Monday, August 18, 2008

Penhaligon's- Hammam Bouquet

I never thought of rose as a particularly feminine smell. If you smell the actual flower in a dewy garden it smells very genderless to my nose, just a nice, mild and fresh aroma. I think it's the extremely synthetic rose in tacky mass market fragrances of the last decade that has tarnished the reputation of this beatiful, floral component. The rose found in Geo F Trumper's ancient Rose Shaving Cream for instance smells very gentle and natural. The same can be said for Comme de Garcons Red Series Rose.

So, with this in mind, I was never afraid or worried about the strong rose element when I finally got around to sample Hammam Bouquet. After all, this eau de toilette was released over a century ago.

Hammam Bouquet does definitely not disappoint in conveying a flawless image of the quitessential english dandy. Everything from the elegant, little bow tied flacon to the theme of interpreting the sumptuos turkish bath culture trough a british, dry and more discreet perspective makes Hammam Bouquet a little bottle of colonial and imperialistic history. The fragrance also serves as an interesting cultural, historical and social example in terms of gender perceptions linked to olfaction. Floral smells such as rose and jasmin are still not attributed to femininity in the Middle East in the same way as in the western hemisphere. And looking at the rich history of traditional barbershop brands like D.R. Harris and Taylor of Old Bond street or french houses like Roger & Gallet, floral colognes and after shaves were always an integral part of the offerings for the well groomed man. The distict gender classicfication of these notes is a later phenomenon, no doubt linked to factors like marketing, trends and other cultural development.

Unfortunately the overall impression of the fragrance left me somewhat underwhelmed, I guess I expected a little more - afterall Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet is a favourite of mine. Since, I've warmed up to it slightly but there is a powdery dryness in the heart notes which just doesn't sit well on my skin. The overall quality is stellar though, literally smells luxurious, and on the right person I think this could give the perfect ambiance of understated elegance with just the right, subtle opulent twist. An aromatic, heady, nostalgic and traditional oriental. Good stuff - just not for me.

Year of Launch: 1872
Gender Classification: Unisex
Reminiscent of: Hermès Hiris, Acqua di Parma Colonia, L'Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses, Emanuel Ungaro Ungaro III
Longevity & Sillage: Moderate sillage, above average staying power
Overall rating: 7/10

1 comment:

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