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A Clandestine Affair with Penhaligon's

Hello friends and fellow perfume lovers. I am so excited about this blog post on Penhaligon's. They make such lovely Fragrances. In this Chapter of my Fragrance Story, I will be focusing on the Portraits collection by Penhaligon's.

As with all of my chapters, this will include a brief history of Penhaligon's and an overview of the "Portraits" collection. I will then focus on this gorgeous and most precious specimen - "Clandestine Clara".

This beautiful specimen was gifted to me for review. I am beyond grateful. I was offered a number to choose from and I suppose if I wanted to choose all of them, PR might have sent them to me, but I am not a greedy person. I personally feel that it is disgusting to accept products if you are not ever going to show or talk about it (my little rant is now over).


A Brief History of Penhaligon's

Penhaligon’s was established in U.K. by William Henry Penhaligon in 1872. William Henry Penhaligon, (“WP”) was a Cornish barber who moved to London and first worked as a barber at the Piccadily Turkish Bath (a “hammam”) in Jermy Street. He was later appointed Court Barber and Perfumer to the Royal Court by Queen Victoria. Penhaliogon’s first started as a barber shop. From such humble beginnings, Penhaligon’s is now an International renowned perfume house that offers luxury Fragrances, bath and body products and shaving and grooming accessories. Penhaligon’s is currently owned by Puig International SA. WP’s first stand-alone shop was situated in Jermyn Street, London next to the street’s Hammam, where WP had worked. The first shop was opened as a partnership with that Hammam’s foreman, and thus Penhaligon’s & Jeavons was born. I don’t know when “Jeavons” left that business - I’m still trying to find information on that. However, it is not pertinent to this Chapter of my Fragrance Story. Apparently, it was quite customary in those times for barbers to create their own products for their customers. The first Fragrance offered by Penhaligon’s was “Hammam Bouquet” for men in 1872. “Hammam”, as you might know, are Turkish baths. This Oriental Woody Fragrance is still available today and stands as a testimonial to Penhaligon’s success (thought ignorant Fragrance snobs, who believe that only French Fragrances are any good, might say otherwise). “Hammam Bouquet” has top notes of lavender and bergamot; heart/middle notes of Bulgarian rose, orris root, jasmine and cedar; and base notes of sandalwood, amber and musk. Made for men, this mix of accords are feminine that I know some women do enjoy using it. It comes in a pretty glass bottle with a red bow. Penhaligon’s continues to offer Fragrances in similar bottles/packaging (why change a good thing). I love the fact that Penhaliogon’s, which is now such a luxurious brand and a British Fragrance institution, began as a barber shop. I guess it shows how high one can rise with hard work, determination and a bit of luck. In 1902, WP created the best selling “Blenheim Bouquet” for men at the bequest of the Duke of Malborough at Blenheim Palace. This Fragrance is a Citrus Aromatic that remains very popular to this day. It is said that Winston Churchill wore Blenheim Bouquet. So if you own it and wear it, you are in very good company. In 1903, Penhaligon’s was granted its first Royal Warrant by Queen Alexandra. Sadly, WP passed away the year before. Penhaligon’s continues to hold two Royal Warrants; the first granted in 1956 by the Duke of Edinburgh and the second in 1988 by the Prince of Wales. Penhaligon’s Fragrances continue to be produced and bottled in England. There are several stand alone Penhaligon’s boutique in the U.K. and around the World. I do dream of visiting one (that’s on my bucket list). At Penhaligon’s stores or counters, you can experience the “Penhalgon’s Fragrance Profiling Service” that helps you choose from the collection. Apparently, they first start with a test that explores your Fragrance preferences and how they associate with your memories. You are then introduced to groups of Fragrances without being told/shown what they are. This sounds absolutely perfect to me as there are studies that show that your sense of smell can be affected by visual images (refer to my Chapters: Preface & Method). The process then continues until two choices are left and you are encouraged to test them on your skin (I’ll write about how scents differ when applied on different people - a kind of body chemistry result). I’ve read that the experience is amazing and that each Penhaligon’s boutiques are wonderful, quirky and a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Sources: Perfume Society: Penhaligon's: Fragrantica: Wikipedia:


The Portraits Collection

Highly collectible, the Portraits Collection are like works of sculptural art and a study in the whimsical English humor. Good golly, it is almost like Downton Abbey bottled. Each Fragrance has a little back story, accompanied by very adorable quotes. I almost feel like I need to have afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches while writing this.

The Portraits collection was introduced in 2016. I find this collection absolutely fascinating as each Fragrance in the collection is portrayed as a character in a Victorian family saga. At the head of the “family” is Lord George and Lady Blanche. Each Fragrances an olfactory expression of the personality and character of each “person” in that Victorian saga. Honestly, I am so blown away by this collection and wish I had discovered it much earlier. If I could, I would have the whole collection.

Whoever had the pleasure to design these Fragrances and the concept and back story to each character must have had a most fabulous time. A very lucky person indeed.

They really are all quite marvelous don't you think? It is all in the packaging. They certainly do have some very interesting accords.

The ones that stand out to me are shown below along with their description from Penhaligon's website.

From left to right, including the description of each family member (The Tragedy of Lord George; The Bewitching Yasmine; and The Revenge of Lady Blanche) and and their notes are set out below:

THE TRAGEDY OF LORD GEORGE: "Faithful to king and country“


Masculine and elegant — with a hint of rum. He is described as: “A reassuringly masculine fragrance to represent the patriarch of the family. A modern twist on the timeless fougére theme of barbershop freshness, adding a mischievous dash of fun whilst preserving heritage. Opening with a mineral and elegant fern-like brightness, blended with a shot of fruity and ambery rum. The smoky and balsamic facets of tonka lead into the powerful, woody and animalic effects of ambrox. Captivating and intoxicating.” C’mon, look at it!!! If the packaging alone is not convincing, the description of the accords should make you take the plunge. Whilst it is a Fragrance for men, a bold and unconventional woman could wear this too. Notes Top notes of Rum Heart notes of Tonka Bean Base notes of Ambrox Scent Type: Woods Perfumer: Alberto Morillas Year: 2016


Libertine Parfumerie: Penhaligon's: The Bewitching Yasmine: “The dance of the seven veils”

The Portraits Collection

She is described as: “She is by all appearances soft and quiet. Yet at the same time, she conducts herself with a rare force. Some, the less determined, would find her distant, maybe cold, but appearances are notoriously misleading. Like all intriguing (and bewitching) women, the perfume of Yasmine is hot and cold. The unique sharpness of rich, strong coffee is set off against a creamy spice accord. Ambition never looks back.” This Fragrance was introduced in 2017, and has become a firm favourite of Penhaligon’s fans. It received a rating 5 out of 5 stars on Penhaligon’s website. Overall reviews concur thought there are a few odd balls out that. I love the biblical quote “the dance of the seven veils”, very “Salome” and hinting at how naughty and seductive this Fragrance is. Notes Top notes of Jasmin Heart notes of Incense Base notes of Oud Scent Type: Oriental Floral Perfumer: Marie Salamagne Year: 2017 Sources:

Penhaligon's: The Revenge of Lady Blanche: “It was a murder but hardly a crime”


Her personality is described as: “A darling of London Society, and one of the most influential ladies in Britain. Her aloof beauty, mysterious past and blazing passions are scrutinised by all from shop-girls to Royalty. She would do anything to climb the social ladder still further. Her latest scheme is to poison her husband, Lord George, inheriting his wealth and burying his secrets for ever! Her fragrance reflects her very essence: a green floral narcotic. Charmingly dangerous Charmingly unpredictable, Lady Blanche is idolised by all society – born into money, married money, wants more money – she is the aristo-chic. At first encounter, fresh, fragrant, sweet and light – she is a floral narcotic, conjuring an English country garden’s hyacinth and – lest we forget – narcissus. And those perfect blooms almost mask her thorny sharpness beneath. A veritable gem – she sparkles, with hard corners. Consider yourself warned therefore that her bite is worse than her bark – and Lord George should take note. Lady Blanche is the leopard of this house. Sleek, powerful and stealthy – perhaps with deadly intent…” This Fragrance is described as: “A refined and delicate scent with the astute wisdom of an impeccable matriarch. A woody floral with discretion and finesse, a discerning look from the nobility. Contrasted and green, an opening of angelica provides both lightness and depth. With the unexpected and modest floralcy of the daffodil in the heart, an astonishing and spicy ginger flower lends an element of excitement to the atmosphere of good taste. Exquisite and secretive.” Notes: Top notes of Daffodil Heart notes of Angelica Seeds Base notes of Ginger Flower Scent Type: Soft Floral Perfumer: Daphne Bugey Year: 2016 I’ve never tried a “Soft Floral” before and definitely want to.’s community felt that the accords were more floral, green and powdery (not my favourite scent) and consisted of narcissus; iris flower and hyacinth. Sources: Penhaliogon's: Libertine Parfumerie:


Clandestine Clara

Clandestine Clara: ”Thank the heavens above she is not a Lady." This Fragrance was launched in 2017. She was created by perfumer Sophie Labbé. My thoughts:

The first scent to hit me is vanilla, then a bit of floral notes (possibly roses and irises) and some incense. I also get some warm cinnamon. I also felt that there was a hint of jasmine. I also felt that it was a bit powdery at first. She smells voluptuous to me. I “see” the silhouette of a woman drawn with curvy black lines in Picasso’s style. ( . This is a sweet floral scent to me. The dry down in terms of longevity is excellent (I test this by spraying the Fragrance on a blotter and leaving it in a well-ventilated room for 48 hours). It retains that powdery somewhat sweet and floral scent. It smells of roses and jasmine. Possibly some amber. On me it smells a bit warmer and spicier. She is generally recognised as belonging to the “Woody Spicy”. I feel that she was made as such to be a contrast to “Lady Blanche” in this family saga. She is the mistress of Lord George. She is a clear “gourmand” Fragrance. To me, she “tastes” like a sweet vanilla slice with cinnamon. I can’t remember where I read first read this, but apparently males find the smell of vanilla/baked sweets very attractive, so I find it charming that the perfumer grounded this Fragrance with an overall scent of vanilla. After all, Clandestine Clara is meant to be very attractive to the opposite sex.

She is described as: “Penhaligon's presents to you the unofficial side of Lord George’s dynasty, beginning with - as we have come to know her - Clandestine Clara. And isn’t she a complex creature… A forceful personality, spicy but equally sweet, she has travelled in exotic countries and company - and in her smoky, velvety, woody air you may detect a memory (or three) of his Lordship… (One would certainly never guess the lady also smokes…). She is rebellious, contradictory, independent, unconventional - a woman ahead of her time. But above all, as you will discover, she is a true gourmand, completely delectable (and Lord George would know).” Family: Oriental Top Notes: Oppoponax, Cypriol Heart Notes: Patchouli Oil, Tonka Bean, Base Notes: Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Oil. Perfumer: Sophie Labbé Year: 2017 Libertine Parfumerie: Penhaliogon's:


I hope you found this review helpful! Drop me an email ( or DM me on my Instagram (@teacupofmakeup) and let me know what you would like an in-depth review of. I hope you found this review useful. Yours Truly with Lots of Love, TeacupOfMakeup. 待会见! 可爱的小茶杯!


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