Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jean Patou Ma Collection

If elegance is the quality that makes it easy to overlook something due to its subdued character, Jean Patou's forgotten vintage perfumes might fit the bill. That doesn't mean they're boring scents; I don't know if they were considered so quiet back in the day. Sometimes, a creative person or team turns out a bunch of things and comes up with a hit; in Jean Patou's case, the winning perfume was Joy. The lesser-known Jean Patou perfumes were once revived as part of a 12-piece miniature collection called Ma Collection. These now-obscure scents were created between 1925 and 1964. I'd written about the lovely Vacances before, but today, I want to briefly review some of the others in the collection. It just so happens I have a wonderful friend who lives overseas in Germany who has sent me an enormous package filled with vintage Patou samples and decants, so I've got lots of happiness to share.

3 of the 12 Ma Collection scents were once part of Jean Patou's Love Trilogy: This 1925 offering consisted of Amour Amour, the first Patou perfume, Que sais-je? and Adieu Sagesse. The trio told a romantic tale in 3 stages; those stages were represented by 3 different types of women: a dark-skinned brunette, a blonde and a redhead. I usually dislike typecasting, especially because Western systems tend to lump all dark people together into one group that supposedly can never wear the fairest colors in the spectrum. Kevyn Aucoin, the makeup guru who passed on too young, was a pioneer in the industry who spoke out against stereotypes and the concept of ethnic VS standard beauty. Well, what I admire about this Jean Patou set is that he created the fairest Floral for the dark-skinned beauty. I can only imagine Josephine Baker, one of Patou's most illustrious clients, being a muse for such a lilting, springlike Fresh Floral. The scent is comparable to Caron Fleurs de Rocaille in its delicate but slightly musky floralcy.

Que sais-Je? was created for the blonde, and it's a peachy Fruity Chypre, with very pronounced powdery peach notes. I find it similar at first to Etat Libre d'Orange Encens et Bubblegum, and to a lesser degree to Dolce & Gabbana The One and Gwen Stefani LAMB. The dry down stage is Chypre without a doubt, and to my modernized nose, the scent is a bit too musty to take. It's still a beauty of a blend that gives the impression of peaches and cream skin, with a hint of booziness in there somewhere. It's flirtatious and naughty, yet wants to be all grown up in an adult atmosphere. Adieu Sagesse is an understated Aldehydic Floral with spicy accents, created for the redhead. I wish I had more to write about but as lovely as the scent is, it hasn't proven to be the most memorable of the bunch for me. You may love it--please do give it a try if you ever come across it.

Very briefly, here are my quick impressions of the others I've tried: Caline (1964), a soft green floral with a powdery, mossy, Chypre-like aspect and true to its time; Colony (1938), a voluptuous pineapple Chypre, darker and base-heavier than L'Artisan Parfumeur Ananaz Fizz but tropical like that, and sweet; Moment Supreme (1929), a very evocative lavender-amber with subtle spices and a classic rose-jasmine heart--I love this and find it to be very beautiful and refined; Normandie (1935), an assertive, big spicy-ambery-vanillic Oriental with a sweet, fruity top and carnation-rose-jasmine heart, bringing to mind Guerlain Vol de Nuit or Red Moscow; L'Heure Attendue (1946), a spicy, woody Aldehydic Floral I've compared to Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Laura Biagiotti Venezia and Lady Stetson. I will report back on the remaining 3, Chaldee (1927), Cocktail (1930) and Divine Folie (1933) when I find samples of them somewhere.

(Image: toutenparfum.com)