“The Amount of Perfume She Had On Was Like a Human Sacrifice on Incense Night”: An Ode to Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

Have you ever had a signature scent, one of those perfumes you’ve been wearing for years? The idea of it is appealing – a perfume becomes you from an olfactory point of view – but I could never make it happen in real life. As a perfume lover, I’m constantly looking for perfumes which remind me of pieces of my life. I can find one which doesn’t really tell me anything, which is not connected to memories, but it rarely occurs. Just before Christmas I added another perfume to my small collection: it speaks of the past with a beautiful and serene approach. Needless to say, I’m hopelessly in love with it.

penhaligons_blenheimbouquet (2)There’s a special story behind this perfume. Some time ago I was playing with my Penhaligon’s scent library: I had my mind focused on Bluebell and Lily of the Valley, but when I smelled Blenheim Bouquet I forgot the rest. Call me crazy but my mind immediately went to one of my favourite perfumes ever, Cacharel Pour l’Homme, an iconic 1980s scent which has been spoiled by a recent reformulation. If you compare their perfume pyramids, you’ll see they are part of the same family: both of them are aromatic/fresh spicy, even if Cacharel Pour l’Homme is woody and Blenheim Bouquet citrus. The unusual thing? I can smell frankincense in both of them but that specific note is missing. I don’t know what gives me the illusion of frankincense, which is – for me – a very evocative smell: it’s probably the nutmeg in Cacharel Pour l’Homme and who knows what in Blenheim Bouquet.

penhaligons_blenheimbouquet (3)Perfumes are part of a mysterious world where some questions must be left unanswered. It’s not science, so I don’t really care where that note comes from; what is important is that it’s there for me to love it. Blenheim Bouquet was born as a men’s perfume, but I think it’s perfectly unisex. It has a refreshing opening of lemon, lime and lavender, which then gives way to deeper notes of black pepper, musk and pine; the contrast between these two realms is irresistible. It’s like having a summer and a winter scents mixed in the same bottle: it ‘s a powerful citrus whose heart hides warmer notes.

penhaligons_blenheimbouquet (1)Like all Penhaligon’s perfumes, it has an interesting story. It was created in 1902 by Walter Penhaligon for Lord Randolph, Winston Churchill’s father; it was given the name of the Churchills’ residence, Blenheim Palace, a monumental country house in English Baroque style situated in Woodstock (Oxfordshire). Winston Churchill, who was born in that mansion, is reputed to have often worn his father’s signature scent. The perfume is an ode to balance and its historical background can’t help but adding an extra touch of charm.

I bought the small bottle, containing 50 millilitres of perfume. The cap is decorated by a dove grey grosgrain ribbon, while the box is blue with a fleur-de-lis pattern and golden details.

As a perfume lover, I’ve already put my eyes on another classic Penhaligon’s scent – English Fern – but I think I’ll start saving money for something new. After buying Blenheim Bouquet, I had this conversation on Twitter.

penhaligons Today, while reading an interview What Men Should Smell Like‘s Clayton Ilolahia did with Bertrand Duchaufour (Penhaligon’s perfumer-in-residence), the secret project coming out next April has become clearer.

I am working on a very limited edition for Penhaligons. It is in collaboration with two trendy and creative fashion designers, Meadham and Kirchhoff. They are two young designers, one is English and the other is French. They are quite crazy. Both of them graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. They are doing very special things and through Penhaligon’s we are doing a very special edition for them. I met them several times to understand exactly what they wanted and what were their smell preferences. They were very precise, very unusual and very crazy. It was a huge challenge for me and that will be launched in the first half of the year. It has a wonderful name, which I can’t reveal I am sorry but I really appreciate the name.

You can’t hear the squeaking sounds I’m emitting (thank God), but I’m super super excited. The British perfume house and the London-based designing duo have worked together for four years, with Penhaligon’s providing the signature scent for their collections, with which they scent everything, fashion show invitation cards included. The “wonderful name” Duchaufour is referring to has already driven me crazy with curiosity and excitement. I know this 2014 will be a glorious year for us Penhaligon’s addicted ♥

[1] The quote of the title is from Life.exe by Stephen Moles.


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