Is Patou Pour Homme the Pinnacle of Perfumery ?

And what about the newly released reformulation? On a recent thread about the new formulation, there were these comments:

I bought it some days ago from ALZD (180€, 100ml) and like it a lot. It´s rich, full of herbs, especially lavender, sage and estragon with a wonderful semi-oriental drydown that lasts for ages. But I´m not sure, if it´s the good ole “Patou pour Homme”, because by comparison with my (very) old bottle of “PpH”, it smells totally different. The older juice has a sherry-like top note (because of it´s age, I think), a very strong, peppery heart and a great leathery/oriental drydown. The newer is much, much lighter and rather an aromatic fougère, than an oriental one…

My first impression was that it is as faithful to original as it can considering some of the original ingredients are not even available anymore, and some have been replaced with cheaper ones. The smell is pleasant though, but the flowery portion of it is stronger than in the vintage one also to my nose a bit more feminine, and that’s why i stick with the vintage one and won’t purchase the current incarnation.

Just testing this one again as my nose recovers painfully slowly. Still getting the Tsar similarity, which I think is mainly the strong lavender/patch. But now Patou redux is greener and seems more powdery, with a more apparent leathery quality (along the refined lines of Vie de Chateau rather than Aramis). ..

PPH was released in 1980, during the great age of the masculine castoreum monster, as I call those scents, but I’ll save that topic for another post (coming soon). I obtained a small decant of vitnage PPH a couple years ago, and wasn’t impressed, mainly because I didn’t find anything outstanding or special about it, and the drydown reminded me of vintage Bijan for Men, which I already owned (50 ml bottle). Today I decided to locate that PPH decant (not easy when you’ve got so many!) and give it another chance to impress. Before I speak to that, these are the notes, as lists them:

Top notes are lavender, clary sage and basil; middle notes are patchouli, geranium, vetiver and fir; base notes are leather, civet, vanilla and tonka bean.

However, a respected member suggested that this alternative note pyramid is more accurate:

Top Notes
Hot Pepper, Lavender, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Bergamot, Galbanum
Middle Notes
Bourbon Vetiver, Cedar, Patchouli, Clary Sage
Base Notes
Oakmoss, Sandalwood… [Mysore], Cistus Labdanum

I dabbed some on and didn’t get strong top notes, which is common, so I can’t say that the pepper was especially “hot,” and in fact I’ve found that scents that do seem to possess some sort of hot pepper note tend to nauseate me, so I’m glad that’s not the case here. Overall, I think the striking thing about PPH is that there is nothing striking about it. In other words, it should work well for people who like the idea behind scents like Z-14 or Santos but find those too unbalanced, “Neanderthal,” “old,” rough, or outdated. There is a bit of a sparkling kind of quality to it (perhaps a judicious use of aldehydes), but for me it’s the kind that allows for enjoyment of many of the notes listed without worrying about being overwhelmed by any one of them.

However, I can’t say I can even remember a day over the last several years that I thought to myself that I’d like to wear such a scent upon waking up in the morning. For example, I’m much more likely to think I’d enjoy wearing one like Fendi Uomo instead, because the vetiver is a bit stronger there. Or if I wanted tobacco and woods, there’s Vintage Tabarome. For an oriental, Versailles Pour Homme blows the proverbial doors off PPH. And for castoreum, there are quite a few, such as Salvador Dali Pour Homme, One Man Show, and Vermeil. Even vintage Krizia Uomo, which I picked up for about $12 (100 ml), has more of a “wow factor” to me without becoming irritating (if used in moderation, obviously). And I think I like vintage Bijan for Men better, probably because the drydown seems more complex and dynamic.

Over time, the ambery element in PPH becomes noticeable, cutting into the dryness to some degree, but making it less interesting as well. From there, it gradually weakens over time. Overall, I have nothing “bad” to say about it, but I don’t find myself drawn to it in any major way. By contrast, I find vintage Cool Water to be quite irritating, with too many notes, many of which clash with each other. Even in that case, I could imagine someone with lower sensitivity to those notes liking it but again thinking that PPH is a bit boring, though nicely balanced, rich, and natural smelling. So, at well over $200 for 100 ml, from what I understand, and with the present IFRA guidelines, I’d like to sample the new PPH out of curiosity, but I can’t imagine thinking that I’d like to own a bottle, even if there was a big “sale.” By contrast, I’d be seeking to replace my Krizia Uomo bottle quickly if it were to be broken.


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