When the husband and I first tested Le Labo's Patchouli 24 back in 2007, it was shortly after I bought the bottle of Tauer's Lonestar Memories. I liked Le Labo's Patchouli instantly and even the Blond didn't complain, but the similarities were strong enough to make a bottle redundant. I've been revisiting Patchouli 24 ever so often, trying to see if I would still feel the same. And I do, including the new reformulation. I can now smell the many differences between Lonestar and this Le Labo fragrance, but they still compete for the very same seat in the wardrobe; Not surprisingly, Tauer always wins.
A word or two about the reformulation issue. This is what the nice (and wonderfully honest) people of Le Labo had to say:
"An ingredient that is used in this perfume has had to be replaced. Although we have been able to retain the Patchouli 24's esthetic, it has lost most of its color. The deep amber juice will now be a very light yellow.
The only difference between the old and the new version of the Patchouli 24 is the Cade Oil extraction process that is used. It is still the same Cade Oil that is used but the extraction process has changed from what we call non-rectified to rectified.
Meaning the new oil that is used in the formula is cleaner in terms of quality. The color is lighter as less dirty yet the smell is very very similar if not identical.
Patchouli 24 is one of our most daring creations and changing and altering any creation of ours is heartbreaking. However in some instances we have no choice and in this case we have decided to continue producing our beloved Patchouli 24 despite the impact on its color."
I no longer have a sample of the original version so I'm working from memory. I think the old Patchouli 24 was smokier and meatier. It took a little longer for the sweet vanilla to show up on my skin than it does now. I loved it then and I love it now, though, smoke, rubber, leather and all. I adore most (all?) birch tar based perfumes and this is no exception. The husband complains that the smokiness is overwhelming and the burnt rubber is bordering on smelling bad. He thinks it smells softer and nicer on me. I think he's wrong. It seems that we rarely agree about Le Labo perfumes, which is not a bad thing. I don't have to share everytrhing, right?
In any case, to me, Patchouli 24 is, indeed, a relative of Lonestar Memories. It's a little more subdued, not quite as dirty and doesn't go all the way to prairie fire territory. It's probably easier to wear than Tauer's masterpiece, and not quite as bold. Women who are put off by Lonestar's big macho man act but look for something a little more raw than Bulgari Black should definitely give Le Labo a chance. It's a treat for leather-smoke-birch tar lovers, as long as they're not put-off by a sweet dry-down.
Notes: Patchouli, birch tar, styrax, and vanilla.
Patchouli 24 ($58, 15ml larger sizes available) is part of the regular Le Labo collection. It's available through their stores around the world and also from Barneys, Colette (Paris), Luckyscent and lelabofragrances.com. I highly recommend the 3x5ml discovery sets ($58) that allow you to test several perfumes and really get to know them before ordering a bigger size.
Photo: Polish Cowgirl by Jerzy Cierpicki