Patchouli, Patchouli, Patchouli.
It is time to take a stroll through a far east market. A lost kind of location… somewhere where sweet melodies of strange instruments and chatter of merchants drift through the air. Tea houses bustle with people, dried herbs lay in piles perfuming in the hot sun, and dust kicks up below your feet — It’s the kind of place where your senses go wild… all at once.
And that, that is exactly what Patchouli is!
Making a recent comeback in popularity, chances are you have probably seen the word floating around in the beauty and fragrance industries. And there is a good reason why!
A noteworthy aroma with a deep history, Patchouli actually dates all the way to ancient times. “The Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankamun was buried with 40 liters of patchouli oil in around 1323BC and early European traders valued it as highly as gold.” Making a name for itself as the centuries have passed, in recent decades Patchouli was most popular in the hippie movement of the ’60s.
But, before you turn your nose up in association to this “far-out” smell, let’s take a look at the scent itself and untangle the question, “what does Patchouli smell like?”.
You will see — as you begin to understand the scent of patchouli, you too will understand why so many people for so many years have enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, we too at Dossier have jumped on the Patchouli bandwagon and have included it in many of our formulas. This allows us to have similar notes as the popular brands that our fragrances are inspired by.
Let’s kick things off with, what Patchouli is.
Defined as “a heavy perfume made from the fragrant essential oil of a southeast Asian mint (Pogostemon cablin)” — Patchouli is “an upright, bushy, evergreen perennial herb native to Southeast Asia, with lightly fragrant leaves, and white, violet-marked flowers. It grows wild in both Sumatra and Java at high elevations.”
So, if you are thinking oriental you are getting warmer in the hunt to what Patchouli smells like.
Boasting both a good and bad reputation.
First, the bad reputation — an essential oil of choice for many earth loving individuals, not so many decades ago people would put this “heavy” perfume directly on their skin, no other fragrances involved. Therefore, “it will always be associated with Sixties and the hippy movement – and not in a good way. Indeed, it has been described as smelling like a Grateful Dead concert. Fortunately, over time it has shaken off this image and is today at the heart of the “Chypre” family of fragrances, that are most often described as warm and mossy-woody.”
Wait a minute, so it is also described as a woody scent — it seems Patchouli is full of surprises.
Now, the good reputation — “amazingly, from those fragile-looking leaves comes a sweet, spicy, smoky, cedar-y scent so powerful it has to be handled with care: patchouli is the most powerful of any plant-derived essence. But perfumers wouldn’t be without patchouli, for the richness that it gives to fragrances – and not just those heady Orientals: patchouli makes its way into many chypre and powdery fragrances, swirling exotically alongside lavender, sandalwood, labdanum and bergamot, clove, clary sage, as well as vetiver.”
Are your senses heightened picturing what this aroma smells like? Because ours sure are. Boasting one of the world’s most powerful aromas, it’s no wonder people have noticed Patchouli as both good and bad for a long time.
With a strong reputation, literally and figuratively, patchouli on its own “has a strong, slightly sweet, intoxicating scent. It’s described as having a dark, musky-earthy aroma profile, reminiscent of wet soil.”
So there we have it — It smells of intriguing spices mixed with the slightly mysterious element of worn wood and earth.
Sounds interesting… right?
Truth be told, we will be the first to admit that this description does not sound overtly pleasant and definitely does not sound like it belongs in a perfume. But, let’s go back to the “good” from above. It seems perfumers from around the world have used Patchouli to mix with other scents to elevate the fragrance of flowers, citruses, spices, and more.
Without this magical plant oil, many perfumes just wouldn’t be the same.
“It is celebrated for its sultry and sophisticated qualities, with many brands, including Dior and Tom Ford, honoring the oriental ingredient with perfumes dedicated to the scent.
For those that find patchouli too overpowering on its own, brands such as Gucci and Chanel have reworked the classic scent by using Indonesian patchouli combined with other floral notes like bergamot, to feminise an often masculine fragrance.”
Mixed into countless designer perfumes, upon a sniff test you probably wouldn’t even notice the strong scent at first. Instead you most likely will sense its warmth and seductiveness that makes up the characteristics of both woody and oriental fragrances.
With an earthy aroma, Patchouli is by far one of our favorite oils to blend.
At dossier we adore the rich history and almost controversial background of Patchouli. For us, it is the ultimate when it comes to the very essence perfume. Everlasting, time tested, and full of fragrance — a bottle that inspires emotion is a perfect perfume.
As mentioned above we have added this scent into many of our perfumes — a few noteworthy bottles of ours included: Oriental Oakmoss — inspired by Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle $29, Gourmand Orange Blossom — inspired by Lancome La Vie Est Belle $29, Musky Oakmoss for men — inspired by Creed’s Aventus $29, and a handful more. Also now offering amazing prices on purchases of multiple, you too can experience the greatness of Patchouli and experiment on what scent best suits you.
Are you ready to find the mixture of that that best suits your nose and fall in love with Patchouli?
1. https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/best-mens-patchouli-fragrance-guide https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/patchouli
3. https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/best-mens-patchouli-fragrance-guide https://perfumesociety.org/ingredients-post/patchouli/