Sounding out a signature scent can be near impossible with all that’s on the market in the current climate. Men’s grooming is bigger than ever and there’s a wealth of product on the shelves to prove it. Your preferred fragrance, thus, often becomes the one you’ve settled on: you were probably bought it as a gift, quite liked it and so kept buying it, or perhaps you were recommended it on these very pages.
It hopefully smells rather nice, has been complimented on numerous times and goes down well on a date, but is it a match made in heaven? Our noses can detect over 10,000 odours, but your sense of smell gets bored easily. It doesn’t take long before your nostrils give up during a smelling session and you begin to struggle to detect the different notes. By sheer math alone, the chances are slim that it’s the perfect scent for you. This is when it’s time to call in an expert, someone who’s sense of smell is a little more discerning and knowledge of fragrances unbounded. Step forward Penhaligon’s and their fragrance profiling service.
Founded back in the 1860s by William Henry Penhaligon, who was Court Barber and Perfumer to Queen Victoria, his eponymous perfume house now holds two royal warrants, a collection numbering in excess of 40 fragrances, plus multiple exclusive London stores. Who better to sniff out what you should be smelling like on a daily basis?
My appointment takes place in the upmarket apothecarial Burlington Arcade store. There are bottles a plenty in an array of colours adorning the nattily decorated interior, with every shelf, side and cranny dedicated to housing the brand’s treasures. For my fragrance profiling I’m lead upstairs to a private room; it’s described to me as a jewellery box of a room and that couldn’t be a more fitting description. It’s plush, luxurious and the cabinets are host to Penhaligon’s full range of vibrant vials.
We get down to business and I’m asked a series of questions, from my current fragrance to my favourite colour and even my tipple of choice. At this point I’m assured my expert isn’t a shrink, although the chaise chair in the corner is starting to look a little suspect.
After a round of get to know me, I’m given a selection of fragrance to take in, not too many just a curated handful. The point isn’t to smell until your senses are dulled, but to nail down exactly what you like — without the sales waffle. You’re reacting on scent and scent alone, not what you think you may or may not like and not what the retail assistant at the beauty counters need to shift before the week’s end.
After I’ve narrowed it down to 2 fragrances on scent strips, I’m encouraged to sample them on the skin. Leaving them to settle on my wrists for a few minutes, I take a whiff. They smell different, not a complete identity change but not exactly same. This is interesting. Fragrances interact differently with flesh than they do on paper, it’s worth letting them settle on the skin before you make the decisions to buy. This tact also makes my choice much clearer. one immediately becomes more attractive than the other.
My perfect fragrance, in fact, is Endymion, which Penhaligon’s has just released a new Concentré version of.
This is also where the profiling service shined. My personal preference is for citrusy scents, but Endymion has a note of spiciness to sit alongside its freshness. I also despise lavender, yet Endymion has it as a head note, had I known it was in there I wouldn’t have even tried it.
With notes of Bergamot, mandarin and sage also at the the head the freshness is already there. Whilst the black pepper base notes and coffee absolutely bring out the subtle spice and warmness.
Released as part of a series with contrasting counterpart Luna, which has a slightly more feminine, floral feel, Endymion is a fragrance that can take you from the day to the night. As it settles, the fragrant spiciness becomes more apparent, perfect after a days work for a night in the bar.