Category Archives: Penhaligon’s

Penhaligon’s – Peoneve & Annick Goutal – Nuit Etoilee

Well I’ve been off the scene for a while but decided to return :P
Two fragrances I picked up very cheaply over the December Sales period were these two. Both of them I bought on yellow-label clearance at TK Maxx (TJ Maxx) – for £20 each… bargain! Nuit Etoilee was a blind buy – although I had read about it before, and Peoneve I had tried just once, but my heart at that point was set on Amaranthine and nothing could top it.
I had been craving a “cologne” recently, as a citrus fragrance was something totally lacking in my collection… for a small price, I knew Nuit Etoilee would fill the spot… and as for Peoneve? Well, come on… that kind of thing is totally “me”.
Peoneve Penhaligons

Peoneve’s sharp alcoholic blast gives in to a huge rose/peony bouquet (with a touch of green violet leaf)… in honesty – without the Peony being a big give in the title, I wouldn’t have clocked. To me, they smell very similar to certain varieties of roses, maybe a combination of a few… a little cleaner, a citrus acidity, a slightly sharp greenery and the occasional bit of honey… all aspects which can come from a great rose mix. But there we go, I will continue to refer to it as rose/peony!

As I said, this huge floral up top is squeaky clean, but don’t read that as soapy! It’s pink in colour (but not cotton candy or sweet) – in fact, it’s quite bitter, smelling as natural as it can get despite the high-pitched intensity of the initial blast. It is a concentrated pink rose scent, with a subtle hint of dew, and crushed green leaves, a bit of lemon and citrus notes up top, a cool geranium – pretty glorious. This is the kind of rose I fell in love with upon trying April Aromatic’s Rosenlust – a handful of roses that don’t smell like a perfume, but instead smell like the flowers themselves. It’s a gorgeous thing to smell of! Peoneve however is a little more “perfume-y”, although I definitely wouldn’t call it dated, despite how classical, prim and proper it is. Yes it sounds cliche coming form the house of Penhaligon’s, and I admit, that is generally NOT my sort of thing. With roses however? I can make an exception. I like how old-school dainty it feels.

Peoneve is pretty loud for the first couple of hours, retreating over time into something much more restrained but long-lasting. I’ve read over and over about a “sweaty vetiver” in the base. I get the vetiver, but it’s a subtle earthy accord to continue the feel of the flower>>earth structure, I don’t consider it sweaty, or skanky, or dirty in the least. In fact, it’s very quiet on my skin, vetiver needs to be screaming in my face for me to notice or pay attention to it (which is why I haven’t yet found MY vetiver – well, I have… Turtle Vetiver Front… but it’s no longer available, ARGH!). Still, the drydown is nice, it turns just a smidge musky, a hint of smoke, but keeps the freshness throughout. I find that the rose, with the sharp whatever-chemicals up top, and the vetiver – create an almost gasoline-type note in the drydown. It’s the petrol accord that I often find in roses, sometimes amplified by rose oxide (Keiko Mecheri’s Damascena being the prime example)… and I love that of course. The whole composition however does the same thing that Un Matin D’Orage by Annick Goutal does for me – keep me feeling fresh and floral all day, which is MY preferred version of a cologne. Who needs citrus and herbs?! Recommended.

Nuit Etoilee

Nuit Etoilee opens with sweet lemon, mint and pine all at once. The lemon isn’t bitter, or even acidic… it’s fresh, with a subtle creamy quality thankfully JUST steering it away from “cleaning-product lemon”. The mint is more subtle on my skin than I hear a lot of people say… again, it feels sweetened, like a candied peppermint. Overall? It smells like a cocktail up top, like a non-alcoholic citrus heavy mojito. Bad description I know, that drink would suck – but you get the idea… brown sugar and all.

The pine? Now I love the pine in this. The reason being – it’s not paired with a bucket load of incense to portray the tired “forest at night” smell… OK, Nuit Etoilee IS trying to portray the forest at night smell, but they get it pretty wrong. So yes, no incense here… instead the pine contrasts with the mint, to create a more mentholated, jammy smell. I love that sticky pine needle smell, at times – again, I find the note overused and tiresome, or maybe it just gets boring very quickly… still, here I don’t get that, because it’s thrown into a more “cologne” setting and it works.

Underneath all this is a tonka/vanilla kinda base. A sweet, slightly toasted smell, some say marshmallow? I say great imagination… or marketing? It’s the think sweetening everything from the start, but not in a sickly candied way… just the way that a good nutty-ish tonka does, you know? It’s soft however, with little through. It stays close to the skin, totally inoffensive and easy to wear – and you’re right, it sounds like a total snoozefest. BUT, it’s totally unlike anything I have in my collection, not something I’ll reach for a ton, but when the time is right I know it’ll be there and I’ve used it a fair bit already ;) Not every day my stomach can handle a powerhouse masterpiece, simplicity is needed sometimes. Do I recommend it? Nah not really, but it’s nice enough – and whilst £20 for 100ml is a steal, I wouldn’t pay any more for it.

Peoneve 100ml EDP Penhaligons – £120
Nuit Etoilee 100ml EDT Annick Goutal – 93 Euros

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Amaranthine – Penhaligon’s

I bought a bottle of Amaranthine of eBay recently for an absolute steal! I couldn’t turn it down.
I had tried this once on paper and remember distinctly a bizarre banana-ry ylang vibe that was intriguing, but I was put off by the brand entirely. However, I’d always thought on and off about Amaranthine reminding myself I need to sample it properly… well… now I have a bottle :) Here’s what I make of it…


Amaranthine opens with pink pepper, a touch of citrus, a spiky and slightly abrasive clove note along with pungent banana leaf. The banana leaf smells soiled – slightly rotten as it always does (on the rare occasions I’ve smelt banana in a perfume that is…). It’s banana-ry, and green, smelling a touch like a dustbin, but is quickly almost overpowered by a soft floral (freesia mainly). I don’t really get along with freesia in a fragrance, but it’s paired with an interesting combination of notes – smelling quaint and a little old fashioned, partnered with this abstract tropical vibe. The listed green tea and cardamom give off a merely aquatic, herbaceous vibe – not at all what I imagined – slightly overwhelmed by the other unusual notes in the opening.

A touch of ylang and carnation join in, along with a little indolic jasmine and rose – the florals smell dated, but again – the clove and banana make the floral accord abstract and a little unsettling.
The clove spice settles a touch, and is joined with cumin – not overpowering, but definitely there – which again, get’s even more unsettling as the fragrance begins to turn heavily lactonic.

OK so I keep describing it as unsettling… the thing is – Amaranthine verges on repulsive for me, whilst being light on the skin and when listed on paper (in structure) – should be an easy wear. Basically it goes through a rough patch in its heart – smelling a little rotted, a little sour, and very old-school “flower-y”. The pink pepper I hate, so enjoy it more once the spice has settled a touch – which gives in to a more “snappy” greenery that smells both crisp, and sappy… does this make any sense?

The lactonic accord gets stronger in the drydown until it almost dominates. Vanilla sweetens the fragrance underneath along with the softest of woods and a touch of veitver. Listed is a “condensed milk” accord, and it adds a creamy, sourness to the sweeter vanilla – the florals getting more and more lactonic and unidentifiable as it goes on. The banana leaf sticks around longer than expected, but in no time at all, Amaranthine is a skin scent – a milk-y vanilla with just a touch of skin-like spice and a cleaner floral. It sounds pretty rancid I know… it is, but it’s enjoyable to wear and in time, I do find it easy. It’s interesting for sure, and it’s subtlety both lets it down, and thankfully enhances it by making it easier for me to enjoy. It clings to the skin in the late drydown as a milky skin scent with little throw – perfect for hot days when I don’t want anything too overpowering, but still a challenge for me to wear – happy to have it in the collection! – I say that through a gritted smile.

Amaranthine 100ml EDP Penhaligon’s – £105

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More (Unsuccessful) London Shopping… Part 2

Part 1…

So, as I said, off to Ormonde Jayne. I have been reading into this brand quite a lot recently – I’ve heard wonderful things and some of the fragrances sound wonderful. My recent cravings have been tropical florals – so on walking into the absolutely beautiful boutique, I asked the lady for:

Frangipani. It opens with a strong lime on paper (I didn’t try this one on skin), and it took the length of my stay before I managed to detect the sweet, almost peachy floral, delicately plush – very pretty, but much more lime than I expected. I still haven’t lost hope, I think this would be wonderful in the summer and I’ll be sure to try it again properly.

Having recently fallen head of heels for gardenia notes, I eagerly tried Tiare which opened with a similar, sweet and tart lime note. Unfortunately, the tiare gardenia in the heart was very unrecognizable to me, it didn’t have that dense creamy, slightly soiled scent of a beautiful gardenia. Instead the flower was almost translucent, and almost powdered. I liked the scent, but it wasn’t what I wanted – and I tried this fragrance twice on skin in the one day because I SO wanted to love it.

The biggest suprise came from a rose which I didn’t initially plan on trying:

Ta’if has the most exquisite opening. The best rose note I have ever smelt is paired with a kick of pepper, spicy almost like frankincense. Whilst it sounds unoriginal, there is something utterly divine about it. However, on skin, within half an hour, a strange bitter tea leaf note with a papery texture became uncomfortable, and took away the richness of the opening for me. I will try it again though – as on initial sniff I instantly thought it was something very special. One of the best things I had sniffed so far…

I left Ormonde Jayne as having tried the 3 I came to try (along with a very brief sniff of some others in the line), my nose was getting a little tired so I needed some fresh air and a beer!

So after all that, I made my way to Selfridges (I figured I’d save Harrods until last as there was bound to be something I would buy there if I hadn’t found anything anywhere else!). You’re probably not but I’ll say it anyway: You may be wondering where the usual must-stop trip to Les Senteurs is? Well, I decided to be a little adventurous and not visit this time as I really wanted to discover something new for myself.
So anyway…

At Selfridges the first stop was the Dior counter again. I asked the dolled up sales assistant:
“Which is the fragrance that is strong with immortelle?”
“Yes it’s like, a flower that smells like maple syrup and curry. Someone told me there’s a great immortelle in the Prive line but I can’t remember what it’s called”
“Well… We have Ambre Nuit, which is a spicy fragrance”
“Yeh, no that’s not it. It smells like curry-ish”
“Erm, well Mitzvah is our other spicy scent… and there’s of course Leather Oud”
“Yeh no it’s none of them… Don’t worry I’ll try them”
Three scents later and I of course land on Eau Noire.
“Mmmmm this is it!” I said. She sniffed the strip.
“Oh yeh maple syrup” She gave the strip to the other sales assistant “Yes everyone says this smells like curry” Said the other sales lady…
“Holy shit” I thought.
“Yes, this is a lavender and liqourice” She said.
“………………… and immortelle”. She checked her little book.
“No it says here, just lavender, and maybe it’s the liqourice your smelling”
“Well… its immortelle, trust me :)” I said. She nodded and smiled almost sympathetically as if I was babbling absolute nonsense.
“Well, whatever it is, it is beautiful” She replied. URGH! I left quickly hahaha. This was 1 out of 2 stupid moments I was to encounter.

So anyway, Eau Noire was a lovely immortelle, and more wearable than Sables, I will have to give it a proper wearing some time.

I made my way to Jo Malone as I have always said I wanted to try a couple fragrances from the line.

I gave a quick sniff to Black Vetyver Cafe which was not at all what I expected – a bitter, but subtle coffee over spicy masculine notes with subtle earthy vetiver. I didn’t like it at all. I also tried Pomegranate Noir expecting something really wonderful, yet again, I didn’t enjoy it. Bright and juicy up top, but not with the richness of the pomegranate in Aziyade for example. The top notes didn’t catch me enough to give the heart any time to shine – maybe another time.

From here I headed over to Guerlain, just because here in Selfridges it is a much more relaxed environment to try out the exclusive Guerlain’s (as opposed to Harrods which I will mention later).

I saw the stunning bottles and scanned the titles, instantly picking up the mouth-wateringly named Iris Ganache.

I really enjoyed this iris. It’s powdery and floral, but with a woody, rooty orris aroma, paired with the sweetness of milky, white cocoa. Delicate, very sweet but not cloying, and such an unusual but delicious pairing, with the carroty iris created a savoury contrast with the gourmand notes. The price scared me a bit, but considering the divine bottle and the large volume of fragrance, I think this will be a future buy.

I tried a couple of others, but nothing which caught my attention. The sales assistant came over to hound me a bit so I scurried along (as my day was coming to an end).

Off to the glorious snobbery of Harrods where sales assistants’ nostrils flare at the sight of me, armed with my notebook, a laid back attitude and a bucket load of knowledge to which I will pound them to the ground with :’)

First stop was (weirdly) the Guerlain counter again. I don’t know why I kept ending up here – I’m not even a Guerlain fan. But anyway, those bottles caught my eye again. I noticed they had the iris (which I was again tempted to buy) and then remembered that the bullshit talking sales assistant at Selfridges told me they were the only stockists of that particular scent in London… Deary me…

The over-enthusiastic lady made up like a hag approached me with a huge grin – which I thought was lovely :) – and instantly threw Une Petit Robe Noire under my nose saying
“I use’ to always wear Dee-yoor before I smell dis, it is bee-yowtiful smell, I just splash myself wit it”
“Ok”….”Yeh, red fruit, anis, it’s alright”
“Yes we have it in 50ml – it very popular scent, the price is…”
“No I don’t want that thank you :)”

Running to the other side of the hall, I managed to stumble upon Dior again. This is repetitive I know… I’ll go on to something new soon.
Anyway, I saw New Look 1947. The sales lady told me it was her favourite of the line so I gave it a quick sniff.
“Mmmm, tuberose, and is it gardenia? I think? I’m not sure” She got out her trusty little book.
“It’s ermmm…. Rose, and vanilla” She says.
“…..Annnddddddd tuberose? Surely? It’s a white floral whatever it is?”
“No maybe it’s the vanilla you’re smelling” I wasn’t getting into that again!

Over to Lutens’! – and the super good looking sales guy that served me last time.
There’s the new one gleaming at me from afar… whispering “buyyyyyy meeeeee”

*sniff* “Oh…”
Santal Majascule opens with an almost identical sandalwood opening to Jeux De Peau. But where Jeux De Peau turns into a liquorice/apricot sandalwood, Santal Majascule allows a faint rose to provide some floral fragrance and support, and the cocoa is a mere dusting. It is absolutely nothing original in the Serge Lutens’ line up and I was really disappointed :( I hoped I would love this.

I also gave brief sniffs to Lutens’ that I haven’t paid that much attention to:

Fleurs D’Oranger which I really enjoy, the best orange blossom I had smelt all day – full, rich and indolic, heady and almost tropical – it’s a perfect summer scent.

A La Nuit is a great jasmine, but I struggle with jasmine. I never used to – happily drenching myself in Lust by Lush, an almost rancid jasmine. I wouldn’t want to wear this though.

Bas De Soie I have tried before and enjoyed, but I sprayed a little on my arm, and found it a little more “perfumey” than last time. I remember the last time I tried it I loved the cold, sharp iris with a heavy metallic note cutting through the core. It was cold and calculating and I hoped it would capture me again, but on this hot day, it didn’t quite have the same effect. I’ll have to try it another time – I neeeeeed an iris in my collection.

I also gave a quick sniff to some Annick Goutal’s. I am awaiting Songes in the mail, so I gave that a quick sniff again. Along with Gardenia Passion which although I found it to be mainly tuberose, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will have to explore this further. I would have bought it, but I found it in the same vein as Songes, and as I haven’t worn Songes thoroughly yet, I’m not sure whether I need both.

I also tried Vanille Exquise which added on to my vanilla failings of the day. It turned to its usual rancid self on my skin – not “equise” :(

Oh mannn… so what now?!?! I blushed my way into a goodbye with the sales guy and in desperation I carefully approached the Penhaligons stall… I looked at the nasty bottles and the dated lables with sorrow, but my pocket was burning!

I picked up Sartorial again – yes, I like the opening. Yes, I like the fact it’s masculine and I need something like a fougere in my collection. Yes, I love the modern almost Comme Des Garcons style opening with the aldehydes, metallic violet and lavender and ozonic notes. The drydown just turns generic on me though, but I do find the beeswax interesting. I have to get a good sample of this and wear it for a few days – if I get on with it, it’ll be a perfect addition to my collection.

I actually had read a bit about this fragrance a few months ago and spotting it, I remembered it was apparently an almost damp, green jungle like scent. So I picked up the bottle and gave a big sniff on paper to Amaranthine. The banana skin flew out straight away for me, along with the tropical ylang ylang, and a jasmine I think, along with some other green leafy notes and a kick of spice. I really enjoyed the opening, and it put a much-needed smile on my face. Unfortunately, it’s not something I’d want to wear – my grubby greenery comes from the divine Totem Eclipse by Smell Bent.

A last quick sniff before I had to literally run for my train:

Peoneve – the new fragrance. Spicy rose, green notes – relatively clean, with a peppery carnation accord. It was pleasant, natural smelling, but far too tame for me.

Gardenia – a nice enough fragrance, bright, floral, a recognizable creamy and thick gardenia which had a fresh green edge to it. I’d quite happily wear this – but I looked at the label *shuudddderrrrr*. I put it back down and quickly ran off. Penhaligon’s is not for me.

So there you have it. A ridiculously unsuccessful shopping trip to London – I left COMPLETELY empty-handed – how crap is that?!

Lesson of the day: Go to Les Senteurs.

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