Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Image (top of page):, "Salvador Ruano Sanchon, Salamanca, Spain," by the amazing photographer, Ruven Afanador, is from 

​Bottle image of Montale Patchouli leaves is from

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May 7, 2010: 

Perfumistas are enablers, not just by the things they do but by the things they write. This week I sidled over to Carol’s blog, WAFT, where she is currently doing a series on patchouli perfumes, and, in one of her most recent posts, talking about her husband’s sexy patchouli fragrance. A few posts prior to that, she talked about Montale Patchouli Leaves – and I remembered I still had my sample—and that was all it took for me to spiral every which way but loose. I gave myself a good dousing of this scent and then spent the better part of an afternoon looking at pictures of beautiful men on the Internet.

Montale Patchouli Leaves is, in my opinion, the most perfect patchouli fragrance ever made. It smells the way a matador looks: virile, sensual, and dandy-ish in equal measures. Patchouli Leaves starts off with a combination of camphor and fine wood, almost reminding one of the smell of the inside of a cedar storage chest where a few mothballs have been tucked in for good measure to protect the dry goods. This combination manages to keep the fragrance taut throughout its entire development, but the fragrance does slowly bloom on the skin and, like a matador’s traje de luces (“suit of lights”), it is a pretty thing indeed: ambery, powdery, goldenly vanillic, with a sillage that is magnificently pillowy without being flabby or thick. Is it the resinous cistus note that helps to keep Patchouli Leaves just a bit swarthy, such that its drydown stays this side of calipygous without getting overly sweet and plump?

I once thought I hated patchouli perfumes—and often times they do run too woolly for my tastes—but Patchouli Leaves is one of a number of patchouli fragrances which prove that this note, so often associated with nasty head-shop scents, can be extraordinarily elegant. And though this post would seem to indicate that I look upon Patchouli Leaves as a man’s fragrance, nothing could be further from the truth; it’s just that wearing it somehow inspires (for me) dreamy meditations on European men.

Notes for this fragrance, as described on the Parfums Raffy website where it can be purchased, are “patchouli leaves macerated for two years in the trunk of the oak tree combined with vanilla, amber and white musk on a base of Cystus ladaniferus from Tibet.” In the U.S., the best price for Montale Patchouli Leaves can also be found at Parfums Raffy, where a 50-ml bottle is currently priced at $105 on sale (normal price is $120), and samples of the scent can be purchased, too.

A Post In Which I Say ¡Olé! to Patchouli:
Montale Patchouli Leaves