Well, sorry it’s been so long guys – my updates have been extremely spaced out. But no more! I have returned with bunches of samples so lots more writing ahead.
I’ve tried Patchouli 24 a few times – never on my skin though. So was thrilled when a lovely Basenoter sent me a bunch of samples including this one. I LOVE smoky fragrances – Lonestar Memories has possibly the sexiest opening of any fragrance I know.
You’d think I’d adore Patchouli 24, but it is VERY different from the Tauer.
Patchouli 24 opens with a desperately sweet , almost floral smoke. The sweetness and the rose-y floral subside and the billowing smoke of lapsang souchong tea overwhelms the top notes into a thick, powdery and intense haze. The smoky tea is reminiscent of bonfires, barbeques, tar – a photo-realistic smoke, more literal than the more complicated menthol/smoke of Lonestar Memories.
Underneath this black smoke, is a slightly powdery, bitter vanilla. Although the vanilla has been burnt and stained by the tea, there is still a sweetness to it that I personally find a little cloying and overly diffusive on the skin.
The patchouli is practically non-existent until the late drydown. The two notes of smoke and vanilla play over each other for pretty much the entire duration of the fragrance, each taking it’s turn to dominate in a similar style to the honey/cedar wood play on skin with Miel De Bois.
Overwhelming at first, the vanilla manages to tame the radiant heat of Patchouli 24’s smoke and pull it downwards into a sticky, black smear of tar spiked vanilla. The patchouli adds an earthy, stuffiness that drags the overwhelming power of the opening into a similar density in the base.
Whilst Patchouli 24 never gets thin, it does soften into an unexpected powder, it shape-shifts from a modern powerhouse into a quite dated base, with a classical-but-rough feel in the style of Bandit (but very different). At this stage, the fragrance brings to mind even more mental images – stuffy old blankets, oily garages, worn leather gloves – all kinds of smoky/leathery/stuffy smells – I’m sure I’ve painted a good enough image for you!
I do love smoke in fragrance, but this is more photographic and less perfumey, and a little too much for me (which is weird considering my usual taste). I think the pairing with vanilla is far too much, and the patchouli almost seems unnecessary. I say pump the top with some sharp lavender, amp up the rose that makes a ghostly appearance in the opening, and hit hard with the tea smoke in the heart, giving in to an amber/labdanum/civet drydown and maybe keep the patchouli a little – beauty!
All in all, an unusual and one-of-a-kind fragrance, and a definite stand out in the Le Labo lineup. I much prefer Comme Des Garcons’ lapsang souchoung offering, the aptly named: Tea.
Le Labo Patchouli 24 100ml – £138 Liberty