Patou pour Homme
Masterpiece, the word is thrown about quite a bit here on Basenotes. It is probably as subjective a term as it gets especially in realms of the senses. My check on what a masterpiece is came near the end of a two-week trip to Italy. We had been to Ravenna, Venice, and Florence; and on our last day had finally booked a ticket to the big art musesum in Florence, The Uffizi. We had been in a number of museums at this point and to say I was burnt-out on looking at paintings would be putting it mildly. I was walking into a gallery and going "pope, baby jesus, mary, medici, next!" Until I walked into one and went "pope, baby jesus, mar....oooh wait that's different". I'd walk up for a closer look and the artist would be Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, or Carvaggio. These pieces stood out. They had something extra or different. Sometimes a depth and sometimes a use of color that was clearly unique from the other well-executed paintings surrounding it. The point here is that when you encounter something different than the rest you immediately know it. So it is with Jean Kerleo's 1980 masterpiece Patou pour Homme. Patou pour Homme is easily one of the best scents I have ever worn on my skin. From the first time I wore it until this time there has never been a time where I haven't been blown away by its beauty. What makes it so special on me? This is that rarest of scents where I can pick out individual notes but it is the harmony with which they combine which makes this special. This is perfectly embodied in the opening of this scent. The beginning is an herbal medley of bergamot, sage, pepper, and tarragon which is quickly joined by lavender. When I first spray on Patou pour Homme the herbal character roars out of the gate but the lavender is right there to bring it under control and make this an accord that is spicy and floral without being identifiably one or the other. This is the rarest of scents in that it can take well-trodden notes and combine them in a new way to make me experience them differently. This happens in the heart. How many scents have vetiver, cedar and patchouli? How many scents would amp up the clean lines of cedar, combine it with vetiver to give it an edge, and add a little earthiness in patchouli? Probably the same number. In Patou pour Homme. Kerleo chooses to let the patchouli take the fore and uses the clean lines of cedar and vativer to constrain its usual expansive nature. This turns into a patchouli that is dry but not earthy. It becomes almost resinous, like incense and incredible, on me. The heart comes off like an incense accord but an incense I've never smelled in real life. This is the rarest of scents in that all that has come before sets you up for a knockout punch at the end. Kerleo was clearly going for a fougere feel and his base goes for that using oakmoss, sandalwood and labdanum. The labdanum comes first as it continues the resinous feel of the heart and allows the transition into the base. This base has one of the most arid sandalwoods I've tried and in conjunction with the labdanum and then the oakmoss this forms a woody mossy resinous accord that is gorgeous. It lasts and lasts and lasts on me. Patou pour Homme deserves to be in the Uffizi of perfume so a bored colognoisseur can walk in and go " aquatic, oriental, chypre....ooh that's different".
14th June, 2009