Do you love or hate patchouli perfume?
Patchouli is a lot like Marmite. You’re either in or you’re out. You love it or you really, really don’t. Does patchouli perfume bring back any particular scented flashbacks?
Think back to summertime 1989. The biggest pop star on the planet had dropped her fourth studio album. Like A Prayer, and teenage dreams were all about being Madonna.
True to form, Ms Ciccone was full of surprises. The second someone got their hands on the cassette and prised open the plastic casing, they were caught off guard. Patchouli was first out the box, not the music.
You closed your eyes and inhaled hard. The exotic perfume was powerful enough to draw you into an exclusive superstar world. Then the world was on the dance floor pulling moves to Express Yourself.
Using the distinctive east Indian oil to scent the album packaging was Madonna’s idea, according to a spokesperson at Warner Bros Records: “She wanted to create a flavor of the 60s and the church. She wanted to create a sensual feeling you could hear and smell.”
The secret was scented ink on the album cover. It was used on the cassette’s smooth-as-silk insert as an effective marketing ploy albeit a tame one compared to Madonna’s usual provocative stunts when it came to whipping up headlines and publicity.
Bold and bohemian
Madonna successfully lassoed a sense of the bold, bohemian 60s while simulating church incense to complement her creative vision on the album through the power of patchouli. The earthy, musky, opulent aroma summed up the sensual vibe and shock value that the Queen of Pop demanded as she cavorted with Christ in the Like A Prayer music video.
She wanted to create a flavor of the 60s and the church. She wanted to create a sensual feeling you could hear and smell.
To this day, to those who love it, patchouli is more that an essential oil, it’s a stellar performance. This aroma has maintained its strong, independent and seductive reputation. It’s not a lightweight scent, it’s a frolicking, big spicy number that is more than a match for Madonna.
To us 80s kids, it will always be “pop star” patchouli. The perfume that made an unforgettable impression on scented paper as we folded and unfolded the inside of the album cover where the song were lyrics printed. We needed to learn the words, right?
Does this bring back a rush of memories in glorious detail? Dance moves in bedrooms with best friends, singing into hairbrushes and imagining stardom in the mirror.
That was then, this is now. Love it or not, patchouli is still trending through reinvention. Home-fragrance makers use its power and potential to introduce new scents into the mix. The results are gorgeous patchouli-based reed diffusers and candles.
To those not convinced, give it another go. Patchouli is loud and provocative, creative and sensual. It can take you out of the moment and transform a living space into a world stage – just close your eyes, inhale hard, turn up the music and dance.
Nothing about this candle is quiet and demure. Inspired by relaxed incense scents and decadent notes of Frankincense, Patchouli, and Sandalwood, this is as close you’ll ever get to hand-pouring pop stardust into a matte black glass.
Putting on a stellar performance, this Sandalwood and Pachouli crowd pleaser comes with backing notes of Bergamot, Orange, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Clove, Vetiver, and Musk.
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