Santa Maria Novella Patchouli: Holy Grail?

One of the best patchouli fragrances I’ve ever tried comes from Santa Maria Novella, an old Italian company with an 800-year history. They make simple, unpretentious, refined colognes that often highlight one key ingredient. In the case of Patchouli, the result is a rich, beautifully elegant fragrance that every die-hard patch head should try. As one commentator admiringly stated, “SMN weren’t f*$%ing around when they made this one.” No, they most certainly weren’t.

Source: auction listing on

Source: auction listing on

Many of us tend to think of patchouli as a 1970s thing, something worn by dirty hippies at Woodstock, but the plant has a history that goes back to the 1800s. Ship captains would use fresh patchouli leaves to cover their valuable cargo (usually silk), because the camphorous aroma would protect it from infestation during the long journey to Europe from the East. It seems that Santa Maria Novella‘s Patchouli was made at precisely such a time, well over a hundred years ago, judging by the cologne’s description on the company’s American website:

This perfume met a great success in the late 1800s and early 1900s and has now become a classic. The plant from which the fragrance is made grows in India and Malaysia and creates a warm exotic, oriental and musky scent. Perfect for men and women.

According to Fragrantica, there is only one ingredient: patchouli. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a pinch of benzoin resin as well, because Patchouli is not really a dirty, rubbery patchouli. It doesn’t evoke tarry, black oil or diesel fumes in a mechanic’s garage the way that another Italian farmacia’s fragrance did for me, the hardcore Patchouly Indonesiano from Farmacia SS. Annunziata. This patchouli has a refined edge to its raw intensity that is surprising.

Of course, it takes a short while to see that refinement because Patchouli initially opens on my skin with raw, dirty, earthy, chewy, green-black notes. For a minute or two, the camphor and rawness almost sting your nose, but it isn’t major and feels more akin to a pinprick from a wasp. Still, I did blink, I have to admit.



Yet, it is a small thing amidst the torrent of spicy, almost meaty, completely red-gold patchouli that comes at you. You know those photos of extreme surfers in Hawaii who are caught up in a gigantic wall of water that almost engulfs them? Now imagine that wall being red-gold-black in hue, with undercurrents that are spicy, musky, leathery, woody, and camphorous. That is SMN’s Patchouli. It’s wave upon wave, upon wave of patchouli. It envelops you, deep with endless body, gloriously spicy, and with a resinous feel that sensuously caresses your skin as tendrils of smoke curl around you.

"Black Widow v1" by *smokin-nucleus. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within photo.)

“Black Widow v1” by *smokin-nucleus. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within photo.)

And it only gets better. Roughly 30 minutes in, Patchouli turns softer, golden, and plush. The biggest change is really textural. The cologne has turned so smooth and deep, it feels like you’ve been coated in luxuriously thick velvet. There is now a golden brown glow to the black-red shadows, the start of that refinement that becomes even more visible as time passes. In a way, it adds to the impression of Patchouli as almost a mood and atmosphere, more than a deeply complex bouquet of notes. The fragrance has too much of singular focus on being the richest version of patchouli for there to be much else.

"Autumn" by Dimajaber on Deviantart. (Website link embedded within.)

“Autumn” by Dimajaber on Deviantart. (Website link embedded within.)

A few things surprise me, though. Patchouli isn’t very smoky. It also doesn’t have powerful tobacco, tarry, or leathery undertones. Even more surprising, there is no chocolate or any musty, dusty nuances on my skin whatsoever. This is not a patchouli fragrance that makes you feel as though the earth has been kicked up in your face, or that you’ve opened up a cedar chest in a fusty attic somewhere. The aroma may be raw and undiluted, even a little oily in feel, but it’s more chewy and musky than anything else. There is also very little booziness, although there are very fleeting, wholly indistinct suggestions of that which pop up once in a blue moon in the first 30 minutes. The most significant under-layers in the opening hour really would be mint and greenness more than anything else.

As a hardcore soliflore, Patchouli doesn’t change much and its main bouquet continues on a linear progression from start to finish. The scent continues to smoothen out the camphorous, raw edges, and turns more velvety in feel, softer in projection, and thinner in body. The main olfactory change is that Patchouli loses its camphourous and minty touches, the smokiness dissipates even more, and the perfume becomes more golden, as if a touch of benzoin has been used. And that’s really it. In its final moments, Patchouli is merely a wisp of patchouli woodiness with a spicy, sweet, golden feel.



Patchouli is a eau de cologne, so it doesn’t have monster sillage or longevity, but it has surprising heft for something with the absolute weakest possible perfume concentration. However, the sillage and longevity were only moderate on my skin. When I applied 2 very large smears, the sillage was initially 2-3 inches, Patchouli turned into a skin scent on me at the end of the 2nd hour, and lasted just a hair over 6.5 hours. When I doubled the quantity, applying about 2/3rds of a 1 ml vial or the equivalent of 3 small sprays from an actual bottle, I had much better results. Patchouli turned into a skin scent after 3.5 hours, and lasted just over 9 hours. The sillage still wasn’t great, but the longevity was much better. In short, this is a fragrance that benefits from a large application, but I also suspect that spraying would improve things over the smearing/dabbing that I had to do.

Mark Rothko, #20 or "Black,brown on maroon." Source:

Mark Rothko, #20 or “Black,brown on maroon.” Source:

There is a lot of love for Patchouli out there, though always from those who are hardcore lovers of the note. It should be pretty clear by now that this is not a fragrance for anyone but a true patch head, and most Fragrantica commentators make that same point. How they adore it, though. My favorite review comes from the chap whom I referenced in my introduction, “Shamus1” who writes:

This is my favorite patchouli. SMN weren’t f*$%ing around when they made this one. Probably the darkest, most robust patchouli fragrance on the planet. It has almost terrifying potency for those who aren’t die hard patchouli fans. Pure, raw, damp, shameless patchouli for only the true believers. [¶] MY RATING: 10/10

He’s not the only one. Others describe the SMN scent as “heaven;” sum up their entire review with one succinct, bottom-line sentence of “The best patchouli in the world;” or say, “If I could have just one straight patchouli perfume, it would be this one.” A friend of mine and reader of the blog, “Bruno,” who is the biggest patch-head I know (and who has tried them all) calls the SMN his “Holy Grail.” Some of the other Fragrantica descriptions of the scent echo that sentiment:

  • This is a velvety smooth and deep, unapologetic resinous patchouli. It is one of the most sensual calming and dimensional patchouli fragrances I have ever encountered. Very high quality here. It is not too dank, sharp or medicinal, does not remind me of a headshop, […] and it is quite strong. It’s heavenly. If I could have just one straight patchouli perfume, it would be this one.
  • The best patchouli in the world
  • After first sniff I‘m completely in love with this one, however this is nothing easy. Very very very deep and dry. It doesn’t contain any vanilla which is common element in almost all patchouli colognes or perfumes. Even Profvmvm Roma Patchouli is small smiling baby in comparison to this one. Try to imagine old house surrounded by old trees during the late fall. Outside is cold and rainy the rotten leafs around with very deep and characteristic smell. You are going to the house were nobody was living for decades… everything seems to be dead and completely frozen by time. You feel scared but no one is around. The wind makes noise and you feel cold moisture everywhere. The only way is to escape as soon as possible. This fragrance never ends. Even you are faraway from this place you will always remember it. This is Patchouli by SMN[….]
  • Beautiful, easy to live with patchouli; quite expensive for an eau de cologne, but worth it, imo. It starts pretty great & strong, but settles down in 10-15 minutes, and gradually turns into a skin scent (on me) in 45 – 60 minutes, which is typical of an eau de cologne. It ends up as very round patchouli & a little mint on me, very soft and subtle. I love it so much that I reapply it a couple of times a day when I’m wearing it. I will still catch a slight whiff of it upon awaking the next morning from the day before. Extremely high quality ingredients. You’ll find nothing else quite like it. Givenchy Gentleman is much more “perfumey”, but it does have a similar vibe (but without the mint, and with some leather thrown in). I own them both & love them both. But the MSN Patchouli is really in a class by itself. I don’t see how anyone could be offended by this, unless they have an overtly excessive aversion to patchouli. Truly unique.
  • Amazing, gorgeous, orthodox. The best patchouli. [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]


All of this may explain why Patchouli is currently sold out at several retailers that I looked at, including Santa Maria Novella’s own American website. Frankly, it’s a bit hard to tell the precise retail situation, because the company appears to require its vendors not to sell the fragrance online but only in-store. (I think several would take phone orders, though, just as Luckyscent does.)

For me personally, the only thing that is stopping me from calling Patchouli a “Holy Grail” scent is the fact that the sillage, longevity, and body aren’t my ideal. I think I should get an atomizer version to see if that would make a substantial difference, because the vast majority of votes on Fragrantica — by a substantial margin — all find the scent to be “very long lasting” and to have “enormous” projection. That’s pretty astonishing for a mere cologne. Still, my skin is wonky, so I keep wishing that Patchouli came in an eau de parfum concentration, but oh, how I’m tempted to buy it nevertheless.

The bottom-line is simple: if you are truly passionate about patchouli, you should give SMN’s version a sniff, or else give up your “patch head” membership card forever. It’s that good.

Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

Cost & Availability: Patchouli is an Eau de Cologne that comes in a 100 ml/ 3.3 oz splash bottle that costs $125 or €95. There is also an aftershave and soap version. In the U.S.: Patchouli is usually available from Santa Maria Novella’s US website but they are currently sold out of the scent. In general, if you purchase a SMN fragrance, they’re usually splash bottles, so you may need to buy an atomizer spray that they offer to go with the bottle. There is free shipping for orders over $150. Santa Maria Novella also has stores in 5 U.S. cities from L.A., to NYC, Chevy Chase, Dallas and Bal Harbour, Fl, and you can find those addresses on the website. Also, LAFCO, on Hudson St. in NYC, carries the entire SMN line. Their website doesn’t have any SMN products on it, but they have them in-store. Other U.S. vendors: You can order Patchouli by phone from Luckyscent, but you can’t buy it from the website. Same story with The Perfume Shoppe. Most vendors are only authorized to sell SMN fragrances in-store. Aedes in New York, however, sells SMN online, but they are currently sold out of Patchouli and have a wait-list. NY’s Carson Street Clothiers shows SMN on their website, but you can’t buy it online.
Outside the U.S.: The Canadian branch of The Perfume Shoppe doesn’t sell Santa Maria Novella, but a retail chain called Gravity Pope carries all SMN products, from fragrances to shampoos, lotions and soaps. Again, they can only sell in-store. In Europe, you can turn to the Italian Santa Maria Novella website, but I’m having trouble navigating the site. There is also no pricing that I can find. SMN has a number of European off-shoots: stores in London and in Paris. I can’t find an address for the Paris store, but the official distributor for the company’s products is Amin Kader Paris which has two stores in the Paris. Again, I can’t find Euro pricing information for the scent. On a side note, Fodors states that SMN has shops in the following cities: Roma, Venice, Lucca, Forte dei Marmi, Bologna, Castiglione della Pescaia, London, Paris, and Livorno. In the Netherlands, Lianne Tio sells SMN in her Rotterdam store for €95, including Patchouli. Switzerland’s Osswald also carries the full SMN line, but doesn’t seem to have an e-store. In Russia, the full SMN line, can be ordered by phone from Ebaumer.
Samples: Your best bet is Luckyscent. Surrender to Chance does not carry Patchouli.

42 thoughts on “Santa Maria Novella Patchouli: Holy Grail?

    • No, my dear, *I* should thank you. You insisted that I had to try this, and you were right. Now, I shall insist that everyone else try it, too. LOL. 😉 A hug back, my patchouli brother from another mother.

    • HA! I hope you know my exhortation at the end was partially aimed at you. *grin* That said, a blind-buy of a full bottle goes beyond my expectations and gives me great joy. 🙂 I have to let you know, someone told me yesterday that they thought the SMN reminded them of your beloved Les Nereides’ Patchouli Antiques BEFORE it was reformulated! Personally, I think the SMN is far, far better (like, a million miles better!), but I thought that comparison would make you very happy. I know you mourn what Les Nereides did to their fragrance. Regardless of other scents, I think you’ll really enjoy the SMN. It truly is made for you, and I cannot wait until you get your hands on it.

      • That is interesting. 🙂 … Personally, I’d say I prefer the SMN over the more recent/reform’d Les Nereides … BUT, still prefer the older/original Patch’ Antique over the SMN – (tho’ I’ve only ever sniffed the one SMN, so have no idea if it too has changed much since or before ??) – I find the original LN just a little more plush & ‘3-dimentional’, for lack of a better descriptive. And tho’ I like the SMN one just fine, I find it just a little to ‘streamlined’ & ‘stripped back’ almost, in comparison. (As if it’s literally just diluted down patch’ & resin oils, and nothing else!) …

        So, like you, I too find the SMN a little too unsubstantial & fleeting unfortunately – (tho’ it’s indeed pretty outstanding for an EDC strength, that’s for sure)

        But it’s really rather unfortunate, and something I often lament, that LN’s Antique isn’t a patch on the glorious original one. 😉 Boo hoo !!

        • LN’s Patchouli Antique didn’t do a ton for me. On my skin, the cedar was extremely dusty with a mustiness that was merely okay. At the same time, the fragrance had a *very* prominent mint ice-cream note. Too prominent. I didn’t care for that, and the two things together left me a little unenthused about the scent as a whole. I definitely tried the earlier version, and it wasn’t all that plush on my skin. It sounds like you had much better luck with it. You’re not alone in that, as I know others love it too. (Well, pre-reformulation, that is.) It’s a shame Les Nereides changed it, since I hear the new version is quite thin.

          • Again, so interesting. For me, it didn’t seem minty, or even ‘camphoraceous’, at all. So I’m amazed you picked up a “minty ice-cream” note, as that would’ve certainly put me off it as well. (Am not a fan of minty notes in frags – tho’ I do like camphor-y ones.) … Plus, I rather enjoyed it’s “dusty musty” old cedar-chest facets, which I thought was exactly what helped give it it’s ‘antique’ qualities, (& therefore it’s name seem so appropriate). Without them it could’ve been called, well, pretty much anything else. 🙂

            As for the “plushness”, I agree that in the greater scheme of things PA ain’t particularly ‘plush’ – but I meant ‘plusher’ in comparison to the SMN. (Or at least, to my nose it felt that way.)

          • I don’t mind some dusty/musty/fusty qualities, but there was quite a bit of it on my skin with LN. There was even more mint ice-cream, so the two things together (in conjunction with the perfume’s light feel) just became too much for me. It sounds much, much better on your skin. 🙂

          • Ya know Kaf’, I know u said u tested the pre-reform ‘Antique’, but from the way u describe it, it sounds much more like you’re describing the newer one instead (even if that’s not the case.) 🙂

          • Judging by what you wrote to Queen Cupcake, there have been three, perhaps even 4, reformulations. (Including the new Patchouli Precieux one.) Given that, it sounds like I definitely tried one of the newer versions, but not the absolute latest one, I don’t think. I bought my sample in 2012, even if I reviewed the fragrance in 2013. I bought it when the fragrance was stilled called PA, and I assume the bottle it came from was at least a 2012 bottle, if not older. So, it’s definitely not the plush, rich, voluptuous patchouli fragrance that you fell for, though I think it’s still less green, clean, and dusty than what is apparently out there now with the new “Patch. Precieux” version.

        • Do you know when LN’s Patch Antique was reformulated? I have a full bottle (and really like it) but now wonder if it is the older, or the newer…?

          • I think it had to be 2013 at the latest. It’s hard to tell with the way that companies slowly roll out newer versions, but 2013 was when Les Nereides repackaged all their scents, and renamed a few. I suspect the reformulation occurred just before, but who knows? Perhaps they did it even during the old bottling and a year before. I wish I could be of more help. Perhaps Julz will have a better timeline estimate.

          • Well, PA whilst not exactly “antique”, it’s certainly no spring chicken. Been around for a good few decades already – my 1st bottle was got at least 15yrs back. Now that one was the bombe!, deep dark patchy gorgeousness – a full-on unstripped patch as it should be. Since then, however, I’ve sniffed 3 different versions. The most recent, since the bottle & name change (it’s now Patch’ Precieux apparently), which is a bit of a misnomer as it’s now less ‘precious’ than before. Plus it’s ‘stamina’ is now half what it used to be (still decent, just no longer impressive.) It’s now less rich & ambery, being overall ‘lighter’ & ‘greener’. The musk is now less ‘voluptuous’, being much cleaner & leaning more ‘white’, with it’s powder facet up a notch, but the ‘dustiness’ dialled down. Older one was deeply earthy & loamy, whereas now seems more mildew/musty instead. It’s woods seem somewhat different too, don’t remember original one having a ‘Scotch Pine’ note (as is now listed), but far more an old cedar-chest or old oak type wood note, then softening down to a lovely sandalwood (which now all but non-existent.)

            I first noticed a difference ±7yrs back, tho’ that was a subtle one when compared to the last/recent reform’ – which I imagine was more necessary due original formula needing adjusting (i.e. new restrictions) more so than just for a mere ‘updating’. … The bottle/label change (twice recently already) happened couple yrs ago. Half their scents were discontinued then too, for whatever reason. (Personally I preferred their original bottles, which I think better suited their ‘fumes, whereas these supposedly ‘updated’ ones IMO only make them look even cheaper & tackier.)

  1. Patchhead here :). I am off to Florence in November and SMN is one pitstop I shall be making. The patchouli is on my list of must sniffs. I have to say that their gardenia is superb too.

    • You’ll have such a good time at SMN (and in Florence itself), and I’m sure you will find a few gems. I hear that their skin care and body products are superb as well. I can’t wait to hear what you end up getting.

      • I have been a few times before in my pre perfumista days. I am looking forward to trying the almond soaps and just inhaling the general air of the place. I already have the iris and zagara colognes – beautiful, both of them. I shall let you know how I get on 🙂

  2. I was pleased to see you review a SMN fragrance, since I only got to experience their scents very recently at LAFCO in NYC. I fell madly in love with one of their Triple Extracts called simply “Cipro”, and it’s the one of the most exquisite chypres I’ve ever tried! Sadly the woman at LAFCO told me that they only had the sample and that Cipro was now out of production, and I hunted for ages for it until someone was able to find it in Europe for me. I didn’t try the patchouli, but I think I must next time!

    • Oooooooh, Triple Extraits???! That sounds like something tailor-made for me, as I really like SMN as a whole. Everything I’ve tried from them has had some appealing quality or another, even if the specific perfume didn’t end up being perfect for me personally. (I’ve tried and/or covered more than just this Patchouli one.) I really like SMN’s uncomplicated approach, but I have often wished for something richer or stronger than a mere eau de cologne. Do the Triple Extraits come in a variety of different scents, and are they all exclusive to LAFCO?

      • Yes! The Estratti Tripli come in quite a variety of scents (mostly soliflores), and you can see the ones that are currently in production here:,CTG-CTM000-1. If you click on one of them, you’ll see a link to “Note Olfattive”, where you can see all the scents (the extraits, the colognes and the Essenze Assolute, which are for scenting your handkerchief!) both in production and discontinued. It’s all in Italian, but nothing too complicated that Google Translate can’t handle! LAFCO had some of them, if I recall, but not all of them. Hope this helps and that you find something you love!!

        • Thank you so much, Jessica. I really appreciate it, and will look at the site in depth this weekend!

  3. I don’t know anything about patchouli but this thing you are talking about here sounds sexy, sexy. I died thinking of being coated in luxurious thick velvet. I want that. I do. You know how much I love that golden glow. Yet I think I like (I don’t know if it is patchouli or what) the musty woodiness of the scents I’ve tried that contain patchouli. On me it always smells slightly sweet grayish musty woody niceness that has a soft fur wetness to it. I do not make much sense. It’s been a very long day and I just want to smell things that will make me melt.

    • It sounds to me like the patchouli is definitely responsible for the aroma/nuances that you are describing. It know you’ve mentioned the musty quality before with other scents that have patchouli. I’m glad that works for you and that you enjoy it. I think you should stop by LAFCO in NYC and try some of the SMNs when you get the chance. The only thing is, I’m not sure that the bubble or cloud would be big enough for you. SMN usually sticks to colognes, and those aren’t exactly big fragrances in either projection or body. That said, SMN seems to make them surprisingly strong for a mere cologne. No Jo Malone-like ghostliness here, that’s for sure.

  4. Thank you Beloved Kafka, for your always wonderful reviews!! In my mind there is no better blogger than you , and I simply don’t know what I would do without your lovely take on perfumes!! 🙂 <3. I'm sensing that "The Patch" is back with a vengance…it seems like it is going to replace Oud as note du jour this Fall. Do you have any thoughts on this??? Have a wonderful evening!!

    • Awww, you’re so sweet. Your comment re-energizes me in a way that you might not realise, and is just what I needed to hear today.

      With regard to Patchouli, personally, I don’t think it is the next big trend, and certainly not one like Oud. HOWEVER, that said, I think it is slowly becoming more popular after years of being a total pariah. I don’t think brown, spicy patchouli will ever take over from the gooey, sweet, jammy kind that everyone sticks in with roses, though, and I suspect that true patchouli soliflores will still be a rare thing. Poor patchouli, it has such a terrible, terrible reputation. (And, yet, fruitchouli simply will NOT die, much to my eternal regret. lol) In terms of the next big wave, I think it’s more likely to be incense or perhaps an even greater wave of boozy fragrances.

  5. My jaw just dropped… I am so happy Temptalia put you in a link love post, I’ve never come across a blog that was strictly fragrance! As long as it’s not too overpowering I love patchouli (as well as sandalwood and vanilla). Absolutely beautiful review!

    • Hi, Bellarosemu, welcome to the blog. 🙂 By “overpowering,” do you mean strong or do you mean too dominant as a central point of the fragrance? If the latter, then this SMN fragrance is not for you.

      I think you may enjoy Chanel’s Coromandel in the Exclusif line, though. It’s only available at Chanel boutiques (not most department stores unless there is a separate Chanel store within them), but it’s a stunning scent. Perhaps the nicest blending of patchouli with other notes, including a vanillic benzoin and white cocoa powder.

  6. I think too strong is what I mean. If there are supposed to be other notes in the fragrance I want to smell a little of them as well, but mostly just that very heavy smoky scents make me feel like I’m choking. With this scent I feel like I would have to put on the tiniest dab to enjoy it.
    I’ll have to take a look at the Exclusif line. There are no stores around me but I can always get a better idea of the fragrance by looking online!

  7. There is a little Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella boutique here in Cannes, on rue du Maréchal Foch, just off the rue d’Antibes.

    Thank you for such an detailed and evocative review. Patchouli turns into a dankly unwashed headache-bludgeoning beast on my skin, so reviews of this quality give me a chance to enjoy patchouli vicariously.

    • You’re very welcome. And thank you for letting me know about the store in Cannes. I used to live there as a child, so I knew the Rue d’Antibes well. 🙂

  8. Happy New Year, Kafka! I have been enjoying your blog for several months now and look forward to each and every one of your lovely perfume reviews. You have a magical way of explaining your olfactory experiences that really resonates with me. In fact, you are the reason I couldn’t resist the urge to purchase a bell jar of SL’s Fourreau Noir and a bottle of Chypre Mousse; thank you for the introduction! Now I’m in search of a Patchouli fragrance for my mother who adores the scent. You’ve said you enjoyed SMN’s Patchouli, but that it isn’t your Holy Grail Patchouli. May I ask what is your Holy Grail? I bought my mother several patchouli-centered samples, but she was not taken by any of them including Gothic I, Jalaine Patchouli Oil, Bois 1920 Real Patchouli, Mazzolari Patchouli, and Montale Patchouli Leaves. She said none of them were “Patchouli enough” for her. I couldn’t get my hands on a sample of the SMN Patchouli and it is too risky to blind-buy a fragrance for my Mother. Any help you can offer me in the search of the perfect Patchouli fragrance for my Mother would be greatly appreciated.

    • Welcome to the blog, Amy, and happy new year! With regard to patchouli fragrances, I haven’t found a Holy Grail yet, I’m afraid. And it sounds like your mother wants something that is a purer soliflore than one cut through with amber, like a few on your list. Are you in the U.S.? If so, what I would suggest doing is calling Luckyscent and ordering a sample of the SMN by phone. I would also ask for samples of:
      –Profumum Roma’s Patchouly (though it may be too ambered as well),
      — Tom Ford’s new Patchouli Absolu (more woody in nature, so maybe it will work for your mother),
      — Oriza L. Legrand’s Horizon (a boozy patchouli that is lovely and has an ambered touch, but doesn’t last too long on my wonky skin)
      — and Jovoy’s Psychedelique (another boozy ambered patchouli that is great, but too intimate and discreet sillage-wise for my tastes).

      Some of those may not be soliflore enough for your mother, but perhaps she would enjoy sampling them? Another option if you are close to a Dior store or in certain U.S. cities is to try Dior’s Patchouli Imperiale, which is part of their Privée line and, as a result, limited in terms of availability to Dior stores and certain, specific Neiman Marcus locations. Patchouli Imperiale is too dusty, fusty and musty for my tastes, but others seem to like it a lot.

      One of the most popular patchouli soliflores used to be Les Nereides Patchouli Precieux, but it has been reformulated badly to the point that most of the things that made it so beloved are no longer present. Luckyscent has a sample of the current version called Patchouli Antique (or maybe it’s the reverse in names, I cannot recall now which name is newer).

      Lorenzo Villoresi has a nice dark patchouli that you can get a sample of from Surrender to Chance. It’s not as nice as some of the others on this list, and definitely not as good as the Santa Maria Novella, but I like it more than the Dior or the Tom Ford. If you are in New York or a handful of other U.S. cities where LAFCO has stores, you can stop by to get samples of both the Lorenzo Villoresi or the Santa Maria Novella. If you are outside of the U.S., First in Fragrance should have samples of several of these fragrances for you to try.

      I hope that helps a bit. 🙂

      • Kafka, you are so very prompt and so very helpful! Knowing you haven’t actually found your Patchouli Holy Grail considering how much you seem to adore the scent leaves me a bit dismayed in my search, I’m afraid. I do live in the U.S. and had spoken with someone at Luckyscent just before Christmas regarding a sample of SMN Patchouli and she told me they don’t offer samples. They were also all out of samples of the Les Nereides at the time, but perhaps that is for the best based on your opinion of the reformulation. I’m not familiar with the Jovoy so I will have to look into that one as well as Horizon as I know Oriza Legrand’s quality is excellent. The Lorenzo Villoresi had peaked my interest at some point too; not sure why I didn’t order that one, but I will now based on your suggestion.

        Thank you so much for all of your wonderful suggestions 🙂

        P.S. I hope your Hairy German is well. I have two myself; although mine are Dobies

        • Dobies are magnificent! I love them, and their incredibly noble beauty. I bet yours are lookers, and smart as a whip, too. Give them a kiss from me, okay?

          As for SMN Patchouli, I was really dismayed to hear that Luckyscent doesn’t offer samples. That really sucks! You’d think they would have at least one tester bottle from which they could pull out a ml here or there, but perhaps it all goes back to SMN’s rather weird requirements for their vendors. You know, what you should do is look on eBay. There is one person who sells 3 ml samples of the SMN Patchouli. It’s not a constant, weekly listing, and it’s also not there now, but it does pop up every few months or so. If you create a notification, you will eventually come across it. 🙂 Have you looked into Profumum’s Patchouly? It’s a super dense, rich fragrance with a really stellar opening, though it does turn more ambered later on. Also, has your mother tried Reminiscence’s Patchouli? It was perhaps the original benchmark fragrance in the genre and I’m sure she would find its scent very familiar. Samples are available from SCT, while full bottles can be found on places like BeautyHabit or Amazon. The perfume is priced quite decently for the size, and much cheaper than something from Tom Ford or Profumum, though few things beat Profumum’s dense richness, luxuriousness, and weight.

          • Dobies are indeed beautiful and extremely intelligent and mine are no exception. In fact, sometimes I wish they were a little less intelligent as their cunning can sometimes be a bit frustrating 🙂 They certainly aren’t short on kisses, my husband makes sure of it, but I will certainly see to them getting an extra from you. As far as the perfume goes, I have decided to blind-buy the SMN Patchouli for my Mother. I’ll be keeping the Profumum and Reminiscence in my arsenal in case the SMN doesn’t work out; this way I’ll have something for her birthday come April. I’ll let you know how the SMN works out, Kafka.

            Thanks so much!

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  12. Dear Kafka, there are two patchouli fragrances on earth that stand out for me: the beautiful SMN Patchouli and the beautiful Patchouly Indonesiano from Farmacia SS Annunziata. You mention Indonesiano as a ‘hardcore’ patch, and somewhere you are right, but still….I think they both have a strong aura. Do you agree that SMN is more fresh and minty than Indonesiano which is more dry and more a rounded patch? The thing is, I love them both, but unfortunately I have to choose just one for buying:-) How is your personal, more detailed, observation about the differences between these TWO Holy Grails? ‘Which one would you suggest for whom’ so to speak (type of person, character, spirit, and so on)? Many many thanks in advance.

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