I don’t remember where I first bought Etro Patchouly. It wasn’t in Montreal. It wasn’t when I was living in Paris because I would only wear French perfume then. Could it have been in London? New York? LA? I am not city dropping I am just trying to remember. I have worn Etro’s Patchouly for over 20 years. I am, or was of that generation that had one scent, the one people knew you by. I liked that and I still do although now that I own a store that sells fragrance I do try others. I actually try the patchouli from any perfume line first – it is my test in a way. If I like it then I move on to the others. Don’t ask me if that makes any sense, but I don’t think why we like a particular scent makes any rational sense at all, it is much more emotional. It has to be as otherwise why would I of all people wear patchouli.
Used throughout the 60’s and 70’s not just as an excuse not to bathe, as some people claim, but to cover the scent of Smoke, Drink and Drugs on clothing.
“Shit dude you smell like weed!”
“I’ll get the patchouli oil”
I was anything but a hippie and I was always quite anti-pot. I was more about Yves St. Laurent and champagne, making sure the correct fork was in the correct order on the table and the flowers were not too high or the candles too bright. My trousers, then I wore trousers, always had a crease and I loved that I had a suit for every day of the week, and my perfume was Etro Patchouly. Perhaps it was as simple as that. I knew that the Bohemians wore patchouli in the 60’s and 70’s and I thought I could give myself a bit of that through the scent I wore. That it would simply be so unexpected for me to be wearing patchouli that it might just work, and it did. Or that is what I was told.
“What is your cologne, it’s beautiful!”
“Patchouly by ETRO,” I would say. I was always very quick to mention Etro as I didn’t want anyone to think I was wearing just any old patchouli. Now truth be told, I didn’t know who or what Etro was at the time. The fashion house had not crossed the ocean, or at least not into Canada at the time so for me it was just a perfume house. The other fragrances I remember from Etro were Sandalo and Vetiver as they tempted me as well. But there was something about the Patchouly that had me. It was everything I wanted to be but was afraid to be. Could a fragrance really do that? Has it never done that to you? Be honest now, you are getting ready to go out and you choose one over the other because of the way it makes you feel, sexy or sophisticated or sweet or maybe just a little bit raunchy. It can happen to the best of us.
I may not remember where I bought my first bottle but I remember that after that I bought one at a new store in New York called Sephora in the early 90’s. Sephora had just opened their first store in New York and I found it hidden there, as you tend to do with perfume at Sephora. Etro isn’t sold at Sephora anymore, only in their own Etro stores and select fragrance stores around the world. (I hate, and love, the word select but I did have to send photos and fill out forms to describe Etiket to be able to carry it so it does make us someone select I suppose.) I am pretty sure I found it at Holt Renfrew once and was very upset as I was worried that everyone in Montreal would then be wearing MY scent. I bought it in an Etro store on Madison Avenue in New York once by a far too good looking for his own good Italian man. And the last time was in a tiny store above Positano where we had rented a house for a week in May of 2009. We were driving on our way to Ravello so I could buy writing paper that I love to buy and don’t use (but that is another story) when I saw the little perfume shop, yelled, “STOP!” and got out and ran in to find my Patchouly. I cherished that bottle and used it sparingly trying to find another patchouli that would work. I wore Real Patchouly from Bois 1920 for a while, a pure patchouli that I found in a shop in Nantucket and a heavy Patchouly from ProFumum Roma I found in Lisbon, that is the one I wear when I am feeling dark and a little bit raunchy and only at night. I wear Patchouli Patch from l’Artisan Parfumeur but I have always come back to my Etro. When we opened Etiket and Atelier Cologne launched Mistral Patchouli I finally found something that rivaled Etro. But last week, when our first shipment of Etro arrived and we unpacked the boxes, and we placed the testers I kept looking at the Patchouly almost afraid to try it, wondering if it would still hold that magic it always did for me. But of course it did! How could it not? I put it on and thought sadly of the other patchouli bottles lined up on my bathroom counter and Etro had once again stolen my heart. If a fragrance can do that, this one had done it to me all over again.