Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Patou Ma Collection: part 3 ~Moment Supreme, Cocktail reviews

There are moments when one is forced to face their demons and try to tame those things one believes to be most antithetical to their nature. Lavender has for a long time eluded me as an aroma to be savored in perfumery, mostly due to its cliché status in many masculine fragrances and secondarily due to its ~I thought~ unimaginative medicinal-ity.
But sometimes one is taken aback: Moment Suprême and Cocktail, both by Patou from the "Ma Collection" set, are linked by their lavender opening, which is treated in two different ways, like the two faces of Janus. While they both present a unisex feeling thanks to the emblematic use of lavender, showing its striking cheekbones and decisive jawline with pride, in Moment Suprême the composition interweaves lavender through its thicker sweet brocade, while in Cocktail it serves as a sparkling top which resembles the brass tromboni in the opening of Stravinsky’s "Sacrificial Dance" from "Rite of Spring".

Moment Suprême came out in 1929, composed by in-house perfumer Henri Alméras, although some give a 1933 date for its introduction. At some point it was incorporated into the love story coffret with the other three beauties: Amour Amour, Que sais-je? and Adieu Sagesse.

Upon cracking the bottle of Moment Suprême open, having observed the pale celadon of the juice, you’re taken with the vintage feel it evokes: lavender showing its medicinal character while just as quickly the plush of amber and vanilla along with a bouquet of flowers peek through. For about half an hour this is the story, when later on there is a delectable hint of spice, like carnation which was so enticing in Adieu Sagesse, makes its solo appearance before retreating to the wings; but leaving the stage lights open to an empty scene which has retained the warmth of the people who have performed. The character of the composition is elegant, defiant and businesslike with a distinct warmth underneath that speaks of silky undergarments.

Notes for Moment Suprême: bergamot, lemon, neroli, mandarin, lavender, May rose, clove, ylang, lilac, jonquil, orris, vanilla, sandal, musk, honey, heliotrope, civet, moss, and benzoin.

The story of Cocktail is fitting to its name, recalling rich patrons sipping dry Martinis and Gibsons while listening to Benny Goodman’s swing clarinet, Prohibition laws making it a naughty affair to get a decent drink.
In his couture shop at 7, rue Saint-Florentin, Jean Patou had the brilliant idea of creating a cocktail bar where men could drink and small-talk while their women shopped for their dresses. In 1930, Patou decided that this could be converted into a veritable perfume bar and Henri Alméas was instructed to create "cocktail" fragrances. The results were the original, Cocktail Dry, Cocktail Sweet, and Cocktail Bitter Sweet.

Cocktail takes crisp lavender and utilizes it like angostura bitters to set off the rest of the intoxicating dryness of this heady drink you’re about to consume. Sharp at first, subtle upon closer inspection, it sparkles with the greeness of herbal aromas like the juniper berries in gin to later whisper with the dry powder of hazy blossoms seen through netting, as if in a drunk stupor. But the point is you could do a lot worse than getting high on Patou’s Cocktail!
In a strike of either ironic coincidence or elective affinity, twenty-five years later perfumer Henri Giboulet created a "cocktail" perfume for Lubin, Gin Fizz. When Henri Alméras retired, Henri Giboulet became in-house perfumer for Patou.

Notes for Cocktail: lavender, geranium, clove, rose and jasmine.

Pics courtesy of mooseyscountrygarden, tout en parfum,


  1. Anonymous13:38

    dear e. :)

    i do have several of the re-issued minis, but (can you believe it?!) i haven´t tested most of them even so i already own them for about a year. i oculdn´t even say you the names - besides chaldée which i like very much.
    like you already pointed out, it can´t be compared to for example bronze goddess, which is watery-pale in comparison whereas chaldée has a thicker quality & is very sophisticated.
    i think colony also belong to the line (did i overread it?) that one is absolutely stunning for a fruity scent, i would describe it as a very sexy ananas with a smidge of leather. gorgeous!

  2. Reading your description of Cocktail makes me want a gin and tonic or a gibson. Almost thinking yesterday you should have used the Stravinsky with the the Chaldee, with all this talk of sacrifices :-P.

  3. Anonymous17:20

    Dear E,
    I didn't know that this brand is so old, with so many amazing fragrances!
    The shops here have only Enjoy and it is not my favourite scent.
    Thanks for your informative and amazing posts! I didn't read your posts for some time, because I had some stressful time, but now I can enjoy your writing again.
    Have a nice day!

  4. Anonymous19:10

    I must, I must keep my credit card out of all this! You're practically making me search Ebay for Patous!
    You make them sound fabulous!!

  5. Dear C,

    you should definitely re-sample them and let me know of your impressions!
    Colony, I agree, is exquisite and will get its share shortly :-)

    PS. Good luck for the game!

  6. Dear J,

    I am smiling at the desire intrigued :-)

    It was a natural progression from the primeval sacrifice (the animalic, musky Chaldee) to the "civilized" sacrifice of music (and of the Cocktail opening which is sharp but then goes to sophisticated). At least I thought it would be a good idea!

  7. Dear L,

    thank you for stopping by and honouring me with your time and thoughts.
    I hope the hard times are firmly behind you and you can enjoy things more now.

    Patou has a rich history which it was well demonstrated through this collection re-issued by Kerleo in 1984. It was a shame they discontinued it and I am not very optimistic for what is in store under P&G's owndership...At least they have an in-house talented nose (Duriez), so theoretically at least they could do great things and bring coherence to the line.

  8. Dear Sue,

    lock away your credit card, especially when we're discussing older vintages or niche scents which might disappear at any moment. I find the temptation is greater at those instances :-)

  9. Anonymous06:47

    Interesting that a number of them were done after Patou himself passed away. Do you find a difference in the feel or in the base that underlies those done while Patou was alive versus those done after he passed away? I guess I am thinking of the Ernest Beaux Chanel's that all seem to have a similar underlying elegance to them that ties them together - not quite a theme but a similarity in the base none the less. Thanks for an interesting series as always!

  10. Thank you Kim for stopping by and for actually bringing up a point I was about to make in a following article!

    Indeed the 20s and 30s scents have a common thread among them which links them (a musky, animalic base that is accented with a touch of clove-y spice but also smothered by a well-mannered smoothness of florals on top). And they're mostly chypres. I realise that this is probably due both to the trends of the times and the ready-made bases that Almeras was using for them.
    There is a marked difference with say Vacances (made the year Patou died) or Caline, definitely, which bears the mark of another phase altogether, if we're talking about strictly "Ma Collection". The later scents such as Paname, Ma Liberte, 1000 and Sublime also have their own characteristics.
    Hope that helps.

  11. Hi Helg. Now its working for me - its as mysterious as Lavender.

  12. I am very glad it does, M!
    LOL, could be! Lavender can be very mysterious in how and when it works ;-)

  13. Thank you for these wonderful reviews. Hopefully Patou will follow Caron in relaunching such inimitable, sophisticated scents. Are you sure you've got the notes right for MS and Cocktail, though? MS is my mother's signature fragrance (when she can find it, these days; otherwise its Lutens Gris Clair), so I grew up knowing it really well. To me the notes are Lavender and Geranium (top), the Patou signature Jasmin/rose heart, and amber bottom. Cocktail is supposed to be a bit more fruity, no?

  14. Pamphilia,

    thank you for stopping by and for your compliment! I hope you will chime in often on Perfume Shrine and comment, you seem to love fragrances and we're quite welcoming here. Your mother has discerning tastes as well!

    Let's hope for the best, concerning Patou:-)
    The notes are taken from Jean Moran and Nigel Groom, but you know how these things are: they don't tell the whole story! Geranium is mostly used to extend and bring out a rose note, so it doesn't really bother me they don't mention it. Amber is a mix more than a single note (perhaps you might find my Amber article interesting and see if you agree), so the human warmth I am feeling must surely be what you're saying it is.
    To be honest, Cocktail I found less fruity and drier than say Colony or Que sais je, but they're all in the fruity chypre category, you're right.


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