Down a Lazy River Before the Blitzkrieg

Of all the old Patou perfumes, the one that many people seem to love the best is Vacances.  Some smellers even claim it as their ideal scent, the one they’d pick if the perfume world suddenly turned small and ungenerous, and they had only one measly choice.

Vacances is a sunny perfume, and meant for daytime.  There’s nothing remotely vampish or glamorous or hard in the bottle. Released in 1936, the year paid vacations were inaugurated in France, it coincided with the bicycle craze of the thirties.  Everyone who was anyone, on that first nationally mandated vacation, climbed on a bike:  “At Patou,  culottes worn with a little blouse are designed to meet its requirements.  Plus fours are only seen in the little season and shorts with short stockings and a little bag attached to the waist come in.”*

It’s a far cry from spandex cycle shorts. Continue reading

Joy in the Morning, M. Kerleo in the Afternoon

M. Kerleo’s career was spent behind a curtain, choreographing some of the finest prestidigitation of French perfumery.  He was the man in the booth at Jean Patou for some thirty two years and in that time he not only kept Joy at its ebullient best, but also created the enigmatic 1000, the satiny Sublime, and what many consider among the best masculines ever created, Patou Pour Homme.

These are only the best known of his works.  He also orchestrated a revival of the most famous Patou scents for the Ma Collection series in the 1980′s including the green floral Caline, and the much praised gourmand/chypre Que Sais Je.  He did Ma Liberte in 1987, and Eau de Patou, Voyageur, also Patou Forever.  He composed a number of scents for Lacoste, including Land, and the first perfume for Yohji Yamamoto, simply called Yohji. He won the Prix des Parfumeurs in 1965, and the Prix Francois Coty in 2001. He is still the honorary president of the Society of French Perfumers, and the founder of the museum of historically significant perfumes, the Osmotheque in Versailles. It’s quite some record, you must admit. Continue reading