Picture this if you will: it’s the turn of the 19th century. You’re standing in the midst of a hive of bustling activity at the London Docks. The very air is abuzz and as the salty sea breeze blows in you catch the distinct scent of adventure. The woody smell of the newly built clipper ships and above that the notes of their precious cargo. The unmistakable smell of fresh black tea leaves, the fragrance of the patchouli used to protect delicate silk scarves and fine fabrics soon to be snapped up by London’s society women and something more exotic; cloves, cardamom, jasmine and the heady scent of myrrh and oud tell of distant lands you yearn to explore. Got that? Now try and bottle it.
And that is exactly what Penhaligon’s have done. Enlisting the help of three different perfumers they have come up with the Trade Routes Collection, a tantalising trio of perfumes evoking the exact scene above: Lothair, Empressa and Levantium.
Inspired by the famous Tea Clipper Ships that travelled the world to bring back exotic treasures to be distributed in London, Lothair initially has a salty tang, followed by the smoky aroma of black tea. The scent is balanced out with the base notes of cedar, ambergris and wenge woods reminiscent of the varnished decks of these historic ships. Definitely the most male scent of the three Lothair is a perfect gift for that special guy in your life (hello Dad). Saying that, I would be lying if I said I would wear a spritz myself if I were in a more mellow mood.
As the name suggests this is one for the ladies. A sophisticated perfume inspired by the pearls, precious silks and fabrics that were brought into London to be worn by the city’s aristocracy. Fruity notes of blood orange, dewberry and peach mix with the floral tones of roses, neroli and geranium. A hint of pink and black pepper adds a little spice to an otherwise sweet smell, while depth is added with patchouli, vanilla and sensual rich sandalwood. A truly opulent perfume for us modern day ladies of style and influence.
The final perfume in the collection, Levantium is an exotic exploration into broad variety of tradable goods that found their way to London from the Middle East. Rum-like davana and absinthe, the warmth of saffron, soft scents of rose, jasmine and ylang ylang and a sharp kick of clove and cardamom, all rounded off with the luxuriously heady base of oud, amber and myrrh. Levantium is a lavishly evocative perfume which immediately sent my head reeling with memories of Moroccan and Tunisian bustling spice markets, making it my definite favourite.
The Trade Routes Collection is available from 1st September in all Penhaligon’s shops and online at www.penhaligons.com and are £120 each for a gorgeous 100ml in the iconic Penhaligon’s style.