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Patchouly Bohème - Not what you’d expect – March 9, 2017


LM Parfums "Patchouly Bohème" -

The best moments in this unending journey of olfactory discovery are those few seconds after the first sniffs of a new fragrance when you know that you are smelling a “10”, and your brain is not yet trying to tame the endorphins and translate what you’re experiencing into images and words. These are moments of pure sensation, pure untainted pleasure, which are triggered by only a few very special fragrances.

Patchouly Bohème is for me one of these special fragrances.

First, the name. Bohème is French for bohemian, meaning a lifestyle outside the mainstream, unconventional, literary, artistic. The name is perfect because this Patchouly is light-years apart from any patchouli ever spritzed out of a perfume bottle.

The opening is a shock. Wood smoke from a barbecue, thick with patchouli and cedar resins, medicinal, green, rubbery, dense. Smoky. Dry. Not at all perfumey. Then after a minute or so, from the depths of this puzzling scent, this singed, blackened, bitter patchouli, curls a waft of caramelized vanilla-amber with just enough sweetness and creamy softness to make me dismiss the initial shock and keep my nose glued to my wrist. Because something’s happening here.  Smoky balsamic sweetness builds slowly, and so begins the fascinating dry-down that takes me through the afternoon. By early evening this scent, which initially made me wonder if I’d wasted my money, holds me totally captive.

Patchouly Bohème was created by the late perfumeur Mona di Orio for her close friend fashion designer Laurent Mazzone, as one of the seven fragrances in his 2011 launch of LM Parfums. Mona is known for her unconventional play of light and dark notes in her perfumes, Mazzone is known for his uncluttered structural design style expressed through high quality materials such as fine wool gabardines, weightless silks, supple leathers. Put those two aesthetic approaches to work and the result is a fragrance filled with surprises as well extraordinary beauty. Patchouly Bohème  is described on the LM website:

“…sensual and insolent dressed in precious woods, spices intoxicating …
It sows confusion, mystery, we hugged its wake profound and haunting, like a play of shadows and light with hints of leather, tobacco, resin tolu and tonka bean …”

Patchouly Bohème is in fact, a great big Oriental in the classic French style, but writ larger with Mona’s very modern and unconventional genius.

So what happens in the dry-down? After about an hour, the smoked caramel-vanilla accord deepens and the smoke subsides, leaving a light woodiness, and the patchouli note recedes into the background, replaced with soft supple leather and sweet tobacco accord. This is aromatic, a sensual accord which seems to shine a golden ambery light through the heart of the fragrance, moving the scent into a lighter more feminine feel.

After three hours or so, Patchouly Bohème offers another surprise as the base notes segue into another accord, this time an ultra-smooth creamy custard of rich soothing notes such as tonka, tolu balsam, vanilla, and musk, presented on a bed of dry patchouli. Faint wisps of smoke, intertwined with leather and tobacco, weave through this last accord, controlling the sweetness, maintaining the play of light and dark, creating shadows in Patchouly Bohème’s mesmerizing unconventional long dry-down.  The end plays out slowly with a lovely sillage, a woody vanilla scent still on skin the next morning, with the merest hint of patchouli.

A smoky, intense, powerfully dark fragrance in the beginning, aromatic and sensual in its golden heart, rich creamy and shadowy-sweet in the base, Patchouly Bohème will change your perceptions about patchouli, whether you’re male or female. The scent is never the patchouli note on its own, but is patchouli paired with unconventional partners, seamlessly, brilliantly, and in perfect balance. I can think of no other fragrance built around the patchouli note – and I own many of them - that has the depth, the ingenious layering that makes it so compellingly good.

After I wore Patchouly Bohème for the third time, I told myself, “Now, THAT’S a real perfume!” and congratulated myself for buying it. Which led me to another LM Parfums scent by Mona di Orio called Ambre Muscadine, but that’s a story for another day.

Patchouly Bohème is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.