Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jean Patou 1000

1977 Jean Patou '1000' ad

Patchouli is the smell of money by association. Think of Jean Patou 1000 (mille) or a more recent offering like Paco Rabanne Lady Million; whether or not the patchouli we're discussing is synthetic, raw or naturally derived (I tend to prefer the thick, raw kind like what I smell in Loree Rodkin Gothic II perfume oil), patchouli is regarded as the ancient aroma of expensive silks being traded from Asia to Europe along the Silk Road. While many people associate patchouli with the scent of 1960s hippies, we tend to forget the incense made popular during the time came from the popularization of Indian culture: philosophies, religions, music (sitars and raga rock, for example), all of which could be attributed to The Beatles bringing India to the forefront of trends.

In the minds of patchouli lovers could be associations between their love of the scent and exoticism, progressivism, experimentalism and rock 'n' roll, for the hippies smelled as hip as they were. However, among the perfume cognoscenti, patchouli is often marketed as a semiotic of luxury, as only those who could attain imported silks protected by patchouli, the aroma of Indian pesticide, could be well-to-do or at least hip enough to be in-the-know about.

According to Jan Moran, author of Fabulous Fragrances and one of the world's leading perfume historians, Jean Patou 1000 (1972) is a scent associated with having been worn by the now ex-wife of rock legend, Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, model Jerry Hall. It's interesting that Jerry Hall who made headlines after modeling for the controversially named YSL Opium perfume, wore a patchouli scent and was later chosen to model for the biggest patchouli blockbuster to date, Thierry Mugler Angel. I don't know if she had been a model for Jean Patou 1000, but I think the blonde vixen of the Studio 54 days would have been a fitting face for 1000, with all its androgynous Chypre charm in the heyday of powerful scents like Halston.

Jean Patou 1000 is actually the lesser known creation by the same perfume house that gave us Joy (1930), 'the costliest perfume in the world' as the advertisement went. In perfume lovers' circles, Joy is as much of a household name as Chanel No.5, while 1000 with its equally gilded pedigree stays behind the limelight. The Floral fragrance family is the most popular of all, and Joy is the epitome of the genre perfected; I, too, prefer Joy over 1000, even if intellectually I recognize the slightly rugged, almost leathery beauty of 1000.

If an incense blend of patchouli and sandalwood as pungent and thick in its Buddhist temple smokiness were mixed with a touch of cowgirl leather chaps and a heavy dollop of apricot / osmanthus nectar, the more bitter sister to the luscious peach that is a hidden note in Joy, you'd get 1000, an offbeat Fruity Chypre perfume that one might say smells exquisitely perfumey, decadently musky and regal yet as smooth as velvet or that patchouli-laden refined oriental silk. One could say 1000 with all those zeros filling up those digits smells literally of money: Old Texas money, perhaps.

Images: parfumdepub, imagesdeparfums