Patchouli Sheds Its Hippie Heritage

Patchouli Sheds Its Hippie Heritage

By Marilisa Racco

Long the domain of those dirty hippies* — Nixon’s words, not mine* — patchouli has been saddled with an unsavoury image of mud-caked bellbottoms, free love and migraine-inducing drum circles. In fact, the scent is so steeped in infamy that in 1985, Mattel manufactured a patchouli-scented action figure named Stinkor for the Masters of the Universe line of toys. Seriously.

Patchouli is, allegedly, one of those polarizing scents that either has people swooning with lust or running for cover. This fall, however, fragrance houses are banking on the former, as patchouli leaves its sultry mark on these latest perfume offerings:

Jimmy Choo Stars Limited Edition
Described as complex, intriguing and playful, this scent relies on top notes of candied orange, tiger orchid and toffee to give it a sexy edge, but trades on the woodiness of Indonesian patchouli and sandalwood for a warm and exciting finish. $75 (50 ml),

My Burberry
Hailed as the brand’s most significant fragrance launch to date, My Burberry is inspired by a London garden after a rainfall (which happens there a lot), and makes specific reference to how lovers of the fashion label refer to their trench coats as my Burberry. Top notes of bergamot and sweet pea, heart notes of geranium, golden quince and freesia, and bottom notes of patchouli and centifolia roses make this scent what creative director Christopher Bailey calls the ultimate expression of the brand’s past and future. That would be timeless, and cool. EDP $135 (90 ml),, Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy, Nordstrom, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Murale and Jean Coutu

Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Wood Eau de Toilette Limited Edition
A perfect fusion of the natural elements and natural masculinity, this new addition to the A*Men range adds sophisticated and intense notes of cedar and cypress to its signature sensual combination of patchouli, coffee and vanilla. $99 (100 ml), at

7 Virtues Patchouli of Rwanda
The latest addition to the 7 Virtues line of fragrances that help nations rebuild after war and strife, this scent uses organic patchouli oil harvested through farming cooperatives largely run by orphans and widows of the 1994 genocide. The unisex fragrance mixes its signature note with soothing green hibiscus, red grapefruit, cedar flower and freesia for a refreshing scent for body and soul. $70 (50 ml),,

Patchouli Absolu by Tom Ford
The innovator and provocateur adds to his private blend fragrance lineup with this top-tier take on hippie-dom’s favourite note. As Tom Ford scents are wont to be, this is a sultry sexy perfume that combines three versions of patchouli — the oil, the heart of the plant and an technology-enabled absolute extract called Clearwood — with smoky warm leather, musk, amber and a hit of green moss and herbs. It’s the love child of the 70s grownup. EDP $215 (50 ml),, at Holt Renfrew stores

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Marilisa Racco is a freelance fashion and beauty writer who contributes regularly to The Globe & Mail, ELLE Canada, FASHION Magazine, Flare, Chatelaine, GLOW, HELLO! Canada and King West Magazine. She's an unapologetic loyalist, especially when it comes to carbs and her signature scent, Gio by Armani, which she has been stockpiling like a hoarder since it was discontinued many years ago.