I embarrassingly admit that I stumbled upon the subject of today’s post and became smitten with it simply because of the sound of the word. “Patchouli. Pa-choo-lee. Pa-choo-leeeeee. PA-CHOOOOOO-LEEEEEEE!” I kept repeating to myself. It was just so much fun to say. But after some Googling, its history and recent resurgence was almost as cool as its articulation. Almost.
Patchouli’s heyday was in the 1960s when it became associated with hippies as they used it to cover up the scent of pot, smoke, and body odor from lack of bathing. But patchouli’s history stems way before the 1960s. In the 19th century, patchouli was used as an insecticide and sprayed on cloth and clothing exported from India. This is where the odor associated with something from a far away place originated (it’s a hard scent to describe but everyone knows it). Patchouli also has played an important role in Eastern medicine for centuries as a treatment for stress, eczema, dry skin, colds, nausea, and other ailments.
Patchouli has had a recent resurgence that I have spotted in various magazines and advertisements. The recent patchouli-infused fragrances sounded like they smelled just ever-so-lovely but I needed to take a whiff for myself in order to make an accurate judgment. So one afternoon, I made a trip to Neiman’s to smell the latest perfumes with hints of patchouli in it. Tom Ford’s White Patchouli was one such perfume. It was a sensuous and sophisticated smell, one definitely meant for date night. Woody smells of sandalwood and patchouli blended beautifully with smells of rose and jasmine. Another such perfume was Elie Saab’s Le Parfum. It was perfectly and simply feminine and not too overbearing. The amalgamation of the fruity smells of orange and jasmine with the musky smells of cedar and patchouli was perfect, just right. Just like the masculine-feminine look that has become popular (i.e. wearing a boyfriend blazer with a super cute dress), the bohemian scent of patchouli has been punched with femininity. I approve. Actually, I totally approve (and you will too, I know it).