Pen Man

11/08/2008

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I’m typically into scents of the French and Indian varieties, but this British Isle jewel is what every American apothecary-come-lately wishes it was.

Founded in the late 1860’s by Royal Barber and Perfumer to Queen Victoria’s court, William Henry Penhaligon’s eponymous perfume house has been awarded Royal Warrants by her Majesty Queen Alexandra in 1903, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in 1956 and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1988.

Penhaligon’s, which once had famous customers including Oscar Wilde and Sir Winston Churchill, has had its ups and downs. The Great Depression forced the company out of business in the 1940’s but was resurrected in the 1970’s by fashion designer Sheila Pickles.

Penhaligon’s first fragrance, created in 1872, was named Hammam Bouqet in honor of the famous Turkish Baths in Jermyn Street, St. James. This scent remained the Penhaligon’s personal favorite and is still one of Penhaligon’s bestsellers. It was a favorite of Italian film directors Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli. Personally, Hammam falls into my top two with Bluebell, which the company describes perfectly: “Tremendously evocative of wet earth, moss and rain, it softly detonates across your scent receptors and instantly throws you into mythic woodland, surrounded by dripping leaves, skin tingling with spring.”

Today Penhaligon’s continues to offer a brilliant selection of to-die-for olfactory masterpieces at their shops thrughout London and in New York and LA. Check their store locator for a listing.

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