Last But Not Least- Jean Patou 1980s Que Sais-Je VS 2015 Que Sais-Je

I don’t want to risk boring everyone, including myself, but I felt that I should perhaps do this last little review and comparison because so far, from the ones I’ve tested, Héritage Collection Que Sais-Je actually comes the closest to the idea of the original.

Ma Collection Que Sais-Je by Jean Kerléo from the 1980s reissue of Henri Almeras’ original is sweet. SWEET. QSJ4mindreIt is peach, honey and hazelnut. It sounds like dessert, it smells like dessert. If you think gourmand perfumes were invented with Mugler’s Angel in 1992, think again.

QSJ is peach; golden and warm, marinated in a dark acacia honey with hazelnuts. It reminds me of some of those syrup and honey drenched Middle Eastern desserts you eat accompanied by sweet tea, served on a beautiful silver tray. It’s sweet but the honey is naughty too, even a bit animalic. And there’s more than that, underneath lurks a leather-moss base, probably with some musk too to accompany the honey, which makes for a beautiful dissonance to the sweetness, and makes sure you can call this buxom Mademoiselle ‘fruity-chypre’ s’il vous plait. It’s a quite stunning perfume, but in order to fully enjoy it, you need to be able to have your cake and eat it. All of it.


Now to Thomas Fontaine’s new Héritage Collection version of Que Sais-Je. As I hinted at, there are definite similarities here, but the size of the sweet desert from Ma Collection has been massively reduced.QSJ3 Let’s say QSJ went on a strict diet, and while she looked great and voluptuous before, the loss of calories doesn’t deter from her beauty, but accentuates other sides to it. While still adding the honey and peach blend, Fontaine has made more space in this composition, and with some of it he makes room for a few white flowers; bits of neroli sprinkled on top of the peach, and some jasmine and perhaps a touch of rose and orange flower in the heart. The hazelnut has been substituted by a dry, almost raspy patchouli which cunningly takes the fragrance from fruity-floral to the classic chypre (cheekbone-) structure. It has been done so elegantly, it feels timeless rather than vintage.

The two are by no means identical, but with HC Que Sais-Je, I both smell the idea from the old and recognise the reason for the change. I might still slightly prefer the honey drenched cake of the old version for its stangeness if nothing else, but even a perfumista can’t live on cake alone and some days you might just prefer the lighter touch as well as its stylish elegance.


Review based on my own flacon and a sample I bought by FiF. Pictures mine.


22 thoughts on “Last But Not Least- Jean Patou 1980s Que Sais-Je VS 2015 Que Sais-Je

  1. Wow that original really does sound sweet. As delicious as it *sounds* I’m not the best with sweet perfumes, so maybe the new one would be a better fit for me. Thanks for highlighting these – and lovely artwork as usual. 🙂

    • Hi Sun Mi, well usually sweet isn’t me either, but honey for me is slightly different due to its animalic subtext. This is sweet more like Botrytis Ginistet, Hedonist or Mamluk, not that I’m comparing those with QSJ. It never becomes anything like Miel du Bois though, which I know is a real challenge for many. However, I do think the new version caters perfectly to modern tastes, but with style and elegance.

      • Perhaps I could handle the modern but in general honey is a killer for me. I *love* consuming honey, but for some reason in perfumes I find it often becomes nauseating. I had to scrub Hedonist off very quickly, though as my tastes expand I’ll try the sample again. Sadanne was another that I couldn’t handle. 🙁 But they sound lovely, even if my reality isn’t so. 🙂

        • I understand, honey is rather overwhelming as a note. I love honey in all shapes, but I too can only take it in small doses when it comes to perfume. I own and love Miel du Bois, but must admit that I never rarely wear it, and keep it mostly just to smell from the bottle and occasionally dab it. I’ve not tried Sådanne, the name should sort of speak to me, as it’s my language, or at least an attempt at it 🙂

  2. They keep on sounding very interesting although THE older version might be too sweet. Would love to try them !

    Lovely paintings from THE bottles, are those mini bottles ?

    • Well after you asked about QSJ, I realised you had made me think so much about it, that I might as well put it down in words 🙂 so thank you for that. I am looking forward to what your own thoughts are on the subject of the heritage collection.
      Thanks for the compliment, those are the ‘real’ sized bottles in the pictures. QSJ, is one of those that I couldn’t find in FB, and perhaps didn’t get out of my way/ budget to get. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because a little goes a long way.

  3. Que Sais-Je sounds amazing! Clearly rich in natural sweetness but I suppose, judging from ‘leather moss’ and ‘animalic’, gorgeously earthy, too?

    • Hi Nutmeg Lady, yes, I think you nailed it, although to clarify I would say that those two sides are not equal. In the beginning they fight a battle of dominance (for an hour perhaps longer), which in the end the honey wins. The new version of course is slightly different and funnily has a more classic structure.

  4. Your English really is fantastic. Lovely use of the word “buxom”.

    Thoroughly enjoyed your tale of the curvy, sweet vintage compared to the chiselled cheekbones of the modern version. Sounds like they both have something to offer and it’s quite true that even perfumistas can’t live on cake alone. Brilliant 🙂

    • Aw, blushing here, thank you Tara! I do so wonder how you would like these… psst, no we need a cup of tea/coffee with it 😉

  5. Great review! I don’t think you need to worry about boring anyone, Asali. 😉
    The modern version sounds really nice but I’m more curious about the original. I don’t normally enjoy sweet scents to wear but this just sounds so yummy. Also I’m intrigued by the naughty honey. 😉

    • Thank you Magpie, aw another lovely compliment 🙂 I promise I wasn’t fishing for it, but was seriously worried people would think I can do nothing else.
      The honey is really naughty, you know, not at all the pissoir-note that some get with honey, but rather a little bee-orgie 😉 And it is such a weird one. I mean to begin with it feels rather easy to understand; sweet, peach, honey, and ok some darkness, But the more you wear it and think of it, the more you realise what an odd combination that is, and how deep the honey is too. It makes most other honey based fragrances seem one-dimentional.

  6. I’ve been finding these comparative reviews fascinating, Asali. I’ve always been interested in seeing the way artists re-make (or do “cover” versions) of original works, particularly in music and film, and I think that tendency makes me more open to the idea of reformulation of perfumes than perhaps a lot of perfumistas are. Of course, it does need to be a reformulation that captures the soul of the original work, and it does sound like Monsieur Fontaine did achieve that with Que Sais-Je and Colony.

    What intrigues me about your description of the original Que Sais-Je is the hazelnut note. I’d love to smell that, even though the sweet, sweet, sweet nature of the perfume sounds a bit scary. (But then, I like Mamluk and Hedonist, so probably it isn’t too sweet for me). 😀

    • I’m so glad you have Suzanne, and what an interesting point with remakes in general. I think the main problem is when people do remakes they tend to nearly always take the classics, whereas the remakes of films/music of less iconic status perhaps have higher success rates in terms of originality? Just a thought… My brain draws a blank at examples right now unfortunately 🙂

      I wish now I had a bottle of QSJ since I should like to share with all those of you finding it interesting. I did think with your love of both Hedonist and Mamluk, if anyone can handle this one it would be you.

  7. That’s a good description of the old Que Sais Je. It smelled like a Bellini and a slice of halzelnut torta to me. In short a combination of a Pasticerria and a very good cocktail bar.
    You make me want to try this new one, of all the Ma Collection series it was Que Sais Je? and Moment Supreme that I really loved and this may be something to try. Hard to find them in the States though. 🙁

    • Thank you Blacknall, I’m happy you think so, and glad to see you agree on the sweetness front. I remember reading about it (ages ago) and how there were great descriptions but nothing that prepared me for that.
      I’m not sure that you will find the new version a substitute for your old, but I do think you should try it, and would love to know your thoughts, since it’s such a love for you. We don’t have a lot of niche perfumery here, so I ordered samples from Germany: first in fragrance and Essenza Nobile.
      Moment Supreme, sigh, still looking for a bottle, it’s gorgeous stuff.

  8. Have tried the 80s version again here – I had a bunch of minis at one time, I am not sure how come. This was a bit thick and cloying for me – yes, a sort of boozy peach. I like your comparison of it to a pastry shop crossed with a cocktail bar. 😉 I can only conclude that the honey was up to its tricks on me. I think your analogy to Botrytis is spot on, though weirdly I rather like that one. Possibly because I enjoyed Alyssa’s book so much! I think in general you have more of an affinity with vintage styles of scent, so though this isn’t my style, I can savour your gourmand review!

    Hmm, where these throwback Patous are concerned, never was a truer word (or several) said than ‘Que sais-je?’ ;0

    • I didn’t read Alyssa’s book and Botrytis was just waaay too much for me, whereas funnily Mamluk was good. You never can tell, it’s always just the tiniest things that make all the difference…
      About vintages in general; I’ve always loved mysteries, and getting to the bottom of certain vintage houses/ perfumes are like solving little puzzles when digging out information. Also, if I want a great surprise at a price which isn’t above 200£ the best way is usually to take the chance on an obscure vintage bottle 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, my perfume cubboard has indefinitely more contemporaries than vintages, but I suppose I like vintage perfumes more than the avenrage ‘perfumista’, you’re right at that 🙂

  9. Sorry, the pasty shop comment I referenced was Blacknall’s – eyesight fail!

    • Pastry! Pasty would be an altogether more bizarre combo. 😉 What am I like today!?!

      • hehe, perhaps Tasty, pasty Friday pastry for Frida???

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