You would know that I’ve had long term affair with fragrances. I love scents because they give you an aura nothing else can create and the scent of something always brings me back to a memory of a moment in time that was sad or happy, but nonetheless unforgettable. In fact, I always find myself crawling to the perfumery during exams to get a whiff and perhaps bring back a new purchase. So, when I was invited by Penhaligon’s to sample smell some of their new perfumes, I gladly accepted their invitation.
Last night, I was invited by Penhaligon’s to attend an intimate and exclusive gathering to have a sniff of some of their famous perfumes. If you haven’t heard of Penhaligon’s, Penhaligon’s has been around since the 1870s in London and was created by William Penhaligon, a man with a flair for scents, who didn’t believe in labs but the elements of his environment to create an aroma that spoke British above all else. Penhaligon’s has had clients like the Royal family and current celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Madonna and Kate Moss among others. Manola Blahnik is a fan as well. William Penhaligion created his first fragrance, Hammam Bouquet, and didn’t sit down to mix fragrances together but arrived at his neighboring Turkish Baths to take in the steam and sulphrous aromas to create this scent. Penhaligon’s has always believed that “Inspiration comes at the strangest moments and places: a magical moment, a stolen view, an idea crystallised.”
My sister who lives in London knows of the Penhaligon’s stores and I have seen quite a few bottles available in Melbourne but they are also available at Esscentuals in Paragon and Tangs. The exciting thing is, is that Penhaligon’s is opening up their own store in Singapore at ION in Mid August, which is wonderful because patrons of the store will be able to receive the Penhaligon’s service. This won’t be an ordinary perfume store in which you’ll only be able to come in and do your own thing. You’ll be able to sit down with an assistant who will ask you about your daily activities, what kind of scents you adore and then come up with a good match just for you. The relationships and service quality that Penhaligon’s sales assistants have with their customers are said to be impeccable and friendly.
After arriving early and sampling the perfumes with Sarah, CEO of Penhaligon’s and Michael-Brendan Ng, Marketing Assistant in Singapore, I have to say that it is quite rare for me to like each and every scent, but I did. Usually, for me a series of perfumes is like a music album. Usually, I like one or two songs and leave the rest unplayed. As I was sampling the perfumes, I really found that each bottle was very unique from the last and that each scent evolved. I absolutely love it when perfumes can evolve, change and smell differently with each sniff. It’s that kind of scent that permeates into you and brings up memories and moments of romanticism. Elizabethan Rose for example sparkles when you smell the scent, almost like bubbly champagne. I know that sounds impossible but it really does!
Satorial, one of the new men’s fragrances which are popular on the Princes’ dressers, works around the idea of a Tailor and the Tailor’s workshop. You’re first greeted with a metal note (the scissors, machinery) that settles into a more leather woody and subtle men’s fragrance that’s absolutely wonderful. I wouldn’t mind if my man smelled like that one day. I was very pleased with all the fragrances that they have to offer and although I will be in Melbourne when they launch come August, I urge you all to go take a good whiff. You’ll see exactly what I mean.
The event was intimate and classic. Penhaligons wanted to take the perfume sampling to the next level so we arrived at Bar Stories which is a Bar in Singapore on Haji Lane known for custom cocktails. They took some of the fragrances as inspirations and created cocktails for us to sample that would complement nicely with the scents we were smelling. The cocktails were great and really did go well with the perfumes.
I’m really not much of a drinker myself though so I took small sips of the drinks instead. I always go an unflattering red! I loved the cocktail created for the Artemesia fragrance. It had vanilla ice cream mixed into the drink that created a very buttery and soft texture. I happen to really like comforting scents, especially during the winter. In fact, I spray my scarf before I leave the house and wrap it around myself and I do confess, I bring up my scarf quite often to my nose and take a deep whiff. Heaven on earth, indeed.
Mike and Sarah were great hosts and were able to tell the stories of Penhaligon’s and the perfumes so well! I loved learning more about the brand through their stories.
And although I had already eaten dinner beforehand, the leather jackets, seared tuna, among other treats were nice side dishes to the cocktails.
With much appreciation towards Penhaligons, I did receive a token of their appreciation for coming and here they are. Two wonderful Penhaligon fragrances and one of their signature candles.
1. Amarnthine Eau De Parfum
Amarnthine Eau De Parfum – “Created in 2009, Amaranthine is a corrupted floral oriental for those private moments when everything is anticipation. It opens with a dramatic flourish of spices and tropical green. This unsettling lick of drama is beautifully ambushed by an unctuous accord of jasmine and ylang-ylang, a heady bloom renowned for its aphrodisiac properties, and clove swathed in spices, tea, musk and the rounded beauty of tonka bean absolute.”
Head Notes (what first hits you, the initial impression of the perfume): Green Tea, White Fresia, Cardamon Absolute, Banana tree leaf
Heart Notes (the body of the fragrance): Rose, Carnation, Clove oil, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang oil, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute
Base Notes (bring depth and solidity to the scent, usually rich and deep) : Musk, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Condensed Milk, Tonka Bean Absolute
I’m wearing it right now and it makes me just want to twirl around sniffing the air. It’s amazing how these scents can evolve and sort of linger but lift your mood with the exact notes that you need to get that specific reaction. That reaction that makes you want to close your eyes and imagine for a moment, letting the scent take you back where it was first concoted and created. Armanthine smells so comforting, with subtle woody notes, a bit of sandlewood and bit of floral sweetness and spice that it literally tingles and makes you pop a smile. It’s as if you’re floating surrounded by this aroma that’s indescribable because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever worn. Funny how only a small bottle can make you feel so special.
2. Gardenia Eau De Toilette
“A soliflore, originally created in 1976, Gardenia is a translucent watercolour in soft washes of tuberose, jasmine, gardenia, ylang-ylang, spice and vanilla. A radiant magnolia-tinted portrait of one of nature’s most sensual blooms. Gardenia was originally created in 1976 and has been resurrected as part of our 2009 Anthology Collection.”
Head Notes (what first hits you, the initial impression of the perfume): Violet, Rhubarb, Bergamont, Hyancinth, Magnolia, Green Leaves
Heart Notes (the body of the fragrance): Gardenia, Rose, Ylang, Orange Blossom, Tuberose, Clove, Lily of the Valley
Base Notes (bring depth and solidity to the scent, usually rich and deep): Benzoin, Sandalwood, Musk and Vanilla
When Sarah asked me which one I liked the best, I had to say Gardenia was one of the most beautiful scents I had ever met and she popped it in the bag for me! I’m an absolute fool for comforting, floral scents and this is the epitome of that. All these scents seem to float in, float out and almost lift you up into the air and if there was any fragrance that did that well, Gardenia did. As described, it’s almost buttery smooth, rich but not too heavy. The flowers of the scent just permeate and float. It’s hard to describe and I guess that is what makes it great. A complex scent is always hard to put your finger on.
The Anthology perfumes are semi seperated from the rest because it means that the perfume has been “resurrected” from the past. This one in particular was created in 1976 but has been brought up again from the dusty archives of William Penhaligon’s old perfume recipies to be available to the present public. I absolutely love the boxes of these fragrances. There’s a white ribbon tab which you pull and the box almost unravels to open by itself.
3. Elixir Classic Candle
The Elixir scent reminds me of hot spices, very woody, very exotic smelling. In fact, it’s sort of reminiscent of insense sticks burning in a Arabic tent and seems like the perfect scent to light during the winter months because it’s such a headstrong and rich fragrance. With Green Eucalyptus, Turkish Rose, Vanilla, Incense and Sandalwood, it sure is quite a mysterious fragrance.
I just wanted to thank Penhaligons for such a lovely evening. Learning about your brand is just about enough for me. I cannot wait to patron your store. I hope you had as much fun reading about Penhaligons as I did writing about them.
Until next time!