Before I give my review, an important disclaimer: I’ve got a small problem with patchouli. Frankly, the scent gives me a headache and reminds me of my high school years when I made vintage shopping trips to the Haight-Ashbury district with my mother. She hates the scent so much that if we went to a store that smelled of the herb, she would wait outside. I also got into trouble when I bought a few patchouli incense sticks and burned them in my bedroom…ah, the teenage years.
I do think that patchouli in small quantities can be a lovely complement to any scent. Jubilation 25 by Amouage mixes rose and patchouli to produce one of the most exotic scents on the market. If I had $265 to burn I would buy a bottle of J25 any day.
Lyric Rain, $185, by Strange Invisible Perfumes, smells overwhelmingly of patchouli. If that’s your bag, come on down. Other notes are jasmine, pink pepper, blue lotus, and lavender. As the drydown progresses, the scent evolves into something much more suble and floral. Lavender, one of my favorite notes, is extremely subtle in this perfume.
Buy it here if you dare!
The Strange Invisible Perfumes line started 2000 by L.A. native Alexandra Balahoutis. Her impeccably designed boutique in Venice came later. After living in Prague, Paris and Manhattan, Balahoutis decided to create botanical perfumes that reflect her worldy experiences. If I had to guess her strongest geographic influence, I would go with Prague. Her scents seem to evoke the old world of Franz Kafka, Antonin Devorak and Jaroslav Seifert. Also, there used to be a fantastic botanical store in Prague that was choc full of plant-based beauty products. They had everything: shampoo, skincare, perfume, etc. I can’t remember the name of it or if it still exists. Does anyone know it?
All of Balahoutis’ perfumes are made from the cultivation and distillation of flowers, plants, and resins to create natural oils. She also shuns any synthetic chemicals and argues that only natural essences unlock the olfactory nerve receptors to affect the lymbic system and release chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. She says that the synthetic aroma molecules (stereo-isomers) cannot be recognized by the brain and adds that some scents are suspected of accumulating in human tissue causing liver damage and cancer. Scary.
Balahoutis also creates custom perfumes. I’ve heard that her signature scents can cost $1,000 dollars.
“Perfume is about association. A beautiful aromatic composition empowers us to access our most delightful notions, ideas, and fantasies, lending thought the physical reinforcement and visceral sensation needed to become experience.” –Alexandra Balahoutis
Stylechica’s free associations from Lyric Rain:
Metamorphosis by Kafka
Prague, that’s a sip of wine with flavour,
a hundred times I say her name,
light as a breath and bright as flame,
and sweeter than a lover’s favour.
Yet, may the alarm sirens, please,
take off their helmets, silent, muted.
They haven’t stopped yet, they have hooted,
the sirens of our consciences.
And if I saw her, broken vessel,
glass splinters scattered far around,
and with her doom I had to wrestle,
her dust inside my mouth would sweeten,
she’s like a seal on what’s been written,
and were she levelled to the ground…