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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Summer Of Patchouli Love, Part Three: The Teacher’s Pets – And A Prize Draw

By Donna

Perfume-Smellin’ Things has been invited to participate in one of the biggest group blogging projects to date, and certainly the most complex one that I have ever been involved with. Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals and the Perfume Pharmer blog has coordinated a truly impressive array of natural perfumers, testers (“The Patch Test Bunnies”), judges including our own Marina who owns Perfume Smellin’ Things, and even celebrity participants, all centered on one concept: Thirteen natural perfumers were challenged to create a an alcohol-based fragrance in Eau de Parfum (at least 15% oils concentration) with at least 25% pure patchouli essential oil in the mix. In Part One of this series I explored the cooler and greener perfumes in the range, in Part Two, The Rebels, I wrote about the ones that did not work for me, the ones who defy authority and just won’t play nice. In this the final chapter, I am revealing my top three, the Teacher’s Pets, plus the closest runner-up, I guess you could call them the valedictorian and salutatorians. These were the entries that answered all the answers correctly, so to speak.

The fragrance that landed in fourth place was Number Eleven, which was later revealed to be a creation of one of my favorite perfumers, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes, and it has now been named Bodhi Sativa. It is a very serene, calming scent, minty “tea with milk” on me with a slightly sweetened gourmand aura to start, and later the tea subsides as the fragrance gets richer and warmer without becoming overly sweet or strong, and it’s as elegant as a polished stone. I enjoyed this fragrance very much and Dawn’s expert hand is apparent in the balanced execution. In fact it was this subtlety and smoothness that caused it to not quite make the cut since I felt that I wanted to choose a fragrance that had a strong patchouli character yet be something I could really like, and the project is all about patchouli. It’s a beautiful fragrance and I would definitely wear it, but for me it just did not have that standout patchouli zing I was looking for in the winning composition.

Number Two was my bronze medalist and it was also quite popular with the other testers. It is by perfumer Liz Zorn and is called River Walk. It’s a comforting old-school style patchouli perfume, easily recognizable but not in any way a crude “hippie oil” concoction. The patchouli itself is of particularly fine quality and I would love to smell it in anything; that’s saying a lot coming from me! It’s a full, rich scent, very wearable and cozy. The prominence of the patch might bother me in a fragrance of lesser quality, but this is Liz Zorn after all, so no worries there. It develops an enveloping, spicy warmth on skin as it develops. My paper test notes for River Walk said “rich, spicy, gourmand, complex, very good.” On skin it was even better and to me it was the most “edible” of the bunch, with frequent pressing of my nose to my arm to inhale its goodness, almost like gingerbread made with patchouli. Now there’s an idea!

My penultimate selection was Number Thirteen, which is Wild Child by Opus Oils. I think this might just be the most applauded one in the bunch for all the Patch Test Bunnies and the celebrity testers and judges alike, and for good reason. It’s easy to love and absolutely delicious with its buttery floral character and coconut-infused tropical tanning oil vibe. I get a lot of gardenia in this, so it’s a foregone conclusion that this White Floral Queen would fall for this hothouse flower of a perfume. It’s seductive in a classic “bombshell” way and all the better for it, but the patchouli, while evident as the fragrance develops on the skin, takes a back seat to the florals and gourmand notes. I think that may be the reason why I did not also select Wild Child as my winner as many others did– it is packed with so much else besides patchouli that even someone who really hates the stuff would like it. It was virtually a three way tie at the top, but I wanted to reward the one that was obviously a patchouli perfume to my nose.

My winning entry did not even make the podium for most of the other testers, but I thought it had the whole package: Number Four, now known as Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate of A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes. It’s bold, it’s sensuous, it’s happily wearable, it’s unabashedly a patchouli-centric fragrance, and I still loved it. My notes for the paper strip testing said: “fruity, gourmand, lightly earthy, rounded, sexy, incense, love it!” All of these qualities were confirmed on skin, and more. It started out as deeply complex and well balanced incense and patchouli with a gentle fruitiness that I could not quite identify, and then it developed a wonderfully appealing muskiness that reminded me of Musc Ravageur, the genially outrageous sensation by Maurice Roucel for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. After all, this project is called the Summer of Patchouli Love, and this one really emphasizes the” love” part in the carnal sense. But don’t worry, it’s not hippie oil either, despite the name and even though the perfumer was directly inspired by the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco and a little shop on the corner that once sold patchouli perfume. No one will move away from you on the bus if you wear this, but they just might move closer. I can’t stop smiling and sniffing when I wear Haight & Ashbury and I really surprised myself by liking it so much. Congratulations to Jane Cate and all the other talented perfumers who made this patchouli skeptic into a believer.

The full list, revealed at last:

1) Alfredo Dupetit, Indiéne
2) Liz Zorn, River Walk
3) Shelley Waddington- Go Ask Alice
4) Jane Cate - Haight and Ashbury
5) April Aromatics - Bohemian Spice
6) Perfume by Nature - Happiness
7) Providence Perfume Company – Rose Boheme
8) Lyn Ayre - Patchouli Paisley
9) There is no # 9, to avoid any confusion with #6 for the testers
10) JoAnne Bassett - Tetu
11) DSH Perfumes – Bodhi Sativa
12) Amanda Feeley – Queen of Punk
13) Opus Oils – Wild Child
14) Theraputate – Royal Water

To see all the participants in this project, including previous blog posts leading up to the main event, which will run throughout the summer of 2011, please visit this page on Perfume Pharmer. Some of the writers will have their reviews published there as well while others will post on their own blogs, and all the links are on this page. You can also get a sneak peek of everyone’s top three favorites! We even have celebrities on board, including actress Kim Novak (!!!), singer Simone (daughter of Nina), musician Bruce Langhorne and actress Jodie Foster, and an international roster of perfumers who graciously agreed to lend their considerable talents to the challenge. Peace, Love and Patchouli – PLAP - to everyone!

And now for the prizes – we have two fragrances generously donated by the perfumers, a 5 ml silver toned purse spray of Number Two, River Walk by Liz Zorn, and ½ bottle of Number Four, Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate. Please leave a comment if you would like to be entered, tell us what your own favorite patchouli perfume is, and specify which one you would like to win! (U.S. mailing addresses only, please.)

Image credits: Summer of Patchouli Love logo courtesy of Monica Miller and created by graphic artist Elizabeth Whelan

Photo of “Further,” one of the famous hippie school buses used by Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters, by photographer Joe Mabel from Wikimedia Commons.

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42 Comments:

Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

I'm happy to see Liz Zorn's Riverwalk getting some more love! It was my top pick, and I adore it in every way. It lasts forever on skin, and just gets better as time goes on.

No need to enter me in the draw, I'm lucky enough to already have some Riverwalk. :)

12:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Monica said...

Full Bunny Points to Donna Hathaway! Great reviews and lucky "teacher's pets"! Thank you so much for all your great contributions to "Summer of Patchouli LOVE" Donna, PLAP!

12:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enter me baby.
My favorite patch is Coromandel.
Not a natural, and I'm certainly curious to try one!

12:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous RMcKenzie said...

Riverwalk sounds scrumptious! My favorite patchouli is BPAL's Snake Oil.

12:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous Wendy B said...

uh, above comment is me, Wendy B. I am not anonymous, like the thingie says.

12:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous your vintage avon lady said...

My favorite patchouli scent right now would have to be L Artisan Voleur de Roses. I think I'd be most interested in Riverwalk.

12:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

I'd love to be entered in the draw for either perfume- though if I HAD to choose , I might go with Riverwalk.

My favorite patchouli fragrances are probably L'Artisan Voleur de Roses, Tom Ford Noir de Noir and Frederic Malle Potrait of a Lady (yes I love rose with patchouli..:))

2:00 AM EDT  
Blogger dDub said...

I don't know much about patchouli in fine fragrances, but I love SL Borneo 1834. I'd love to try Riverwalk (both really, but the fruity unknown scres me).

2:12 AM EDT  
Anonymous Natalia said...

I've heard wonderful things about Riverwalk and would love to try some.

Patchouli? Must be Timbuktu! Lots of patchouli on me.

2:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Melian said...

I love these perfume challenges...so interesting to see the different interpretations of a theme. A couple of my favorite patchouli fragrances are Prada and Ava Luxe Bois Exotique. I'd love to try Liz Zorn's Riverwalk.

6:50 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad one of the Patch Test Bunnies likes Haight & Ashbury the best- I got to try this one, and I was really impressed. I'm not a patch fan at all, but Jane really came up with a smoothie! Apparently, it's so mild and cheerful that some actually questioned whether or not there was really 25% patch in it. But there is, and it's a really lovely material. Must find her source for it!
-Marla

7:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Momlady said...

Patchouli giveaway. Oh Yeah! I've followed your posts with great interest and have enjoyed every one. Would love to give them a try.

7:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Fernando said...

My wife's current favorite is Patchouli Noir from Histoires de Parfums. I don't think I have any Patch perfumes, or at least none that make it a main theme. Clearly a situation that should be corrected!

8:19 AM EDT  
Blogger arlene20 said...

Love, love, love Timbuktu! Haight and Ashbury would be my fave to win! Thanks for entering me.

8:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous RusticDove said...

Being a fan of patchouli, I have been following the 'Patch Test Bunnies' with much interest. Also, I'm a fan of Liz Zorn [her Massive Patchouli is a great patch fragrance too]. So her River Walk is the one I would most like to try! My favorite scent featuring patchouli - gosh, there are several, but I'll go with Bal A Versailles.

9:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Maureen said...

I don't know if I've ever tried a patchouli fragrance, but I sure would like to remedy that. I think I would like Riverwalk. Please enter me in the draw.

9:24 AM EDT  
Blogger woodgirl said...

Being a patch lover from waaayy back, I don't have just one favorite. I'm torn between Keiko Mecheri's Patchoulissime, Paisley by Possets, and Eau de Rochas. While both Riverwalk and H&A sound wonderful, I think I would pick Haight & Ashbury. Please enter me in the draw, thanks.

9:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

Thanks for the draw! I would love to try either but I will go for Haigh & Ashbury since I've never tried anything from A Wing and a Prayer. And my favorite patch scents are Neil Morris Hippie and Coromandel.

9:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lyrical said...

Please include me in the draw, I'd be happy trying either scent. I have not been a big patchouli wearer in the past but recently I have been wearing Lush's "Karma" occasionally and enjoying it.

10:17 AM EDT  
Blogger ginamused said...

My current favorite is Tom Ford Noir de Noir. I would love to try Riverwalk; please enter me in the drawing. Thank you

10:39 AM EDT  
Blogger ~elise said...

I'm a Coromandel lover! Would love to win either!

11:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Gail S said...

Like you, I'm not a huge fan of patchouli by itself, but I keep trying to find patch scents that are wearable for me. So far the only ones I've been able to wear consistently are LeLabo Patchouli 24 and V&R Flowerbomb. Of course, neither of these really smell like patchouli :) I would love to try the Liz Zorn Riverwalk, I'm quite fond of much of her work and this might do it for me too!

11:16 AM EDT  
Blogger dremybluz said...

My favorite patchouli fragrance would be patchouli patch by L"Artisan. Please enter me in the draw for Haight Ashbury

11:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous dleep said...

These sound wonderful. I love patchouli. My favorite and one which receives many compliments is Coromandel. I don't think I will ever be without it. I would love to be in the drawing. Thanks.

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger MoonRae said...

To be honest,I don't have any Patchouli perfume, but I do have a 25+yr old bottle of oil a friend brought me from Indonesia that is a treasure,it's gotten dark and thick and it's wonderful....I'd be thrilled to try either one of these perfumes offered!! Thanks for a great blog and a fab giveaway

12:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Nina Z said...

My favorite patchouli (so far) is Coromandel. But I've still got a lot more to explore. I'd love to be entered for Riverwalk.

1:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Tama said...

I am a patch ho fo sho and am still exploring it as a more "perfumery" note, since I know and love it as the hippie stuff. I am a big fan of Coromandel.

I tried and loved Wild Child, and got a brief glimpse of Go Ask Alice, but for the draw, being a San Francisco Girl, I have to want Haight & Ashbury!

2:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Doc Elly said...

I need more perfumes to test like I need a hole in the head, but please enter me in the drawing anyway.

I don't have "favorite" anything, since it all depends on context, but like others, I appreciate the use of patchouli in Coromandel. Patchouli-containing things that I've recently sampled and like include Neil Morris's Afire, Esteban Orientalissime, Ava Luxe Cashmere Musk, Guerlain Djedi, Esteban Patchouli, Neil Morris Gandhara, Gucci Accenti, Byredo Baudelaire, L'Artisan Timbuktu, Agent Provocateur EdP, Thierry Mugler Angel, Miss Dior, Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain, Xerjoff Richwood, ELdO Vraie Blonde, Montale Black Aoud, Amouage Epic (M) Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady ... well, that's enough for now.

2:16 PM EDT  
Blogger ccdouglass said...

I would love to be entered in the draw! I love patchouli fragrances way too much to pick a favorite I'm afraid. It would just be impossible!

3:03 PM EDT  
Blogger saralevy said...

I would like to enter the drawing and try for Riverwalk! My favorite patchouli fragrance is Coromandel. Thanks! Sara

5:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Katherine said...

This was great! I don't have a favorite patchouli scent, but I buy a small bottle every year at a big ren faire event and layer it with other things for variety. :) Please enter me.

6:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Michael Singels said...

I haven't worn too many patchouli-centered scents, but I just got the chance to try DSH's entry, Bodhi Sativa, and it is really quite beautiful!

I would be really interested to try Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate. A fruity patchouli sounds quite nice!

Thanks,
Michael

8:23 PM EDT  
Blogger janelc said...

Thank you Donna for such a lovely and accurate review. H&A ( as Haight and Ashbury is being now called) was so much fun to create. The patchouli is called Iron Free Patchoui and it is from Eden Botanicals(I guess I just gave away my perfumer's secret, oh well).
Looking forward to seeing who get's the give away.
Thanks again.

10:51 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Karma and Timbuktu, and would love to try the Bodhi Sativa, or any of the other drags.
Thanks,
JillS

6:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Cynthia said...

Thanks for the interesting series of reviews. My favorite patch is SL Borneo. I would be happy to try either, but I'll pick #4 as I've never tried any of her perfumes. Thanks!

9:31 AM EDT  
Blogger KathyT said...

My favorite patch fragrance is Coromandel and sometimes L'Artisan Patchouli Patch when I want something earthy. I'd love to be entered into the drawing for the Jane Cate fragrance please. Thanks!

9:32 AM EDT  
Blogger ll graham said...

Please enter me in the drawing. My favorite patchouli is L'Artisan's Patchouli Patch.
Of the two offered, I would take the ½ bottle of Number Four, Haight & Ashbury by Jane Cate.
Thanks

11:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Lizzie said...

Very interesting to read the big reveal- I've been wondering which is which! I don't currently have a favorite patchouli perfume, but I do have a bundle of fresh patchouli roots that I keep in my closet for a bit of clothing scent that smells divine. :)

I'd love to try either perfume, but if I had to choose one I'd probably go for the Haight & Ashbury.

12:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous hotlanta linda said...

YT needs a patch scent!! Jane Cate`s is the narrow fave here. Original Casaque was my most loved scent w/ patch in the main accord :-)

12:56 PM EDT  
Anonymous Denise said...

I would love to be entered in the draw.My favorite is Coromandel and I would love to win Riverwalk.

1:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the haight-ashbury really caught my eye - so that one!

my current fave patchouli is fresh patchouli pure. but lately i've been wearing a patchouli-centric blend by aveda and getting lots of compliments. have no idea which of the spirit blends it is, but it works!

cheers,
minette

8:18 PM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

THE PRIZE DRAW IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks for your comments and interest everyone! This has been a lot of fun. The winners will be announced shortly, good luck!

4:16 PM EDT  

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