LES BALLET DES PENHALIGON’S ~ Launch of Iris Prima by Penhaligon’s


 “And there are going to be bagpipes!” I told my friend Lane when I was describing the Launch which took place yesterday by Penhaligon’s of their new fragrance Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue. Sometimes I get the details a little wrong.

My two perfume guru’s Hilary Randall and Michal Gizinski had invited me to meet them downtown so that we three could go together to the opening across Union Square at Saks. I popped in a half hour early to Barney’s to pick up Hilary and to smell the newly arrived line from Atkinson’s of London.  This house has been around since 1799 and was huge in the 1800’s. It is making a comeback and reintroducing classics from its illustrious past. I will do a proper write up on this exciting launch in San Francisco another time, but be alerted that these perfumes are something very special. (they will be officially available on Wednesday the 9th of this month.)

Hilary looked incredibly beautiful in what she called “my retired ballerina look.”  And she was spectacular in along dove grey skirt with a blouse of cream colored linen and lace. She had on yards of beautiful freshwater pearls, enough to choke Coco Chanel’s chauffeur. After a few quick sniffs of Atkinson’s we headed over to Neiman’s to pick up the third member of our perfume triumvirate. Michal always gracious and elegant cut a dashing figure as he greeted us. He was and is an indispensable addition when one is in the realm of new perfumes, art, literature and general fun.


Union Square

   As we made our way around Union Square to Saks the three of us chatted about writers, perfume and the glorious Indian summer weather we are enjoying in San Francisco. The sidewalks were packed with tourists in tee shirts, flip flops and cut offs, I noticed the three of us caused a few heads to turn in our proper go to town duds.


  When we entered Saks there wasn’t a bagpiper in sight. But there was a ballerina! Oh Ballerinas not bagpipes! See what I mean about the details? A lovely young lady in tutu and toe shoes offered us red ribbons scented with Penhaligon’s new perfume Iris Prima. It is a light lovely scent that opens with a brief pas de deux of bergamot and pink pepper. Its signature iris is on pointe and center stage with a lovely jasmine to support it. And in the dry down the corps de ballet comes on in the form of leather, sandalwood, vetiver, amber, vanilla and benzoin. It is quite a lovely floral woody with very little austerity one usually finds in iris perfumes. I would recommend it to someone new to perfume as a soft introduction to Iris.


As the event unfolded we met with Penhaligon’s sales and marketing director and old acquaintance Brian Kurtz. Charming as ever Brian told us about the perfume. The inspiration he told us, came from the smells of the ballet, back stage and in the dressing rooms were the magic of the theater begins each night during the ballet season.  He also filled us in about the recent launch in New York City that was super spectacular. (See the video at the bottom)


Brian Kurtz (left) and Michal Gizinski (right) discuss the finer points of Penhaligon’s

We were then joined buy some of the gang from the Facebook group, S.F. Sniff. It was becoming a really fun party as we greeted old perfume friends from around the Bay Area. Tama Blough from Ca Fleure Bon was in attendance and sporting a cute new hairdo.  I also got to meet briefly one of my favorite YouTube reviewers Sebastian Jara from Man Loves Cologne. I also got to catch up with the beautiful and always sunny Brooke from the East Bay.  We discussed our favorite new perfumes and how much we love to shop at ZGO in the Castro.


Music filled the air and swelled to fill Saks to the rafters.  We turned to find a line of beautiful ballerinas coming up the circular stairs for the shoe department. They presented us with a charming dance sans bagpipes. It was the perfect touch of elegance to go along with this lovely new presentation from the always innovative and exciting house of Penhaligon’s.  I am so happy that there were ballerinas instead of bagpipes!



For all of my Bay Area readers a reminder that this Saturday at Neiman Marcus there will be the Parris Monte Carlo launch at 1pm on the main floor. Be there if you can for what will be one of the perfume highlights of the year. Be sure to say hello to Michal Gizinski our host and meet Gian Luca and Elisabetta Perris who are the guiding forces behind the exhilarating Perris Monte Carlo Perfumes. 

(The beautiful and spectatcular presentation of Iris Prima at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan)

Penhaligon’s web site: http://www.penhaligons.com/

Sebastian’s Blog Man Loves Cologne: http://www.manlovescologne.com/

Man Loves Cologne on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/manlovescologne?feature=watch

Ca Fleure Bon: http://www.cafleurebon.com/

Atkinson’s Perfumes web site: http://www.atkinsons1799.com/



  1. Ah, dear lanier, it is always such a dreaming mood reading your articles, and such big words, too. Penhaligons … Chanel … it’s lie being in or out of a transe state of perfumed mind heaven. Very busy these days but always get time enough to get a glimpsy of your marvelous work. Well done, indeed. always a pleasure. Hope you have a wonderful week in dreaming California.

    • Thank you Jose! I hope you have a dreamy Spring in Brazil. It is always nice when you stop in to say hello!

  2. Wow…Very nice description of the launch…now I am lemming Penhaligon’s Iris Prima!

  3. Ballet over bagpipes any day of the week 😉 . I can sense every scent that you described… except for the iris, I have no sense memory of that, isn’t that peculiar? I’m going to have to go stick my head in a bunch of iris and get that straightened out!

    • Darling it is no wonder you have no memory of the iris…the flower itself has no scent. Perfumers get the scent from the plant and the root. Oris root as it is called. But go ahead and stick your head in a bunch of iris, it just sounds like so much fun!

      • Oris root! That’s what I used to dry oranges (buried in a shoe box filled with chopped oris root) stuck with cloves in for Christmas… I know what that smells like. You are absolutely the best. xox, V

      • No not I, YOU are the best! Xoxox

  4. Just beautiful, as always… Michael, what would we all without your ability to chronicle our fragrant lives?

    With affection, H


    • Thank you Madame H. My muse and guide in the land of perfume.

  5. oh gosh.



    we once spent an exquisite night here and the bathroom was overflowing with penhaligon’s beauteousness.


    and no.

    we weren’t alone….

    • Oh how very very fabuglorious!! Hugs and buckets of Taif rosebuds to Team Gloria.

  6. What a lovely day! I am so impressed with the creatives at Penhaligan’s. The launch was beautiful and it was such a great way to engage the customers in the store. As always, it was delightful seeing you,

    • It is always a lovely day when I see you Brooke! So thrilled you stopped by the old blog. I had the best time with you at the launch. See you at Neiman Marcus on Saturday.

  7. My Dearest Lanier
    What a simply splendid, and ever so glamorous way, to launch a new scent.
    I wonder were you tempted to don hose and join in with the assembled dancers?
    Oh, and do tell Hilary that I think a ‘retired ballerina’ is one of the best looks I’ve ever heard of.
    Do keep these adventures coming… they are so much fun to read!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy
    PS So looking forward to your take on Atkinsons…

    • Thank you Dandy! I will pass on your message to Madame H. As for joining in with the corps de ballet…no, it would have been a disaster if I had pushed my way in among all those tutus. I am going to get a whiff again today of Atkinson’s on my way to the Perris Monte Carlo event at Neimans. So stay tuned.

  8. What a glorious day! Sorry I was leaving town so I missed it.

  9. A wonferful post. I really enjoyed this. Way beyond my league, but loved it nonetheless.

    • Thank you so much! It is way beyond my league too but I just go ahead and go go go! It is only perfume after all. Lovely to see you here.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Blog Stats

    • 284,534 hits