It’s true that Patchouli 24 smells like smoking tar pits and the aftermath of a chemical fire in a tire factory, but that doesn’t fully explain why it’s sexy.
I remember the first time I wore this. I had been swimming in a city pool with my husband and young son, and my skin still smelled of chlorine when I sprayed it on. Somehow, the combination of pool chemicals with the burned, smoky “electrical fire” facet of Patchouli 24 and the thin, poisonously sweet slick of vanillin pooled at the base of the scent made me smell like a total badass, like Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, chasing a bad guy down on her motorcycle. Even though I was wearing jeans at the time, one spritz and I felt like I was dressed in a black rubber cat suit and heavy black eye liner.
Patchouli 24 makes me feel like I always thought Piquet’s Bandit would make me feel but didn’t – powerful, but also female. There is a salty-sweet “glazed ham” quality to the smoke note here that just sends me over the top. The dreaded fir balsam (or could it be vetiver?) sweat note makes an unwelcome appearance in the far drydown, but idly enough it’s not the deal breaker it is to me in other scents such as Baccarat Rouge 545 or Encens Flamboyant. The only reason I don’t wear it more often than I do is because every time I am in the car with my family, my husband stops the car to check for an electrical shortage or fire of some sort.
A homage to the smoke-filled origins of perfume, Patchouli 24 is truly fine. Well it is, if like me you appreciate the following things and are not averse to wearing their odour – first, great billowing clouds of woodsmoke and heated tar, then the antiseptic smell of hospital corridors, maple-cured bacon, lapsang souchong, peaty whisky, auld leather, split birch bark. Patchouli 24 achieves a union of these strong personalities without sinking under their weight; it won’t march over you in jackboots.
Underneath this wood and smoke fest is a dry and somewhat loamy patchouli (which seems to only inhabit the heart phase), half hidden, just the way I like it, and some equally dried out and sugar-free vanilla. This is everything I expected Menardo’s Black to be but wasn’t: impressively textured and full of character (‘sexy grease monkey’ comes to mind) rather than the somewhat dull mumble of Black.
With the vanilla a bit more to the fore in the deep drydown, Patchouli 24’s final hours are as a tarry amber.
I agree with the reviewers here that this smells like smoked meat, but I can't understand how a smell like this amounts to a thumbs up. Aweful.
Why is my mouth watering?
I am transported to a barbecue pit, where the scent of too green to be burned birch wood did, however, serve the purpose of smoking the pork tenderloin, which had first been submitted to a mouth-watering marinade. As such this is more gourmand than leather to my nose.
I love the scent of birch tar, going back to such masterpieces as Molyneux's Le Numero Cinq (1925) and both Coty's A Suma and Lelong's Sirocco (both 1934). Here the scent is masterfully placed center stage - smoky, but not harsh at all to my nose - supported by patchouli and vanilla.
I am impressed by the creation, though I don't consider it wearable as a body fragrance, as it would need more blending of other ingredients to make that so for me (as in the vintage classics mentioned above).
Admirable scent, nonetheless!
I agree with Houdini's statement on patchouli never being a favorite note but frequently being indispensable as a note, usually a base note, in many favorite fragrances. While I found the dirtiness of Le Labo's Oud 27 to be overwhelming, the dirtiness of Patchouli 24 is instead right about what works for me. The patchouli is present from the start, with a woody resinous character that lasts throughout the fragrance. The vanilla comes in later, and is slight. Usually this imbalance in favor of the earthy/spicy would problematic for me, but even the relative weakness of the vanilla in the dry down isn't prohibitive. The composition is, on the whole, elegant, and this might actually be another bottle that I consider buying from Le Labo, if it continues to work well after a few tries. Also, it's potent, as was Oud 27, strong on projection and longevity.
7 out of 10