The origin of patchouli

Discover the origin of patchouli, this perfume's famous ingredient.

Patchouli is a famous plant in the perfumery origin, and intimately linked to the one of Carrement Belle Parfums. Discover the story of patchouli and the secrets of this plant full of myths, which fascinates the greatest perfumers.

Coming from Indonesia and Malaysia, the origin of patchouli is made of travels. Its large hairy and fragrant leaves with white flowers are used for medicinal, cooking or magic purposes to promote financial or love success. But the patchouli owes its success in the perfumery to two significant events…

From Second Empire to Flower Power

Patchouli arrives in England in the mid-nineteenth century. It appears in France during the Second Empire, thanks to the success of cashmere shawls, imported from India and Indonesia. Indeed, to protect them from moths during their long travels by boat, the precious shawls are wrapped in patchouli leaves. Then, there are presented in the most beautiful Parisian boutiques. Some shawls having more success than others. We finally understand that women choose them not because their patterns, but because of their smell, purchasing those impregnated with the smell of patchouli leaf! This leads perfumers to take interest in patchouli, which becomes the scent of seduction with its powerful, earthy and woody scent.

But patchouli will be really iconic in the 60/70’s. The scent of seduction and love becomes the symbol of the hippie generation, which claims the sexual liberalization, peace, freedom and all kind of travels. Men and women hippies perfume themselves with patchouli fragrances, and the patchouli flower embodies the “flower power”.

Since then, patchouli inspired perfumers who made it the central ingredient of many creations. But we have to be careful, patchouli must be dosed with an extreme precision for not spoiling a perfume. At Carrement Belle also, we paid tribute to the patchouli through two perfumes: ippi patchouli (our first perfume created in 1988), a woody patchouli dedicated to the hippie generation and its eau de parfum claire version, and finally kilim, an oriental flowered patchouli that will make you travel to the gates of Orient.

And you, do you like perfumes made of patchouli? Which is your favorite?

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