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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pineapple wars: Jean Patou Colony versus the modern world (And a giveaway)

By Donna

Pineapple is one of those fragrance notes that seems to elicit strong opinions, Either you love it and can’t get enough, or the very thought of it makes you back away slowly from the offending perfume as if it were radioactive. I am firmly in the former category myself, being a fan of pineapple in virtually all of its forms and uses, with the notable exception of pizza – that’s just wrong. From piňa coladas to Thai food, everything is better with pineapple. Of course, there are also a slew of cheap and artificial pineapple-scented products around. Pineapple suffers a fate similar to raspberry, orange or rose, where the bad synthetic renditions give the whole group a bad name. I will studiously ignore these and concentrate on actual perfume.

The undisputed dowager queen of all pineapple scents is Colony by Jean Patou, one of the twelve resurrected and then sadly discontinued Ma Collection scents, and my other favorite of that group in addition to Vacances. It was first released in 1938 during the Golden Age of French perfumery, and upon smelling it is immediately apparent that it is a beautiful relic of days gone by. It is actually a chypre scent, probably the only pineapple chypre ever made as far as I can tell. It is endowed with a heavy, syrupy and languid helping of pineapple, spices, carnation, iris, ylang ylang and a perfectly divine overdose of oakmoss that keeps it sophisticated and tamps down any excessive sweetness. Any astringency comes from all that oakmoss, in fact, as the pineapple is very concentrated and has no trace of the fresh, raw fruit in it. I cannot tell you how much I adore this perfume; it is so very sexy and grown-up, yet it has that hint of tropical romance to it that gives it such a charming character. The reissued version may not be an exact replica of the original, but the Ma Collection fragrances were probably the most accurate renditions of vintage formulas ever made.

Skip ahead several generations and its descendant in the House of Patou is Patou Forever, a much lighter fruity-floral composition, but the pineapple is there. It is more realistic pineapple, not too sweet, but it’s sharp and fresh and yet not acidic or thin. It’s a perfect summer scent, greened with vetiver and embellished with other fruit accords. I will need to get some more of this once my Colony runs out; sadly, it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone forever.

Most other pineapple themed fragrances available today all seem hew to the light and fresh style, at least in my experience. Ananas Fizz by L’ Artisan Parfumeur is ethereally light, so much so that it is very fleeting on my skin, which is a pity as it is really a very nice fragrance. It is not strictly a pineapple “soliflore”, but that is one of the dominant notes. It is complemented by citrus, coconut, vanilla and light woods. It is eminently suitable for summer as it is about as sheer a scent as I have ever tried, and typical of the lovely and transparent creations Anne Flipo has done for L’Artisan.

On the sweeter side, Comptoir Sud Pacifique has Vanille Pineapple, with the fruit accompanied by frangipani, coconut, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, passion fruit and musk. As with most CSP scents, the top notes fade rather quickly, leaving the vanilla, coconut and sugar to duke it out, and in this case the top note is just pineapple. It’s a fun perfume, make no mistake, but not everyone wants to smell like pineapple upside-down cake all day. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Which brings me to the opposite end of the pineapple spectrum from Colony and another discontinued scent – Bath & Body Works’ Fresh Pineapple. I was doing my usual smash-and-grab stocking up at the semi-annual sale recently and picked up the shower gel, which I had not tried, then I saw a little bottle of cologne on the clearance table for almost nothing. I thought, why not, it’s pineapple and coconut, what could go wrong? As it turned out, the shower gel was pretty decent, but the spray cologne was pretty thin stuff – it started out with an in-your-face gush of freshly cut pineapple, joined quickly by coconut, but the pineapple turned harsh and a bit sour, and there was an unpleasant interval while that fizzled out; definitely a synthetic pineapple accord. It was not too bad after that, but it was mostly coconut by then and I don’t think that is exactly the real thing either. This is one of those photo-realistic modern fragrances that are made to literally smell like the picture on the bottle – that can be fine, and this is probably better in hot and humid weather when something so simple is all you want.

To illustrate the evolution (or should I say decline) of pineapple in perfume, I am offering a sample each of Jean Patou Colony and BB&W Fresh Pineapple. Both are discontinued, but for only one of them is that a tragedy, and when you try them side-by-side you will see why. If you want to be in the draw please indicate in the comments. The winner’s name will be selected the week after this post appears.

Image credits: Vintage Colony bottle from collector site Pineapple upside-down cake, photo by Tina Cornett at (I am totally going to make this – it has macadamia and cardamom in it.)

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Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

I am suitably seduced! What a fabulous review! The Patou sounds Incredible! Please put me into the drawing!!!!!!!!!!!! Or send some of that delicious pineapple cake;) gads,now I'm starving!

12:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to try Colony for so long, may I please be in?
My favorite pineapple rendition in a perfume is Caron Acasiosa, one of my top 10 perfumes of all time:)

12:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks, Beth! You are in! Colony is truly one of a kind.

LOL, reading this again now I have the munchies too! (I have not made the cake yet but I am planning on it.)

12:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Nika, I have never tried Acasiosa, I did not realize it had pineapple in it! I must try to find it someday.
You are in the draw!

1:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

I was looking for the right pineapple scent for a while, but L'artisan's Fizz didn't work on me (I have to try Colony !). Few weeks ago on a trip to London I tried Acaciosa (I'm a big admirer of Farnesiana...) and loved it - now I know why, it was the pineapple...

3:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Ines said...

I would love to be included in the draw, I am a huge fan of pineapple. My bottle of Ananas fizz is almost out and I'd love to try some new pineapple scents. :)

4:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Parfymerad said...

Great review - giving me a new note for my 'sniffing list'!

I'd love to be put into your sample draw please, and in the meantime will go off to the shops this pm and smell ananas fizz...

6:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Patricia said...

Thank you for this chance. I would like to enter the draw. Oddly, today I woke up with a craving for pineapple salad.

6:22 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might be wrong, but I thought Westwood's Libertine was a pineapple chypre.

7:03 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Hi, Donna !

Libertine is indeed a pineapple chypre, but nothing like Colony- which feela almost like a Caron, in the base, no ?

I'm in complete agreement about the Patou Forever- it ihas a boozier feel, and seems less dry than Colony- funny thing, that.

Love to read and see you, always.

7:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Charlotte Vale said...

Please enter me in the draw, I'd love to try Colony. A fruity-floral chypre with tons o' moss sounds like my kind of weirdness. The pineapple note in Acasiosa is beautiful, but oh so fleeting, at least in the current formulation.

7:52 AM EDT  
Blogger snowcrocus said...

Include me please! I like pineapple a la Hilary Duff but would like to try some without the cedar note.

8:31 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to you and Marina posting rhapsodic pieces about Patou's "Colony" and "Vacances", I managed to find a "Ma Collection" box on e-bay.

I was SO, SO excited when it arrived, and I loved trying them all out. The scents are no doubt a little worse for wear, but I am still thrilled to know that I have tiny 5ml bottles of these rarities in my little cabinet at home. Thanks for sharing your knowledge :)

That reminds, me, I sometimes see large bottles of Patou's discontinued scents for sale, and have actually bought a Colony spray and L'Heure Attendue splash, but I've not been able to find out how you can tell whether they are genuine or not. Any tips would be very gratefully received. I tried emailing Patou direct but without success. Best wishes - Emma

8:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Please include me in the drawing. Thank you!

9:17 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, must have some pineapple at lunch today! Fantastic reviews! This is, actually, a note I love in scents. My latest pineapple addiction is Hilde Soliani's Sipario. Delicious stuff! I got a bottle of Colony parfum once from Jaime, but it had completely turned - SOO disappointing. And I should say that he warned me it was excessively dark, so not his fault at all - I was just desperate. I think I am going to be needing a bottle of Forever parfum for the summer. I've heard that the parfum is the way to go w/ that scent. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Thanks for these reviews!

9:58 AM EDT  
Blogger benvenuta said...

I was in Thailand in January and I loved the fresh pineapple sold everywhere on streets and beaches, cut into chunks and served in a plastic bag with a bamboo stick.
But generally I don`t like like fruity notes in perfume and I`m afraid I`ll never be able to like the pineapple note after living with an insane roommate in the dorm when I was at university... She showered in Escada Rockin Rio every morning. It was Death By Canned Pineapple.
I thought Ananas Fizz was pleasant, but it`s more citrusy with very little pineapple.

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

What a great pairing...Colony & BBW...the best of times, the worst of times, as far as presentation and discontinuation.

Now, I may need to make TWO pineapple upside down cakes...a classic (from Marion Cunningham's Baking Book) and the one you honor of today's side by side theme...

10:11 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

...oops! Forgot to say that a friend in scent gave me a q-tip hit on her small sample of vintage has been travelling with me for months now...I keep it in a little wallet...and *still* can't decide if I "like" it or not, but I am obviously fascinated by it! (And I keep on huffing it.)

10:13 AM EDT  
Blogger krnszn said...

Hi Donna! Thanks for the draw...please include me. Only pineapple scent I have - Blue Hawaii by Demeter. Have you tried it? As most Demeters, it fades fairly quickly, but top note it definitely some major pineapple.

10:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh my gosh, I haven't smelled Colony in 20 years, and I would LOVE to be included in the drawing. Speaking of pineapple, the new MDCI Le Rivage des Syrtes is divine, although a very different creature -- pineapple-floral.

And here's an excellent recipe for pineapple upside-down cake with freshly ground cardamom: Enjoy!

10:49 AM EDT  
Blogger krnszn said...

BTW, the other day, I mixed some fresh pineapple, nutmeg, and cinnamon with vanilla ice cream. If that didn't smell like heaven! Delicious, too, of course. Made me wonder if a scent exists that includes these note...

10:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Samantha W. said...

I'd love to be entered into the drawing..I'd love to try Colony, thanks!! I'm really hungry for pineapple now..I sort of forget about pineapple but it does smell and taste delicious, it just never usually occurs to me!

11:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to be in the drawing
Barbara From California

11:54 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I would love to be in this draw!

12:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pineapple? Oooh! Please enter me in the drawing :) Now I must go see if I have any pineapple in the house to chow down on.

1:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Aimée L'Ondée said...

I just have to pipe up to say that I felt my whole fruity-hating world-view teeter when I discovered I liked a pineapple frag--Libertine! It's subtle, with an unsweet floral middle and relaxed but somewhat sweaty (in a good way) chypre vibe in the drydown. Not what you'd expect from a Westwood perfume at all. Of course it's discontinued. I think it'll be nice for summer, though. I enjoyed the review!

2:11 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include me in the draw. I've always wanted to try Colony! Great post; I'm now having serious lemmings for pineapple fragrances!

2:15 PM EDT  
Blogger violetnoir said...

What a great re-cap of pineapple fragrances. There are just not enough of them!

I was hoping that Hilde Soliani's Sipario would be a great pineapple fragrances, but it contains too much coconut, and I really don't like it when pineapple is paired, time and time again, with coconut.

Yves Rocher made the best pineapple shower gel. It smelled exactly like ripe, fresh, juicy pineapple. It was to die for, and sady, it is dead and gone, discontinued for several years.

I have never tested Colony, so please include me in the drawing.

Thank you!

2:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Janet said...

I never thought of pineapple as a scent to wear, but oh, does it smell heavenly freshly cut! I wouldn't mind sniffing the Patou :-)

3:02 PM EDT  
Blogger Ducks said...

This was a really fun review, but I have tried some of these and they don't love me (although I love fresh pineapple to distraction and will eat pineapple on anything, even pizza). Don't enter me in the drawing, but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed this. :)

3:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Donna, thanks so much for making us all crave pineapple! I just bought two. Ananaz Fizz is light and lovely but lacking in the juicy pineapple department. I haven't tried the Hilde Soliani, the BBW, nor that CSP but am now dying to.

I would also ADORE trying Colony. Please enter me in the draw.

Thanks so much,

6:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to try Colony. May I please be included in the draw? I wish I could try them all! - NicoC

6:13 PM EDT  
Anonymous Janet in CA said...

Colony sounds lovely. I agree with you about the Anasas Fizz, it is great while it lasts but diappears very quickly.

Please enter me in the draw.

6:45 PM EDT  
Anonymous Meilily said...

Please include me in the drawing!
I'm a big fan of pineapple scents, and have loved pineapple sugar scents ever since I sniffed something like it in a Sanrio store. I've put Ananas Fizz on my "to get" list!

7:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Michelle said...

I would really love to be included in this drawing! My aunt described Colony to me a few months ago, and I fell in love with her description. And the B&BW Fresh Pineapple...that brings up memories. An old "not really a boyfriend" bought the lotion for me ages ago. My memories of both are not pleasant.

Regardless, I am happy to see that you've listed some other options for me to try :)

7:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Louise said...

I have and enjoy a touch of Colony now and again. Another pineapple that I have tested in the modern Piguet Visa-it seems to only work on a really cold day-otherwise it goes far too sweet.

7:55 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My pineapple of the moment is Canali Men but I'd love to try this Colony pineapple. Please enter me into this drawing.--AndreaM

8:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Wow, I did not know how many other pineapple fans there were out there! All who want to be in draw, you are in!

I truly wish Acasiosa were not an urn exclusive in my beloved Caron line, I really need to try it someday.

So Libertine was discontinued, and Colony is no more, what is a pineapple chypre lover to do? :-(

10:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous ChantillyLace said...

Sounds like a fun sniff! Please enter me in the draw. Thanks!

12:42 AM EDT  
Blogger AromaX said...

Pineapple? A tricky one indeed. Easily turns into cofetti of cheap fruity candles. Very curious to smell a masterfully blended pineapple accord. Please, count me in.

5:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Juan Garcia said...

I want free sample, can I have plxrs :)

1:29 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lora said...

Definitely want to try the Colony before it is gone forever ... please do enter me in the draw. Thanks!

4:07 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to be in the drawing! :)

5:30 PM EDT  
Anonymous maitreyi1978 said...

Please include me in the drawing.

8:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Deanna said...

Please enter me! Thanks :)

9:55 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include me too in your contest! I love fruity scents.
(Still hoping to get at Ananas Fizz one of these days too. Probably the BBW is easier to find!)
Laura M

11:50 PM EDT  
Blogger animnafets said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Masquerade said...

I love pineapple in fragrances, so include me in the giveaway :)

What do you think about Lil Angel from the Harajuku Lovers collection? It's no work of art but it's a fun scent.

12:15 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please include me in the draw as well. I would love to try Colony--it's such a shame the MA collection is no longer around--it sounds like all of the scents were wonderful. JenM

9:35 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Masquerade, I have never thought of taking the Harajuku Lovers scents seriously, maybe I had better try them!

12:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Masquerade said...

The Harajuku Lovers collection is really superficial. It's incredibly hard to distinguish a top middle and base- it all seems to be one big blur of sugary flowers, candy, fruit, and... beer?

Then again, they are nominated for a 2009 FiFi award.

Lil Angel's what I want my summer to be. Thoughtless, high energy, and fun.

3:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Cherry Veneer said...

Hi, I just found your blog and I can tell it is going to be one of my favorites. Thank you for the amazing pineapple scent reviews. I took a 'pineapple and cilantro' candle from Illume to Hawaii last year and now it's like a mini vacation every time I burn it. Would you please enter me in the drawing? I would love to experience Colony, it sounds fabulous.

4:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Cherry Veneer, you are in! Welcome to PST and we hope you come back soon!

10:59 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I L O V E your latest "Weekend Beauty" venture. Never woulda thunk that fragrance treasures could be found at TJ Maxx. I'm going shopping tomorrow! Ferdie

12:51 AM EDT  
Blogger MandaLuv1119 said...

I agree that CSP Vanille Pineapple smells like pineapple upside down cake. It reminds me of my grandma baking it in her cast-iron skillet. The smell is divine, but I don't want it on my body!

Please put me in the drawing! :-)

10:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've never been interested in pineapple perfumes before but your description of the Patous have me interested. Please enter me in the drawing if it's not too late. Thank you!

9:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Theresa, you are just in time! You are IN the draw!

The drawing for Pineapple Wars is now closed. Thank you all for your responses and good luck; the winner will be announced soon.

11:01 PM EDT  
Blogger FruitDiet said...

I'm shocked to see that Giorgio hasn't been mentioned yet- admittedly it is competing with some nuclear florals in that fragrance, but when I think of Giorgio I think of pineapple tuberose. What better fruit to represent beachy LA excess than pineapple?
I just spent the last of my financial aid money on a splash bottle of Colony. The idea of a Bandit chypre overlaid with pineapple, plus its wonderfully un-PC concept and advertising celebrating French colonization of Africa sounds like everything I need in a perfume.

2:21 AM EDT  

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