Tag Archives: Penhaligon

Rose Layering

The layering of fragrances is quite a daring act. I admire anyone that is willing to differentiate themselves in this manner. Harry Sheff, a fellow fragrance enthusiast and new contributing writer for Fragrant Moments, had a chance encounter with layering fragrances recently. He talks about it here in his debut post:


Rose

After wearing a succession of my own colognes and spraying an array of samples on my wrist, my watchband has acquired a bewitchingly complicated fragrance.

I’d heard people talk about layering fragrances before, but I’d never tried it myself—at least not intentionally. So when I realized how great my watchband smelled, I tried to decipher the scent. I don’t quite have it yet, but I tried wearing Costume National’s new men’s scent (reviewed by Barney here recently) over Le Labo’s Rose 31 (which was recommended to me by Barney and reviewed by him.

It’s brilliant. The softness of the Rose 31 (which for those who aren’t familiar with it is deepened by woods, musk and cumin) is deepened even more by Costume National Homme’s sandalwood, cinnamon and cloves. And, conversely, CN Homme’s harsher spiciness is soothed by Rose 31’s floral qualities. This experiment was a great success, I’m guessing, because of Rose 31; I plan on layering this with other fragrances.

Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet, a rich evergreen scent, would be a great candidate for layering with Rose 31. This comes to mind because of another pairing my girlfriend discovered with the help of a very smart salesman at CB I Hate Perfume in Brooklyn.

CB sells what seems like hundreds of individual accords, single note scents broken down into 14 categories like spice, flower, sweet, and clean. When the salesman came out from the store’s back room wearing an amazing smelling amber that he got in the mail as a sample from a competitor, he was unwilling (naturally) to tell us what it was.

Instead, he scrambled around the room smelling vials, eventually layering Rose Bulgare and Fir Douglas with an amber. The result was an excellent approximation of the fragrance he was wearing. But even more interesting was the combination of the rose and fir notes. My girlfriend bought them both and wears them together.

As a relative newcomer to the world of fragrances, it’s exciting to reach the level of sophistication (however modest) of mixing existing fragrances together to create new ones. It allows a whole new way to enjoy one’s collection of scents: simultaneously.

-Harry Sheff

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My New-Found Love For Penhaligon’s LP No 9

LP No 9
I remember in the late 90’s someone turned me onto Penhaligon’s and I instantly became intrigued by their history. Anyone that’s been in existence this long must be doing something right. As an impulse shopper, I ran to Saks Fifth Avenue to experience their magic. Of all the scents I smelt, LP No 9 stood out the most. It was warm and very masculine in a traditional sense. It seemed like something a banker would wear. I purchased it and after wearing it for a bit, didn’t like it anymore. Why, my taste started to change. I longed for something new. So I offered it to my brother because I could see he took a liking to it.

On Thursday May 21st, New York City Policeman shattered my world when they told me my beloved brother, Lamont R. Bishop, collapsed and passed away on his way home from the gym. My body went cold and I felt alone. Nothing would ever be the same.

After I returned home from the hospital with my family, I walked into his room as I began grappling with my new reality and there it was on his dresser staring at me. I’ve gone in there hundreds of times to ask him to cut my hair, for advice, to watch Sportscenter, help him pick out a shirt and tie combo, to compare who had a better Windsor knot, to give him a hug and never paid much attention to it. But on this particular day, the first fragrance I ever gave my brother, sorely stood out. After holding it in my hand and remembering the moment I gave it to him, I took it back into my possession. I then took a quick shower because there was much to do and proceeded to spray a bit on myself. The next day I sprayed a bit more on myself and did so every day for the next week. So many things have been running through my head but in a weird way LP No 9 has bought me a bit of comfort and it will forever be a part of my scent wardrobe.

Ya see, LP No 9 will forever remind me of my brother. It is indeed masculine and very traditional. But now it also represents everything that made my brother loved by so many, endearing, smooth, sweet, familiar, and strong. LP No 9 just feels right and that’s how you felt when in the presence of Lamont.

I feel cheated by life because Lamont was a mere 35 years old when he passed. He was on his way to receiving his PH.D in psychology, is survived by his 1 year old son named Aidan A Bishop, was making plans to marry his fiancee Aquila Lovell and had an entire life ahead of him. But most of all, he always had a moment to listen because he cared. He embodied all of the good qualities we’ve come to understand a man is to stand for. He loved his family and inspired his friends and colleagues to strive for greatness.

As I sit outside his room writing this post, I’m reminded by its stillness that my beloved brother is gone. Its surreal because he was only 35. It’s surreal because we spoke the night before and he told me he was proud of me. It’s surreal because we were supposed to grow old together. It’s surreal because my brother, my only brother is no longer here. But the memories are deep, the love is deeper and I can thank God we had the best relationship one can ask for. Best of all, I can spray a bit of LP No 9 on myself and remember L, aspire to be the man he was and look forward to hanging with him again one day. In the interim, I pray for strength and understanding and hope you will pray for me as well.

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Meet Stephen Greco

Love or hate Facebook, it can be addicting and it does possess the power of connecting individuals….and so begins this story.

I’ve known Stephen for a good few years and have always admired his intellect, his clarity of thought and endearing charm. To my surprise one day while surfing Facebook, his status message mentioned he was reading Chandler Burr’s Emperor of Scent. Could he be a fragrance enthusiast? Surely he must be if he’s reading this book. Well, I just had to inquire and what transpired was an enlightening exchange about scents, masculinity and memories of discovery.

Stephen, tell me a bit about your relationship with fragrances? What’s your earliest recollection?
My mother wore Chanel No.5 pretty religiously when I was a boy, and I can remember her being enveloped in a cloud of it when, on an evening she and my father were going out, she would come to my room rustling in a beautiful dress, her hair and makeup Hollywood-glorious, to tuck me in and kiss me good-night.

My father, at that time, was wearing Old Spice, which I found fully as exciting– though later my mother, sister and I bought him a bottle of Canoe, which we thought so much more sophisticated. This was in a small town in upstate New York, in the ’50s and ’60s. My father wasn’t the Canoe, type, though. Aqua Velva was his daytime alternative to Old Spice, and I used to love that, too– the equivalent of which, among the fragrances I use today, is Puig’s Agua Lavanda.

I was going to say that my first experience with fragrance for myself was a bottle of Guerlain’s Imperiale, which I begged my indulgent Aunt Fannie to buy for me after I’d seen an ad for it in the New York Times magazine. She did and I loved it, and then I went on to buy myself Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, a ridiculously adult fragrance for a small-town boy in Junior High. But come to think of it, I’d fallen in love years before that with the scent of Fitch hair tonic, which the barbers at Ed and Al’s used to apply to my fresh haircut, as a finishing touch. My father and I used to go to Ed and Al’s together on a Saturday morning, and I used to feel like man for the rest of the day, smelling of Fitch.

That said, how do you explain the period of time when you wore no fragrance at all?
I sort of came of age as a young gay man just at the time of what we used to call “liberation,” 1969, and for some reason– it’s complicated– it was felt politically important to move away from all vestiges of old-time faggotry, which include LOTS of fragrance, toward a new kind of gay masculinity that eventually flowered in The Clone. As I recall, Clones were not really allowed fragrance until official Clone scents came along–Halston’s Z (which I hated as too overwrought), then Drakkar Noir and the like. And even then certain bars and sex clubs were notorious for forbidding any fragrance, along with Lacoste shirts and designer jeans.

I have stories from those years about the powerful combination of body scents and fragrance, but those are perhaps for another blog.

What bought you back?
What can I say? Early on, I was taught to question all tyrannies, even those parading as politically or culturally correct. I started rocking fragrance whenever the hell I wanted to. And I was traveling a lot in the ’70s and ’80s, so I would often fall under the spell of various kinds of oils and attars that men of other cultures would anoint themselves with, and I adopted these, too.

Talk a bit about what Paco Robanne does to you?
Interesting! I was given a little silver metal canister of the “unisex” fragrance Paco at a party one night– this was in the ’90s, when I was at Interview magazine– and though intellectually I filed the scent under “CK1 knock-off,” emotionally I was transported. For me, Paco was pure, spray-on optimism! No other fragrance had ever reached me so deeply (except for the scent of fresh hyacinth flowers, which, unlike the scent of other flowers, affects me like a psychedelic drug).

This might be the spot to confess that if I have any “psychic” power at all, it would be to smell the future and past, not to see it. What that means, of course, I have no real idea. It’s not like American life is populated with mentors or guides in this area.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Besides Paco and Agua Lavanda, to which I still turn a lot, I also use Davidoff’s Cool Water and Geoffrey Beene’s Bowling Green. Also in the mix are Arden’s Sandalwood and all the Penhaligon men’s fragrances– especially Blenheim, my first bottle of which I purchased in Wellington Street, Covent Garden, one New Year’s Eve in the ’80s, before boarding the Orient Express for an overnight voyage to Venice. For me, the composition and behavior of Blenheim is like that voyage: beginning in the cold, foggy north and heading south, toward the sun and opulence…

But I am also VERY partial to Penhaligon’s Bluebell, a cheeky little charmer that’s supposed for women but works very well on a man.

Oh, and when I am not buzzing my hair and have enough to style, I eagerly grab my Confixor, by Aveda, which isn’t very complicated but does kinda radiate a rosemary cheeriness, along with (I think) lavender.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
This blog, along with books I’ve recently encountered by Luca Turin and Chandler Burr, are inspiring me to go out and look for something new. Until now, I guess I’ve been a bit slack about that– which is odd, since even as a kid, if I liked a certain quartet or novel or ballet, I had to check out everything else immediately by that composer or author or choreographer.

I found a sample of Lalique for Men in a goody bag last year and liked the fragrance a lot, but for some reason never purchased a bottle. Then a friend of mine, a retired dancer, brought me to Aedes de Venustas one day, and I felt too intimidated to poke around, try things, ask questions.

No more! I’m suddenly really jazzed up about smelling and smelling like…

Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
All my Penhaligons are repeat buys. So is the Paco, which in a fever one night recently, years after I’d used up that first canister, I replenished via Ebay. After reading Turin I was afraid of a reformulation, but either Paco’s the same stuff or my nose is not smart enough to tell the difference.

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
Powdered fallen leaves, on that first, oddly warm, Indian Summer day of
fall…