A perfume from history or a perfume that should be history?
Patchouli, coriander, cardamon, flowers, berries, musk, leather, vanilla, rose.
Histoires de Parfums are a brand who want to bring the French perfumery tradition to a series of fragrant stories whether that be famous characters, mythical years, poems or music. They are the progeny of Gérald Ghislain and were launched by him in the year 2000. You can read their full prologue on their website.
Histoires de Parfums hold to the tradition (which is now rather outdated in our humble opinion) of splitting at least some of their perfumes into ‘for men’ and ‘for women’. Noir Patchouli sits in the Soliflore collection and is described as for men in their catalogue, but we would encourage you to wear perfume based on what you like rather than what gender you identify with so feel free to ignore their classifications at will.
Let’s get something straight from the outset: this is no wallflower of a fragrance. Spray it and a pretty tremendous bouquet is released, with significant punch and sillage. The initial bursts includes something which smells rather like geranium, sharp and astringent but floral at the same time. This is quickly followed by a sickly sweet and rather confused feeling phase as the perfume tries to settle. After a few minutes it manages to calm down and a strong, rosy hum appears that is much more pleasant.
The rose in Noir Patchouli is set against a woody yet indistinct background, but is itself powdery, fresh and pleasant. It feels a bit like a rose set in the buttonhole of a freshly shaved Victorian gent, all dressed in tweed and plus fours for a day out shooting on the hills. Either that or the rose face cream or talcum powder that your gran may have worn. And therein lies one of the distinct threads that run through this scent: it smells rather old fashioned. Whether that will put you off or not depends on many things, not least of which will be your own personal preferences, but don’t be reaching for this one if you are looking for anything other than a classical-type fragrance. There are no tricks, surprises, or weird notes here.
Once the perfume hits its stride, it becomes really very linear in composition. There’s a woody constant in there, as well as hints of leather and a growing seam of sweetness. There isn’t anything surprising here, and the patchouli conforms to expected norms. Which isn’t in itself a bad thing. If you are a patchouli devotee then finding another fragrance which panders to your proclivities isn’t ever going to be a disappointment, and this is no bad patchouli fragrance, it just borders on the obvious, feeling classical and vaguely familiar rather than fresh and new.
Specific notes aside, the heart of the scent smells very dense and heavy. The sweetness within it builds until the whole fragrance has this tone which is reminiscent of a thick, sugary liqueur. It’s not unlike being laid in bed at your grandparents’ house as a child. You’re recuperating from a cough, or some such childhood ailment, and being looked after whilst your parents are at work. You’re wrapped up in dry, cottony bedsheets and Grandma leans close to you to spoon some syrupy cough medicine down your throat. You can smell the rose face cream she applied this morning. You’re not sure if it’s the cough, or the medicine you’ve been plied with, but your head and sinuses are buzzing and you start to feel as if a nap might be in order…
There’s more of the same in the base of the scent, the patchouli does become slightly drier but there are only hints of smokiness about the fragrance. A floral note creeps in which reminded us a lot of violet, it bolsters the powdery, clean vibe.
The scent retains a sweet, woody tone right through the wear, and it seems to vibrate with a high frequency which will make your head spin if you’re not used to it. If you like the sweeter side of patchouli then you’re going to find this fragrance intoxicating, otherwise approach with caution because it could be headache territory for those who can’t handle the buzz.
The other stuff
The longevity of this scent is excellent, lasting all day from an early morning application, easily well into the evening.
The sillage, or projection, of the scent is also significant. When we tested it we felt that it reached beyond handshake distance and trailed well.
As mentioned, Histoires de Parfum say that this is meant as a fragrance for men, but we felt that it could be worn equally well by anyone. If pushed, we’d say that it does perhaps lean a little more to the stereotypically masculine side of the spectrum, but only for guys who are happy to wear floral notes as well.
Despite the fact that there isn’t a lot of noir about Noir Patchouli, we felt that this was a fragrance which would wear best during the evening due to the heavy sillage. We’d also suggest wearing it more in the colder seasons when the cool air will temper some of the buzziness that it has. Too much of this on a hot summer night and you won’t be able to think straight.
Noir Patchouli is available from the Histoires de Parfums web boutique where it is priced at €155 for 120ml, €95 for 60ml, and €35 for 15ml. No indication of the perfume strength is given on their shop (that we could find anyway).
We were very kindly gifted a sample of this fragrance by a friend and follower of The Sniff at no cost, but with no strings attached and no expectation that we would necessarily review it.