Penhaligon's, Regent Street

Dazzling scents, with a dash of eccentric English charm...

What to say about British perfumery Penhaligon's? Firstly, they’re a heritage brand – starting out in the 1800s as a barbershop, peddling a few aftershaves on the side that slowly became the main attraction. The scents are stunning as they are unique, inspired by various places in London and beyond – from 1920s Jazz speakeasies (Juniper Sling) to The Royal Ballet (Iris Prima). It was the former scent which first introduced me to Penhaligon’s many years ago, which had a launch in the NCP car park in Soho (now the home of London Fashion Week) with bathtubs full of gin bottles...

Their new series “Portraits” is a series of four fragrances based on characters that might belong in a BBC Sunday night period drama. Each character has its own scent, accompanied by a little description of their character. There’s husband and wife Lord George and Lady Blanche (he’s a bit of a philanderer, she’s a scheming social climber). Then there’s their daughter Duchess Rose (romantically naïve and frustrated in an unhappy marriage) and son-in-law the “eccentric yet unusual” Duke Nelson

It’s certainly a novel approach to presenting a fragrance range – and each bottle is decorated with an animal head stopper. I’m interested to see what other characters appear on the scene. Icelandic artist Kristjana S Williams has decorated the outer packaging for ‘Portraits’ and the shop itself with her gorgeous collage illustrations. Depicting an enchanted forest, it’s like stepping into a dream, the same of which can be said about the fragrances themselves – hauntingly beautiful and certainly worth a sniff… 

Penhaligon’s have also become known for their “perfume profiling” service to help customers find their perfect olfactory partner. There’s something for fans of vintage scents (1978’s Bluebell and 1910’s English Fern) or more unusual concoctions (try Vaara with coriander and carrot seed). The bottles retain that vintage feel with marble tops and little ‘bow ties’ – my favourite scents – aside from Juniper Sling - are actually masculine. Blenheim Bouquet, created in 1902 is a woodsy, citrusy number – described by the Covent Garden store manager as “a gentleman who isn’t overly romantic but extremely loyal, he won’t let you down.” Then Endymion – an extremely seductive number with nutmeg, cardamom and mandarin.

The scents are made with high quality essential oils and have excellent staying power, great if you're dashing for a last-minute gift, doing some early Christmas shopping or just want to treat yourself to a dazzling scent, with a dash of eccentric English charm...

Penhaligon's is located at 125 Regent St, London W1B 4HT

Open 10am - 7pm Monday - Saturday, 10am - 8pm Thursday and 12pm - 6pm Sunday

0207 434 260 / www.penhaligons.com