Monday, October 18, 2010

Sample Giveaway + Review: Sartorial by Penhaligon's (2010)

Any artist who manages to breathe new life into an old form deserves praise, but if you're not especially fond of the form itself, you might find it difficult to couple your praise with heartfelt enthusiasm. The form in question is the fougère, that stalwart of masculine perfumery that has been around, quite literally, since the very birth of modern fragrance production. Even if you're not familiar with its name, you will have smelled several examples of it over the years. Azzaro Pour Homme, Brut, Rive Gauche Pour Homme and many others all contain the basic lavender-coumarin-moss combination which - with its lung-filling freshness and earthy undertone - instantly spells 'after shave' or, more bluntly, 'MAN' to Western sensibilities. The latest incarnation is Penhaligon's Sartorial, inspired by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour's study of the behind-the-scenes activities at Savile Row's Norton & Sons.

It isn't surprising that a foray into one of the most traditional pillars of British masculinity persuaded Douchafour to turn to the most traditional genre of male perfumery. Norton & Sons' website claims that they "favour a simple, classically cut garment, with a shaped waist and neat structured shoulder, free from unnecessary detail," and sure enough, this is essentially what Douchaufour has created. The heart of the fragrance is an elegant beeswax-laced lavender with a novel chalky-aldehydic twist that creates a vivid image of freshly-steamed fabric; it successfully evokes all other fougères whilst simultaneously stamping Duchaufour's own signature on the form. In itself, this is a substantial achievement. However, an ill-judged marketing campaign suggests we're meant to accept the scent as something much more radical than it really is: Pythonesque videos and comedy moustache-shaped brooches and cuff-links are currently being showcased on the Penhaligon's site as a means of promoting the scent. I can just see the raised eyebrows at Norton & Sons.

Quirky publicity aside, this is still a fougère, and if, like me, you don't generally like fougères, you're probably not going to get excited about this one. It presents a staunchly conservative image of British maleness - a rather disappointing fact, given that one of this island's enduring trademarks is a love of sly eccentricity - and although it ticks all the right boxes and is most impressively put together, I can't help feeling it's something of a missed opportunity.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin. To read Grain De Musc's review of Sartorial, please click here and for Octavian Coifan's, please click here.]

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If you'd like to enter a draw for a sample of Sartorial, please leave a comment on this post on the subject of British masculinity.

Please note: i) the draw will be open until 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday 24th October; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; iv) by entering the draw, you indicate that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume posted from the UK; v) if the sample is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be sent; vi) the address of the winner will not be kept on record, nor will it be passed to any third parties; vii) Persolaise takes no responsibility for the composition of the scent, as regards potential allergens and/or restricted materials.

Best of luck!

Persolaise.

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The draw is now closed. To find out who the winner is, please click here.

19 comments:

  1. I'd like to try it just for information sake, but you don't make it sound like it's going to be something I might like, although I do like fougeres.

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  2. I felt the same way about the marketing. Whatever were they thinking?

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  3. Ines, if you like fougeres, then you may well enjoy Sartorial, but strictly speaking, you need to leave a comment that's somehow related to the subject of British masculinity.

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  4. Liam J, now is probably not the time to mention that I played Basil twice in school productions of Fawlty Towers!!

    I'm not sure what he'd make of Sartorial; it's cleanliness would probably appeal to him.

    You're in the draw.

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  5. StyleSpy, I quite like goofy, off-the-wall marketing, but I think it's entirely inappropriate in this case.

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  6. I'm not a fan of fougeres, precisely because they are such a cliched masculine scent. But I am a big fan of Duchaufour's work (for L'Artisan & Eau d'Italie at least) and I have yet to smell a cliche from him. Could this be the first? I'd love to try!

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  7. Persolaise, if I need to comment on British masculinity to enter, can I ask, are the British men similar to those appearing in all the historical romance I like to read, because if they are, I'd reeally like to meet one? ;)
    And would be interested to see if Sartorial smells like my idea of what they would smell like.

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  8. Arch.memory, he most certainly takes the cliches and puts his own twist on them in Sartorial. However, he also ensures that the form is recognisable.

    And speaking of cliches and originality, what are your views on British masculinity?

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  9. Ines, with that comment, you can consider yourself in the draw ;-)

    Which novels are you thinking of? Far From The Madding Crowd was the first one that sprang to mind when I read your words, and I'm pretty sure that Gabriel Oak - who gets the girl in the end - wouldn't have smelled of lavender. His 'odour profile' would probably have included a massive dose of civet. But Sergeant Troy may well have shopped at Penhaligon's...

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  10. Persolaise, British masculinity is a tough one. The cliche might be football, beer and pub quizzes. My idea of British masculinity would be John Lennon!

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  11. Michael, that's a good one! I wonder what Lennon would've worn if he were still around today.

    You're in the draw.

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  12. I reckon he would have worn something leathery, a nod to his Hamburg Reeperbahn days!

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  13. I expect you're right, Michael. Although I quite like the idea of him shopping at Lush.

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  14. Ah what a cool school you must have had :) Feel sorry for whoever played Manuel haha

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  15. Liam J, yes, the school was quite quirky, it has to be said. And as for Manuel... he was played by someone who was my best friend then and is still my best friend now.

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  16. Persolaise, I would like to try Sartorial, I am familiar with some Penhaligon's, but English Fragrances. is very difficult for meeting at us, and yes, I love fougeres

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  17. владимир, first of all, welcome to Persolaise.com.

    If you enjoy fougeres, I'd say Sartorial is a must-try.

    As a non-UK based reader, what would you say are the characteristic features of British masculinity?

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  18. THE DRAW IS NOW CLOSED.

    Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

    ReplyDelete

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