Von Eusersdorff is a surname that has resonated within the archives of perfume history for nearly three centuries. The German family have a prestigious past in the world-wide trade of rare oils, herbs, spices and petals and now the name has appeared again.
Camille Henfling, descendant of Von Eusersdorff lineage and former businessman, felt a powerful calling to go back to his roots and re-discover his family’s heritage. He didn’t do it by halves either. Moving to Grasse and taking with him some of the secret formulas discovered in the archives, he spent three years learning how to build fragrances. Gradually putting together a skilled team who he still works with today, the Von Eusersdorff brand was launched afresh. The first perfume to be presented was ‘Classic Patchouli’, followed by ‘Classic Myrrh’, ‘Classic Vetiver’ and ‘Classic Mimosa’ in 2011. The most recent release is ‘Classic Orange’, but in these reviews I will be talking about the original four.
I didn’t know what to expect from these fragrances. They certainly look great, very sleek and expensive looking. Apparently the aesthetics and feel of the fragrances are inspired by New York, where the creative team behind the brand are based.
I knew that Von Eusersdorff have an impeccable lineage in the perfume world, but as this was in trading father than fragrance making I was interested to see what these four so called ‘classic’ scents would be like. As contemporary and chic as their wrappings, or classical and historical as their names and the heritage of the family behind them would suggest?
In a series of four reviews, I’ll be taking a journey with each of these perfumes. It is only fitting that we start with ‘Classic Patchouli’. As the first fragrance to be launched from Von Eusersdorff, it has quickly won fans in both Amsterdam and New York.
I will admit to previously not being the biggest fan of patchouli in perfume. For me the essential oil most associated with the hippy movement of the 1960’s has a nostalgia that is almost palpable. I am too young to have been there first time around but I went through a phase as a teenager in the 90’s when hippy style came back into fashion. I burned patchouli oil in my bedroom, listened to the Velvet Underground and purchased an amazing sheepskin coat that I pretty much wore everywhere. I wanted so much to go back there and experience it for myself, everyone seemed to be having such an amazing time. But it never sat completely comfortably with me and I soon moved on. The smell of patchouli oil usually just whisks me straight back to my teenage bedroom. It is a complex aroma and any young girl with a nose more used to Impulse body sprays is going to struggle with it. I thought I was being really cool at the time but the reality was that I just didn’t like the smell that much.
Since then I have come across patchouli many more times, either being burnt as incense in head shops or used in natural beauty products. It is instantly recognisable and always the same, green, bitter-sweet and slightly woody. I have never before come across it used in a way that does not shout ‘new-age and maybe a bit hairy’, so I was really wondering how Von Eusersdorff, with all their immaculate class and sophistication, had created a fragrance based around it whilst managing to keep it firmly on the straight side of the beaded curtain.
‘Classic Patchouli’ opens with an elegantly powerful swell of woods, unusual as a first impression but very intriguing, sandalwood with a lovely, textural creaminess and the merest hint of smoke. Then in rolls a boozy, whiskey fire that warms my nostrils but doesn’t scorch them. It is extremely controlled yet striking start and I am instantly appreciative of the quality of ingredients at work here.
The patchouli arrives after a few minutes and I am so very pleasantly surprised at her appearance that I am unsure at first whether it is really her. This is black patchouli and as such has none of that bushy greenness that I have smelt so many times before. This patchouli is rich and smooth and unctuously chewy, with a slightly soapy corona around her. Intermingled with citrusy bergamot the combination is pure class and not in the least reminiscent of crystals and flared jeans.
The element of this perfume that is most beautiful to me is the presence of vanilla and tonka bean. I love tonka with it’s sweet, buttery, rounded aesthetic and vanilla that tickles your taste buds. Here they are not gourmand, but they bring a wonderful, rounded finish to the fragrance, smoothing any rough edges and bestowing a deep, warm, cashmere cape around the shoulders of the patchouli. All the elements of this fragrance are finished so well and quality simply oozes from my skin when I wear it. This, in my mind, is how an extremely wealthy, well bred and cultured person should smell. Effortless, tailored and polished to a lustrous glow.
‘Classic Patchouli’ fits to the skin like a fur-lined, designer leather glove. It smells expensive and has an impressive sillage, lasting hours on my skin. There are very few surprises once the fragrance has developed, but I am grateful for this, the fullness and sophistication resonate so truly that change is unnecessary. This is a celebration of carefully chosen elements all singing in perfect harmony together, any shift in key would take away from the clarity of it’s voice. This perfume needs to be lingered over like a fine wine.
I have re-evaluated my opinion of patchouli since experiencing this fragrance. I’m impressed with the balance of restraint and power with which it has been used here and I will definitely be wearing this perfume again. It is timelessly elegant, completely un-gendered and effortlessly cool. A fabulous perfume.