Two brilliant patchouli-based scents today and first up, Lui, by Italian house Mazzolari. I had read quite a bit about Lui before finally obtaining a sample. Many people have described this as a beast of a scent, and as is often the case, I was slightly sceptical about the hype. Well, what can I say? I was proven wrong. Lui reminds me of a black panther for some reason. I think it is the opening. Upon application I get a blast of camphorous patchouli, no holds-barred. No sweetness or citrus here. Straight after this a strange accord wells up. It reminds me of fur, dusty animal fur or more specifically, the fur of a large cat, hence the panther association. Its quite disturbing, frankly. This note lasts for the duration of the heart notes; while the scent does sweeten, it maintains an edgy, uneasy feel, thanks in no part to a strong patchouli note. Its the sort of patchouli I like - earthy, almost woody and quite dusty, without being powdery. Into the dry down and the beast has put on his overcoat in readiness for dinner and the scent becomes slightly more refined, without ever totally losing that animalic thrust. The scent has great longevity and far into the dry down its pure patch, with perhaps a smidgen of what I perceive as a floral note. It is a compelling scent and I have to say, I love it.
Borneo 1834 - Serge Lutens
Borneo also opens with a blast of straight-up patchouli that is rapidly joined by a dusty cocoa powder note, not dissimilar to the note found in L'Instant by Guerlain. This may seem fanciful, but the effect or association for me can be likened to being in a shiny, polished corridor, lined with wooden panels and benches. I don't really know why. There is also a camphorous edge to this, but more restrained, smoother and sophisticated at this point than Lui. Borneo is like the older brother who knows he is due the inheritance; Lui is the younger brother who decided to join the gym instead and juice up on steroids. Into the heart and the cocoa note can still be detected and there is a sweet, slightly ambery note peeping in. At this point I am struggling to tell the two scents apart. Lui is perhaps less sweet and still has that vague unsettling note of animal fur lurking underneath, whereas Borneo is a touch more refined. Into the dry down and the patchouli dominates, but like Lui, it is a dry and earthy patch, not powdery or too sweet. Borneo doesn't use the familiar stewed-fruit-and-spices accord found in a lot of Lutens' fragrances. It is quite unique in the line, I think. In the far dry down it would take a good nose to tell Borneo and Lui apart. Perhaps Lui still bares his teeth a bit more, but they smell very similar at the end.
I have to admit, both these fragrances are in my opinion very well executed. I think I like them both equally, but although I said they are very similar, there are enough differences between the two, mainly in the opening and early mid-notes. I am not a huge fan of patchouli in general, having struggled with the note in the past, but these two are both very enticing. If you are looking for fruitchouli, look elsewhere - you ain't gonna find it here.
Would I buy either of these? If my wallet allowed, both would grace my fragrance wardrobe. However, a word of caution - I would struggle to wear either of these daily as they are both powerful and make a very definite statement. Both come highly recommended though!
Panther pic from animals.timdaru.org
Borneo 1834 from hexagone.ru/images