Patchouli, how I love thee. Let me count the ways: spice, chocolate, woods, tobacco, smoke, earthy glows, and golden warmth, you’re such a thing of beauty in my eyes and your intoxicating richness may run through as much as 70% of my fragrance collection. So, I was thrilled to hear that Frederic Malle was going to focus on one of my favourite notes for his newest fragrance, Monsieur. Not the hideous, purple-skewing fruitchouli gunk that makes up so many modern fruity-florals, but on the real thing. Unfortunately, Monsieur ended up being a fragrance that this “Patch Head” wouldn’t wear under any circumstances.
Monsieur is an eau de parfum that was created by Bruno Jovanovic. Some people have said or guessed that the intention was to create a masculine counterpart to Portrait of a Lady. I don’t think that is the case. While I’ve only tried the reformulated version of POAL, I think it’s a primarily a rose-centric fragrance, not a patchouli-one. (Plus, on my skin, the reformulated version had fruitchouli instead than the real thing.) More importantly, though, comments by Frederic Malle at Monsieur’s Moscow launch do not indicate such an intention.
There is a very informative Fragrantica article by Sergey Borisov about Monsieur’s Moscow launch that quotes Malle in detail about the creation of the scent, how he worked with Bruno Jovanovic for five years on it, the materials used, how some of them are synthetic, and the mechanics of it all. I think his comments are telling and important because they explain the nature of the ingredients, the diffuseness of parts of the scent, what appeared on my skin, and also why I disliked much of the overall effect. Monsieur Malle explains:
the idea was to do a patchouli as we did a tuberose in our Carnal Flower, using what you could call a Photoshopped raw material: extend the legs, add good make up. To do that, we started with the selection of a fine material – a product of molecular distillation called Patchouli Coeur, created by IFF. Next, we basically gave them a better top, good-looking top notes – so we chose mandarine and mandarine aldehyde. We knew that in the past there were some patchouli perfumes where the material worked with aldehydes very well, so that’s why we chose a beginning like that.
Then we stepped back – because that’s how we always work – and we started working on the base – adding incense to some beautiful synthetic ambers like Amber Xtreme. They are used in many modern fragrances today, and if you choose them well, they are very good and it gives a great diffusion to the fragrances, you can feel it. We also added some sweet Sucrasol – which is all about vanilla and caramel, but not exactly vanilla. […][¶]
Then, to put things together, we decided to create a sort of leathery effect, but today with the new IFRA regulations that`s a complicated thing, so we worked with suede. To get a suede effect, bizarrely enough, most perfumers use saffron, I mean Safranal, an excellent material, which has helped us to make a fresh saffron-suede accord that extends all the way to the patchouli base notes. And the last thing we did, to tie all the initial notes together, was adding a quite rarely used material, which is slightly pricey and unusual – it enhances an alcoholic liqueur shade, already present in patchouli in trace amounts: rhum absolute. Those are all the mechanics of the scent, its engine if you want. So if I`d picture that chronologically: Mandarine, Mandarine Aldehyde, Rhum Absolute, then a lot of Patchouli, then you have the Suede, and finally, all that ambery vanilla. And there`s a little bit of musk in the back, for rounding the edges; it almost has no smell, but it blurs the sides. [remainder snipped] [Emphasis and bolding added by me.]
The full list of notes is therefore:
Mandarine, Mandarine Aldehyde, Rhum Absolute, Patchouli Coeur, Cedar, Incense, Amber Xtreme and other amber synthetics, Safranal suede-leather, Sucrasol vanilla, and musk.
Patchouli may be Monsieur’s goal, but that’s not what I smell either straight from the vial or on my skin in the opening. In both cases, the fragrance debuts by trumpeting a powerful ISO E note. It’s followed by a blast of something resembling Norlimbanol, but that doesn’t last long. It’s quickly buried when the strongly antiseptic-like, chemical ISO E is joined by waves of dusty dryness, dry earthiness, dry cedar, dryly spiced saffron woodiness, and a leathery faux-“amber” that is both dusty and dry. All of this is then followed by a completely separate smoky, tarry campfire leather note, then more cedar, more ISO E-like clean antiseptic, a brief whisper of something vaguely sweet, and something earthy that is splattered with a few tiny drops of citric sourness that is vaguely, nebulously “mandarin”-ish.
None of this is my idea of patchouli or my ideal interpretation thereof. While the real thing definitely has a woody side, and sometimes a dusty one to accompany its earthiness as well, there is little on my skin for most of the first hour that translates to an actual, clearly delineated, and solid “patchouli” note to me. Most of the time, it smells primarily like dusty, saffron-tinted cedar and faux amber. Yes, there is some vegetal earthiness, an abstract woody spiciness, and a passing hint of muskiness, but none of it is particularly redolent of patchouli, if you ask me, and could just as easily be part of some other note(s). If one puts aside the Safranal-infused cedar, what’s left on my skin is — in the most generous interpretation — a diffuse, abstract, and largely impressionistic portrait of some of patchouli’s mere undertones. That’s the most generous interpretation. For the most part, I think it really just smells like a completely generic, spiced, earthy woodiness that is heavily blanketed with a cedar synthetic and the woody-leather facets of one of the powerful woody-amber aromachemicals like AmberMax or one of its related kin.
When I initially tested Monsieur, I hadn’t read the Fragrantica piece so I didn’t realise the culprits were Amber Xtreme or Patchouli Coeur. The latter is described on one site as having dry, dusty, and immensely cedary aromas, while the former seems to be one of the most powerful woody-amber aromachemicals on the market. From what I’ve understood of the discussion in a Basenotes thread on the subject, Amber Xtreme is a former IFF “captive” synthetic that was released in 2015 and is related to Trisamber as well as Timbersilk. Those words may not mean much to a lot of you, so let me explain. Trisamber is a super smoky “amber” that, in my personal opinion and experiences, is utterly painful in its intensity, darkness, and raspiness. Timbersilk is a new generation, upgraded version of ISO E Supercrappy that is said to be even stronger, bolder, and cleaner, in addition to having a significantly more pronounced cedar aroma. From what I’ve gathered, Amber Xtreme merges the facets of both chemicals, and then some. As a perfumer friend of mine tried to explain to me, it’s like a more ambery, leathery version of Norlimbanol “but on steroids.” If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you will know none of these things are positives in my eyes; they’re not only things that I have serious physical sensitivities to, but they’re also aromas that I don’t enjoy on a purely olfactory basis.
Adding to my difficulty is the fact that they’ve been used in Monsieur in significant quantities next to a form of patchouli that opens on my skin primarily as an immensely dusty form of cedar. Cedar! Perhaps this is the “Photoshopped patchouli” (whatever that means) that Frederic Malle intended, or maybe I’m simply too much of a patchouli purist, but none of it makes me think of actual patchouli. Instead, the overall opening bouquet makes me think of dry brambles growing out of cracked, dusty soil in a saffron-covered cedar thicket that’s been recreated through a number of strong synthetics, before the whole thing is then transported into an old man’s library where both the leather-bound books and the leather armchairs are cracked from dryness and coated with dust.
My frustration over the situation led me to wonder if I had applied too little fragrance. Where was the patchouli, its richness, or, for that matter, any of the rum absolute and mandarin? Except for its ISO E, saffron-cedar, dryness, and dustiness, the scent was so surprisingly wishy-washy and diffuse (particularly in body and fullness) that something seemed off, and I pondered whether I needed more than several smears amounting to roughly 2 sprays from a bottle. Perhaps a larger amount would make the patchouli emerge in solid waves, or the orange would appear to alleviate the dustiness? True, the initial whisper of something sweet did grow fractionally stronger after 10 minutes, but it smelt ambered. It certainly didn’t resemble rum absolute. As for the citric sourness, it was too diffuse and filtered to translate to a real or solid mandarin note on my skin. If I smelt Monsieur on the scent trail in the air from a distance (and only from a distance), there was something tangential, fleeting, and nebulous in the background that occasionally felt like a hollowed-out suggestion of orange, but it was so elusive that I think I probably just talked myself into believing it was there.
So, I applied a greater quantity of Monsieur on my other arm, a number of generous, sweeping smears roughly equal to about 3 big sprays from an actual bottle, but, alas, there was still no solid, clearly delineated, proper patchouli, mandarin, or rum. All that happened with the bigger dosage was that my right arm now wafted even more cedar, dustiness, saffron, and an even clearer synthetic character. Yet, the odd thing is how the notes align and shape themselves when the overall bouquet is smelt on the scent trail from a distance. There, the cumulative effect of all those heavily filtered, diffuse elements suddenly coalesces into something that feels like a classical, vintage-style men’s designer cologne from the 1970s or 1980s, a designer cologne that is woody, spiced, slightly warm or ambered, and with a whisper of something aromatic weaving around its background.
That classical ’70s/’80s cologne vibe eventually kicks in on both arms regardless of how much fragrance I apply, and it is a noticeable shift that begins roughly 35 to 40 minutes into Monsieur’s development. The mandarin suddenly appears in clear form, trailed by distinct ripples of aromatic freshness that resemble herbal lavender mixed with the brisk crispness of gin-like juniper berries (the latter probably an indirect by-product of the ISO E). At the same time, both the dustiness and cracked leather weaken substantially and gradually begin to fade into the background. The saffron spiciness grows stronger, while the bouquet is now rounded out by an ambered warmth that is flecked just lightly by a quiet caramel sweetness. More importantly, the very first hints of something resembling “patchouli” begin to take shape in the background, though they’re still diffuse, filtered, and heavily muffled by the cedar.
The result is a composition with a very classical and designer aesthetic, which may be why some Fragrantica commentators think the scent resembles Givenchy Monsieur or vintage M7. I didn’t understand the references at first, but they make more sense as Monsieur develops. Having said that, I personally don’t think there is much resemblance to Monsieur de Givenchy in either the ’70s vintage form that I own or the modernized, post-2007 Les Parfums Mythiques reformulation because, on my skin, Malle’s Monsieur doesn’t have significant, dominating amounts of greenness, lemony citruses, crisp fougère-style elements, herbal aromatics, geranium, or oakmoss. [Update: it was actually Givenchy’s Gentleman that people referenced, not Givenchy’s Monsieur. Please accept my apologies for the error. I obviously had fragrances named “Monsieur” on the mind, and merged the two. But while Givenchy’s Gentleman is a closer fit than its Monsieur, I still think it’s different to the Malle, primarily because Gentleman had a truly authentic, full-bodied, deep patchouli in all its best, truest facets. Malle’s cedar-heavy, “photoshopped” patchouli is a completely different animal, as is its faux “leather” base.]
However, I agree that there is something about Monsieur that approaches the general, overall universe of YSL’s vintage original M7, thanks to the lavendery aromatics, mandarin, cedar, ISO E, caramel-nuanced amber, spiced woods, and dry, leathery woodiness. But I think it’s more of a generalistic vibe than something truly concrete. Unlike M7, Monsieur has zero oud (or even faux “oud”). It does not waft a cola-like, sticky labdanum resinousness on my skin, and there is no plummy darkness, either. Plus, everything here feels rather washed out, like watercolours that have been so diluted with water that they amount to a translucent blur, while vintage M7 had both a chewy richness and note clarity. To me, original M7 felt like a niche scent, but Malle’s Monsieur bears a very different vibe, one that is not even a Malle-influenced, luxury and niche interpretation of a designer scent, but rather an actual, wholly mainstream release whose ’70s or ’80s designer bouquet has been reconstituted under IFRA/EU restrictions in rather wishy-washy form.
Monsieur changes gears and shifts its focus roughly 60-75 minutes into its development when the patchouli finally emerges in its own right. I still think it lacks chewy heft or full-bodied richness, but at least the fragrance has an actual, solid, and clear patchouli character now. It’s primarily dry and woody in nature, with only a lightly sweetened undertone but, thankfully, a more balanced degree of dustiness. The patchouli’s other facets don’t appear on my skin: there is no camphorous greenness, chocolate, or tobacco. In some ways, its predominantly woody focus really is not all that different from the cedar, just as its spiciness feels driven primarily by the accompanying Safranal. In fact, the two wrap around the patchouli to create a triple-helix structure where the parts are virtually indistinguishable to the whole. As the main trio starts to pulsate, the aromatic, herbaceous, and citrusy wisps recede to become tiny specks in the distant periphery. The main bouquet is now primarily patchouli-cedar-saffron, streaked with thin veins of dry, woody, dusty, and leathery elements, then set against a backdrop of amber. The latter is turning increasingly abstract and diffuse in feel. It no longer has a caramel aroma; it’s rapidly turning drier; and its subtle sweetness is giving way to a generalised warmth.
Monsieur changes again when its main heart stage begins about 1.75 hours into its development. In a nutshell, the base aromachemicals seep upwards and bloom, turning Monsieur into a weaker version of Patchouli Absolu, the cypriol-heavy, leathery, very woody, smoky, and immensely dry fragrance put out by Malle’s brother company in the Estée Lauder empire, Tom Ford. It’s not a positive turn of events in my eyes; Patchouli Absolute is the absolute last patchouli fragrance this “patch head” would ever go near. Both are overly synthetic, overly arid interpretations of patchouli that focus on woody, smoky, and leathery tonalities rather than the richer, deeper, spicier, and warmer aspects of the note.
And Monsieur just gets more and more hardcore in terms of its smoky harshness as the Amber Xtreme explodes at the start of the third hour. This is “patchouli” ensconced within faux “amber” that smells almost entirely of abrasive campfire wood smoke and tarry leather aromachemicals. Then, roughly 4.5 hours in, the Amber Xtreme actually becomes the center point, a thick wall behind which the woody patchouli timidly hides its face.
By the end of the 6th hour, any lingering sense of real patchouli is obliterated on my skin. In fact, there isn’t a ton of impressionistic, abstract, or “photoshopped” patchouli, either, if you ask me. Instead, there is a duet of raspy, dry, cypriol/nagarmotha-style woodiness infused with chemical “amber” that smells primarily of intensely abrasive smokiness, raspy dryness, charred woods, and rough, tarry leatheriness. Weaving in and out is a faux tobacco aroma that resembles a mix of Norlimbanol and cypriol’s undertones, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the source because so many of the materials share the same woody, dry, and smoky characteristics. Once in a blue moon, there is a certain sourness that pops up, but most of the time the aromachemicals simply smell of abrasive smokiness and leathery woodiness. I can’t bear any of it.
The smoke and leather finally calm down at the start of the 9th hour when Monsieur’s drydown begins. As the wall of desiccated blackness slowly dissolves, the patchouli re-emerges. It’s still a very butch interpretation dominated by smoky, woody, dry, slightly spicy, and slightly leathery facets, but it’s significantly less abrasive and more balanced now than it once was, and it feels more bearable, at least relatively speaking. The patchouli’s rough edges are further softened and smoothened out by streaks of vanilla that slowly begin to appear under the shrinking cover of darkness. By the start of the 12th hour, Monsieur is a simple bouquet of dry, woody patchouli laced with a quiet, nebulous spiciness, some vanillic sweetness, and a hint of soft warmth, though it’s not amber in any distinct, clear way. Monsieur remains this way until it finally dies away as a blur of semi-dry, semi-spiced woodiness.
Monsieur had very good longevity on my skin, but generally soft projection and sillage. I have to admit, I was surprised by the latter. My personal skin chemistry clamps onto any fragrance with a hefty dosage of aromachemicals and makes it last forever and ever. (Alas.) But it also typically amplifies the sillage and power of such fragrances as well. Not so here. Regardless of whether I used the equivalent of 2 sprays or 3, the opening projection was roughly between 2 and 2.5 inches, maybe 3 at best, but what surprised me is that the sillage in both cases never extended beyond 4 inches at the very most. Plus, Monsieur felt so wishy-washy in both aroma and body. While the scent gained some body, depth, and power once the Amber Xtreme kicked in, it was only relative to the quiet diffuseness of the opening and only when smelt up close. Still, by the start of the 3rd hour, Monsieur projected a mere 1.5 inches above the skin even with the larger quantity. The sillage was minimal unless I moved my arms. It became nonexistent 4 hours into Monsieur’s development. (And all of this on someone whose skin chemistry actually amplifies the reach of aromachemical cocktails!) That said, it took 7.5 hours for Monsieur to turn into a full skin scent. In total, the fragrance lasted just under 15 hours with the larger 3-spray application and about 13.5 hours with the smaller amount. Again, I must stress that my skin really holds onto fragrances with powerful synthetics; others have not experienced those sorts of numbers. On Fragrantica, the majority of longevity votes thus far (14) opt for “long lasting” which is defined as 7-12 hours, with the 2nd or next choice (9 votes) being for “moderate” which is defined as 3 to 6 hours.
I’d normally provide comparative reviews and quotes of other people’s experiences for Monsieur but, frankly, this review has been rather a chore to write so I’ll just provide you with some links for you to read further if you’re interested. On Fragrantica, comments are somewhat mixed but largely tend to the favourable side on balance. On Basenotes, there are brief reviews starting with Comment #75 in this discussion thread, with more elaboration from Comment #102 onwards. For one person, “Francolino,” Monsieur felt like vintage M7 meets Montale‘s Aoud Musk and Nasomatto‘s Duro. Personally, I think the mention of both brands should tell you something about the strength of the aromachemicals, and not in a good way, but he meant it as a positive. Other Basenotes posters thought Monsieur bore similarities to Giorgio for Men, or to the smoky “fire accord” in Le Labo‘s Patchouli 24. On balance, the reviews seem quite split. In terms of blog reviews, Kevin at Now Smell This adored Monsieur, while Basenotes’ “Trebor” gave it a one-star “abysmal” rating on his site, Scent for Thought.
As for me, my distaste for Monsieur and my disappointment should be quite clear by now. It’s not solely because the fragrance is a rough aromachemical cocktail. Putting that issue completely to the side, I was truly astonished to read that Malle worked on this scent for five years. If I hadn’t read his own words on that point in the Fragrantica article, I would never have believed it. Up to that point, I thought that the new Estee Lauder ownership had somehow driven or impacted Malle’s development process, the fragrance’s aesthetic, its quality, and the choice of materials. One of my big issues is that Monsieur feels like a wholly mainstream, derivative designer scent, albeit one created with the modern, in-your-face aromachemical style of some lower-end niche brands. It’s not distinctive (except for its intense chemical woodiness and leatheriness), and it doesn’t feel like “luxury” perfumery to me, either. Since Malle’s prices have gone up yet again, the end result is disappointing in more ways than one.
Be that as it may, you should try Monsieur for yourself if you’re looking for a very woody, smoky, and leathery take on patchouli, and if you also enjoy the Montale or Nasomatto style of perfumery. If you loved Tom Ford’s butch interpretation of patchouli in Patchouli Absolu but were hoping for something quieter and softer, then Monsieur might do the trick as well. For me, it’s a total pass.
Still will read your review but just to let you know I am glad you are back! Started to wonder if I needed to pass on an encouraging message from my A. Hope you & the German are as well as can be hoped.
Thank you, my dear. I had some personal matters to deal with, but The Hairy German is well. Please give a kiss to “Angela Merkel” from me.
Good to read a review Kafka. After all the sultan Pasha’s I thought you may have retired! But welcome back and although this sounds rather awful it was nice to read. Hope all is well with you and your hound!
Thank you for the welcome back, Katie. No retirement for me, but there might be a slower reviewing schedule in the weeks to come. As for the fragrance, it wouldn’t be your cup of tea. Not mine, either, clearly. lol. Sadly, it’s boring just as much as it was mediocre.
Welcome back, Kafka ! Like you, I’m a serious old school patch-head. How depressing that Malle produced a synthetic ISO nightmare.
On a “not-dry” Patch note…get it, note ?, (I digress), have you ever tried Jalain’s original Patchouli oil ? The newer formulation(s) is/are super sweet compared to the “vintage”. It was an earthy, chocolatey, slightly sweet arm-eater.
I haven’t tried Jalain’s original Patchouli oil, but I’ve heard great things about it. Your description sounds absolutely lovely, RavenNightMyst! Mouth-watering. If only Monsieur was like that. The odd thing about it is not just how they’ve stripped patchouli of all its best and most appealing facets but how boring it was to wear. Even though its main character is the leather, dry, and woody bits, it’s paradoxically, oddly, and simultaneously characterless in a way that I can’t really explain. It’s not mere blandness, not merely the generic derivativeness, it’s… it’s something else that I can’t quite pinpoint except to repeat the word “characterless.” Very strange given the noticeable synthetics and the fact that it supposedly took 5 years to perfect this scent. (??!!!)
Characterless, that’s exactly the word for my impression of FM’s Magnolia (I didn’t even bother with Indelebile), like wisps of nothing tinged with Pledge. It was just so completely forgettable. I am not sure how much of this is driven by US market tastes or a change in creative direction by FM (and not necessary due to acquisition).
But I did find it very interesting to read the Monsieur article, in which FM seems to try and sell or elevate the use of chemical materials, as if they are somehow preferable? Success of Escentric Molecules and the new releases from What We Do’s Monoscent G & E must lend some credence that greater use of aroma chemicals in perfumery is not only better for the bottom line, but a viable option with consumers.
What a sad transition to go from SP to FM. Here’s hoping that you have less disappointing fragrances in your future, Kafka! And welcome back!!
Totally agree with you, Kafka, both on Malle Monsieur and TF Patchouli Absolu: not what I’d call a true patchouli scent. Good to see you back!
Thank you, Bruno. I hope you’ve been well. As for the two “patchoulis,” I knew you’d be disappointed in the Malle as well, and I thought of you while testing it. It’s definitely not true, traditional patchouli in the way that we both love so much. It’s strange how bland and dull it is despite its leathery, dry, smoky character, and how wishy-washy or weak it was despite the strength of its synthetics. Did you experience the same paradox as well?
The text from F.Malle doesn’t really sound as a recommendation for a patch fragrance for me – but I thought “oh, well, I’m going to try it, so I can see what all those chemicals are doing to my nose…” (I prefer my patch earthy/chocolatey)
Now, after your review, I’m almost scared to try it ! Once upon a time I adored Editions des Parfums FM… “Ch-ch-ch-changes…” said David Bowie…
And yes, nice having you back after the long break, dear Franz
I don’t know what you’d think about this, Mi’Lady. You do like some dark fragrances and, to some extent, dry woody things occasionally, but I would be surprised if this was your cup of tea. Who knows, but I would keep your expectations low if you try it. As for Malle as a brand in general, I know you once loved them and haven’t enjoyed some of the more recent offerings. Frankly, for me, all 3 of the last releases have been duds: the magnolia one (alleged magnolia, if you ask me, *snort*), Cologne Indelibile, and now, Monsieur.
It has been a while since your last review. I am happy you’re back! Sorry this didn’t work out for you, I liked reading it. Can I ask where I can get a vintage M7? Your description of labdanum and plum makes it a must-have!
Vintage M7, original version (vs. heavily reformulated but also discontinued vintage M7), is very hard to find, I’m afraid. It’s such a cult legend that people tend to snap up any offerings that might appear on eBay right away and samples aren’t common. That said, eBay is still your best bet as some people do occasionally offer samples or decants from time to time. You have to make sure that any listing shows a photo of the original M7 bottle, because that’s the good version. That bottle is all brown on the sides, not clear or white-ish looking like the reformulated version. This eBay listing seems to be for the original vintage version, and is a 2 ml sample for $16.99 (not including shipping): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Yves-Saint-Laurent-M7-EDT-2ml-Spray-Sample-Read-Description-/162023735533?hash=item25b95e00ed:g:vnIAAOSwQjNW~HPt
The Perfumed Court does have M7, but they don’t state which version it is: http://theperfumedcourt.com/Products/Yves-St-Laurent-M7__YSLM7.aspx I suspect it’s the reformulated one, particularly given the low price.
Surrender to Chance’s M7 is definitely the reformulated version, because I ordered it once: http://surrendertochance.com/yves-st-laurent-m7/
I hope that helps, Cochlea.
Extremely helpful, and now I know what the vintage bottle looks like. Thank you. I look forward to your next review!
Gosh, this fragrance sounds just awful. I ran to get my steam distilled dark patchouli essential oil mid read to comfort myself. An excellent and visceral review!
Ha, Katy, in your shoes, I would have run for the true oil myself. 🙂 This is certainly a different take on patchouli, and not one that traditionalists who love all the chewy, chocoately, sweet, earthy, spicy bits might expect. I definitely share Bruno’s belief (written up above) that it’s not a true patchouli in that regard.
Good to see you are back!!!
Too bad that Monsieur turned out this way, I’ve had more expectations from it when it was announced. Not that I would have bought it anyway since Malle in general is outside my budget. And as you have said and I have noticed, yet again they have raised their prices, as if they weren’t high enough. Oh well, the trend is synthetic-worse quality-higher prices.
It does seem to be a trend, although not one limited just to Malle, alas. Still, one expects more from the company, especially at the higher price point. I suppose one of Monsieur’s worst failings is how bland, boring, and unremarkable it is.
TF’s Patchouli Absolutely nothing . I was surprised at how much I disliked that one. I do love Jovay’s, Psychedelique . I have recently sampled, Profumum Roma’s, Patchouli and found that I do enjoy that one too. L.Villorresi,’s Patchouli along with Von Euserdorff’s Classic are enjoyable also. LV’s has a slight twigs and seeds appeal where VE’s dark and earthy approach is pleasant . LV’s opening is huge, then settle’s and last, where VE’s fades on me. Hindu Grass and Mon Patchouli are gentlemanly, but have the difference between light and dark.I wasn’t a fan of Noblie 1942, but was with Bois 1920. I did really enjoy Montale’s , Leaves . The opening made sense to me, something autumnal . I have sampled a number of Montale’s attempts , like Fruit of the Musk and I find them, well I don’t know what I find. Yes I do, I find that I don’t care for them, but leaves, leaves me with a warm scarf and knit cap worn in the winter smile. So if FM’s Patch is in the lines as TF’s attempt, I’ll pass. There are a number of other patchouli’s that I like much more. TY always for your reviews . Always learning , JBS.
First, welcome to the blog, JBS. 🙂 Second, I’m glad I could help. Monsieur is definitely not in the vein of the other patchouli fragrances that you’ve mentioned! Not one bit, alas. I’d call those traditional patchoulis, but this one is in the vein of Tom Ford’s Patchouli Absolu. As Bruno, my “patch head” twin in the true patch field commented above, this is not a real patchouli in that regard. It’s far more of a modernistic leather-woody approach that has taken out all the good bits.
Glad you’re back! I missed reading your reviews.
Welcome back 🙂 I smelled this one by chance in the week, and I feel your pain! Hadn’t read much about it and wasn’t expecting the level of aromachems I was hit with. Minor nose trauma! Surely for $200+ for 50 ml they didn’t need to cheap out on the materials? Way too synthetic-heavy for me.
There’s obviously a growing market though, sufficient to warrant new launches like those from monoscent. I can’t help but feel that asking people to pay niche prices for a single aromachemical diluted in alcohol, and calling it a perfume, is insulting to the consumer. The emperor is truly naked…
Thank you for the welcome back. As for Monsieur, I’m glad to know that you reached similar conclusions and that I wasn’t the only one who found it synthetic. The greater sin, though, is how forgettable it is and how nondescript. :\
hi The best perfumes Patchouli: 1- lorenzo villoresi patchouli
2- Tellus Les Liquides Imaginaires
In your opinion, what is the best Patchouli?
I love you so much Patchouli…
As between those two, and speaking only for myself, definitely the Lorenzo Villoresi. If I may, I strongly recommend you trying Nobile 1942’s Patchouli and Santa Maria Novella’s Patchouli as well. Nobile’s is exceptionally smooth and, imo, better even than the Villoresi. The SMN is gorgeous, and many people’s “holy grail” patchouli. Also, if you like the Borneos style of patchouli, and something rawer, my new patchouli love is Bond-T by Sammarco perfumes. That one blew me away. It’s my new big patchouli love. A definite MUST-try for a hardcore patchouli fan.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on the aromachemicals in Monsieur, and the fact that the patchouli feels very wishy-washy and stripped clean. While I’m not particularly sensitive to aromachamicals on a physical level, I must say that the smoky woodiness reminds me of quite a few faux oud fragrances, especially a few of Nasomatto, and I’m becoming more and more bored with it. Moreover, the aesthetic how Malle chooses to interpret patchouli, reminds me of By Kilian’s Straight to Heaven, in the way that both focus on using patchouli to really make a popular men’s fragrance, instead of making an ode to patchouli. If I didn’t read the PR focusing on the patchouli, I might be ok with it, but now I’m really disappointed that this is not my type of patchouli.
The Amber Xtreme is a real powerhouse, apparently one of the absolute strongest aromachemicals on the market, judging by Luca Turin’s recent comments. So I’m not surprised that Nasomatto’s style came to mind since it uses aromachemicals that are almost as forceful. In terms of patchouli, have you tried Sammarco’s Bond-T, Yinghao? A much, much truer patchouli, and very satifying, in my opinion.
Thanks for the tip! I haven’t yet, but reading your review, it seems that it would be right up my alley! I’ll sure give it a try.
Thanks. Write 75% less and I’ll pay more attention.
Please feel free to read other blogs. In fact, I’d urge you to do so. I have zero intention of changing my style for you.
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I love your review Kafka, both this one and the one on TF’s Patch Absolu. Maybe it is because I’m new to this field, but I have to admit that I did enjoy the fragrance greatly.
It reminded me of a quiet Buddhist temple with incense slowly burning in the background. Now I can’t discount the effect of cultural background, but the strong scent was soothing for me when I smell it on my skin. Personally, I think it did the job better than scents that meant to check the ‘temple incense’ scents–Kyoto by CDG, in particular was extremely disappointing for me.
I’m wondering if you have any recommendations for scents that has a more smokey approach towards patchouli but smells better ? or…. any other better patch scents in general? (Ive read that you recommended Nobile 1942’s Patchouli..gonna try a sample from luckyscent.)
Thank you in advance !
Hi, Cody, welcome to the blog. It’s difficult for me to answer your question because the materials which create that intense degree of smokiness are almost always aromachemical in nature, and I’m too sensitive to them to test many things in that vein. I can tell you of a whole host of legitimately good smoky scents — whether leather, incense-y temple orientals, ouds, oud leathers, or even a heavily spiced myrrh with tobacco — but none of them are patchouli soliflores or primarily patchouli driven.
The patchoulis that I appreciate are not the smoky sort which you’re seeking, for reasons related again to the aromachemical issue. If you want to know what I think is a great patchouli, though, look up my review for Sammarco’s Bond-T. I think it’s truly fantastic, and it’s almost my Holy Grail patch. (Almost but not quite, not fully.) It’s definitely a very dark take on the note, but it’s neither incense-laced nor synthetically smoky in the way that you might be seeking. Still, look up the review, because it’s the best patchouli that I’ve encountered thus far. (Also look up the reviews for Santa Maria Novella’s Patchouli and Oriza L. Legrand’s Horizon, as both of them are patchoulis that I recommend.)
Hope that helps a little.
Yes I’ll get a sample of Nobile 1942’s Patchouli and Bond-T from Luckyscent as soon as I come back to the states in January. It’s a happy surprise that both you and some reviewer on Basenotes compared this one with LIDG—I did enjoy my LIDG sample a lot, if not too much. It might be my favorite mass-commercial fragrance I’ve tried so far.
I’m somewhat skeptical about the tonka bean-cocoa combo to be completely honest. I tried Hanae Mori’s HM, both EDP and EDT, and god I hated it. It was not just the overpowering citrus but also what accompanies that citrus…which happens to be cocoa and tonka bean. I don’t know if I’m making sense…..but I honestly can’t stand how the combo was handled in HM.
LIDGE is even better than LIDG, in my opinion. Way, way better! If you haven’t tried it, see if you can get a sample sent to you by a Guerlain boutique in your area or, if you’re in Europe right now, stop by one of the Sephora’s. (The big ones in Paris definitely have it.)
yeah I will definitely get that if I find myself in Paris ! It’s a shame it’s nowhere to be found here in the US.
I think the Toronto Guerlain sometimes sends samples of it to US-based people who ask. I think that’s what I recall hearing someone tell me once.
Btw, the chocolate in Bond T is nothing like the cocoa in LIDG, Monsieur or other fragrances with a cocoa-tonka accord. The one is Bond-T is black chocolate and its greatest companions (after the patchouli) are: smoky, musky, leathery castoreum; boozy cognac; and blackened, balsamic resins.
Yeah i saw that comment actually–how Toronto has the samples. I checked Guerlain Canada’s website and found that they only has the EDT version now.
I guess it could be a sign that they probably dont carry the extreme/edp any more ?
That may not necessarily be a reflection of what they have in-store in Toronto. Several of Guerlain’s country-specific websites don’t list everything that is carried in-store, particularly for fragrances that are less commercially big sellers (e.g., fragrances outside the godawful La Petite Robe Noire or Homme Idéal series).
I’ll definitely call them up tmrw then. I actually dont live too far off Toronto–like a three hour drive. I can just go get it if they do carry it.
Thank you so much !