Penhaligon’s new men’s scent, Sartorial, was launched this month with a complete and satisfying story of its origins. The perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour (an incredibly talented nose with an impressive portfolio that includes the Eau d’Italie line), used the aromas of a Savile Row tailor shop for inspiration, a fitting conceit for a spin on the traditional masculine fougere.
When I met Duchaufour at the West Village perfume shop Aedes de Venustas recently, his retelling of the story I already knew from the press release was captivating. He has a clear passion for his work—and for communicating it to people. While I had made my decision about Sartorial (I love it), I found his amiable manner opened me to scents I hadn’t considered before, like his Amaranthine for Penhaligon’s. A good story goes a long way, and a good storyteller even further.
The Sartorial story, from the press materials, goes like this:
Created by master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, it was inspired by the scents of the workroom at Norton & Sons, Bespoke Tailors at No. 16 Savile Row.
Sartorial is a contemporary interpretation of a classic Fougère; the traditional notes of oakmoss, tonka bean and lavender have been exquisitely stitched together with woods, ozonic and metallic effects, leather, violet leaf, honey and spices to 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.
What I like about this scent, is the beeswax and honey smells—sweet but very organic—combined with the sharp edge of something else I can’t quite place. After reading the press materials on Sartorial too many times, the “ozonic and metallic effects” come to mind. I’ve been wearing this for a week now in very small doses, and I’m loving it. When I first received the sample vials from the distributor, I wore it heavy and nearly burned myself out on it. Now I’m convinced that this is a fragrance that loves subtlety: hints of it, rather than a full-on assault, are very rewarding.
Although it’s categorized as a fougere (a “fern” scent characterized by the combination of lavender and tonka bean, often with oakmoss; Brut may be the most common example), I keep thinking of Chanel Pour Monsieur and Parfums de Nicolaï’s New York—two chypres. Now, a chypre is a combination of bergamot, oakmoss and labdanum—a little sweeter, typically, than the woody fougere. But when Duchaufour added the sweetness of vanilla and honey, he mellowed it enough to confuse my nose. Either way, it’s a great and creative update on a classic masculine style.
While the distributor assures me that Sartorial should be $110 for 100ml/3.4 oz, I was seeing it at both Aedes and California-based Lucky Scent for $135. Lucky Scent has since dropped it to $110, but as of this writing, Aedes had not. The smaller, 50ml/1.7 oz bottle for $85 should be available by the end of the month.
Other reviews of Sartorial: Fragrant Moments liked it. Now Smell This didn’t like it as much, and thought it was well-made, but dated. The Scented Salamander liked it, and thought it could be worn by women because of the honey and vanilla notes.