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Monday, August 28, 2006

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.

Colony is available at, $39.95 for 2.5oz. Get it for that price while you can. Not anymore. :-) Try I must add that there is a wonderful little surprise tucked into each box, a pure silk Patou scarf (that is it serving as a background to the bottle on the photo).

The photo of Colony is my own. The vintage poster is from


Blogger Kelley said...

Beautiful review. So, could a guy get away with this? I love pineapple but find Ananas Fizz a little too sweet and of course it is gone within an hour on my skin. What is your verdict?

11:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

My goodness, you make this sound attractive. The price is so good I don't know if I can resist (having never smelled it before!) Is there another Patou with a family resemblance/ similar feel?

1:33 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

God, I haven't smelled this one in years...but I distinctly remember the aura of privilege which surrounds it, coinciding with the era in which Coco C. popularized the tan as a mark of indolence,not labor.

I don't believe that there are any other Patou's like,Tigs...

I remember being put off by the pineapple, but then [as often happens]the whole approach/avoidance dance begins!

Such a lovely review...

6:57 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

P.S.- Kelley:

YOU could get away with anything...

Just pretend that you are subcontinental [like I do!]...SEE-
There you are!

6:59 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Oh my God?!?!? That price!!! That scarf?!?!?!? Didn't you just send me this???? (running to look, I don't care if 7 am is a little early for civet)

7:24 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Hahahahahhaha -- wow, that is hilarious!!! Applied your sample -- it's like Ananas got together with Bandit and had a love child... I can't decide whether I "like" it, but it's sure interesting! #2 Daughter says "it smells like Spongebob's house." I get mostly pineapple sillage, the dirty part is closer to the skin. Dang, that IS dirty, isn't it? Almost birch-tarry, too. Cool, cool fragrance.

7:31 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Wonderful review! I love the fact that the pineapple is, as you say, indolent here, and not sparkly. I'm not a big fan of "sparkly" scents or notes. Great list of books. It also brings to mind for me many of Graham Greene's novels and stories (especially the base notes).

7:36 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful review. Is this your favorite of the Ma Collection? Which ones do you like there? (I have had a number of the bottles for a while, but I'm embarrassed to say that the only one I know while is Vacances--which I'm sure is not your fave, knowing your dislike for lilac:)

7:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't see why not. It is not sugary-sweet, it is not sparkly and girly, and it does have a dark base. You should try!

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Although I haven't tried that one yet, I was told by someone whom I completely trust in things like that :-), that Forever (For Ever) by Patou has slight resemblance to Colony, *but only in pure perfume form*.
The price is very good, and when they are gone, the will be gone...soon we'll see 1stperfume selling them for $499. :-)

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Aura of priviledge...Love the way you put that! That's definitely that in Colony, along with the dark side that being priviledged usually has (well, in books and movies anyway :-))

8:27 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

"It's like Ananas got together with Bandit and had a love child"..."smells like Spongebob's house"...ah hahahaha You two are killing me.

(it's never too early for civet)

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I should have included Greene!

I too don't like sparkly-sparkly smiley scents, ugh, they make me uneasy :-) I do make exception for Ananas Fizz and Bahiana though.

8:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think it is my favorite at the moment together with Adieu Sagesse, closely followed by Que Sais-Je and the rest of them :-) I even like Vacances. It is a tender lilac, not in your face stuff like some I won't name here.
Signed, Patou-maniac.

8:32 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I just put on some Adieu Sagesse to test it. Wow! That is beautiful!!! I wanted to put on some Colony, too, but I couldn't find it (although I'm pretty sure it's around here omewhere. . . ). Que sais-je is one of the ones I don't have. New-lemmings-R-us:)

8:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad you like! I am afraid Que Sais-Je seems to be the hardest to find. Well, for any kind of price lower than $179 or whetever 1stperfuem is asking for it. Which I suppose isn't ridiculously expensive compared to things like Armani Prive, but still. Another one I couldn't find so far was Moment Supreme.

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Marina, is sold out! Your many readers must have (in a panic, I am sure) rushed to the site to get a bottle. Alas, there are none left! Good on you!

10:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Wow. Well, we don't know how many bottles Sector had in the first place, probably not that many. You could try PerfumeMart, they totally reliable and have free shipping promotion right now.

11:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore Colony, too! Do you get a weird spice note, almost like marjoram, in the top notes? I have the extrait, so it might be a little different from the EdT.

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Just put on some extrait to see if I get any marjoram. I am not getting any, but it doesn't mean it isn't there. Although intially extrait is a little more intense, sweeter and "boozier" on me than EDT, as far as my nose can tell, they are basically the same.
So nice to hear from another Colony fan!!

11:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Damn! Gonna try perfumemart....

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Lisa Olga said...

hmmmm sounds to give it the real French Colonies vibe all it would need is a little dust, a gunpowder note, and an accord of something distinctly red.

12:08 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I only hope that Sector29's delivery will be as prompt for others as it was for me. otherwise there will be people hating me out there for recommending it. *scared*

12:14 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I tried a few others and they had it, but for more like $70. I'd splurge for $40, but $70 is out of my league this month. Ah well.

12:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I wounder what I could layer it with to achieve the full colonial effect...:-)

12:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Try PerfumeMart who has it right now for $53 with free shipping.

12:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow that sounds absolutely lovely, great review colombina.

12:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much, Jennifer!

1:03 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered Colony from sector29, which sells through, as I have discovered, but my experience was far from positive. The Colony I received was nothing like fresh Colony. No pineapple, no opening notes of any sort, only something that smells like rancid jasmine with a little leather thrown in. Old, old bitter Colony. It has to be returned. I hope others who have ordered from s29 have an experince like colombina. If your Colony doesn't have the supple, warm pineapple in the opening notes, don't settle for it. You deserve the fresh juice.

3:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How do you mean they sell through They seem like a competletely different site. Let's hope that those who might have ordered today will be as lucky as I was.

3:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like fragrance etailers such as and, sector29 is an affiliate of as far as their fragrances are concerned If you compare the item numbers of s29's frags to Fragrancenet's item numbers, you will see that the numbers are the same. My Colony arrived from Fragrancenet's warehouse in NY, not s29's b&m address in MN. C, you were quite fortunate to have received the fresh bottle. I got the rank one. Just the way the cookie crumbled.

3:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

These online stores work in mysterious ways. :-) Sorry about your experience. Fingers crossed about other bottles. Did you order recently?

3:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered last week, babe. BTW, wonderful review of Colony. You hit it spot on.

3:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Darn! This online ordering is really a lottery. Or Russian roulette even, sometimes. Did you return Colony /did they take it back?

3:43 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm working on returning it. Fingers crossed.

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Fingers crossed!!

3:48 PM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Isn't that pineapple delightful? I was just thinking of the humour -- or, rather "esprit", as in "mot d'esprit" -- of some Patous. Cocktail is another one. There's something irresistibly witty and spry about that pair. Totally different from the spirit of Joy. Much more dégagé... I wish I could try the extrait, but the two bottles I spotted on eBay swung way out of my league.

5:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa Olga said...


I would have said either of the Guerillas but having read the reviews that make them sound more like very small and protosimian things; the Fragrant Funster shall have to meditate more upon this.

5:35 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh yes, Cocktail is another wonderful example of olfactory wittiness. I adore it!

5:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah, the Guerillas won't do, they are too insipid for this kind of task. Perhaps another CdG?

5:39 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I have a bit of the parfum waiting patiently for a try and will go see if I can find a free space on my arms...

6:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I would love to know what you think!

7:02 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa Olga said...

Perhaps Garage from the synthetic series? A little steel packed in cosmolene...a few glass jars of gasoline? Uncle Ho's little book stashed in the pocket of a frayed black shirt? And a whiffa of cheap floral incense maybe.

9:29 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Now we are talking! :-)

9:35 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Colombina, Thanks for the plug:)

I just want to say that I forwarded Anonymous's concern to Although, I do have 4 sources for fragrances, I choose as my main fragrance wholesaler/supplier because of their price and their selection. As all products come from one or a handful of factories, it doesn't really matter who the wholesalers are.

There are currently no "affiliate" products or links on I do have a business license and taxid and I'm slowly building my network. I contact all my business partners on a per order basis. Not thru an affiliate URL. As my site grows, I may put affiliate links on it. But for now I don't need to.

Good luck all. I'll keep you posted anonymous.

2:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful review! This is one of my all-time favorites and you hit it just right. I could SWIM in this stuff it's so delicious, yet never too sweet - definitely a lot going on underneath the pineapple. Look up "Decadent" in the dictionary and there is Colony's picture.... :-)

3:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It's great to hear from you. I hope all resolves to the satisfaction of my reader. I am very pleased with my bottle as I am sure you could tell. Is there any hope there would be more Patous on your site for a similar price? :-)

9:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh yes, wonderfully decandent. I'd swim in it too, I love it so much. :-)

9:29 AM EDT  
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12:15 AM EDT  

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