Scent, to me, has always had an emotive power. Triggering memories, both good and bad, of people, places and things. Opening door to places I once was, individuals I know or moments that are impossible to erase.
Given the chance to get my scent profiled at the luxurious Penhaligon’s boutique was like unleashing a little girl in a pink store. Not too far off, the boutique is of a deep maroon tone, with gold trimmings, and bottles that line the plush, cushioned walls, all dolled up with pretty velvet ribbons that wrap around their necks.
The Penhaligon’s boutique at ION.
Sitting down with my “profiler”, or as I like to call him, the “scent-master”, Michael’s passion for all things Penhaligon’s is astounding. His knowledge went beyond the textbook training and I was pleasantly surprised and enchanted by the stories that went behind each fragrance.
Founded by William Henry Penhaligon, a barber born in Penzance, in the late 1860s, the brand has become synonymous with the Royal Family, earning the company the royal “Seal of Approval”. It’s first fragrance, Hammam Bouquet, was created in 1872, when William inhaled the steam and sulphurous aromas that rose from the Turkish Baths next to his shop in London.
There’s very little information about Penhaligon,
apart from the fact that he started out as a barber.
Although, after some in-depth research, I found that there were a few other fragrances before then; Eau de Verveine, Eau sans Pareil, Esprit de Lavende, Espirt de Roi and Extrait of Limes, all created in 1870, and relaunched at later dates in the 20th century. Since then, Penhaligon’s has grown to manufacture, all still in England, a range of 34 intoxicating scents.
After sampling about 8 fragrances (while sipping water in between as it helps to reset your brain to accommodatee new aromas), we finally locked down two scents; Quercus Cologne and LP No. 9. The first, I liked. It was not overly sweet, but feminine enough. Named after the Latin word for the British Oak, Quercus is a modern and invigorating cologne, with light bursts of Basil and citrus, enjoyed by both men and women. To my nose, it was regular. Not something that I imagined would leave an impression on my skin, or anyone that smelt it.
Created in 1996, the nose behind this is Christian Provenzano.
The second choice was quite the opposite. Also an androgynous scent, LP No. 9 for Ladies is musky, spicy and floral all at once. This scent is INCREDIBLE. At first sniff, you’ll get hints of lavender, bergamot, amalfi lemon, tarragon and geranium. After a while, the middle notes of carnation, jasmine and rose come through. And as it starts to wear down, musk, patchouli, Virginia cedar, amber, cinnamon and vanilla remain. What a combination! And of course, it had to be the only scent that was coloured a deep pink.
Born in 1998, Christian Provenzano created a fragrance
that is gorgeously soft and romantic, strange and beguiling.
The story that Michael had behind this fragrance had elements of a stroll through a market place, herb vendors and florists. I won’t even attempt to tell it like he does. You’ll just have to discover the full tale from him. And I won’t be surprised if the stories vary a little with each visit. But what an adventure he’ll take you on!
LP No. 9 is bold, sensual, feminine (yet masculine), confident and completely independent. Sounds a lot like me. It’s a fragrance that will linger long after I’m gone.
And so I found MY scent. The scent which I hope will become synonymous with me. The scent which I hope will trigger memories of me, when you get a whiff.
Whatever scent you end up with at Penhaligon’s, you can rest assure it’ll make you feel like, for want of a better term, a million dollars.
The experience alone will create memories that will be etched in your mind for a while. And in a world where good, let alone amazing, service is hard to come by, the incredibly well-trained staff at Penhaligon’s will have you walking out with a smile on your face, and a lovely pale green paper bag on your arm.
Love, light, and a little Love Potion No. 9 ….