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The Journey of Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli is a botanical whose world travels are as rich and complex as its aroma. Visions of dancers swirling their shawls at Woodstock come to mind upon the first whiff of this unmistakable aroma, yet exotic, Patchouli-scented shawls made their debut a century earlier. Patchouli has been embedded in the fabric of Indian Cashmere (Kashmir) shawls since the 1800's when Frenchmen like Napoleon first brought them back to their beloveds. Romantic stories of Napoleon and Josephine abound, and Patchouli-scented shawls were ever present within those tales. Patchouli and Cashmere shawls were two important signatures of India, and they became synonymous with exotic elegance by the French who brought them back. Ironically, Patchouli was widely used in India during this time to repel moths from destroying their fine fabrics, yet it became a statement of enchanted faraway lands. It became such a fascination among European nobility that French merchants began to scent inauthentic versions of the shawls with Patchouli to cash in on the craze, as one of Carole's mentors, the legendary Mandy Aftel, describes in her inspirational book, Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume.

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