Affectionately known as the “soul of Reminiscence”, Patchouli is the brand’s “flagship fragrance”. As I have mentioned in a previous review, to me, the particular brand has a lovely neo-hippie essence, and this feeling is both confirmed and underscored by their choice to place Patchouli as their central perfume. Offered in a clear bottle adorned with a girly smattering of stars, the cinnamon-colored juice too is closer to the hippie potions of the ‘70s than most modern interpretations of the note. Itself created in the ‘70s, Reminiscence’s Patchouli still manages to smell rather airy and playfully French, despite its retro feel. According to the official website, it completely lacks top-notes, but I find this rather hard to believe: spray Patchouli on your skin and you will find a boozy top accord of beautifully fermented grapes (akin to the scent of grappa) and light citrus notes that lend the fragrance a lovely vintage feel. As the top notes flutter away, the patchouli note takes over, but not once does it come on too strong. Its presentation throughout the development is always in tandem with the supporting notes, creating a soothingly soft blend. Cinnamon has the honor of the first dance, and together with the camphorous character of the patch, their twirling motions become slightly dizzying. This is not a metaphor! Two analgesic-related scents at once and I can’t help but get the impression I am being under the influence of something. Soon, the spiciness is toned down in favor of sweetness: the ambery base notes start showing through beautifully, lending the fragrance a soft yet very clearly discernible balsamic profile. Most salient is the sweet, round scent of tolu, only marginally tamed by the bitter resinous character of labdanum. In the drydown, the patchouli turns into a hushed whisper, leaving the very addictive sandalwood-vanilla blend to take over. The drydown is probably my favorite stage of Reminiscence’s Patchouli, due to the creamy, musky sweetness it imparts on the skin. What I absolutely need to mention before moving on to the Elixir, is that if you hate patchouli because of its headshop/indian-jewelry-cum-bead & fabric-store associations, this is probably not the right patch scent for you. It might be a soft scent, especially if you apply with a light hand, but it smells exactly like the sweet blend of amber-patchouli incense burnt in headshops. The sharpness is missing, but you can liken its scent to what you’d find if you buried your nose in one of the colorful fabrics sold there, just to find layers and layers of burnt incense smoke which has drenched the fibers. Although I can appreciate the particular scent for its playfulness, its balance and the way it showcases each note, I have to say that it is definitely not for me.
Inoubliable Elixir Patchouli:
“…and this one is for serious patchouli lovers only” the owner of the little jewelry boutique informed me as she handed me a sample of the Elixir, looking at me critically, no doubt trying to size up my patch love meter. I remained unblinking, open smile frozen in the grinning grimace of a terrified chimp. Regaining my composure, I decided to distract her equally unblinking avian stare by pointing to the bottle. “It is a beautiful bottle!” “Yes it is, it is a bit more expensive than the original, but well worth it to serious patchouli lovers.” …Seriously, the woman will NOT let go, she knows all about me, she knows I only recently started liking patchouli, she knows I am still exploring, she is soon going to kill me! (pause) …How will I come back here? I love her shop! I love the jewelry. (pause) Run now, consider later, I thought to myself as I made my exit as graciously as possible under the circumstances. Back in the comfort of my home, I eagerly ripped the gold-foil packet to reach the promised contents within. Surprisingly, the juice of the elixir is lighter colored than the original, the hue of light flower honey. Originally launched in 1970, the same year as its sibling, Inoubliable Elixir Patchouli was reissued in 2007. My first instinct upon spraying it is to go “Mmmmmmmm”: A full on pure, high quality dark chocolate cloud rises from the skin upon first contact. This stuff is rich and magnificent! Soon, the sumptuous oriental opening reveals glimmering facets as its soft core is cut through by a bright metallic tinge which lends it an air of luxury. The patchouli core at the center of this perfume is earthy and moist, while at the same time prickly, teasing the senses like long, playful fingers. In many ways, it feels like this is a heavily amped version of the original: I smell the very same notes that I did before – cinnamon, sandalwood, the beautiful amber blend of tolu and labdanum… Yet still, despite the obvious recognition, despite having found the match in the patterns, my senses still insist this is a very different perfume. Where Patchouli wore sandals and a colorful woven vest, Inoubliable Elixir wears YSL flats and a crisp tailored jacket. Where the original wore a playful smile, the elixir wears a naughty grin. Absolutely yummy and potent, this deep smelling, slightly medicinal dark blend keeps inviting me to re-sniff my wrist every few minutes. While it isn’t my favorite patchouli by far, this luxurious composition has something mysterious that keeps attracting me back for a little more. Until my sample finishes at least! Definitely sniff worthy - this will probably hit all the right spots for certain patch lovers.
Both perfumes come with their own ancillary products. Patchouli has its own deodorant, shower gel, body lotion, candle and “satinee” body oil, while Inoubliable Elixir Patchouli has a matching, ultra-luxurious body cream, dressed in the same gold-foil outfit of the bottle.