We all eventually reach an age where every birthday feels like a landmark occasion. With that in mind, storied British fragrance house Penhaligon’s chose to launch their new release No. 33 this summer to coincide with its 145th anniversary.
The name harks back to Penhaligon’s spiritual home of No. 33 St James’s Street, where William Penhaligon opened the doors to his first stand-alone salon in 1870. Known for his “high quality ingredients and innovative preparations”, it’s unsurprising that William Penhaligon’s reputation quickly spread across the British Empire.
An uplifting yet versatile scent, No. 33 may follow the rulebook for aromatic fougéres, but its discretion and complexity marks it out as a leader in its class. My initial evening spritz revealed the usual citrus top line and herbaceous notes, blended with Lavender and other florals, on this occasion Geranium, Rose and Violet.
This potentially-overwhelming, blossomy hit is tempered by the addition of Ginger and Pepper. As the fragrance warmed up on my arm the Lavender grew in stature, unsurprising for a celebration of a note used as the cornerstone of many Penhaligon’s fragrances, including its original gentleman’s scent, Hammam Bouquet.
Unlike most of my overnight liaisons, the morning after was definitely more glorious than the night before, the Lavender dying down to reveal the smooth, smoky base of Tobacco, Cedar and Vetiver, rounded out by Tonka, Vanilla and Amber, whilst the top-billed stars, Bergamot and Grapefruit, returned for a second, warmer and more affecting act. Simultaneously redolent of a young Victorian gentleman taking high tea on a Roman terrazza, or his 21st century equivalent, strolling down Sloane Street in the late summer sun, No. 33 is steeped in history, whilst equally appealing to the modern Penhaligon’s customer.
The No. 33 range has now been expanded to include a purifying and brightening Cleanser with fruit acids and vegetable extracts; an invigorating and exfoliating Face and Beard Scrub; a lightweight Moisturiser packed with antioxidants, and a firming and tightening Eye Cream. It all adds up to an essential purchase for Penhaligon’s fans, or newcomers to the brand alike.
Here’s to another 145 years!
Reviewed by Lee Clatworthy (@bombfashion)