Following a review of Encens Lavande by La Compagnie de Provence next we turned to their Anis Patchouli, whose name suggests an intriguing, original accord.
The "anis" or anise alluded to in the name of the fragrance turns out to be star anise or "badiane" in French. But most remarkable of all perhaps is the realization upon a first sniff that this is an olfactive carbon copy of Shiloh by Hors Là Monde, a high-end niche perfume created by perfumer Michel Roudnitska in 2007 for brand owner Symine Salimpour...
The copy is very well done. On an aesthetic plane, it is very satisfying. The longevity might be a bit weaker, perhaps, but for that to be certain of, I would need to retrieve a sample of Shiloh. Otherwise, this is a great knock-off of it at a fraction of the price ($45 for 100 ml EDT vs. $125 for 50 ml EDP). It does not smell cheap. It has all the nuances that you enjoyed in the original floral chypre - a perfume I incidentally regret not reviewing when it was launched as I thought it had a haunting quality.
Perhaps I do not feel this haunting sensation with Anis Patchouli so I would need to go back to the original to compare them. Perfumery is the art of infinite nuances, layering depths and authenticity constraint. This feels like this weird object, an authentic copy.
No perfumers are mentioned unlike for Encens Lavande. Did Michel Roudnitska himself offer to duplicate for a different segment of the market, in a lighter concentration? Is it one of his students? I am thinking of the Hermès bag counterfeiting case which emerged the other day in France where two former employees of Hermès ensured the quality was top notch on a par with the originals.
Obviously, this is not the kind of things that you will go around trumpeting normally except, well, on this blog. Having no personal interests staked in the perfumes and people mentioned I am able to tell you readers that this is what can be smelled in both bottles: a spicy rose-patchouli, touched by coriander, with a significant geranium facet and a lovely citrusy drydown which makes it a perfect chypre for a sophisticated summer to smolder discreetly with. You will also get Michel Roudnitska's spicy signature - which can be found in Frédéric Malle Noir Epices too, and it will make a lighter dent in your wallet.
As is usual with copycat cases in perfumery you disapprove of it on the principle of it without knowing the full background story but then you stop and wonder about the price discrepancies. Reproductions such as posters are acceptable in the visual art market because you know they are copies of original paintings in a different medium. A perfume composition can be a "poster" too in that sense.
It is too bad no clearer signal was sent that this is a copy. We oblige.
Notes: anise, star anise, coriander / rose, sandalwood / patchouli, amber, vanilla