Monday, June 30, 2008

Patou Ma Collection: part 6 ~Colony, L'Heure Attendue, Caline reviews

“The exotic image of the deepest jungle, lush vegetation, powerful spices borne over amethyst seas and strange girls in distant sun-kissed ports.” Thus is described Colony in the booklet which accompanies Patou’s Ma Collection.

In 1938, amid the threat of impending war, Jean Patou chose Colony to evoke the tropics and to suggest a carefree, more prosperous time. A fetid and round fruity chypre, Patou’s Colony is comprised of succulent and non-sweet pineapple as well as heady ylang ylang from Nossi-Be starting on an almost herbal, boozy accord pinching your nose, which needs humidity and the warmth of skin to open up. Under the thick netting covering fruits one can feel unfolding earthy tonalities juxtaposed with what seems like leather and musk in a game of chiaroscuro.

The languorous Colony prowls like Lauren Bacall did in "To Have and Have Not", as Marie "Slim" Browning, a resistance sympathizer and a sassy singer in a Martinique club; the perfect “strange girl in distant sun-kissed ports”. Curvaceous clothes cinched at the waist hold her graceful gazelle form as she leans her long neck to give a sideways aloof look at those who catch her attention.
And she knows full well how to entice Steve: “You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow”.

Colony by Patou possesses that same husky and nostalgic voice which beckons you to whistle invitingly.
Notes for Colony: fruits, pineapple, ylang ylang, iris, carnation, oakmoss, vetiver and spices.

On the other hand, L'heure Attendue is more like the wistful Ilsa played by Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca". When the Nazi occupation of Paris came indeed at an end, Jean Patou celebrated with “the longed-for hour”, L’heure Attendue; a soft, rather sweet, powdery and woody perfume with creamy taste, embodying elegance, restraint and dutiful sacrifice; it speaks in the melodious tones of a warm-hearted woman.

With shades of Almeras's style in the heart, L'Heure Attendue is sober yet sparkling, all big expressive eyes, smiling yet with a melancholy of realising what all this entailed. The flowers, interweaved into an inseparable posy, are creamy and tender unfolding into a spicy/woodsy drydown which epitomizes classic elegance. One can imagine it worn with the perfect classic tailleur or trench coat, a broad-brimmed hat perched on smooth hair atop softly arched eyebrows. Inside its core a warm, loving heart will forever be pulsating in the beat of happy days spent in Paris.

Notes for L’Heure Attendue: lily of the valley, geranium, lilac; ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, opopanax; Mysore sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli.

Câline, composed by then in-house perfumer Henri Giboulet, was released by Jean Patou in 1964 as “the first perfume dedicated to teenage girls”. Which means it is unfathomable on anyone who is considered so today! This unblushing aphorism might provoke a flood of inner dialogue in which two sides of consience passionately argue about older and younger mores and how times have irrevocably changed. But the epoch from which Câline hails was by all accounts the era in which young girls aspired to become mature ladies pretty soon, not pigtailed 50-year-olds who carry Hello Kitty bags. There was validation in becoming a grown-up, an antithetical mood to the hysteria of the youth cult which catapulted itself into our consiousness after the 60s. There was nothing apologetic about being older, like there wasn’t either about being younger. Angst and ennui were notions that were just beginning to morph in a world which had healed at long last its WWII scars and envisioned a prosperous future full of the latest technological advancements.

The greenly fresh aldehydic sophistication and malleable primness of Patou’s Câline remind me of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, after her European trip in which she becomes a proper “lady”, almost unrecognizable to those who knew her as merely the chauffer’s daughter to the rich family. That je ne sais quoi, which her stay in Paris to amend her broken heart polished her with, is reflected in the refined and discreet trail that Câline leaves behind like a reminder of decorum; or the murmur of enchanting and yet bounded femininity expressed in shadowy iris and insouciant orange blossom, underscored by earthy mossy tones which simultaneously recall shades of Ma Griffe and Ivoire. The piquancy of a basil spicy-like note along with coriander put the finishing touch in its image: It’s poised, ladylike in her kitten-heels and too eager to don the classic pearl necklace with a desire that borders on the ironically saucy.

Not to be confused with Gres Caline from 2005 (nor its flankers, Caline Night and Caline Sweet Appeal)

Notes for Câline: green citrus, spices, jasmin, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, moss, musk.

Clip originally uploaded by zegoar on Youtube. Lauren Bacall and Casablanca pic via Wikipedia. Audrey Hepburn pic via Audrey1. Bottle pics courtesy of Basenotes.


  1. "L'heure attendue" could also describe my attitude toward this Patou collection!

  2. Caline is hard to 'get paws on', except for mini's, perhaps; of these, Colony I adore, with its dry petillance.

    Some day, I'll sniff L'Heure- it seems to be a bit easier to find.

    Great descriptions, E, as always !
    [You're SUCH a romantic..]

  3. rachael17:43

    colony sounds wonderful... how's the lasting power/sillage?

  4. I'm intrigued: why do you call Colony "fetid"? Fetid is bad. Colony is, of course, anything but. The opening is juicy, sweet and, to me, incredibly witty in a 1930s way...
    BTW, in To Have and Have Not, Bacall has perfume bottles that Bogart handles and sniffs. I've never been able to identify them. Any idea?

  5. SLF,

    catchy phrase! :-))

  6. Thanks I! Well, maybe I am... ;-)
    Indeed some of them are very hard to find, others less so.
    I am mailing you about L'heure :-)

  7. Rachael,

    it certainly is! The lasting power is good for an edt and the projection/sillage are also pretty good.

  8. Dear D,

    I meant it in a "decaying", decadent sense. Not in a bad way. Perhaps I was a bit unclear.*rolls eyes*
    It's certainly a witty fruity, nothing like the notion of fruity of our days.
    Alas, I am another one who has been stumped by those bottles: they seem like the kind of things that are filled with juice, not actual commercial bottles. That's one thing that appears in quite a few films and is irritating to perfume lovers (and watchers) such as us...

  9. Anonymous06:58

    Caline seems the complete opposite of me, LOL, but you would know that already, haha. But I want to try them all anyway.

  10. I'm glad you're posting again and hope you keep it in that tone :-)

    Hopefully you will get to try them some day. I have included you in the draw in any case.


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