Royal Romance with Penhaligon’s

Fresh from the heady arrival of the lunar spring, Jack and friends’ pleasure of the senses is unsatiated with the promise of 14th February!

When I was in London several years ago, I bought a bottle of Penhaligon’s Malabah, and long after I finished the fragrance, it has lingered in my mind, haunting my olfactory senses like a seductive old flame. When I passed ION Orchard after having a meal with Jack at Canton-I, I recalled my wonderful experience in London and that intriguing scent and implored Jack and friends to step in.

Our visit to Penhaligon’s not only re-ignited our passion for fragrance, we discovered a whole new way of approaching fragrances and were treated to a medley of scents; some were surprisingly intimate, others delightfully incomprehensible at first whiff and each evoked different memories and promises of the future. One of their scents was even reminiscent of reading in a leather armchair!

In the presence of all these scents, it was an adrenaline rush and I found myself thinking of a gift from someone very special to me, who understands how I can be enthralled by the generosity of simple pleasures in this world. It is the book Perfume by Patrick Suskind, filled with truly poetic gems that capture my soul. In particular, I recalled this verse:

“…(He) felt his heart pounding…it was his excited helplessness in the presence of this scent. He tried to recall something comparable, but had to discard all comparisons. This scent had a freshness, but not the freshness of limes or pomegranates, nor the freshness of myrrh or cinnamon bark or curly mint or birch or camphor or pine needles, nor that of a May rain …and at the same time it had warmth, but not as bergamot, cypress…or rosewood has …This scent was a blend of both, of evanescence and substance, not a blend, but a unity, although slight and frail as well, and yet solid and sustaining, like a piece of tin, shimmering silk…like pastry soaked in honey-sweet milk …This scent was inconceivable, indescribable, could not be categorized in any way – it really ought not to exist at all…”

~ Excerpt from page 41-42 of Perfume

Scents are intriguing because people relate to them inherently, unconsciously making decisions. Standing close to someone, and getting a whiff of the clean, healthy smell of skin with that hint of musk, mixed with a well-chosen fragrance is a definate deal-winner for me. The scents detected by the human nose directly stimulate the part of the brain to create emotions such as attraction, sexual desire and arousal. Gives you an edge for this time of the year!

The 34 fragrances of Penhaligon’s are housed in a specially-designed boutique by the acclaimed London-based Jenner Studio. Recalling the 1860s heritage of William Henry Penhaligon, who became Court Barber and Perfumer to Queen Victoria, there is a quaint familiarity of an old-fashioned barber shop with wood and glass cabinets. Forget dowdiness though, their ION shop exudes decadence, and the interior itself is a pleasurable discovery.

It all starts with the thoughtful hat box outside the store, for you to have a whiff of the perfume of the day when you are on the go. From your first footstep, the tiled entrance features bronze letterings; Store Manager Andrius Poliachas informs us that one of the two people in the world that can produce the dying trade of bronze on tiles was flown in for the task.

Marvel at that, then take in the clever design that incorporates the iconic Penhaligon’s bow; from the plush padding on the right wall, to the centre table displaying the fragrances, the pedestals showcasing selected offerings and even the ceiling edges. Even the lamps from the ceiling are shaped like the classic Penhaligon’s bottle. The custom-made, authentic experience is spared no expense: the sink was created 135 years and is from a private museum collection, while a nearby table was crafted in1923, and the cash register hails from the 1920s.

While soaking in the tasteful ambience, we heard that devoted fans of spritzing Penhaligon’s fragrances include England’s royal family and celebrities the likes of Kate Moss, Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Manola Blahnik. Naturally, we were thrilled to begin our fragrance profiling with Assistant Store Manager Christsean Dawood!

Mr. Dawood first touched on the history of Penhaligon’s, delving into the first scents created, while letting us have a whiff of the fragrances as we went along. He shared that William Penhaligon’s first perfume in 1872, Hammam Bouquet, was inspired by the Turkish bath house next to his barber shop. Containing the rare Turkish Rose, white musk, sandalwood and tuberose, Hammam Bouquet quickly spread by word of mouth recommendation, and William Penhaligon gradually grew to become a perfumer for the royal family.

Commissioned by Lord Randolph, who resided in Blenheim Palace, the second scent was the citrus Blenheim Bouquet. Created in 1902 with a groundbreaking mix of lime, lemon, lemongrass, black pepper and pine, the creation gave him the dubious honour of being crazy as most people at that time only wore musky fragrances. However the vision and courage of his revolutionary concoction proved hugely influential, as today, 60% of the world’s fragrances are citrus. Fans of Blenheim Bouquet include the late Pope John Paul, Winston Churchill, Pierce Brosnan and Ewan Mcgregor.

The third scent was the 1910 spicy English Fern – reminiscent of leather, bookcases, motorbikes – a winner amongst the British set.

1911 saw the creation of the fourth scent  Douro. Created for Sir Percy Cross, its strong head notes of bergamot and orange oil create a powerful first impact, which warms down to comforting heart notes of neroli, sandalwood and cedarwood.

The fragrance profiling session was thoroughly engaging and enjoyable – highly recommended! Was fascinated that drinking plain water in between scents helps to clear the nose and cleanse the palate.Coffee beans may break the sense of smell, but it is not suitable for a perfume house, as it affects the following scents!

What was particularly interesting were the anecdotes! Such as: the Scottish are particularly fond of Castille for its ‘warming feel’; Quercus has a shower clean scent, excellent as an after-lunch perk-me-up, that is endorsed by Prince Harry and is a treat for guests at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore; Malabah fans say it smells like the effervescence of root beer, with a Turkish fan saying it made him homesick for the spice and fragrance markets in the heart of local townships.

During the sharing of the narrative, and accompanying scents on paper strips, Mr. Dawood would observe our reactions and helped us narrow down the three to five key scents that we loved and these top scents will be sprayed on the skin towards making the final choice. I was enchanted by Eau Sans Pareil, with its comforting scent of florals, freshly washed cotton sheets and a tinge of baby powder and hints at a sentimental nature and fondness for people with kind, just souls. My other top favourites were Night Scented Stock, Artemisia, Orange Blossom, and still a firm favourite, Malabah.

We were really struck by Mr Dawood’s sincerity and readiness to assist, that exemplified the dedicated customer service that distinguishes Penhaligon’s Singapore. Each fragrance consultant seemed more interested in building relationships where job satisfaction for them is realized when they find the perfect scent for someone.

After chatting with the rest of the staff, they related that a lady had walked in and really loved the experience after she was profiled for the fragrance. Even though she did not purchase any fragrances that very day, she later requested to close the store for 12 of her friends for a private party and her friends were very appreciative of the experience and scents.

Penhaligon’s Singapore is also open to partnering corporate events, where they can fragrance-profile guests whilst sharing about the rich heritage of the brand and the importance of perfume identity.

Romance your loved ones with a customised fragrance profiling session with any of the friendly consultants at Penhaligons. If your loved one is a jet-setter, or already has a Penhaligon’s scent as their signature, then the Penhaligon’s Travel Atomizer is a sleek way to carry their favourite scent. In mere seconds, 4ml of their favourite scent easily has a chance to travel the world with them! If you enjoy romantic surprises, then treat yourself to a Penhaligon’s fragrance profiling session and pick the ones that describe how you feel for your loved ones!

Penhaligon’s has always believed that, “Inspiration comes at the strangest moments and places: a magical moment, a stolen view, an idea crystallised.” So,take your time, savour the experience and linger over the scents. Languish the unravelling of each scent as it reacts quickly, settling into your wrist or heart, to become truly your own. Enter the world of exquisite scents that are complex like a fine glass of wine, with different top notes to entice, pure hearts to cherish and base notes that mirror your own content. This could just be the creation of your own magical garden of scents.

“…People could close their eyes to greatness…to beauty…and their ears to melodies …But they could not escape scent. For scent was a brother of breath. Together with breath it entered human beings, who could not defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”

~ Excerpt from page 161 of Perfume

Experience a world of boutique fragrance steeped in craftmanship and royal patronage at Penhaligon’s:
#03-16 ION Orchard
+65 6634 1040
10.00am to 10.00pm daily

Written by Emily.P
Photographed by Jack.D


Filed under Lifestyle, Singapore

4 responses to “Royal Romance with Penhaligon’s

  1. Thanks for writing about Penhaligon’s In Singapore. I had no idea it’s here!

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