There’s a glimpse of patchouli at the point of application, but it’s buried within a smoky slathering of tar. Within about 15 minutes or so, the tar takes the wheel and you’re pretty much at its mercy for the rest of the ride. In typical Le Labo fashion, the name is a curveball: Patchouli 24 actually smells somewhere between road construction, an old leather jacket, and barbecue sauce. It’s an oppressive, chemical explosion that’s as intoxicating as it is toxic. The upshot, though, is that it has limited versatility.
Despite this, it’s still one of the best scents in the line. Think deep, smoldering, slightly rubbery goop and you’ll get the picture. Harsh at first, but with a soft vanilla undertone that cushions much of the brutality. It’s in the same general area as Tribute, Jeke, Bois d’Ascese etc. but with a more synthetic embrace. Good stuff, albeit spendy for what it is, and not for the faint of heart.
The opening of Patchouli 24 is rough, dry, dark, tar and smoky, an ultra-dry and sour birch woody accord, quite synthetic in a way (a good way: synthetically "post-industrial"), but at the same time rich, thick and realistic, with a nice and almost ghastly nuance of "smoked meat", like alfarom noted below. I also detect the patchouli note but it's quite understated and restrained, hiding behind this exhaust campfire of black woods, yet creating a nice and elegant contrast between its velvety, dusty, slightly cocoa-earthy feel (the patchouli, I mean) and the woody-ashy overall mood. On the very base, just a thin "rounding" layer of vanilla. Much refined and utterly pleasant with its austere and sophisticated look, just a tad artificial, but nice, a contemporary vision of "black" like Bois d'ascèse or CdG Black. After a while it starts to "warm" and open up, becoming softer and gentler, with a smooth and soft yet dark leather note arising - and at this point, while the similarity with the abovementioned scents becomes weaker, the closeness to La troisième heure by Cartier becomes quite evident. It's exactly the same structure: smoky, mellow, dark leather blended with dusty vanilla. Perhaps there's no leather and it's the birch wood, still that's the smell. Pure class and pleasure for sure, although nothing new. Plus, the patchouli (which was barely detectable at the opening) is completely vanished at this point, so bear this in mind in case you came here mostly for patchouli. Nonetheless, the scent is much good even if the main character is missing: it's pleasant, sophisticated, a bit overpriced and not that unique (the Cartier is not the only "reference", basically any other contemporary leather-vanilla scent would work), but "it works" quite well. I enjoyed wearing it and – for what it's worth – I'd wear it happily if I had a bottle. I wouldn't pay for this, but I'll do my best to have someone buy this for me (lucky me, Christmas is not that far).
I got a sample of this frag to try based on some interesting reviews I found here.
I put a small amount on my arm and within seconds thought I had made a HUGE mistake. The chemical/brush fire scent was overwhelming. I scrubbed it off my arm and put it aside.
Several days later I tried it again. This was different.
It is a perfume that doesn't start smelling like it will smell even 20 minutes later. The birch tar really gives it a smokey smell, with a hint of patchouli over the top. It has limited silliage (which for me is great as I work in an office and like to wear scent every day), and incredible staying power. After 20 minutes or so it settles into a smokey vanilla scent that is very reminiscent of exotic incense. Incredible, but takes patience.
I am glad I gave it another chance. I have problems with most perfumes (specifically those containing artificial musks) so I gave it a few days just to make sure I would be able to cope with it. A week later I bought a bottle.
This is a great fall/winter scent. I am not sure how it would work out in the summer (maybe in the evening?)
The big surprise about Patchouli 24 is that, contrary to normal Le Labo policy, the headline note actually appears in the composition. I’m sure somebody lost their job over this, but in the event Patchouli 24 is still not a straightforward patchouli composition in the manner of say, Etro, Mazzolari, or Montale’s Patchouli Leaves.
Instead it starts out all smoky birch tar, biker’s leather, and tobacco, somewhere along the lines of Tauer’s Lonestar Memories. Animalic labdanum and a sweet patchouli emerge in counterpoint to the campfire accord, and once they do Patchouli 24 runs a linear course for a couple of solid hours.
Unfortunately the drydown, when it arrives, lacks the dark, animalic menace that makes the scent’s heart so compelling. Once the smoke, leather, and patchouli recede, what remains is a very sweet dried fruit and wood accord apparently inspired by (that’s tactful for “lifted directly from”) Arabie, Chaos, or Feminité du Bois. A good idea, but anticlimactic in its execution.
This is a great exercise in how to make a very good warm and dry-smoky scent that manages to stay away from the frankincense church-category. A very dry, warm and multi-facet smoke-scent with a strange barbecue roasted chicken-note, the tarry chimney of a fireplace, that dry spicy-inky of fresh morningpaper, the hot, dry steamy-smokiness of a sauna-scent together with a nice round and smoky patchouli that reminds of a cigarette in a ashtray made of marble, all there...and the dusty, musty smell of old books. Bold and at the same time subtle. The oilyness and warmth in this scent somehow seems to mimic the human skin itself and thats the greatest thing about it. Its smells in a animalic way but doesnt really show does notes. The warmth that this scent radiates till deep in its dry-out is extraordinary, it really seems to heat itself up...
I cannot really call this a perfume and wouldnt wear this myself but its very original stuff- i think this will go down in history as a classic (scent). Annick Menardo truly is the most original and gifted perfumer of our time.
23rd April, 2014 (last edited: 04th May, 2014)