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

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 “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.

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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.

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  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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

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******************

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/

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APPOINTMENT AT TYBURN ~ Eau Sans Pareil by Penhalagon’s

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Midnight bells rang far off in the midst of London’s slumber. Wary and alone Maryanne Stewart pushed herself to walk faster past Marble Arch toward her home on Connaught Square. She was almost there.

“Stand and deliver, Madame!”

Startled by the demand in a rich ringing baritone, Maryanne turned in the fog to find that there was no one there, she was completely alone.

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The street lights on Bayswater Road glowed like warm fuzzy fireflies in the thick hanging fog. The light they shed barley made it to the sidewalk below them.  So thick was the murky night that she could barely see across the road to Hyde Park. She shivered and pulled her muffler closer to her chin and turned to walk on.

As she crossed Edgeware Road to the little traffic island a vaporous figure  emerged before her in a swirling black cap and a three cornered hat. If sky blue were flames he carried them within his eyes.  What burned there was all that was visible of his face above the black silk kerchief that covered his nose and mouth. He held two Pirlet flintlock pistols aimed right at her heart. Maryanne’s mouth flapped open to emit only a chilled gasp.

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The man took two steps toward her, lowered his guns and laughed. “I will do thee no harm Milady, nor shall I take thy coin purse or jewels. Such beauty as you hold within your face makes a beggar of any man you look upon. Believe it honest and true, I have never clapped eyes upon, nor am I likely ever again to behold such a woman as you in this life or the next.” His devilish eyes fell to her mouth. “What I will take with great pleasure and at any cost be it gold or the hangman’s noose is a kiss from those perfect lips.” He doffed his hat and gave her a courtly bow.

Maryanne looked him up and down then narrowed her eyes. “Get out of my way!”  She took a swipe at him with her tote bag and to her surprise it sliced though him creating a rolling wave of vapor which slowly and amazingly found its way back into his form  She looked from side to side to see if she were truly alone and the only person on the street to witness this apparition. A buss trundled past with only the driver on board.

The man pulled his kerchief down around his neck to reveal a face unsurpassed in the realm of male splendor. He leveled his gaze upon her and gave her a dazzling smile. “If not a kiss, then what say you to a midnight ride with me on the back of my horse Black Bess?”

“Look here Mr. Ghost, I am tired and I want to go home. Besides hasn’t anyone told you it is not only very rude to frighten people but also quite out of fashion? Now if you will excuse me?” She stepped boldly forward and walked right through him. Half a block down the street she looked back. He was gone.

Along Stanhope Place Maryanne heard the clip clop of horses hoofs. She turned her head slowly to the left. There following along on the street was the apparition and its horse, the huge beast snorted and its eyes glowed with the banked embers of hell. Black Bess no doubt.  Once again the specter doffed his hat and bowed from the saddle. Maryanne sighed and turned her nose into the air and walked on. Black Bess and her master kept pace. When she reached number 20 Connaught Square she unlocked the front door and stepped inside. As she shut the door on the street she saw that he was still astride his horse in the middle of the street, watching her house with those eyes. Incredible eyes they were she had to admit with a slight shiver and a smile to herself. That night she kept the lamp on beside her bed.

By morning she had convinced herself that the entire thing had been a dream. On her way to Selfridges for a bit of shopping  she came to the traffic island where she had seen the ghost the night before. As she waited with the morning crowd for the light to change an odd feeling came over her. She turned around. In the center of the island there was a plaque.  She had steeped over hundreds of times  without ever reading it. Round and set flush with the sidewalk it simply read: “Site of Tyburn Tree”. She covered her mouth with both hands in shock. Of course, Tyburn, the place where criminals where hung in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Among the many who swung from the three cornered gallows was the Highwayman who rode a horse called Black Bess.  What was his name? Her mind reeled as she shut her eyes and his face appeared once more before her. Of course! His name was Dick Turpin the most famous Highwayman of them all. And on this very spot, April 7, 1739 by His Majesty George II order Dick Turpin was hung untill dead.

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For the rest of her life when she walked alone Dick Turpin always gave Maryanne Stewart safe passage home. Whether she noticed him or not, she never made mention to anyone.

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*****

Olfactory artist, Beverley Bayne’s  2011 creation of Eau Sans Pareil for Penhalagon’s is sparkling if fleeting cocktail for the end of summer in a haunted garden. A watery right bright effusion of Aldehydes open the composition with a basket filled with fruits. Bitter Neroli meets up with the sweetly tart Kumquats; Mandarin oranges do their thing with the help of a whispering pineapple. More whispers of the sun on a southern slid toward autumn is found with a little cypress, pink pepper and a very light honey sweet Tagete flower.  All of this is just a momentary introduction to a great big boisterous raspberry. The opening is promising for those who are looking for a light fruity Eau de Toilette that acts more like cologne, a beautiful melancholy ghost to follow you from summer into fall.

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In the heart the fragrance it moves from the fruit garden to the flower garden and in this transition it drops very close to the skin. Maybe too close to the skin for some.  Light lily of the valley, a delicate ylang-ylang bring soft caresses to a sleepy Jasmine. There is a touch of spice from clove and tangy thick Liquorice that gild a lovely late rose of summer. Under this rose there is a grounding earthy orris root to remind you that all things must return to the earth. It swirls around nicely and then evaporates like a ghostly ectoplasm to the dry down.

Here there is the haunting in the dying garden. The spirits of Patchouli waft over a dry, dry vetiver. Tendrils of vanilla tease a shy spectral Amber as together they float over a parched Cedarwood. Laudanum and Oakmoss are shrouded in a ghostly musk.  The sprit of the fragrance crosses over to the next world at about the fourth hour.

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As an Aromatic Fougere is it very soft and pleasing. I find it to be too wispy for my taste but still lovely in what it does. It is sold as a masculine fragrance but pushing that nonsense aside this fragrance would work well on a woman who is looking for a fruity floral that is not in the least bombastic but rather hauntingly beautiful.

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Eau Sans Pareil by Penhalagon’s  3 gold stars ***

(Why only three gold stars? Beautiful as it is, like summer Eau Sans Pariel fades much too quickly. )

 My sample of Eau Sans Pariel came with my August Olfactif delivery. I am so impressed with this sample service from every aspect, themes (August is all about the last days of summer) packaging and their wonderful website and blog complete with interviews with the perfumers. I encourage you to try Olfactif, a must for any perfume aficionado.

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