Penhaligon's: The beautiful world of fragrances

Penhaligon's: The beautiful world of fragrances

One word: Penhaligon's.

To be honest, I have been using perfume most of my adult life. But I never knew it was something so magical for me until now. I used to use cheap perfumes that costed $10 (nothing wrong with that and I'm not ashamed of it), but for me now the sensory experiential scent journey is also something I look out for in a fragrance bottle.

I never knew perfumes had notes. I thought only music had it. I used to waste perfume by spraying it all over my body, or stupidly under my armpits, or spray it in the air and walk right through it.

I used to see perfumes as just a method of courtesy to society, especially when living in such a hot and humid country such as Singapore (we perspire, hello, like alot).

Only after I got invited to an event by Penhaligon's, that it opened the door to the olfactory world, leading me into the various magical journeys of scents I never knew before. After I discovered that fragrances were so much more than just that, I began to research on scents and learn more about its notes, its composition, its ingredients and more.

So here I am today, new in the journey but have no plans of stopping. Hunting down and always on the lookout for the next best scent now.

Honestly, I don't like to label perfumes as 'men' or 'women' fragrances. I'm someone who also uses men's cologne when I like it, so to me it's basically unisex especially since fragrances are very subjective, just like beauty is!

But I get it, 'women' fragrances are typically one considered to have more floral notes, whereas  'male' fragrances tend to be abit more woody, spicy or leathery. Honestly, I love woody and leathery notes, so 'man' me up right there. I realise also have a secret admiration for incense-like scents: such as myrrh, frankincense, sandalwood - as opposed to floral or citrus scents, which are widely popular in mass market perfumes.

Male perfumes have more woody, spicy, leathery notes. They may even contain harsher notes, like peppers. Female perfumes have many more floral notes. They can be sweeter, lighter, and tend to not last as long.

After the event, I went back to Penhaligon's a couple of times (I visited the MBS branch, ION Orchard branch and their newest: Raffles City Shopping Centre branch). Each time (at various branches), they had extremely knowledgeable staff who would tell the origin and story behind each perfume. And you know what, the story is always interesting to listen to. From them, I learned good tips and advice to enhance my olfactory journey!

Awesome folks stationed in various branches, such as Ivan, Rhys, Sapphire, and a few others which I didn't manage to get their names. They were so detailed and professional, knowing exactly which blotter belonged to which scent even though I messed all of those blotters up. The perfumes here have been pre-sprayed (usually at 10am each morning) and usually by the time I get there, those blotters have been soaked for about 6 to 8 hours and still going strong. Of course, if you want to spray any of the scents to taste the top notes, you can do so on a fresh blotter as well.

With more than 60 perfumes available, you won't be able to test smell every one in one day. What I also like about their perfumes are that it's not mainstream at all, each fragrance has its unique characteristics and classiness, ranging from chypre (earthy types), citrus, floral, fougere (the blend of fragrances), oriental and woody concoctions.

Well, I should perhaps give you an idea of their heritage story since I am an absolute lover of their very first scent: Hammam Bouquet.

Penhaligon's founder and a Cornish barber, William Penhaligon, came up with this scent about 147 years ago when he arrived in London.  He was inspired by the scent coming from the neighbouring turkish baths, and at that time, only the affluent people could afford going to baths like these. Hence, he created the scent for mass production and it was a hit since.

Back to Hammam Bouquet Eau De Toilette (SGD$215, 100ml), not many will appreciate this scent of character. Neither will many perfume brands still keep to the same formula for its very first scent, not even Chanel No. 5 nowadays, which is more 'watered down' to suit the masses, who takes regular showers everyday. But Hammam Bouquet is not an easy scent to carry off. It's not feminine at all, but it's extremely charismatic and I can understand why this winning scent has been kept since it's been created in 1872 and still going strong. This is a bold, very bold, sensual and sexy scent for me. Top notes are lavender and bergamot, middle notes are Rose Otto, Cedarwood, Orris And Jasmine, with the base notes as Amber, Musk And Sandalwood.

Penhaligon's perfumes are well-loved by many royal families around the world, some of which were specially created for some royal family figures, some of which those scents (with permission) are also available for purchase in-stores today.

I love them so much because quality perfume does smell very different from mass market ones. The scents are well defined! One of the most interesting collection they have is called 'Portraits'. These Eau de Parfums go for an approx SGD$420 each at 75ml per bottle.

I succumbed and bought myself The Coveted Duchess Rose Eau de Parfum (SGD$420, 75ml) as a birthday gift! Pricey but definitely worth it, as the crisp, translucent fragrance of bulgarian rose settles in my senses, not just any rose, but the most expensive, deep, intoxicating and aromatic rose. A slightly naughty scent, well reflecting of the backstory behind Duchess Rose.

From this collection, I also am attracted to the The Tragedy of Lord George Eau de Parfum (the father of Duchess Rose), which to me, is not much of a tragedy to me but an ultimate delight!

They've also recently launched 2 new fragrances in 'Portraits', making it a total of 15 unique character perfumes within the collection, known as Terrible Teddy and Heartless Helen.

One of my absolute favourites: Agarbathi Eau de Parfum (SGD$360, 100ml). With frankincense and myrrh as the main characters, this is the scent of sweet smelling worship. In fact, one of the most well-known parts of the Jesus' birth story is the account of wise men bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This perfume is one of the most alluring, sensual, absolutely exotic and warm smelling scents with smoky notes. Top notes are Bergamot, Palo Santo Essence,Pink Pepper, middle notes are Incense & Olibanum Essences, Milk Accord, Sambac Jasmine Absolute, base notes are Vetiver Essence, Sandalwood, Suede, Fir Balsam Absolute.

I've introduced another scent, the Bluebell Eau de Toilette (SGD$215, 100ml) to my best friend, who loves floral scents. This scent is also loved by the late Princess Diana and also Britain's Iron Lady, the late Margaret Thatcher. No wonder, this scent is loved by many strong women, with a soft and delicate side - just like my best friend :) But Bluebell is an acquired scent for some, and it's a scent that got me intrigued. After the top notes wear off, I sense a lasting, dreamy breeze of pure fantasy in a lush greenland. A magical, beautiful and haunting scent which makes you look forward to its base notes which will fully arrive after 8 hours. Top notes are citruses; middle notes are hyacinth, rose, jasmine, cyclamen and lily-of-the-valley; base notes are galbanum, cloves and cinnamon.

I shan't go any further, it's impossible to describe every one of their perfumes.

In addition to those I've listed above, some other notable Penhaligon's scents that I am attracted to include:
  • Halfeti (SGD$360, 100ml)
  • Cairo (SGD$366, 100ml)
  • Empressa (SGD$366, 100ml)
  • Roaring Radcliff (SGD$420, 75ml)
  • Lily of the Valley (SGD$210.80, 100ml)
  • Oud de Nil (SGD$250, 100ml)
  • Juniper Sling (price unavailable, 100ml)

If you've any other unique fragrances to share, drop me a note at jankliciouzplays@gmail.com!

Penhaligon's website: https://global.penhaligons.com/us/

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