Genre: Woody Oriental
So here it is: the legendary Patou pour Homme.
Once you get the tricky lid open, Patou launches as a very strong, very odd blend of green notes, bitter citrus, hot pepper, and tarragon, which together form an accord not unlike a smoky Speyside single malt whisky. I like single malt whiskies.
The tarragon bows out rather quickly, or at least moves well into the background, while a bouquet of dry herbs and lavender moves forward in its place. This is supported by a subtle sandalwood note and a touch of conifer resin. The whisky grows darker and more smoky, transforming almost imperceptibly into a potent leather. Playing above this, rather like a soft, solitary flute, is a surprisingly delicate floral accord, including a note of carnation or clove. In my experience the tenuous counterpoint between this and the hefty leather and woods really is something special.
After an hour or so the dry herb accord begins to peel away to more fully reveal the carnation against the conifer and leather background. Meanwhile the black pepper, along with vetiver and sage(?), give Patou a bitter edge that may not be to everybody's liking.
The first real hint of sweetness in Patou emerges even later, in the form of a faint vanilla and amber. And when I say faint, I mean it - these notes hover just on the verge of perception. They're not so much an accord as an atmospheric effect that ever-so-slightly tempers the scent's edge.
Patou is tenacious and mellows only very slowly as it wears. The bitter vetiver persists over the sandalwood and (real?) oakmoss foundation, but eases up enough to allow the amber and vanilla some breathing room. About four hours into the drydown Patou's thorns finally blunt a bit, leaving amber, spices, and vanilla to relax over moss, leather, and woods. This phase is when I enjoy Patou the most, and I'm happy to report that it continues for hours without fading. An exceptionally well-blended castoreum note lends some animalic danger all the way through and keeps Patou from wandering into "old man" territory.
The overall impression is a bit harsh and aggressive (we are talking 1980 here folks,) but not at all brutish - more like a 1930s Humphrey Bogart than a pugnacious street punk. It's tough and edgy, but not radical. The sillage and projection are both excellent, and I strongly recommend applying Patou with a light hand. Otherwise you could wind up smelling like you bathed in the stuff.
I suspect that for a certain generation (mine) that came of age in the 1980s, this is what a man's fragrance ought to smell like. Rock solid, serious, and full of power. This may be part of the reason that Patou is so revered. It probably doesn't hurt either that Patou pour Homme stands in sharp relief against the plethora of dilute powdered soft drinks that pass as fragrances these days.
Don't get the impression that Patou pour Homme is without merit. Far, far from it. Some hallowed classics (like Bois du Portugal,) have disappointed me, while others (including JHL,) have lived up to their reputations. Patou is a great scent. It's characterful, incredibly complex, and develops through an exciting sequence of moods over a very long time. I find it easier to wear than some of the other late twentieth century powerhouses like Kouros and Yatagan. Even so, I don't have all that many occasions to wear something like this. (I don't do leveraged buyouts or corporate takeovers.)
So is Patou the greatest of all men's fragrances? I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but I can understand why some do. This emperor certainly is wearing clothes, but he's not the only well dressed man in town.
During the 1980s I wore the now discontinued Dunhill Blend 30 as my signature fragrance. Elsewhere on Basenotes the Dunhill fragrance has often been described as a green version of Patou pour Homme. Having never tried Patou, I have always been curious about it, as Dunhill Blend 30 is my all-time favorite. Since a number of reviewers suggested a similarity between the two I was determined to track down and try the Patou and recently had the opportunity to acquire it. I can see a definite resemblance between the two. Both are classic 80s fougeres of extraordinary quality with similar base notes, but it is obvious to me that the Patou is a bit softer, more refined and elegant. Makes me wish I had been acquainted with it back when it was readily available. It truly lives up to its reputation. I can't say I like it more than the Dunhill, but certainly like it as much. That says a lot. I do like the opening and how the middle notes play out during the first few hours on the Patou better than I do with the Dunhill, but appreciate the last few hours of the dry down on the Dunhill more. But even here it is a close call. Let's just say I have tried two masterpieces that probably won't be repeated due to current regulations and restrictions on ingredients, as well as availability issues related to the natural ingredients used in both. It has been a delight to wear them!
Pros: In my opinion, one of the two best.
Cons: Discontinued "
Inimitability and perfection.
PPH is great. And it is a scent that can not return, because today many ingredients are gone, and many others have been banned.
No reformulation can dream to get to this absolute masterpiece.
The luxury of a Lord, the pattern of recent Tom Ford for Men fragrances.
PPH original is priceless, beautiful that civet. Beautiful everything. I'm in love with my Patou Pour Homme.
Pros: really natural, enveloping, sensual, strong in EDT as in AS
Cons: rare to find
perfect, delicius, strong and elegant. concurring with sinodor. a master piece!
After being completely amazed at the brilliance of Patou pour Homme Prive, I decided to throw caution to the wind and bought a bottle of Patou pour Homme at the extremely inflated eBay prices...
Patou pour Homme opens with a big blast of lavender, tarragon and clary sage. Similar to Prive, the lavender in Patou pour Homme is one of the rare few that I actually enjoy. Moving to the heart notes, I get a lot of fir and vetiver, but only hints of patchouli and geranium with some of the leather from the base notes peeping through. Finally, the ever so slightly animalic base is loaded with oakmoss, coupled with a good dose of sandalwood and that leather accord I noticed earlier. Patou pour Homme has excellent strength and longevity with average sillage.
I have to admit that while I love Patou pour Homme and don't regret the blind buy one iota, I am not quite as enamored with it as I was with its sister scent released 10+ years later, Prive. I find Patou pour Homme to be more formal and less versatile of the two, kind of loosely reminding me of vintage Derby by Guerlain (not a bad thing to be sure). I am happy to have it in my collection, but would probably have just bought a large decant at today's prices if I could do it all over, spending the savings on a backup bottle of Prive. Don't shoot me, but I give Patou pour Homme an excellent 4 to 4.5 stars out of 5. Superb, just not quite "the best" to my nose, at least. Another winner from genius nose Jean Kerleo!
12th April, 2012 (last edited: 09th August, 2014)