume elements, especially patchouli. You never know what a material can be until it passes through the mind and touch of a perfumer with a real feeling for it.
For more posts and links to others on these perfumes, please see the Perfume Pharmer.