Penhaligon's Sartorial is inspired by the smells of a Savile Row tailor: vanilla-scented pattern paper, beeswax-coated thread, leather, steam from an iron -- along with traditional cologne ingredients of lavender and balsams. Norton and Sons is the classic London tailor featured in this frolicsome Penhaligon's video, alongside frolicsome Sartorial perfumer Bertrand Duchoufour:
Sartorial doesn't reveal the cut of its jib at first. It's got a freshy-fresh, generic launch. The magic happens when it revs up on the skin -- it goes from being anonymously crispy to worn-in, lived-in, faded to perfection: musky honey and leather, beaten-up woods, vanilla and amber and myrrh. It has a real presence. It's thick, but not leaden or syrupy.
My girlfriend, the artist Georgie Hopton, has started an instant cult (well, a cult among her friends, anyway) with her adoption of Penhaligon's Sartorial as her new signature. The stuff is absolutely intoxicating on her! When I'm visiting her, I've been known to sneak into her bedroom to squirt some on myself. It glows really softly, warmly and persistently around the wearer.
It's broken-in and deep and nuzzleable, and I never would have given it the time of day in a Penhaligon's store. Smelling it there, all I got was lime and black pepper freshness. I even demanded that Georgie show me her bottle -- I was sure she was telling me the name of the wrong perfume. But soon enough, Sartorial warms up into a comforting, beeswaxy, myrrhy musk.
And get this: it's startlingly and absolutely a "grandpa smell", but that's part of the beautiful contrast when worn by my vibrant and feminine friend. I wonder if Sartorial would lose its magic if worn by a man?
I like how it smells like the inside of a closed room filled with nice people. I've not stacked it up against the actual smell of Norton and Sons, but I can vouch for its resemblance to the smell inside James Smith and Sons umbrella shop. This London institution dates from 1830, and in addition to umbrellas sells "town canes, country canes, dagger canes and sword sticks". Marvelous.
|A dagger cane may be Dickens-style gangsta, but it won't help you in the rain.|
The close air of this pleasantly musty shop smells of leather, wood, polish, and classic men's fougère cologne. A little DIY Sartorial.
My Perfume Pen Pal Dan Rolleri was not as transported by Sartorial as I was, declaring:
I'm wearing Sartorial. Though my nose tells me I'm wearing Brut. Sartorial isn't quite Brut, but not having owned a bottle of Brut since I was sixteen, I can't pinpoint all the differences. I'm almost certain it's stronger, and there's that modern ozone thing, which is especially noticeable because the Brut/fougère part of the fragrance is so familiar that the ozone part stands out like a sore thumb. Or a sore thunderstorm.
My first impression is it smells good, but only because it's a classic fougère and classic fougères smell good. I'm still trying to figure out exactly why I like/hate this.