1804 George Sand

"There is only one happiness in this life, to love and to be loved" (George Sand)

The perfume dedicated to the controversial author George Sand, has a complexity of a real person and a feeling of rummaging through the old bureau of an author to find her own inkwell and notebook. I am not familiar with her work (except for La Petite Fadette which I read translated to Hebrew when I was in elementary school). She lead an unusual life and was ahead of her time in insisting on doing things that were considered taboo for women, most memorable of which were sporting men's attire and smoking in public and her reputation was an androgynous type (apparently, having a masculine pseudonym was common at the time, otherwise no publisher would risk taking on a woman's work). But more importantly - her independence, breaking free from her marriage, following her heart into many tumultuous relationships, the most famous of which is her 10 years love affair with Frédéric Chopin - all the while still raising her two children. She sounds to me like one wild woman.

1804 is a classical spicy oriental, in the great tradition of Tabu, Opium and Asja. Like the latter, it also has some fruity surprises. And like Opium before it - there is a fascinating contrast between coolness and warmth that keeps the tension and interest of the reader from the get go.

The beginning feels earthy and cool yet spicy, with the Mellis accord centered on patchouli, cloves, carnation and jasmine and a hint of plum-like rose notes in the midst. The earthy quality is a bit musty, like a jar of clay or like spikenard. There is a certain cool and sharp edge to this, but as the perfume continues wearing on the skin, it seems to switch over to ambery-oriental world. The patchouli is still there, but it's more of a spice or a nuance, giving the sweet, rich and soft amber a dirty-sultry undercurrent.

Top notes: Peach, Pineapple, Gardenia 
Heart notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Rose, Lily of the Valley Cloves, Nutmeg 
Base notes: Patchouli, Spikenard, Vanilla, Benzoin, Amber, Sandalwood

Noir Patchouli

hypnotic bokeh wallpaper by mav_at
hypnotic bokeh wallpaper, a photo by mav_at on Flickr.
In my recent visit to Scent Bar to pick up a birthday gift for my brother, Laura and Steven have given me a few samples – 2 of them being of patchouli scents with which I’d like to close the patchouli series.

Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums is a more of a study in dry chypre than it is a patchouli per se. It opens with a very perfumey, old-world blast of blushed, rosy cheeks and fatty aldehydes, bringing to mind floral chypres of the caliber of Aromatics Elixir. Yet, there is a dry spiciness to it all that stops it from being cloying.

Coriander and aldehydes are the dominant first notes, underlined by a honeyed, lush rose absolute. The dry patchouli layer underneath it all is always apparent yet not exactly obvious as you’d expect from a perfume of that title. There is also a hint of tobacco leaf, or vetiver, or both; as well as hints of jasmine and indole – giving it an earthy, bitter tonality that at firstshifts its balance from smelling muddy and overcrowded to intriguingly light and well-composed, until it settles on the latter, once a dry musk takes the reins and disperses the rose into like dust particles that lift up from an unused leather seat that’s finally been claimed by its absent owner.

While I do find the initial blast of aldehyes more than a tad overbearing, it is worth trying it on for what’s to become of Noir Patchouli later on: a modern take on the patchouli-rose of yesteryear, updated with contemporary musks and acrid leather-woody notes that both complement the patchouli and bring the rose its due respect. It brings to mind other favourites from the musk-rose-faux-chypre genre, namely Agent Provocateur; yet while the latter demands to be worn by a lady, Noir Patchouli could be quite easily pulled off by a man, as long as they can handle a few mintues of oily aldehydes.

Top notes: Aldehydes, Coriander
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine
Base notes: Patchouli, Tobacco, Vetiver, Musk
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