Archive for the ‘Penhaligon's’ Category

The last review of this week’s joint blog project concerns Penhaligon’s Violetta.  You can go check out Redolent of Spices and Scent of the Day for more violet scent reviews, as well as my list of violet scents

Violetta, created in 1976, is a straightforward violet fragrance.  That’s more or less what you need to know – except that where many other violet soliflores tend toward either the powdery (Borsari Violetta di Parma) or candy-sweet (Berdoues Violettes de Toulouse), Penhaligon’s is all flower and leaf.

The official notes, according to Penhaligon’s,  include citruses, geranium, violet, sandalwood, cedarwood, and musk.  However, I’m almost sure there’s some violet leaf in there too – it’s quite sharp and green for quite some time, and has a spicy, aromatic quality that seems to indicate violet leaf.

From the Penhaligon’s website:

Created in 1976, Violetta is a dark, dusky and mysterious fragrance suffused with the achingly nostalgic purity of violets. Surprisingly green and sharp to begin with, it becomes lush and velvety as it develops. The sweet violets are complimented by green notes of garden geranium and supported by subtle woods and musks at the base. One of our most surprising fragrances, it captures the elusive violet with incredible clarity and potency.

“Surprising?” Not really; like I said earlier, it’s pretty much all violet leaves and blooms.  Violetta begins with the bright, clean green note of violet leaf, and the intense sweetness of deep purple violets.  It stays here for most of its three-hour experiment, with an interesting spicy accent and a floral freshness to its heart – it’s violets All The Time, but for me very much like crushed fresh plants: no powder, no candy.  Which is the way I like my violet scents, to be honest.  The light woody drydown gradually becomes apparent during the last hour.  There’s a whisper of musk, too, but not enough to be distracting, and I think this restrained, woody drydown may be the part of the fragrance that really sells me on it.  It’s not entirely masculine, but there’s a dryness from the cedar and sandalwood that keeps Violetta from being wholly girly, like the Goutal La Violette.    Too, it’s reminiscent of a walk through the woods, complete with patches of blooming violets among the trees. 

This is an Eau de Toilette, and like most EdTs, it doesn’t have great staying power.  I don’t mind that, though – three hours of this beauty is well worth it.  After testing as many violet fragrances as I could get my hands on (oh, there are more I haven’t gotten to yet, but at last count my Violet Scents Tested list numbered 24!), I still think Violetta is my favorite violet solflore, with Soivohle Violets and Rainwater as runner-up.  It blends well with other fragrances, it stays fresh and clean and woody-floral, and that bottle is just darling.  I need one.  My decant is rapidly disappearing.

Here’s a review of the talcum powder formulation of Violetta, by Jessica at Now Smell This, and a brief review by Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am.

Image of perfume bottle is from Fragrantica.com; image of blooming violet is from Wikipedia Commons.

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Amaranthine by Penhaligon’s London, New for Fall 2009
Amaranthine is a corrupted floral oriental for those private moments when everything is anticipation. It opens with a dramatic flourish of spices and tropical green. This unsettling lick of drama is beautifully ambushed by an unctuous accord of jasmine and ylang-ylang, a heady bloom renowned for its aphrodisiac properties, and clove swathed in spices, tea, musk and the rounded beauty of tonka bean absolute.  The perfume is reportedly “reminiscent of the scent of the inside of a woman’s thigh”. *

Head notes – Green Tea, White Freesia, Banana Tree Leaf, Coriander Seed Oil, Cardamom Absolute  Heart – Rose, Carnation, Clove Oil, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang Oil, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute   Base  – Musk, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Condensed Milk, Tonka Bean Absolute

You know what? For once, the ad copy is pretty accurate, although perhaps it overstates the “drama” and “aphrodisiac properties.”  * The hilarious quote about thighs is purportedly from composer Bertrand Duchaufour, from cosmeticsinternational.  It alone made me want to smell this thing, and people seem to be associating the scent with the word “thigh” now.  Maybe it’s just that “thigh” is a funny word, which it is.  Say it six times in a row: thigh thigh thigh thigh thigh thigh.  Kudos to you if you said it without snickering; I couldn’t.

And look at those notes, too – does that sound anything like thighs to you??  The notes say “tropical floral with oriental base” to me, and that’s a category I like in general.  So here it is the beginning of winter, and I’ve spritzed Amaranthine four days in a row, to make sure the experience isn’t a freak occurrence.  I think, honestly, it would be better in warmer weather.  It’s a bit light when one is wearing sweaters and shivering in a cold rain.  But even though it’s been less satisfying in early December than, say, Alahine (about which, more coming next week), I say this:  Amaranthine is beautiful.

It starts out with fresh, dewy florals only lightly dusted with spices.  I get very little tea from it, although other reviewers find it more prominent; I get more general “green” notes.  And yes, there’s a banana hit to it, probably from the ylang, although it’s a green banana thing, not an overripe squishy vibe.  I can’t identify rose in there, but the carnation is prominent, as well as the orange blossom. The jasmine is grassy and fresh, as opposed to that indolic heavy Joy-type jasmine that makes me think of dirty panties, and it doesn’t stand out. 

Eventually I get down to the base, which is soft and clings to the skin, and still retains a veil of freesia and orange blossom.  I was a bit worried about that “condensed milk” note, but although Amaranthine is a little sweet, it reads as floral sweetness to me rather than gourmand.  At this stage, it smells a bit like skin smells if the weather is warm and it’s been most of a day since it’s been showered: not squeaky-clean, but not smelly-sweaty either.  Like, you know, skin, warm and slightly moist.

It may be my nose, but I’m not getting of the weirdness some other reviewers have discovered.  Nor do I get the smuttiness that some people have described.  Is it just too cold and/or dry? Is my brain twisted? I’m not sure.  All I get out of Amaranthine is tropical, relaxed, fresh beauty.  I’ll be putting my decant away for a few months, at least, and wearing things more appropriate to this chilly weather.  When the time is right, I’ll know.

On a related subject (THIGHS!), I’m going to talk about body image.  I have a daughter in her early teens.  She’s healthy and fit; she’s petite; she’s still wearing a few things from the girls’ department, particularly dresses, as she finds the juniors’ department offerings immodest.  (I’m not complaining.)

But she said to me the other day after track practice, “You know, Mom, I have big thighs.” I looked at them and raised my eyebrows.  “They’ve got muscles.  I mean, you can actually see my thigh muscles. They’re runner’s thighs.”  I nodded.  “I think that’s the reason I have trouble finding jeans that fit.”  (Yeah, tell me about it.)  But I’m not going to apologize to my kid for giving her the thunder thighs genes, because – honestly? – she’s got great legs.  She complains that her broad shoulders make her shirts fit funny, and her muscly thighs make her jeans tight, and how her jeans are always too big in the waist if they fit her hips.    

And she’s looking around her high school at all the girls with thin thighs and thinking, How come I don’t look like them?, while I’m looking at her and thinking, Hey, that is my basic body shape, just younger and shorter and much, much thinner, and it’s beautiful.  It’s a swimmer’s body (okay, a short swimmer’s body!), and it’s healthy and athletic and beautiful. 

And I think I want it back.  I’ve been avoiding exercise for way too long.  Time to remedy that.

Ad copy from Penhaligon’s.  Top image: Amaranthine in the limited edition crystal flacon, from Penhaligon’s.
Center image: Shield Bug on Globe Amaranth by innermt at flickr.
Bottom image: 2008 Cross Country by nmhschool at flickr.  No, it’s not Bookworm, but she runs cross-country and distance track.  I’m so proud of her.

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