Perfume Review: Le Labo Patchouli 24
Patchouli 24 was created for Le Labo by the very talented Annick Menardo, the author of Lolita Lempicka, Bvlgari Black and Dior Bois d’Argent (NowSmellThis). The notes in Patchouli 24 include patchouli, birch, styrax, vanilla, and, according to Le Labo, “patchouli is not easy to detect in this formula”. Had I not liked this scent, I would have probably grumbled about how much more appropriate it would have been to call the scent Birch Tar, but I do like it, so I actually don’t really care about the fact that “Patchouli 24” is a misnomer. Patchouli does have a leathery undertone and perhaps that was the aspect Menardo decided to emphasize.
Patchouli 24 is certainly one of the most original scents in the Le Labo collection. Menardo’s use of birch tar is unexpected and the note itself is very attractive, smoky, dark and balsamic. The scent’s woody, spicy smokiness reminds me of Kolnisch Juchten; Menardo’s more refined creation is not as “meaty” and robust as the awesomely barbarian Kolnisch Juchten, but it is still only a small step away from being as savory-gourmand as that strange and appealing leather fragrance. Having said that, on my skin, Kolnisch Juchten has much more patchouli, especially in the drydown, than Patchouli 24; in turn, the hearty, thick birch tar note in Patchouli 24 lingers much longer than in Kolnisch Juchten (which is practically all-patchouli to me in its later stage) and is quite perceptible till the very end.
Another twist in the composition of Patchouli 24 is the presence and prominence of vanilla. The note appears in the second half of the scent’s development and at first its sweetness seems incongruous in this smoky and dry blend. On the second thought, one realizes that a) this conventional “comfort” note in the midst of smoky strangeness is Annick Menardo’s signature little eccentric touch (Bvlgari Black, anyone?) and that b) vanilla here does not take away the fragrance’s unique feel, does not tone it down to an extent of making it characterless, but its very presence, the contrast between the dark, leathery smokiness of birch tar and the fluffy softness of vanilla, makes the perfume all the more original.
Patchouli 24 is available at Le Labo boutique, $45.00-$180.00.
The image is from LeLaboFragrances.com.