Friday, September 04, 2009

Penhaligon's Bluebell

Hyacinths are what Penhaligon's Bluebell is all about, and if you've ever used English fragrances and toiletries like Bronnley Blue Poppy or Floris Seringa, you might recognize the sweet traditional floral scent of the English garden as a recurring motif in British scent culture, which might explain why Penhaligon's calls Bluebell the "most British" among their line. Or, perhaps it's the green aspect of it that's especially British. Bluebell is a standout creation among these, sharply green with fresh, leafy galbanum, and indolic-sweet at once, like honeysuckle and jasmine. At first sniff, I recoiled and thought Bluebell smelled like an unwashed dog or noxious fumes, even like public telephone receivers, but since those early days of maligning it as an unwearable-but-well made perfume, I've grown to actually love it enough to wear. And so, dear readers, here I am with my holy grail fragrance of the moment, Penhaligon's Bluebell. At heart, I am a Floral lover, and I love wearing spring flowers all year long. (Image:

Bluebell is a Green Floral but it's also a damp, earthy scent, especially on dry down. The scent of woods combined with the heavily indolic florals create one light and clear yet highly aromatic scent. It's an elegant fragrance, as soft as any Penhaligon's perfume ought to be (even the spicy Oriental and bold Chypre ones which I don't care for are all of exquisite quality, never harsh but soft to the nose), but the hyacinth notes are metallic sharp and tingly cool, bracing until they mellow into a lukewarm, plant sap type of wet olfactive texture. A formidable ice queen would wear it, as would Hyacinth Bucket: it's also notoriously a once-favorite of Lady Diana and Kate Moss, the latter whom I also associate with Demeter Dirt - and yes, Bluebell has quite a bit of that wet soil scent in it as well.

Penhaligon's has been creating beautiful, traditional fragrances since 1870. Some others in the line I adore are: Artemisia (smooth and powdery jasmine-sandalwood-musk, like Cashmere Mist but softer), Elisabethan Rose (a cool and crisp, joyous pink rose soliflore), Ellenisia (a crisp white floral bouquet similar to Chanel Gardenia) Lily of the Valley (a full-bodied blend of lily of the valley with rose, jasmine and other classical notes), Hammam Bouquet (a spicy Oriental choice which happens to be reminiscent of Chanel Les Exclusifs No.18).

Here are the notes according to

Head Notes

Heart Notes
Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Cyclamen, Jasmine and Rose

Base Notes
Galbanum, Clove and Cinnamon