Dear friends and readers, let me introduce to you the latest addition to the ULG contributors: Christine W, a guest writer from Melbourne, Australia. Having collected vintage perfume for over a decade, Christine finally took the plunge and came out with her first-ever blog post. I hope we won’t scare her away, and she’ll fill the gap of vintage perfumes coverage on this blog. Undina
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Seven years ago, Maison Jean Patou released Collection Héritage; reworkings of nine of the house’s much older fragrances. While stocks last, they can be found online for a fraction of the original price. In 2019, when LVMH bought Jean Patou, the new owners discontinued production of Patou fragrances. Since then, fragrance fans have been snapping up the remaining stock of classics such as Joy, Sublime and 1000. But are the more obscure Collection Héritage scents also worth buying? Are they anything like the earlier fragrances upon which they were based? I will attempt to answer these questions by comparing seven of the Collection Héritage scents with their corresponding, older Ma Collection versions. The prices I mention are based on my location in Australia. If you are in another country you might pay more, or less, than I did.
Before my reviews, I need to outline what I will be comparing.
The Collection Héritage (CH) series consists of nine 100ml EDPs released in 2013 and 2014. Patou’s last in-house perfumer, Thomas Fontaine, composed each of them as re-imaginings of older “archived” Patou scents of the same name. The series (in random order) comprises: Adieu Sagesse, Colony, L’Heure Attendue, Chaldée, Que Sais-Je?, Vacances, Deux Amours, Eau de Patou and Patou Pour Homme. I am not reviewing the last two because I didn’t buy them.
The Ma Collection (MC) series was released in 1984. Consisting of 12 fragrances (which I own as a boxed set of minis, pictured below with its accompanying book), these were themselves re-workings of selected early Patou scents created between 1925 and 1964, mostly by in-house perfumer, Henri Alméras (1892-1965). The MC recreations were composed by Jean Kerléo, who had taken over from Alméras in 1967. The MC scents that I will examine for comparison have the same names as the first six listed above, plus Amour Amour (the original name for Deux Amours). In case you were wondering, these MC titles didn’t make the cut for CH: Moment Supréme, Cocktail, Divine Folie, Normandie and Caline.
To supplement (and guide) my impression of each CH scent and its corresponding MC version, I will include notes lists from Fragrantica (unless otherwise noted) and information supplied with packaging.
So, let’s dive in!
Adieu Sagesse – CH (2014) – “Goodbye Wisdom” or “Farewell Reason”
Top: grapefruit and rhubarb; middle: coconut, jasmine and gardenia; base: musk, clove and orris
The leaflet on the bottle says: “The moment you give your heart away” and describes this scent as “White Gardenia”.
From the first sniff, I knew this scent couldn’t possibly be like any earlier version as it’s undoubtedly of a modern style. There’s a prominent and instantly recognisable waft of rhubarb (a recently fashionable note, I’ve noticed). This rhubarb has its usual tartness boosted by the grapefruit, however, I also find it to be dessert-like and “creamy” – possibly from the coconut. Vanilla might be hiding in here, too. According to Fragrantica, Adieu Sagesse is classified as a “Floral” with the dominant flower being gardenia (as per votes). Hmm. Maybe I need my gardenias to smell more literal? I was initially unimpressed by this scent, but after a few wears I began to enjoy the rhubarb vibe. But in no way does it smell “vintage” or even what I would call gardenia. It cost me A$112.
Adieu Sagesse – MC (1984, orig. 1925)
Top: neroli, narcissus, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley and blackcurrant; middle: carnation, jasmine and tuberose; base: vetiver, musk and civet
In Fragrantica, this Adieu Sagesse is classified as a “Chypre Floral” (despite it apparently having no oakmoss). The book that accompanies my MC set lists notes similar to those above, sans jasmine, and describes Adieu Sagesse as a “Floral Solifore”. But which flower? When interviewed (see the link at end of this article), Thomas Fontaine said Almeras’ original Adieu Sagesse (1925) was a “gardenia solifore” – so there’s either an error in Fragrantica’s notes list or the other notes are supposed to combine to suggest gardenia. Oddly, most Basenoters who reviewed the older (1984 & 1925) Adieu Sagesse versions mentioned spicy clove notes, which could be from the carnation. Confused? Me too. In any case, this is a lovely, slightly fruity floral which smells nothing like the CH reformulation.
Colony – CH (2014)
Top: bergamot, pineapple and orange; middle: jasmine, rose, nutmeg and clove; base: leather, patchouli, vetiver and amber
From the swing tag: “Desire to escape… A unique perfume for women and men, a true invitation to travel” and name-checks Josephine Baker, the famous 1920s entertainer.
Well, hello pineapple! I already knew that pineapple was supposed to star in the original Colony (as per the shape of its iconic original bottle), but surely it can’t have been this prominent? Not that I mind: this pineapple smells delicious. Unfortunately, the fruity top note fades quickly. What remains is a pleasant enough leather/suede effect. Fragrantica classifies Colony as an “Aromatic Green” and the bottle’s leaflet says “Floral Fruity Green”. I don’t know what’s up with that, because Colony doesn’t smell “green” to me at all, and its listed notes don’t suggest “green-ness” either. Anyway, if you like the sound of pineapple suede and you’re not expecting a vintage-style fragrance, I think you should be happy. I found it for less than A$100, the cheapest in the series.
Colony – MC (1984, orig. 1938)
Top: pineapple and ylang-ylang; middle: carnation, iris, oak, vetiver and opoponax; base: leather and musk
The opening is definitely fruity. If it’s indeed pineapple, it’s of the glazed kind. According to Fragrantica, this version of Colony is classified as a “Chypre Fruity” – although again, no oakmoss is mentioned. It could pass as a chypre, though. While there’s an underlying similarity between the two versions, the CH’s leather note is quite a bit stronger. The older scent is longer lasting and carries the fruitiness further. The MC book says: “The exotic image of the deepest jungle, lush vegetation, powerful spices borne over amethyst seas and strange girls in distant sun-kissed ports.” The name alludes to colonialism, so I was half-expecting a non-PC reference to slave-worked pineapple plantations.
L’Heure Attendue – CH (2014) – literally “The Expected Hour”
Top: tangerine, aldehydes and neroli; middle: rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and peach; base: opoponax, patchouli, sandalwood and amber
The attached leaflet says: “Ode to freedom!” It celebrates the re-birth of France after WWII.
Fragrantica classifies L’Heure Attendue as “Oriental Spicy”, and I agree with the “Oriental” descriptor. According to reviewer votes, jasmine and aldehydes are the most prominent notes, but to me, up-front amber and opoponax define this scent. The name, along with a peacock-blue box interior (the same colour as the MC bottle’s label), suggests a nod to Guerlain‘s classic L’Heure Bleue (1912). While arguably in the same genre, they are distinctly different. L’Heure Attendue is a beautifully blended floral/resinous scent with fruity and woody nuances and it seems more “linear” than the others. By the way, this is one of the pricier CHs. I paid A$190.
L’Heure Attendue – MC (1984, orig. 1946)
Fragrantica is missing the list of notes for this scent, so, from the MC book:
Top: lily-of-the-valley, geranium and lilac; middle: ylang-ylang, rose, opoponax and jasmine; base: vanilla, Mysore sandalwood and patchouli
The 1984 and 2014 versions have notes of rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, opoponax and sandalwood in common. There are no fruits listed for the MC, which is an obvious point of difference. According to Fragrantica, L’Heure Attendue is a “Chypre Floral”. Having vanilla in the base and no oakmoss, I would have instead classified it as a “Floral Oriental”. So, what does it smell like? After an old-alcohol burnoff, it’s amazing! I can detect geranium and lily-of-the-valley in the opening, which distinguishes it from the 2014 reformulation. I love lilac, but it’s not standing out for me here. The floral heart of ylang-ylang, rose and jasmine lends a “Joy”ous quality, while the drydown is a smooth sandalwood/opoponax/vanilla combo without obvious patchouli. After an hour or so, the old and new versions are remarkably similar. Great work, Mr Fontaine!
Chaldée – CH (2013)
Named after the scent of Jean Patou’s innovative 1927 suntan oil.
Top: bergamot and orange blossom; middle: narcissus, rose and jasmine; base: opoponax, vanilla and tonka bean
The official shtick: “La Belle Epoque… Embrace the opulence of a unique historical scent which instantly evokes memories of sun-drenched holidays.”
Phwoar! Jasmine, narcissus and orange blossom burst from the nozzle in all their skanky glory, yet they are tempered by the powderiness of up-front tonka. Fragrantica note voters rated narcissus as the dominant flower. While narcissus is one of my favourite notes, I don’t recognise it here. Even so, I like it! Fragrantica calls both CH and MC Chaldées “Oriental Florals”. To my nose, this smells plausibly “vintage”. You can probably find a bottle for around A$100.
Chaldée – MC (1984, orig. 1927)
Top: orange blossom and hyacinth; middle: jasmine, lilac and narcissus; base: opoponax, amber and vanilla
Apart from purple flowers substituting for rose, and the absence of tonka, the notes for the two Chaldées are otherwise similar. At first I thought they smelled entirely different because the MC’s white florals are well-behaved (ie. no skank). But then along comes the powder and the resemblance emerges. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the CH version is a fine substitute.
Que Sais-Je? – CH (2014) – literally “What do I know?”
Top: peach, apricot, orange blossom and bergamot; middle: rose, carnation and jasmine; base: honey, patchouli and amber
From the bottle’s tag: “Embrace the moment of wonder.”
I didn’t appreciate this scent upon my first try, but now I’m swooning. The honey is not in-your-face, but blended seamlessly with stone fruits and flowers. Carnation isn’t noticeable and neither is patchouli. Fragrantica describes Que Sais-Je? as a “Chypre Floral” – obviously a modern oakmoss-less chypre. The peach and apricot notes remind me of YSL‘s Yvresse/Champagne, which is also a (fruity) chypre. This is another rarer, hence less discounted CH. I paid A$183.
Que Sais-Je? – MC (1984, orig. 1925)
Hazelnut, honey and peach (that’s all) and there’s no classification provided.
The book accompanying my MC set says: “Que Sais-Je? astonishes one with fruity warmth and powerful debut (sic), an effect derived from peach, apricot and orange flower, followed [by] a jasmine-rose combination married to carnation and iris (characteristic scents of the twenties).” Wow. This is a delicious “fruity floral”. The stone fruits and honey are front and centre, continuing through the scent’s progression. I don’t detect any kind of nut. The CH version of Que Sais-Je? is not quite the same as this one – but closer than many of the others I’ve compared.
Vacances – CH (2014) – literally “Vacation” or “Holidays”
Top: galbanum and mimosa; middle: rose, jasmine and lilac; base: styrax, hyacinth and musk
Vacances’s blurb: “1936, the first paid holidays: a wonderful gift to the French!”
According to Fragrantica, both versions of Vacances are “Floral Green” scents. If the idea of lazing on a sunny lawn surrounded by lilac bushes and hyacinths on your day off sounds appealing, this fragrance might be just right for you. I adore galbanum and purple flower scents, so this is my favourite of the CH series. I’ve owned my bottle for a while and have already done a side-by-side with the 1984 version, and I find them to be satisfyingly similar. As a modern spritz, this is a refreshing burst of Spring, free from aged alcohol taint. At times I detect a faint waft of a watery melon-like aromachemical, which would certainly have not been present in earlier iterations. Fortunately, that’s not intrusive and nicely freshens the composition. Can be had for little more than A$100.
Vacances – MC (1984, orig. 1936)
Top: hyacinth and hawthorn; middle: lilac, mimosa and galbanum; base: musk
With a good dose of galbanum, Vacances is distinctly “green” to my nose and the most recognisable fragrance in the MC set (as well as my favourite). While the CH reformulation smells fresher, they are remarkably alike. My advice is that CH Vacances should prove satisfactory if you badly want, but can’t source, the older juice.
Deux Amours – CH (2014) – literally “Two Loves”
Top: bergamot and neroli; middle: rose, jasmine, tuberose and ylang-ylang; base: sandalwood and styrax
The leaflet proclaims: “Embrace the moment your heart beats faster.”
According to Fragrantica, Deux Amours is an “Oriental Floral”. Upon first spritz, it reminds me of a (possibly obscure) vintage aldehydic floral I can’t recall the name of. Although aldehydes aren’t listed, I’m sure I can detect them. From the outset there is something resinous, which must be the styrax. To my taste, this scent is a winner and could be worth getting if you also love classic early 20th Century florals. Deux Amours wasn’t hard to find and cost me A$112.
Amour Amour – MC (1984, orig. 1925) – literally “Love Love”
Top: neroli, bergamot, strawberry and lemon; middle: carnation, lily, lilac, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and narcissus; base: honey, musk, civet, vetiver and heliotrope
According to Fragrantica, Amour Amour is a “Floral” scent. While this fragrance’s successor does not accurately replicate the original, to me they are both divine. Comparing notes lists, only bergamot, jasmine and ylang-ylang are common to both. This older version doesn’t smell aldehydic in the same way the new one does. I find the characteristic note of Amour Amour to be strawberry, which is subtle, but once you know it’s there you can’t miss it. After about half an hour, the two scents aren’t worlds apart – and they’re equally appealing. CH’s Deux Amours has undoubtedly more sillage than its predecessor, as you might expect from an update. It’s a pity Fontaine didn’t introduce a touch of strawberry to his recreation for an easy Amour Amour/Deux Amours resemblance fix.
Recommended: an informative 2014 interview with Thomas Fontaine, where he relates his impressions of several of the older Patou scents and addresses a few of the technical challenges he encountered while creating the CH lineup.
Thanks for reading.
Are you familiar with any of these scents? Have I convinced you to seek out one or more of the CH Patous before they’re gone for good?
Images: the last one from PerfumeMaster.org; the rest – my own