I first encountered Jean Patou as a child, and for a long time Joy was the only Patou I knew. I happened upon a black lacquer "snuff" bottle of the parfum at the Grist Mill; this was soon followed by a crystal flacon of '60's vintage Eau de Joy. Then I scored a splash bottle of Amour Amour Parfum Cologne at yet another local antique store... and with that, I pressed the pause button on Patou.
My scent-swap friend Blacknall Allen hit the ignition again with a passel of samples culled from the 1984 Ma Collection coffret: Adieu Sagesse, Câline, Chaldée, Colony, Divine Folie, L'Heure Attendue, Normandie, Que Sais-Je? and Vacances. Lacking Cocktail and Moment Suprême, she threw in Invitation and Ma Liberté for makeweight. But I just couldn't latch onto any of them. I gave Vacances a try (for two days, even!) but found I could not relate to its air of aggressive cleanliness. I fared better with Ma Liberté, but only just. Aside from Joy, is there any Patou worth writing home about? (Something tells me it's 1000. If Anjelica Huston wears it, it cannot be wrong.)
Today I gave Chaldée a test drive. Designed by Henri Alméras in 1927, Chaldée offered an après-soleil option for fans of Huile de Chaldée, Jean Patou's popular suntan lotion ("bronzes and softens the skin"). Its popularity guaranteed it a place in Ma Collection... though not, sadly, in ma collection. Don't misunderstand me; I think it's quite nice-- shimmery orange blossoms made more serious by a blare of skin-scented jasmine, then softened by a hot-weather haze of opopanax. I can absolutely imagine the scent of this wafting up from the sands of a Mediterranean beach, where glamorous sunbathers soak in it en masse... But that's just not where I belong, and I know it.
Scent Elements: Aldehydes, orange blossom, hyacinth, jasmine, lilac, narcissus, amber, opopanax, vanilla