I gain comfort from violet. And the best violet I have ever owned is undoubtedly L’Occitane’s Patchouli, a disappeared extrait from the 1990’s (also gorgeous in the more radiant edp which I would kill to have a bottle of again), that is now virtually impossible to find anywhere.

An immediately poignant blend, one that somehow imbued whatever you were feeling at the time with sad longing, this was a violet/rose/clove/patchouli heartrending syrup that I saw a miniature bottle of on ebay the other day for ¥33,000 – eleven others were watching closely.

Friday night, after the conversation on here with Gabrielle and Catherine about how much we missed the old, pre-everywhere mainstream iteration of L’Occitane (when there were little bottles of extrait like Mûre

-which I picked out from the collection to try again the other night, marvelling at how alive it is; ‘just’ a blackberry little number, but something lovely about it; as though it were telling a story. Simple. A very short formula. But scintillating), I found myself wanting to attempt to recreate Patchouli. Impossible. Because I am not a perfumer, and don’t know all of the notes. But I began with a rich patchouli essential oil, blended in some rose, and some Klito by Marko Buffini, a very violety scent; added some of my strange clove/rose/hinoki/patchouli desolate Autumn perfume, which I made many years ago while watching John Cassavetes’ Opening Night in my old house’s tatami room, and still keep in the original L’Occitane Patchouli bottle, in the top picture; now so intense; based on the dregs of what was left of the patchouli; some Ungaro Diva extrait, and then years of added essential oils; I am not even entirely sure which other ones I have added over the decades; I sometimes wear a little on cold winter days, as it lingers. The addition of this private perfume started to veer the blend away from what I was looking for – a little too smoky – but then I remembered a dessicated bottle of L’Erbario Toscano’s Violetta Nobile that was somewhere in the kitchen; mainly dried up for some unknown reason but now very concentrated in the nozzle and spray tube. Pouring my blend into this bottle, the initial exhalations from the re-awoken bottle were very nice; super violetty, as the scent from beneath joined the powdered upper notes and created an enjoyable, rich, even potentially noble patchouli violet. Nice. But not Patchouli L’Occitane.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Tara C

    Oh, I had one of those little bottles of Mûre! Plus a few others – I know I had Vanille – but not Patchouli. Those were the days. So simple and inexpensive but so good.

  2. Robin

    Still. Very fun to try.

    Your brew — and the original — sound right up my alley.

  3. Robin

    Of all of their releases, I think I like Eau d’Iparie the best. Even the re-release was plenty good. A gorgeous myrrh blend that manages to have all the bone structure, complexity, balance and development of a very good vintage fragrance. Also, that characteristic of appearing to be cut from whole cloth, and unmistakable, like a Vol de Nuit in that sense.

  4. I recall when L’Occitane opened their first location in San Francisco in the early 90s. It was very low key in decor, walls painted a deep matte russet brown with lots of wicker baskets lined in cream linen and natural Mexican pine shelving to display products. Kind of off to the side in the semi-suburban Stonestown Galleria, a very uncharacteristically indoor upscale mall more often seen in Southern California than in the city of San Francisco. Product packaging was that faux antique apothecary style (like your bottle) that went on to become quite a trend. The products were amazing quality, at very affordable prices too. I immediately bought the Vanille and the Ambre perfume extraits and the accompanying bath products. I was ALL about vanilla in the early 90s. The Vanille was a very natural, but not too sweet fragrance. The Ambre was amazingly rich and complex with labdanum, benzoin, styrax, vanilla, and patchouli – warm and fuzzy just like you’d want for a foggy day by the Bay.
    I worked at the Estee Lauder counter in Emporium-Capwell’s department store for Thanksgiving & Christmas that year. There were 2 French guys running the new L’Occitane shop, one was short, blonde, chubby, & cheerful, and the other tall, dark, thin, and saturnine in looks and disposition. We met for coffee occasionally as they tag-teamed running the new shop. They both bitterly complained about San Francisco – the dreary weather, the bad food, the insane housing prices etc. How French. They were correct though, the food in SF is mediocre at best, housing is crap, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the weather only gets foggier and colder in the summers.

  5. Violet hits me that way too.

    I think in about a year’s time your concoction will become even more what you wanted it to be. Not the exact thing you had w vintage Occ but a further development of the dream.

    It’s so satisfying to experiment in this way, and love it when after putting different things together they even start taking on a life of their own that still relates very personally.

    Stay well!
    Hear things are heating up virus-wise in Japan, as everwhere.

  6. I was lucky enough to have worked for L’Occitane in the late 90’s, before they decided to become all mainstream, or I should say, try to become all mainstream. I loved all those glorious little bottles so much, and the larger EdTs as well. I adored the candles in the tin containers so much that when they bring a few scents back for the holidays, I buy them every year.
    I wish they were still like they used to be.

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