Perfume Review: Jean Patou Colony
Colony, created in 1938, is Patou’s homage to the Tropics in general and to the French colonies in particular. According to Jan Moran, in 1930s-1940s, Colony “was a favorite bon-voyage gift for many a high sea journey”. It certainly awakens in me the most acute longing to be in a different epoch, to travel the world in supreme comfort and elegance or better yet to be a heroine in some exciting and dramatic work of fiction, perhaps Indochine, as Jan Moran suggests, or A Passage to India, or English Patient, or (my favorite option) Death on the Nile.
As I see it, the action in Colony takes place in a pampered, civilized oasis. The cast of characters, the chic, refined crowd, are enjoying the exotic refreshments and the juiciest of fruits under the palm trees…White dresses, exuberant laughter, secretive, meaningful glances…An experienced reader would immediately sense the dark undercurrents amidst all that gaiety, passionate and dirty secrets, wicked intentions. And lets not forget the wild life prowling outside the brightly lit oasis…Because under all that sumptuous, playful fruitiness of the pineapple note, under the languid sensuality of ylang ylang spiced up by carnation, there is in Colony a very distinct smell of an Animal, a gloriously stinky accord of leather, musk, and, I think, civet.
This is an intriguing scent, a little twisted, a little dangerous, very exciting. It is done with a lot of imagination and quite a bit of humor, and asks for the same from its wearer. To those who, like me, are intrigued by the presence of pineapple note in Colony, I must report that the note is very apparent and, especially in the very beginning, very true to the smell of pineapple. It is not a sparkly, fresh note like that in L’Artisan’s Ananas Fizz; the pineapple here is indolent, sweet in a languorous sort of way. And should the word “sweet” worry you, I will hasten to say that the very distinct chypre base balances the fruitiness very successfully. Not only are there leather and musk, but there is also an earthy, sharpish accord of vetiver and oakmoss. Fruity as it is, Colony is still most definitely a chypre.
The whole effect of Colony is stylized and stylish, this is truly a scent from a different, so much more glamorous time…and yet at the same time I find it to be very modern. I can easily imagine someone like Lutens producing a “tropical”, deceptively fruity fragrance based on the same contrast of flamboyant, vivacious top notes and a wicked, dark, animalic base.
The photo of Colony is my own. The vintage poster is from allposters.com.