Native to the Asia and Pacific region, Patchouli is a shrub that resembles mint plants.
Whilst Patchouli oil has been used in perfumery for thousands of years, it really gained popularity in the western world at the end of the 19th Century, when it was packed with silks that were traded from the Far East to deter moths from eating the fabrics. Women of the time became so enamoured with the scent of their silks that had absorbed the scent of patchouli, they began demanding it from perfumers, and patchouli gained its association with luxury. Queen Victoria allegedly had her linen chests and closets lined with patchouli leaves.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, the oil was adopted by the proponents of the flower power movement, who used the aged oil neat on their skin.
How does it smell?
The leaves are distilled for the oil, which has a dark brown colour and an odour with facets of wood, earth, forest floors, green, metal, and even camphor.
Why is it used in a perfume?
Patchouli is the foundation of the Chypre family of fragrances, alongside oakmoss, bergamot, rose and labdanum. It blends beautifully with rose, bringing out the darker, earthier facets of the flower, suggesting the soil that the plant grows in. You can find it used to wonderful effect in both Eau Sans Pareil and Empressa.
07 September 2014
I have loved Patchouli since I was a teen in the 70s. I live in Michigan and each spring plant it, I love walking out onto my porch and the scent of the little bushes start the day beautifully. I also love that it also keeps the mosquitoes away. I just wish I could find a way to winter it over.