Patchouli-themed Perfumes (Part 2)

Personally I prefer wearing mixed-media perfumes (synthetic ingredients mixed with natural ingredients) to all-natural perfumes because they are much more interesting and exciting to me. (Aldehydes, metallic notes, fantasy notes, etc.) Some time ago I have heard a perfumer say that a lot of natural ingredients are mini-perfumes themselves and not easy to finesse; and all-natural perfumes if not well-designed often smell “muddy” or “brown”.

Maybe patchouli essential oil is one good example – to me it is a mini fragrance. It is strong, full of character, herbalness, earthiness, and nuisances, but It also gives me uneasiness for I find them smelling “too close to nature” – too earthy, deep and aromatic, almost the exact opposite of smelling a synthetic white musk detergent. I can imagine a perfumer either using just a little of it in a perfume to add some character or “darkness”, or “go big or go home”, using a lot to make a patchouli-themed perfume with some complementary notes.

There is a patchouli-theme fragrance that I have recently discovered that makes me feel that the perfumer has tamed patchouli and turned this hobo into a fine gentleman – Dior’s Patchouli Imperial. The opening is smooth, ambery, sophisticated, mildly spicy, but undoubtedly patchouli, yet constrained. It is so impressive that I feel like I want to stay close and talk to him for hours, as if he has seen the world and now he is back to tell stories in tuxedo and sandals, but really, I should leave this handsome hobo alone after taking a selfie with him. As the perfume reaches dry down, there is something in it that’s really synthetic and borderline nauseating. (Synthetic vetiver, maybe?) But crazy enough, the opening is worthy of my purchase of a full bottle.

Then I rediscovered Chanel’s Coromandel (“Asian lacquered partition screen”). You didn’t know how much I disliked this perfume when I first discovered Chanel’s exclusive line of perfumes. It smells like… you are trapped in a wet, wood cabinet and forced to eat white chocolate flavored TUMS to survive. I threw the sample across the field like a quarterback superstar and hoped not to see it again. One day, while reorganizing my sample drawers here it was again, I sprayed some on the back of hand. The epiphany arrived – it’s a powdery patchouli scent. It’s as weird as avocado milkshake in a Vietnamese restaurant, but now I have seen through the unusualness and found it amazing. Hurrah for white-chocolate and patchouli flavored TUMS! (Amazing yuck.)


Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit or for more info!

5 thoughts on “Patchouli-themed Perfumes (Part 2)”

  1. Your comments made me laugh out loud because so many bloggers speak of Coromandel and the other Chanel Exclusifs with such reverence. It is a bit of a strange fragrance but I like it a lot. From now on I know I’ll be thinking of white chocolate and patchouli flavoured TUMS when I wear it. 🙂


  2. Victor, I thoroughly enjoyed your descriptions of your patchouli prominent fragrances experience. Some things you said made me laugh heartily, just as Kris pointed out. 😀 Funny thing about Coromandel for me… I LOVED it at first. Then something happened. My ephipany went in reverse. I found myself not really caring for it, and allowed myself to sell off a huge 200ml bottle of it. Regrets? A little. I did keep a decant for myself. I would urge you to try Etro Patchouly. If you can, the older one with golden cap. Wow… now THAT is something else. Slightly sweet and very forward on the patchouli note with a nice accompaniment of other notes. It took me time to appreciate, as it’s quite strong. For me, Lorenzo Villoresci Patchouli is my reference patchouli sample — so raw and dusty, just as I remembered my overwhelming experience with patchouli oil spilled on me in a natural foods shop as a small boy.


    1. Thanks for the comment:D I don’t actively seek out patchouli themed perfumes, but I will definitely sniff the Etro perfume you recommended. I only have one Etro so far but I’ve grown distant from it 😐


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