Patchouli by Réminiscence {Perfume Review & Musings}


Réminiscence is a Parisian fashion jewelry and accessory line of boutiques and among their offerings one can also find a collection of perfumes (see our review of Jammin'). Patchouli is the star item of the brand. Réminiscence readily calls it, its "fetish fragrance". It is part of a smaller collection of three main-note perfumes, the two other scents being called Ambre (Amber) and Musc (Musk). It was created in 1970 by perfumer Francis Camail in the era of the hippie Orientalist vogue and some would say overwhelmingly popular campus scents such as musk and, precisely, patchouli. Yet, its popularity endures and for good reason...

Juliette Binoche wore this perfume when she played the role of George Sand in the movie Les Enfants Du Siècle (Children of the Century), a depiction of the writer's tumultuous love relationship with poet Alfred de Musset as the actress wanted to enter better into the character of George Sand who is well known for having had a single-minded predilection for Patchouli (see our review of Maître Gantier et Parfumeur George Sand, a patchouli scent re-created by Nicolas de Barry based in part on historical data).

Top notes are patchouli from Singapore, Jamaican pepper, fragrant Chinese tea, and vanilla from the Comoros. Heart notes are Mysore sandalwood and amber. Base notes are Mysore sandalwood and amber.

Patchouli is a rich spicy oriental perfume dedicated to the beauty of patchouli. It is a little bit of a power-scent but without being overwhelming so, as it is softened down by gentler notes. It is a full-bodied and full-flavored dark-looking and smelling fragrance with a decadent bent. The patchouli accord is so rich and deep as to suggest chocolate both abstractly and more concretely as some dark cacao nuances emerge. The refined piquancy of the Mysore sandalwood and the velvety texture of the amber accompany the evolution of the patchouli all along.

The perfume evolves very little; rather it resolutely plays on the attraction of a main note that is showcased in the most plush of warm amberey setting evolving from evoking a rich glass of brandy to dark chocolate to finally hitting on the drier earthy facets of patchouli. Thinking of George Sand, we can imagine her one moment sitting in her living room next to a roaring fireplace sipping brandy and eating chocolate wearing a rich soft cashmere shawl on her shoulders and next, taking a walk in the early morning mist somewhere in her estate at Nohant where paths leading to the forest smell of pungent damp earth. The drydown is delectable, offering - is it an illusion?- a little bergamot hint with delicious vanilla overtones.

Réminiscence Patchouli's fragrance genealogy seems to include perfumes such as Tabu and Youth-Dew. Interestingly, and just like Angel by Thierry Mugler for that matter, it shows the enduring charisma of patchouli in spite of a strong anti-patchouli sentiment that is often expressed by our contemporaries. In fact one finds out that since the introduction of patchouli in Europe in the beginning of the 19th centruy, it has always been considered a polarizing aroma, yet it seems to have never gone completely out of fashion and even better, to have been able to set important fashion perfume trends.

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