Blog post by Gwen

Patchouli – raw and smooth and unadulterated

Photo: perfumeniche

A while back, I received an email from someone who was looking for a ‘dirty patchouli’ fragrance. They were very specific in their request: ‘I want a full-on patchouli experience, not the refined, doesn’t-smell-like-hippies patchouli.’ I understood what they were talking about right away.

Patchouli is a bushy, green herb with small pink flowers native to Indonesia and Malaysia that now grows throughout China, India, and the Philippines. Patchouli's pungent, earthy, woody signature scent has had many uses – in medicine, in incense and as an insect repellent. Chinese silk traders in the 18th century packed their precious cloths with dried patchouli leaves to keep moths away.

In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, patchouli had a revival with counter-culture types who travelled the 'hippie trail' between Europe and South Asia drawn by the opium and cannabis the region was known. Patchouli hid the smell of cannabis and alcohol and, over time, became associated with head shops and hippies. So, while patchouli as a note in perfume is welcomed by perfume wearers, a full-on patchouli scent is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of proposition. For me, patchouli is a ‘love’.

After a lively email exchange, I recommended they try Patchouli from Santa Maria Novella.

Patchouli by Santa Maria Novella is the full-on patchouli experience. It opens with a raw, sharp, camphourous note that has dark, rich, and dirty undertones that are decidedly masculine. As it blooms, the different aspects of patchouli come forward to reveal the full range of patchouli: bitter notes, herbal notes, floral notes, spicy notes, and woody notes. They tame the rawness, making Patchouli softer and plush until the exotic, musky drydown, when it becomes lighter and more feminine.

Patchouli's development is linear, but patchouli has so many rich dimensions that it smells like there is a whole lot more to it. And, for EDC it packs a real olfactory wallop!

After trying Parchouli, my email friend had something he wanted to share with readers of this blog: “My advice? Embrace your inner hippie and enjoy one of the great notes in perfume unadulterated.”

Well said.

Check out Patchouli in our Shop.