Skip to main content

Sartorial – A cut above (October 10, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)



When I was growing up I made all of my own clothes – dresses, blouses, skirts and pants. I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing. I wanted to wear something unique – I still do, but scent has replaced clothing in this role. Back in those days I had more time than money so spending the weekend fussing with fluttery pattern paper and tailor’s chalk, cutting out material with big heavy shears, and bending over a sewing machine to make the perfect party dress was kinda fun.

Nowadays I have much less spare time so I’ve become a ‘gin and tonic’ sewer – only for repairs and only after one stiff cocktail.

Still, when I read that Penhaligon’s, the venerable English perfume house, has come out with a scent that would “create the perfect illusion of a tailor’s workroom. The modern thread running through Sartorial is beeswax; echoing the blocks of wax each thread is run across before stitching. This sweet smudged note ties together the more traditional elements; the oiled flash of shears cutting cloth, the rub of fabric beneath fingers, tobacco tinted cabinetry, puffs of chalk in the air and old paper patterns vanilla with age.” I was intrigued and made a note to try it sometime. When I discovered that the perfumer was Bertrand Duchaufour I made a note to try it soon. Once I sniffed it and it worked its way up my nose like a snake charmer, I knew I had to buy a bottle.

It opens with aldehydes and a metallic zing from violet leaf and neroli. As it settles, the ozonic effect comes forward and lingers just a while before cardamom, black pepper and ginger appear to soften the metallic edges by adding spiciness and warmth as it moves to the heart. Ahh, yes the heart – this is where the classic fougère meets 2010. The gentleman’s note, lavender combined with leather and modernized with beeswax all resting on a base of oakmoss and musk, jazzed up with amber, cedarwood, patchouli and myrrh. Tonka bean and vanilla add the perfect amount of sweetness. The result is the perfect gentleman’s fragrance – never loud or harsh but still masculine yet it’s so modern, refined and classy that women can easily carry it off.

Does Sartorial create the illusion of a tailor’s workroom? I couldn’t say. What I can say is that it is a fougère for the 21st century twisted up by one of perfumery’s top talents. In fact, when I close my eyes tightly and take a big whiff, I can see M. Duchaufour winking at me!

Perhaps I should be putting a little more tonic in my gin.

Today we’re adding Sartorial to our decant sample program. Decants are $5.00.