Thursday, August 09, 2012

Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet

Head Notes:
Lavender and Bergamot

Heart Notes:
Rose Otto, Cedarwood, Orris and Jasmine

Base Notes:
Amber, Musk and Sandalwood

Hammam Bouquet is described as an extraordinarily exotic oriental scent created by William Penhaligon in 1872.

Perhaps by 19th century standards, this scent is an Oriental, but because of what I perceive to be a dominating floralcy, it smells to me like a Spicy Floral. Being more heart-centric than ruled by the heavier base, I could also think of it as an Oriental of a more insouciant kind than most of its intense family. However, it's no less redolent in all its Turkish rose-scented glory showcased among musk and spice notes. If you might recall, it took me forever to wrap my head around another spicy fragrance named Chanel Les Exclusifs N°18, but I now understand it to be a reincarnation of Hammam Bouquet, a classic spicy Oriental fragrance with a subtle yet luxurious, animalic, musky undertone, although characterized by an overall lightness of feeling - richly fragrant moments briskly touch and go like an impression of a daydream about a trip on the Orient Express.

When I first experienced it, the bouquet of Turkish rose threatened to overwhelm me with so much beauty at once, it nearly knocked me over, but the initial headiness, brewed with refinement and expertise, re-entered the room with a new attitude, sweetening up till I was cozy with the calming base notes of amber, sandalwood and musk. The rose that once stole the show retired early and gracefully, and the all-out handsome vintage charm stepped forward with all its spicy, prickly, savory appeal. It's regal, classic, elegant enough to be worn to a formal afternoon tea.

The description on reads as follows: "Inspired by the scent of the Turkish Baths on Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, Hammam Bouquet is an daring oriental created by William Penhaligon in 1872. Animalic and golden, it is warm and mature, redolent of old books, powdered resins and ancient rooms. At its heart is dusky Turkish rose, with jasmine, woods, musk and powdery orris. Heady and glamorous, Hammam Bouquet is evocative of the Edwardian era of decadence and excess."

A captivating blurb on niche sites states: "A haunting and nostalgic dance; back through time."

Since it is a Men's fragrance, Hammam Bouquet is available as a line of grooming products. As for me, I'll be wearing it après le bain.