Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume says that "there is patchouli and PATCHOULI". He's right. Patchouli Empire is an all-natural blend of five patchoulis from across the Indian Ocean set in a foundation of warm rare woods. It will banish all memory of other (in)famous patchouli perfumes, from the cheap 1970s hippie juice to various modern monstrosities (hello, Angel).
CB's Patchouli Empire is woody, as promised, but also earthy, alternating between warmth and mentholated cool breeze that moves in and out of sight. If you're thinking about Uncle Serge's Borneo 1834 and its camphorous note you're not too far, except that Patchouli Empires has non of the dusty chocolate of Borneo. Instead, it's solid and woody, like gorgeous and expensive antique furniture or an ornate wood box jolding precious mementos. This, by the way, was exactly what Brosius aimed for: Patchouli Empire is meant to evoke the patchouli used to keep away moth from delicate cashmere articles shipped to Europe. According to the perfumer, it's the
scent the Empress Josephine might have smelled when she first opened a teak box of cashmere shawls sent to her from India.Indeed, Patchouli Empire smells dark and expensive. It has spicy facets, creamy ones and a tactile smooth finish. My skin brings out an almost oriental dry-down, without ever going into a full ambery mode. The bursts of cool breeze never go away, even after wearing it for several hours. It seems like the patchouli oils used here have different courses of development, each doing its thing and all come together into this soft and surprisingly wearable blend.
Patchouli Empire by CB I Hate Perfume ($15, 2ml perfume absolute that will last till the end of days) is available at CB's Williamsburg gallery and from cbihateperfume.com.
Art: Empress Josephine by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1808.