Long before patchouli was adopted as the signature scent of hippies everywhere, the flowering herb, with its warm, woody, musky smell, was a symbol of opulence and prestige – rumour has it that King Tut was buried with gallons of patchouli oil.
Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens
Centuries later, Madonna put her own spin on the scent by infusing it into pressings of her 1989 album Like A Prayer, while in 2005, perfumer extraordinaire Serge Lutens launched iconic scent Borneo 1834, which blended patchouli with white fowers, cardamom, cacao and labdanum.
Tempo by Diptyque
Tempo is Diptyque’s ode to patchouli with three extracts of the essence in one bottle. The richness of the multiple patcholis is complemented by earthy notes of clary sage and maté and rounded out by a light touch of floral violet leaf.
It is a fragrance that is more on the masculine side but works well for anyone looking for a wearable, sophisticated patcholi scent.
Rhizome 01 by Rhizome
Rhizome’s minimalist packaging belies an intriguingly complex range of fragrances. Rhizome 01 is a unisex scent that blends the herby freshness of patcholi with warm spices like cumin and nutmeg. The result is a delicately musky fragrance that is well suited to the autumn and winter months. Perhaps best of all, its reasonable price point makes an accessible purchase without sacrificing quality.
Those lucky enough to be in Milan can pick up a bottle from our favourite hair salon in the city, Smiths & Co, who have recently collaborated on two new perfumes with the brand.
Velvet Black Patchouli by Dolce & Gabbana
Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux’s latest creation for Dolce & Gabbana, Velvet Black Patchouli, blends its principle ingredient with notes of Sicilian blood orange, Venezuelan tonka beans and davana oil for a scent that is earthy with an edge of sweetness.
To create the perfume, Flores-Roux looked back to patchouli's past as a highly valuable fragrance that was traded between Asia and Europe. ‘Patchouli really symbolises that rich exchange of cultures,' he says, ‘because it references a time when precious goods arrived from the East to the shores of Italy, cloaked in its mysterious scent.’
Witchy Woo by Vyrao
Similarly, Witchy Woo by Vyrao blends patchouli with notes of orris, cinnamon, and rose to create a dark, mystifying scent. The brand, which launched last year, uses aromatherapy principals and energetically charged Herkimer diamonds to create scents that attempt to actively alter emotional states, with Witchy Woo designed to evoke courage and creativity.
Celestial Patchouli by Sana Jardin
Sana Jardin is an innovative perfume brand that enables female harvesters from the rural Morocco to become micro-entrepreneurs by up-cycling the waste products from perfume production. Their Celestial Patcholi fragrance combines musky patchouli with delicate rose and smoky leather for a heady feminine scent.
Cannabis Patchouli by Dries Van Noten
Cannabis Patchouli is one of ten new fragrances within Dries Van Noten’s new beauty line. The patchouli heavy fragrance is blended with herby notes of sage and cedar for a fresh and woody genderless perfume. ‘In Dries world, antagonistic elements are combined to create surprise,’ says Cannabis Patchouli’s perfumer Nicolas Bonneville. ‘This fragrance is like a light and dark olfactive pattern of fresh green leaves of clary sage aromatics rubbing against the woody leaves of patchouli.’
Ground by Gabar
Gabar is a new women-led fragrance brand inspired by three distinct locations in Myanmar. Their scent Ground is a rich, creamy fragrance of sandalwood, patchouli, saffron, and fig that evokes the arid plains of Myanmar’s ancient capital of Bagan. Its elegant composition is an intriguing mixture of tangy La Phet (tea leaf salad) and the soft scent of Myanmar Thanakha (traditional tree bark).
Splendida Patchouli Tentation by Bulgari
Bulgari’s Splendida Patchouli Tentation combines a trio of patchouli with white peach and velvety musk for a more powdery interpretation of its top note.
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Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.
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