Tuesday, March 15, 2011
My Patchouli Problem
One note I have a strange conundrum with is patchouli. I love the scent of patchouli. I crave patchouli, almost like I crave chocolate. I find patchouli to be warm, earthy, resinous, sweet, balsamic, multi-layered and just plain amazing. I could wear straight-up patchouli oil, if my mind would let me. In fact, I used to wear patchouli oils way back in the early 90’s when I was a kid going through a hippie phase. It was about ’90 or ’91 and I was, rather typical of a 19-20 year old, trying to figure myself by putting on various personae’s; so I dove into the whole hippie/love your mother/Grateful Dead scene for about 1 year. I wore a patchouli-rose oil purchased from Arsenic & OId Lace in Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sometimes I wore straight patchouli oil and other times I mixed it with myrrh and frankincense. After about 10 months of being a hippie; wearing anklets and jewelry that jingled, long flowy bright skirts and not shaving my legs, I was quickly over the whole scene. The hippie thing was not for me. First of all, I couldn’t stand The Grateful Dead, it was a combination of the music and their scene (their followers) that drove me nuts. All those people living out of VW vans, following The Dead from show to show, cooking falafel, speaking with accents that were a mixture of California and Vermont (a unique twang all its own) and reeking of the obligatory patchouli and pot combination just got under my skin and made me want to don a conservative suit and go to Harvard B School.
So...to this day, when I smell patchouli I think of hippies and pot. My conundrum is that I love patchouli and so many patchouli prominent fragrances are fantastic. A few years ago, I think it was 2007; I was traveling with a colleague in his car to an offsite meeting. After being alone together in the car for about 5 minutes he asked if I was wearing patchouli. I was, indeed, wearing a patchouli-rich scent, it was Chanel Coromandel. This comment ruined Coromandel for me. I still absolutely love it to pieces, but I feel conspicuous when I wear it, like it signifies I’m hiding a grow room in the basement of my home. Since 2007 I don’t think I have worn any of my favorite patchouli scents in public. No more Coromandel, no Serge Lutens Borneo 1834, no il Profumo Patchouli Noir, no Keiko Mecheri Patchoulissime, no Tom Ford Purple Patchouli and no Prada (in the pink box).
I ask you: what’s a gal to do? If you like patchouli as much as I do, do you wear it often? Do you have any hang-ups about it? Do you think the public at large smells patchouli and thinks of hippies and pot? I would love to begin wearing all my favorite patchouli scents in public again, but I need some reassurance...or perhaps you agree and don’t wear patchouli to the office or in mixed company either. I love patchouli and I'm stumped.