In Search Of The Perfect Perfume
With two Royal Warrants and 135 years at the forefront of fine fragrance development, Penhaligon’s could be said to know a thing or two about perfumes. Reena Patel popped into its Burlington Arcade store to find out.
Finding your favourite fra-grance should always be personal. Not only should it reflect your character and style, but the best ones will take you on an olfactory journey and have lasting power to suit the occasion – be it for daily wear, nights out, the weather and season, or a special event.
So I was intrigued by the prospect of an exclusive profiling session with Penhaligon’s, the distinguished English heritage fragrance house dedicated to creating scented stories – at its flagship boutique in London’s historic Burlington Arcade.
Founded in 1870 by William Penhalig-on and now suitably armoured with two Royal Warrants, each and every creation explores facets of high perfumery, challenging the traditions of art and seeking new ways to interpret elegance.
Even today, all of the blends are manufactured in England using the finest rare ingredients, resulting in evocative scents that have stood the test of time – from the original Hammam Bouquet, designed in 1872 and inspired by the smell of the Turkish baths next to its first boutique on Jermyn Street, to newer entries that continue to tell us remarkable stories, rich in history and tradition.
In the citrus-fresh family, the unisex Quercus was developed in 1996 and its invigorating bath and body items can be found in the suites of many of the world’s top hotels.
Hurrying past Laduree and a row of vintage jewellers, I arrived at the boutique to be spiralled up a steep carpeted staircase to enter the small but perfectly formed Velvet Room where my profiling experience began.
The fragrance expert asked a series of questions to pinpoint my scent preferences against my persona and lifestyle.Going with my gut instincts rather than brooding over my responses, I threw out pink as my favourite colour, The Maldives as my ultimate holiday destination, and silk as my ideal fabric.
Going with my gut instincts rather than brooding over my responses, I threw out pink as my favourite colour, The Maldives as my ultimate holiday destination, and silk as my ideal fabric.
The extensive scent collection (there are more than 40) was whittled down to just five. Each was spritzed on to tester sticks before unveiling the backdrop behind each one.
I was invited to try my top three on myself, since scent can alter once it warms to your skin.
I fell for Artemisia – a silky symphony of green apple, nectarine and lily of the valley – and Empressa, a tribute to the fine silk and pearl trade routes with bright pink pepper, succulent blood orange, dewberry and peach, cocoa and warming patchouli and sandalwood.
However, my chosen one was Ellenisia, a delicate and extravagant floral bouquet wrapped in swathes of sweet plum and vanilla.
With a pretty ingredient mix of violet leaf, rose and mandarin zest, I instantly knew this was my kind of nectar.
I was enthralled to hear the story of Vaara, the passion of His Highness Gaj Singh II who wanted to reflect his family’s deep love and connection with Jodhpur. With top notes of quince, rosewater, carrot and coriander seeds and saffron, followed by a floral heart of roses, peonies and freesia and a creamy, woody base of honey, musk, cedarwood and Tonka bean, it’s fit for a Maharajah and sits in my top five.
Fans of oud and lavish dry-downs will love the mysterious and heady Halfeti, which draws inspiration from the goods traded with Turkey: exotic florals, spices, soft leathers and precious fabrics.
The newest treasures in Penhaligon’s collection are Endymion Concentre (a semi-oriental for men) and Luna (a new fresh floral), both of which are inspired by a mythical Greek love story about Endymion, the son of Zeus, who was placed into a perpetual slumber by the Goddess of the Moon, Luna, so that she could gaze upon him forever.
Endymion slept for all eternity, his smile everlasting, where he spent his life dreaming that he held the Moon gently in his arms.
If you’re searching for THE fragrance for you, this hour-long nostalgic adven-ture through the evocative moments of romance, history and travel will be truly well spent.
For more information, visit www.penhaligons.com