I’m often asked about the perfumes I wear, but explaining in detail what draws me towards a certain scent is hard. Choosing a perfume is a very personal, intimate and subjective act, which deals with memories, echoes and dreams. Moreover, what works for you may not work for others, because perfumes adapt to their wearers with different outcomes. It’s frustrating when you want a perfume to work for you , but there’s nothing you can do about it (I guess it’s a chemistry matter); on the contrary, when you realize something works wonderfully on your skin, that’s pure bliss. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but with perfumes… well, that’s a different story.
Penhaligon’s Endymion struck me like thunder, and the same happened with the latest scent of the British brand. Tralala is the result of a unique combination of creativity and artistry: created by Bertrand Duchaufour in collaboration with Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, it will officially launch next spring , but I was lucky enough to get a sample from Penhaligon’s .
It’s taken me days to “study” it. I’m not joking: there’s so much hidden in this perfume, that whenever I wear it, I know there’s something more I can’t quite grasp. I don’t think I’m able to describe in detail, but let’s see what the official report says about the olfactory pyramid. The head notes include aldehydes, saffron, whiskey, ambrette seed butter, galbanum and violet leaf absolute; the heart notes are carnation, leather, tuberose, ylang ylang, orris and incense; the base notes include myrrh resinoid, opopanax absolute, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood, heliotrope, musk and vanilla. It’s definitely the most complex composition I’ve ever smelt, but let me tell you I immediately connected it to two Penhaligon’s perfumes I own and love – Artemisia and Cornubia. Both perfumes have musk and vanilla as base notes, just like Tralala, but despite this similarity, the latter succeeds in standing out.
To my nose, the perfume opens with a fresh, yet romantic, scent of violet, soon followed by a slight note of incense (which I love, and would smell it among millions of scents) and a rich tuberose. When the floral notes subside, the wooden/spicy heart of the perfume opens up with comforting and earthy notes of vanilla, patchouli and musk; on the background, a fresh hint of vetiver. Perfumes usually don’t last long on me, but this one lingers on my skin for hours – you can definitely tell it’s there for a long time. It’s a fragrance you can lose yourself in, but there’s more about it, a subtler yet deeper meaning: to me Tralala speaks of warmth and comfort, ideas I connect to Artemisia, too, but here there’s a mysterious element which I guess is of its charm, a feature that beautifully echoes the imagery of its creators, along with the perfume bottle.
The trademark Penhaligon’s bottle has been customised, so as to mirror Meadham Kirchhoff’s aesthetic – a romantic Valentine (a lace-trimmed heart), a velvet bow, a painted-doll cap cover, the name written with the ribbon-like font introduced in the spring/summer 2013 collection. Last but not least, the white box with red edges is gold-lined and opens like a jewellery casket, the perfect chest to keep such a beauty.
All in all, Tralala manages to balance very different elements: playfulness (see the name itself) mixed with drama, warmth, femininity and *that* secret, unfathomable scent detail which will probably haunt me forever. As Cecil Baldwin says in the 13th episode of Welcome to Night Vale, “some mysteries aren’t questions to be answered, but just the kind of opaque fact — a thing which exists to be not known.”
 It happened to me twice, much to my disappointment. I wanted Diptyque Opôné (now discontinued) to work for me, because I thought the saffron/rose combination was sublime, but I had to let it go: on me it smelled ugly. The same happened with Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet. Sad indeed.
 Tralala will launch exclusively at Harvey Nichols stores and online on April 21st, at Penhaligon’s boutiques and online on May 5th.
PS: the name of the title is a quote from Spook Country by William Gibson.