digging (into) vintage: Jean Patou 1000, 1972

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Perfumer Jean Kerléo

I’ve tried 1000 in Eau de Parfum concentration a number of times and the dark topnotes are just plain sexy, but it’s the Eau de Toilette that I fall for from start to finish. The Eau de Parfum is creamy where the Eau de Toilette is edgy and the Eau de Toilette’s sharpness binds the florals and woods intimately. The layers are densely packed and evenly organized like the crisp pages of a brand new hardcover book the first time you thumb through it.

Woody-floral perfumes work best when the floral and woody notes form a loop. Each takes up where the other lets off. This is why woody floral perfumes can seem so tailored. The “I”s are dotted and the “T”s have all been crossed. If you dig this sort of thing, and I do, the perfumes seem exquisitely  proportioned and polyphonic. If you don’t, and woody-floral perfumes are a divisive genre, they come off as unnecessarily conventional and formal.

1000 is the superlative animalic, woody floral. The animalism is set deep into the perfume, giving it complexity and presence. Vintage 1000 is famously packed with civet and a complex musk accord. This gives a plush, buttery feel to the rose, jasmine and sandalwood and creates a notable sibling resemblance to Joy. 1000 might have been composed more than 40 years after Joy, but it is classical to its teeth and doesn’t read as substantially more modern than Joy. 1000’s creates a detailed, deliberate impression by overlapping distinct tones within the floral and woody accords and then folding in green notes and balsams. Vetiver lends structure and sandalwood provides flesh. Rose’s curvaceousness is balanced by violet’s long shadow and osmanthus’s fruity leather. And then the whole package is finished with moss and goosed with aldehydes.

1000 is more upright than uptight, more toned than starched. Some perfumes shout, some whisper seductively. 1000 simply speaks very clearly as if it intends to be heard whether the listener catches the meaning or not. Despite others’ characterizations of 1000 as old-fashioned, I find it enigmatic. I think the ‘Is it a floral? Is it a chypre?’ question 40 years later reflects 1000’s wonderfully baffling nature and Jean Kerléo’s prowess with the genre.

(images: Jean Shrimpton and a guy who knows how to rock a floral garland)


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  1. jtd says:

    Hi, Cook.bot. Thanks for commenting. I’m only seeing some comments rather late, so I apologize for my timing. Isn’t 1000 fascinating? I had an experience similar to yours. I found 1000 by chance and became completely captured. It’s so specific but still mystifying. I think it often gets left out of discussions of the ‘seminal perfumes’ of each decade, perhaps because due to its woody/floral genre. As the 1970s went on, the genre grew to be seen as milqutoast.

    What I love about the genre (and this is where Kerleo makes such good use of it) is that it can balance great intricacy with complete legibility. Complexity can get a bad rap in the era of minimalist perfumery, but Kerleo shows the value of complexity in conveying depth and texture. In 1000, he uses an elaborate formula to make detailed, meticulous compositional points— shifting textures, elegant transitions. I love this perfume for the way it rewards over time. It’s a perfume I keep coming back to and still find new angles.

  2. Cook.bot says:

    “Wonderfully baffling”, indeed. I’m certainly baffled by my love of 1000. Though I cherish many old-ladyish chypres, I never seek out florals and would have ignored 1000 if a Basenoter hadn’t sent me a sample in a swap. Bam! So smitten that I immediately got it in all three strengths, in vintage. And the EDT is definitely the way to go.

    I’ve read that its floral is osmanthus. Thinking maybe that was a floral I could love, I tried others with that primary note, and nope, no love there. Is it the civet? It’s so mysterious, and so very elegant, almost queenly.

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