So, you’ve worn fragrances in the days when the dangers of oakmoss didn’t occupy the bright minds in the EU’s governing bodies. Perfume to you means character and statement, not something that smelled blindly could be mistaken for shampoo or a flavor compound mistakenly rerouted from a candy factory. Or you simply love scents that have curves and glamour, just like the stars in your favorite black-and-white films. Well, I have three words for you–Jean Patou Mille. Or let’s just make it a number–1000.
Although Jean Patou’s fame owes much to its 1930s bombshell Joy, 1000 is my favorite from the collection. It packs as much old-school glamour as a reasonable person could take, but that’s what makes it interesting. You can certainly find plenty of dramatic perfumes with a touch of vintage glamour, from Chanel to Frédéric Malle, from Guerlain to Parfums de Nicolaï, but 1000 holds its own next to No 5, Hermès Calèche and Madame Rochas.
Created by Jean Kerléo in 1972, 1000 is from the generation of perfumes that followed the dictum of “more is more,” and you have to be prepared for it. You have to like the starchy crinkle of aldehydes, the buttery richness of rose and iris, the heft of creamy woods, and the inky darkness of oakmoss. It skimps on nothing, which makes it both fun and challenging.
1000 has an unpromising opening of strong aldehydes (starched linen crossed with overheated metal) and green, crushed leaf notes, which smells plain old-fashioned. But this phase is immediately taken over by the dark violets and sandalwood, which give 1000 a soft, rich feel. The longer the perfume stays on your skin, the more layers it develops, and at some point, you no longer notice the individual notes. 1000 smells the way Muscat wine tastes–golden, spicy and warm.
Parts of 1000 recall the cool elegance of No 5 and Calèche, and you get lulled into thinking that it will just cruise along on the same note. But then the beige trench coat of aldehydes and flowers slides off, and you discover that 1000 wears a flower child outfit of patchouli, Indian incense and sandalwood. I’ve been wearing 1000 on and off for the past 5 years, and this part still comes as a surprise. If you like animalic notes, you’ll also be in for a treat, because 1000 has lashings of animalic musk to round out its drydown.
1000 is too glamorous to wear when impeccably coiffed, lipsticked and manicured. Then it seems a bit too perfect, too conventional. But dab a few drop under the most casual outfit, and you’ll experience the power of scent to make you feel like a starlet on her way down the red carpet. It’s not one of my staple perfumes, but like a pair of satin red shoes in my closet, 1000 is an occasional dose of glamour required by even the low-maintenance types like me.
Jean Patou 1000 Eau de Parfum includes notes of coriander, green notes, bergamot, tangerine, violet leaf, iris, violet, jasmine, osmanthus, lily-of-the-valley, rose, geranium, sandalwood, amber, musk, patchouli, civet, oakmoss and vetiver. Eau de Parfum 2.5 oz (75ml)/$190. Extrait de Parfum 0.5 oz (15ml)/$350
This review is based on my one year old bottle of Eau de Parfum, the formulation available at counters today. If you’ve tried the older versions of 1000 and compared them to the new one, please comment.