As we know, these are financially testing times. Hence, The Scentimentalist was compelled to seek additional employment, if only to be able to sustain her perfume habit. Though extra capital has facilitated some new internet acquisitions (a vintage Balenciaga La Fuite des Heures, a dubiously cheap Patou 1000 and an Errol Flynn-esque Rochas Moustache), the downside of being wedded to the workstation is clear: one has less time for sniffing around the world of perfume outdoors.
Thus it was with dismay that my long-anticipated attendance at a perfume nerds’ meet-up was cancelled this August. As I coached Chinese nanotechnologists in the conventions of the academic essay, my pals from a world-renowned perfume forum were cavorting around the emporia of London, quaffing champagne, snagging ‘exclusives’ and bagging various scented freebies.
My crony, floriental girl, supplied a regular SMS chronicle: Am early and in Starbucks! / So nice to meet everyone in person!
I was following her pronouncements with a mildly jaundiced eye, when one improbable text message shrieked out at me: OMG! Just smelled new Penhaligon’s. Amaranthine. Can only be described as ****able!
***able?! Penhaligon’s? Oh-so-English purveyors of genteel soliflores and high-toned gentlemen’s colognes?
I remained quietly sceptical. Though, on reflection, I recalled a Penhaligon’s sales assistant tipping me off about Amaranthine: a ‘corrupted floral oriental’, ‘a creamy carnation’, a Bertrand Duchaufour creation.
Just two days before Amaranthine’s launch on 12 October, floriental girl sent me a sample in the post. She’d attended a party a few days earlier, and had spent the evening, starstruck, in the company of Duchaufour, head perfumer at L’Artisan. They’d chatted in French, he’d autographed her bottle in silver, they’d confided a mutual disaffection with certain accords. She was clearly in love, with both the scent and with its nose.
I approached the sample vial with a prurient fascination.
Amaranthine evokes the deep purple-red of the amaranthus, the eternally exquisite and never-fading flower. Penhaligon’s announces it as a ‘daring’ new scent, and for a heritage house with a fairly traditional luxury profile, it represents an indubitable shift towards modern relevance and sensuality, while never relinquishing the brand’s refinement or preoccupation with taste.
Though presenting a deferential continuum with Penhaligon’s legacy of feminine florals, Amaranthine breaks with the Bluebells and Elizabethan Roses of yore to present a complex, sophisticated floriental that is at turns blooming (carnation, rose, orange flower), unchaste (ylang ylang, jasmine, musk, sandalwood) and edible (cardamom, coriander seed, vanilla, condensed milk, tonka bean absolute).
Though by no means as ostensibly avant-garde as some of Duchaufour’s compositions (Timbuktu and Dzonghka for L’Artisan spring most readily to mind), there is nonetheless something of this great nose’s signature at work here – a damp, sweet, hay-like crotchiness that nuzzles tenderly beneath the floral notes, swathed in the ambrosial comfort of lashings of cream with added spice.
With its superlative longevity and delectable, come-hither sillage, Amaranthine – like its namesake – is truly a beauty that does not fade.