Villoresi's Patchouli

Cockspur Patchouli by dinesh_valke
Cockspur Patchouli, a photo by dinesh_valke on Flickr.

Indeed, Villoresi’s Patchouli is musty and earthy as you would expect from Pathcouli, but the Patchouli does not play as dominant role as does spikenard: there is a whiff of herbaceous-peppery patchouli top notes, which is instantly replaced by the musty, earthy dirt-and-moist-hay scent of spikenard. It does mellow a bit and reveals some more sweeter-patchouli at the dry down, and becomes a hint more powdery and sweet. However, if I would name this single-note composition I would choose to call it Spikenard.
Spikenard has a very distinctive aroma, so if you love the musty scent of moist earth after rain, you would love this perfume.
I love spikenard, but it does not wear well with my body chemistry. Another note of appreciation I have for this perfume is that it smells very natural, which is a quality I love about a perfume. It is sincere and non-overwhelming.


pennine mate, originally uploaded by itsjustanalias.

My struggle with green fragrance per-se has never been a secret. Yes somehow, Fougères never posed any struggle for me. Their intense complexity, the headiness of herbs tamed by mossy undergrowth and, as I said, the “bittersweetness” of green” makes it easy for me. Fougères make me feel confident. Perhaps it is their intense masculinity (by association or design? This is hard to tell, as we are pre-programmed to believe in the masculinity of Fougère simply by the bold packaging and the fact that most of our fathers – particularly the ones who shaved and bothered with aftershave – smelled like this kind or another of Fougère – and Brut comes to mind effortlessly as an example).

I’ve stumbled upon two unusual, modern, bittersweet greens: Yohji and Yerbamate. The first being more of a green oriental rather than Fougère – combining an unusual dosage of galbanum (to the point of choking! And what’s more – its combined with a weird aquatic top note as well that is almost off-putting at first, until one gets used to the inseparable oddness of the entire composition, which is precisely what makes it so wonderful on those days when you’re in the mood for it). The combination of galbanum, a spritz of ozone, caramel, raspberry and an overdose of coumarin and vanilla at the base, which turns powdery after hours of wearing is unusual, odd, strange and at the same time appealing.

The other scent, Yerbamate, is a lot easier to stomach at first. Starting terribly green, nearly to the point of an Absinthe poisoning, I was always surprised I’ve enjoyed it so. I detect a fair amount of lavender as well as Artemisia, and again a very odd green – this time not only from galbanum, but also from the unusual note of tomato leaf. But what begins astringent and bitter like a very dry Martini suddenly changes direction and turns into an uber-sweet concoction. There is non of the berries or caramel here, yet like most of Villoresi’s scents (I find), it ends with a very sweet amber. This time, the amber is cleverly concealed amongst heaps of dried hay and powdery coumarin. If you think of a hay ride (or a more grown up type of hay ride), this would be a surprisingly soft one. And this is to the point of extreme indulgence in powdery ambery feathery fluff bordering on the dessert kind. The sip of bitter yerbamate was rewarded by sweetness that would have made you forget you might heard that name earlier…

To give you a completely different view of this prestigiously sought-after perfume, I will have to share with you a little story which my perfume friend Alden shared with me – simply because it put a big grin on my face in a much needed moment: “I read so many wonderful reviews about Yerbamate. I adore all things greens. So I was on a quest for perfection. It was first on my list of must-smells last Thanksgiving in NYC. I read the company's description over and over until I was virtually spellbound. So, I go up the sixth floor of Yah-whatever the Japanese department store on 5th Avenue and wander over. I spritz. Smells exactly like Canoe. I giggle and leave with a silly smile on my face. Anyway, I just wanted to share.” Thanks for sharing, Alden!

I haven’t had the opportunity to smell Canoe in recent years (the one time it turned out in the drugstore as a candidate for grandpa’s Christmas gift there were no testers, and that was about 6 years ago), but I can say oe thing about Yerbamate: it’s a fougere. And the emphasis here is on the concept of fougere, of juxtaposing fresh green with dry green (literally – as in dried hay); of bitter and sweet; of sharp and soft. Yerbamate may be the name, but I wouldn’t say it particularly stands out. It just adds to the extremeness of bitters at first, and than disappears like a Gaucho into the night.

Top Notes: Citrus, Tarragon, Tea, Maté, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Galbanum

Middle Note: New Mown Hay, Tomato Leaves, Lavender, Tea, Maté

Base Notes: Galbanum, Labdanum, Benzoin, Maté, Vetiver, Sweet and Powdery Notes

* Yerbamate bottle image from Barfumeria.com

Villoresi's Vetiver

" Dernier feux ... ", originally uploaded by dmviews.

Interesting opening, with a pronounced note of herbaceous lavender, lavandin and lavender concrete - painting a rather masculine atmosphere. Galbanum is also a apparent, though more coumarin-like than the sharp green I am accustomed to find in this interesting resinoid. The unusual, green-herbaceous-leathery notes of osmanthus absolute peek through from the heart and create a mysterious warmth, leading us to a cistus essential oil (it’s different than labdanum, a lot more pine-like). Neroli barely manage to surface in this environment of resinous thickness, but it does if you pay close attention. Notes of oakmoss emerge later with much warmth and sophistication. But for the most part what I smell all along is labdanum, lavender concrete (a lavender absolute pre-stage which creates a base note of lavender), and only the bearest hint of vetiver earthiness. My skin tends to feel at home around labdanum and amplify it, so you are more than welcome to take my assessment of the vetiver presence here with a grain of salt. On a second thought, usually my skin also amplifies vetiver, but it does not happen here. I can barely smell the vetiver and probably would have dismissed it completely if the scent had a different name!

Vetiver by Villoresi, much like his Patchouli (which smells like spikenard on me), does not smell too much like the note from which it borrowed its name. It is worth mentioning in this vetiver marathon for its originality and unique combination of notes. Yet if you are looking for a vetiver scent that will showcase the typical characteristics of vetiver, this will not be among the ones I’d recommend. As an interesting exercise in an ambery fougere this is a superb offering with impressive amounts of natural essences, more than the other scents from this house that I’ve tried.

Top notes: Lavender, Galbanum, Cumin,
Heart notes: Osmanthus, Cistus oil, Neroli
Base notes: Labdanum, Vetiver, Oakmoss, Lavender Concrete

For an entirely different fragrance pyramid and to read more reviews of this fragrance, visit Basenotes.

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