Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!
The theme at Penhaligon’s this season is ‘Christmas is in the Air’ and with this Christmassy concept they are mixing the two things that make their identity so unique: tradition and eccentricity. Their golden packaging is accented by beautiful red ribbons, with what appears to be a rather traditional, Victorian scene as the illustration. Look closer though, and the signature quirk of Penhaligon’s is revealed! Carriages driven by birds and flying clocks lead one to remember that the world of Penhaligon’s is a topsy turvy one, and that’s what makes it so wonderful to explore!
This Christmas, Penhaligon’s have curated a fine selection of gifts for any of those eccentric beauties in your life. There’s perfume aplenty, with gorgeous sets and mini-collections amongst their expansive collection of scent. There’s even a special home fragrance for this year, not to mention many other quirky things to love. So in this extravaganza of a Christmas Crush post I’m brining you a veritable feast of Penhaligon’s gifts to hopefully inspire your present-buying this holiday season. With any luck we’ll have ticked some people off your gift list by the end of the post no problem.
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
Scented candles are much loved at Candy Perfume Towers. We like to have them in every room to ensure that each wing, turret and chamber is appropriately scented. Apparently we also have delusions of grandeur and for the sake of honesty I really should inform you that Candy Perfume Towers is actually an end of terraced abode (a rather lovely one it must be said) and not a castle. It’s not even officially called Candy Perfume Towers. Boo to reality, we say. Boo to it!
Anyway back to scented candles. These lovely objects are great because they can really set the mood in a room and they feel like a true indulgence, making for the perfect gift or even the ultimate treat. Good candles are those that have a strong presence but don’t overwhelm and I think I may have just found one that strikes that balance perfectly. That candle is the Blenheim Bouquet Classic Candle from Penhaligon’s, which boasts a timeless scent worn by all sorts of gents, from the gentry of the early 1900s to the hipsters of today. Oh and Winston Churchill too. That’s quite the endorsement now, isn’t it?
It’s hard not to pay attention to Penhaligon’s new Portraits Collection. I mean, just look at them, the bottles are topped with the most glorious and ridiculous (in the best possible way, of course) brass animal heads, including a magnificent stag, a handsome beagle, a fox and many more. Initially, I’ll admit that I was a little bit puzzled by the Portraits Collection. I get that each scent represents a member of an aristocratic family who, by all accounts, look respectable but have sordid and dramatic personal lives which, for the most part seems to involve a penchant for fine booze. This is all well and good, but where do the animals fit into the story? What’s more there is a little part of me that doesn’t quite see the attraction in fragrances inspired by affairs, attempted murders, closeted homosexuality and substance abuse…
All of the above aside, the execution of everything in the collection is top notch and one could never accuse Penhaligon’s of not doing something unique, which is the whole idea of niche now, isn’t it? So I’ll admit that the collection, which most definitely portrays Penhaligon’s cheeky side and penchant for British eccentricity is quite fun and it’s most definitely not supposed to be taken literally. The Portraits Collection is a bit of a lark and if you like a touch of quirk well, you need to get your noses on these. Also, have I mentioned how awesome those animal heads are?!
Penhaligon’s is the most British of perfumeries. They take tradition and eccentricity and smush them both together in a cocktail that is undeniably British in every way, shape and form. Over recent years, Penhaligon’s have moved away from the stuffy, the prim and the proper to celebrate the quirkier sides of British life, launching eccentric scents inspired by gin (Juniper Sling), furs (Tralala), lady thighs (Amaranthine) and most recently, a fictitious aristocratic family (Portraits). They are a brand that manages to have fun with fragrance whilst making it a serious business at the same time. It’s fair to say that I’m a fan.
I like to think I’m relatively familiar with the offerings at Penhaligon’s but I must admit that I’m not too in touch with their many recent fragrances (they are busy bees it must be said) and i’ve admittedly spent hardly any time with their classic, earlier creations. What’s more, I’ve never really had a formal introduction to the line so I snapped up the opportunity to pop in to Penhaligon’s for a Fragrance Profiling session. I wondered what they would pick for me. Would it be something I love already, or would it be something new and exciting – or maybe it would be an undiscovered classic? My curiosity got the better of me, so off to Penhaligon’s I went…
This spring, quintessentially British perfume house, Penhaligon’s will launch ‘Ostara’, the brand’s latest collaboration with venerable perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour. Charting a fragrant journey of daffodil from “bulb to bud to bloom”, Ostara is described by the brand as a “modern interpretation” of an “incandescent flower”.
“An iconic feature of the British countryside, the daffodil symbolises the optimism and revival of spring. In 1802, the distinguished poet William Wordsworth wrote about a sea of daffodils in his poem, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’. Excerpts have been included on the outer packaging of the fragrance to reflect the radiance of the flower.”
Hold the presses! Before I commence with this review, could someone do me a massive favour and take a short trip down to the underworld and check that the river Styx is still in full, bubbling-hot lava flow? I ask simply because it seems that hell has indeed frozen over and that the impossible has finally happened – Etat Libre d’Orange, also known as the world’s most naughty and rebellious perfume brand, have brought us the most unexpected and out of character perfume – a humble eau de cologne.
Now, you may be thinking that lots of brands bring out eau de colognes and that this isn’t particularly noteworthy a launch, so I should stop making a big old fuss. But one should remember that Etat Libre d’Orange are in fact, the very people that, amongst many other things, bottled the erotic cartoons of infamous Finnish illustrator Tom of Finland, and brought us olfactory interpretations of hotel whores and magnificent bodily secretions. They are not ones to shy away from controversy – in fact, they actively court it and shock factor is an old friend that they simply cannot keep away from. Luckily for us lovers of fragrance, their perfumes mainly deliver the olfactory goods and whilst their names are often gimmicky, the scents themselves rarely are.
With their eau de cologne, which is snappily named ‘Cologne’, FYI (no gimmicks here, thank you), they have created, what they like to call “a nice scent”. This could be, and should be viewed as a massive break from tradition for the Orange Free State, who are famously more prone to naughty than nice, and that would be a fair summation. But as the brand explains, they like to break rules, including their own. So it is with an unassuming cologne that this renegade purveyor of perfumes steps away from their usual modus operandi – a risky move that has resulted in a fragrant outing that really is most unusual for such a rebellious brand.
“You can always expect the unexpected from Etat Libre d’Orange. We break the rules. Sometimes, we even break our own rules. We’ve given you decadent, we’ve given you outrageous, and now we give you nice. We pay allegiance to the concept of a modest cologne. Not an ordinary cologne, not a basic cologne. A proper cologne that achieves the perfection of simplicity.”
Penhaligon’s, the eccentrically British perfume house, is a curious outfit. Their historic back catalogue of perfumes is full of straight-laced florals, robustly masculine eau de toilettes and even some exotic follies. Over the last few years however, the brand has made a definite move away from the stiff upper lift of the past and have released a bunch of quirky fragrances that range from filthy florals that can only be worn after the watershed (Amaranthine) to contemporary takes on traditional themes (Sartorial). They’ve even flirted with the British’ love of gin cocktails (Juniper Sling) and have pushed the olfactory envelope to dizzying heights with the bizarre and whimsical (Tralala).
So yes, Penhaligon’s have modernised and funked-up their image of late, but they’re not afraid to return to their traditional roots – and that’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest masculine fragrance ‘Bayolea‘. Created as a reformulation of a bay rhum fragrance from the Penhaligon’s archives, Bayolea has been chosen to scent the brand’s new, and rather extensive grooming range, as well as front the collection in its Eau de Toilette form. Without giving too much away at this stage, it would be safe for me to say that Bayolea is an impeccably well-groomed fragrance that feels perfectly suited to any gent – modern, traditional or otherwise.