Viewer Mail: I Want to Smell Like a Patchouli Bakery

Dear Katie,

Have you ever smelled the men’s fragrance Minotaure by Paloma Picasso? One review described it as “a fresh oriental with sandalwood and patchouli." Another mentioned a note of vanilla. Many describe it as sexy, yet subtle and unique.

My husband says this has been his favorite fragrance in the past, and I just ordered it for a Valentine's Day surprise. I can't wait to smell it myself!

I would be thrilled if you could recommend a female version of Minotaure. The idea of an earthy vanilla sounds appealing...something in between “cake bakery sweet” and “just stepped out of the 70s patchouli”. Something sensual and intimate that need not be advertised from across the room.



Ashley, I'm inspired by your Patchouli Cake question, because my very favorite fragrance (still holding the number one spot despite being forced to constantly re-audition) is a vanillic patchouli: Chanel Coromandel. It's earthy and spicy and luxurious with a not-too-sweet vanilla.

The tedious part of the equation is that Coromandel is only sold in Chanel boutiques (and a few select department stores) and is pricey (though you do get a huge 6.8oz bottle for your 180+ bucks).

A more girlish patchouli bon-bon is Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance, its sweetness toughened by puff of smoke. Another one in that vein is Kat Von D Sinner.

By the way, a quick Google on Minotaure’s notes revealed no patchouli, only sandalwood and leather along with the vanilla, citrus and florals. So if you want to amble down that enticing path, you could try the following:

Guerlain Shalimar
Bulgari Black
Estée Lauder Sensuous

Also pay a call on Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar by La Maison de la Vanille, though this one is pretty much holed up in the bakery, even with its woods and lavender/thyme aromatics)

And if you want to cover all the patchouli/sandalwood/vanilla bases, you can go with the latest perfume to seduce my nose: Parfumerie Generale Intrigant Patchouli. I’ve been smearing myself in Intrigant Patchouli’s delights: the sharp nag champa-esque opening, the low-key vanilla, the animal-adjacent drydown with its blend of sandalwood and a niff of mongoose hindquarters (otherwise known as civet).

(By the way, I’m still married to Coromandel, but we have an open relationship. I just haven’t told Coromandel.)

Fumeheads, do you have any Lady Minotaur thoughts for Ashley?


  1. Oooo Intrigant Patchouli is the way to go if you can handle that animalic drydown mmmm. One of my favorites for cool weather.

  2. I'd also mention PG L'Ombre Fauve, with notes listed as amber, musk, woods, incense and patchouli. Slight pain barrier / weirdness to start with but mutes down beautifully.

    Currently retesting a Moroccan scent in that general vein - though much softer and lighter - called Soir de Marrakech by Les Parfums de Soleil. Available only from Morocco or Belgium, but very nice!

    Notes are:

    amber, musk, vanilla, patchouli, and citrus oils.

  3. Katie -- great Parfumerie Generale suggestion. Intrigant Patchouli is a vanilla, woodsy, yummy delight. I forget about it, and I shouldn't.

  4. Oh don't you forget about Intrigant Patchouli, Mr. Branch! The way I've been marinating in it these past few days, I doubt anyone around me will forget it.

    Jake, oh, I can handle the animalic drydown. You betchum.

    flittersniffer - L'Ombre Fauve is a worthy suggestion. I'd left it out, thinking its furry powdery-ness might disqualify it as linking to Minotaure's supposed "fresh" quality. But it's worth the money in the meter for "sensual and intimate".

    Mmm - I love the sound of that Soir de Marrakech!

  5. If you are curious, I have two spare samples of Soir de Marrakech and could send you one - it smells like the love child of L'Ombre Fauve and Kenzo Power ie as sensual as the former and as light and wearable as the latter, if that doesn't sound like a contradiction in terms. It appears to be 50 euro for 100ml, if I have read the price list correctly, which is a bargain on a ml for ml basis!

  6. Hey, did this post of yours cause a run on Intrigant Patchouli at Lucky Scent? They're "sold out", darnit! Not even "back ordered" -- sold out! With no expected date for restocking.

    *grumble mutter grumble*

  7. Charming of you to try and give me credit for that, Nathan, but LuckyScent were already out of IP. I know, because I checked it out from London, trying to figure out the best deal: US vs UK. It was a bit cheaper from Les Senteurs in London, but when I hustled over there to nab it, they were out, too! And just when I was about to burst into childish tears, the solicitous SA emerged from the back room with an unopened tester! Which he gave to me!! So now I'm taking hourly whore's baths in the stuff.

    The question for you is, where the hell are you going to get your Intrigant Patchouli? Especially since I seem to have the last bottle east and west of the Greenwich date line.

  8. flittersniffer, I'm stretching my greedy, sticky hands out in your direction for that Soir de Marrakech sample, thank you kindly. Please click "Contact Me" and we'll exchange the pertinent mailing info. Cheers indeed.

  9. Thanks for all the great suggestions! I can't wait to get my nose on these!

    And p.s. - The Minotaure arrived! It is amazing and I love it more each time we meet! And you're right Katie, I don't notice any patchouli in it.

    -Anxious Ashley :)

  10. So glad you checked back in, Ashley. Now I'm eager to get the word on Minotaure straight from the Minotaure's mouth - what does it smell like?

    Is sandalwood and vanilla and fresh at the same time after all? Tell all.