Cologne was never one of my favorite fragrance types. You see, when you start out exploring perfume, citrusy blends (eaux de cologne) are suggested on the grounds that they’re “fresh and easy to wear.” Except that I found most colognes to be neither. They smelled either too dry, too sharp or evoked an unfortunate association with furniture polish. I admired the ease with which some women could douse themselves in Hermès’s Eau d’Orange Verte and project an aura of casual elegance, but for quick refreshment, I reached for either light florals or green perfumes. What changed my mind about colognes was Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage and Jean Patou’s Eau de Patou.
Much has been written about Eau Sauvage, one of the most revolutionary fragrances in recent history, but Eau de Patou has kept a lower profile. Perfumer Jean Kerléo created it in 1976, and when you smell the original version, it’s remarkably modern and luminous with its generous dose of sheer floral notes wrapped around classical bitter citrus and moss. A touch of sweetness takes the sharp edge off the lemon and lavender, and the drydown of damp woods and powdery amber is comfortable and graceful.