Often associated with 1960s counterculture, patchouli’s history in fragrance goes back much further. Notably from Indonesia, essence of patchouli has been appreciated for centuries, in many fragrance-driven iterations. Starting as a means to prevent moths from damaging fabrics, it was common for silk traders of the “Orient” to pack trunks carrying their fabrics with dried patchouli leaves; during their long travels to Europe, silks and cashmeres took on the patchouli aroma, and the specific, exotic fragrance went on to distinguish authenticity. The lingering fragrance of patchouli acted as an indicator of true “Oriental” fabric, and was so desired by the affluent, that English and French garment makers went as far as scenting their imitations with patchouli to be accepted in the marketplace.
As the latest addition to the Collection Extraordinaire library of fragrances, Van Cleef & Arpels is bringing the elegance and mystery back to patchouli, with Moonlight Patchouli. An ode to the iconic ingredient, the fragrance has been refined to patchouli’s truest properties, whilst retaining the exotic nuance. The earthy (but not “dirty”), camphorated fragrance lends itself to both sexes, and translates how it is worn in tones of rich wood and leathers, and non-aggressive herbal and floral suggestions. The “moonlight” aspect frames the patchouli in a heart of Bulgarian rose and powdery iris, leading to a suede accord base note; a sophisticated arrangement of masculine and feminine.
I’ve been wearing Moonlight Patchouli since its release, and perhaps the most obvious way to describe it is elegant; the blend is smooth and atmospheric, and while I can appreciate bold tones, those here are haunting and indirect in their reveal. Moonlight Patchouli doesn’t have any reason to put on a show; but under the skilled hand of perfumer Sonia Constant, the blend is exceptionally balanced, something that can’t often be said for patchouli-centered fragrance.
As a premiere jewelry house, Van Cleef & Arpels avoids gimmicks and pull no shortcuts on the bottle design: classic in form (echoing the other Collection Extraordinaire fragrances), in black lacquer, with subtle, handsome details.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire is a compilation of scents that each highlight a specific fragrance from a modern, poetic approach. The house of Van Cleef & Arpels was, in fact, the first to introduce its own line of fragrances (the debut scent called, fittingly, First). Today, Collection Extraordinaire sets a new standard for nature-based, finest quality fragrance; from incensy, velvety Bois D’Iris, to sunny, white floral California Rêverie, the collection explores the natural world’s scents through thoughtful composition and artistry of perfume.
Moonlight Patchouli (2.5 oz. EDP, $185) is available at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus.
For your chance to win a full-size (2.5 oz. EDP) bottle of Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Moonlight Patchouli, as well as a 40-hr burn time Van Cleef & Arpels perfumed candle (both beautifully packaged, excellent gifts for yourself or someone that appreciates fine fragrance), simply submit your information and answer the question below. You’ll be entered in the week-long giveaway, ending December 12, 2016, with a winner chosen at random and notified via e-mail to confirm shipping information. Note that when using the form, if you opt to use Facebook (instead of manual entry) to provide your name and e-mail address, this method will NOT post to your wall or retain any other information. This giveaway is limited to United States address-holding entrants, the prize will ship directly upon address verification. Happy holidays, and good luck!