Until I smelt Patchouli Empire, I didn’t realise I liked the smell of patchouli.
I immediately conjure up images of rich embroidery, rugs, an idealised, colonial India resplendent with Maharajas of old, hot, dusty, with the air thickened by the spices of an open air market. I’m sounding like Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden and her early years on the subcontinent.
Modern perfumes that list patchouli as one of the main base notes smell absolutely nothing like Patchouli Empire, which is described as being a completely natural blend of 5 different patchoulis…set in a base of wood. It’s the smell of a Georgian or Victorian shawl that has lain inside a carved chest and absorbed the smells of the wood and spices packed with it to deter insects from eating the organic contents during a journey over the seas.
Patchouli Empire is so very warm, musty, comforting in the best possible way with no hint of flowers or stomach sickening musk. It’s the aromatic corner of the old wardrobe in your granny’s house, the one you pretend leads to Narnia.
The nose behind CBIHP, Christopher Brosius, is the same who founded the highly successful Demeter Fragrance Library, a company that makes real to life fragrances, such as riding crop, pipe, pizza, snow, and dirt to name but a few of their unique offerings. You may sniff at a eau du toilette called dirt, but apparent fans and wearers include Kate Moss and Clint Eastwood.
As an aside, I’ve sampled dirt and yes, it smells like dirt, but the freshest, organic, earthy, dew-kissed, earthworms-think-this-is-delicious dirt you have ever come across. Not a hint of blood and bone in
Brosius’ story as to how he came to be a perfumer is fascinating, and you can see part of his story on Youtube here (3 parts altogether), about the history and future of perfume and the industry as a whole.
The main difference between IHP perfumes and mainstream ones is that they come in two forms – oil and water. Brosius doesn’t like the effect denatured alcohol has on his extracts and scent compounds, preferring to produce perfumes that are either based in water or oil. As a result, the wear from a water perfume may be less than one held in a solution of alcohol, but the tone and fragrance is purer than what any commercial brand could offer you. It’s a similar story with the oil perfumes, which come in bottles with roll applicators. The oils are said to last longer on the skin and are more concentrated in fragrance.
CB I Hate Perfume can be found online direct from the store here (US shipping only, but you can use shipping services to send the goods to a US address and then be forwarded to you from there) and in very selected retailers depending on your location. Search the stockists on the website’s page to confirm. Alternatively you can purchase decanted samples from sites such as Surrender to Chance or The Perfumed Court.