Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Penhaligon's Bluebell

Finally, in the first full week of April, after hemming and hawing my way through March with a post here and a post there, I am ready to get down to business. I've been randomly picking things up and putting them down again, spritzing on scent and then forgetting about it during the day, thinking of something fine to say about a fragrance now and again and finding myself without pen, paper, or occasion to write. I know for a fact, if someone were to look through my notebook at work, they would find notes scrawled in the margin like "mentholated vanilla powder--sophisticated and sort of fresh" or "truly the juice, real rep. of or." I also have all kinds of scraps of paper floating around in my purse with nothing but notes on them. If someone were to happen by my desk, he would see a sticky note with something like, "galbanum, muguet, cyclamen, jasmine, rose, cinnamon, clove."

At least today he would, because those were the notes I scrawled on a piece of paper this morning, the notes for Penhaligon's Bluebell. Penhaligon's was one of the perfume houses on which I chose to focus this year, so the coming week or so will feature these scents. The terrific Gail (and where is Gail, these days, anyway?) sent me their sample set, which contains generous samples neatly packaged in a cute tin box. I'm a sucker for this line for the bottles and the labels--I find them so charming. Luckily, in the case of Bluebell, the juice lives up to its appearance. It's both old-fashioned, like the label, yet streamlined a sort of modern, like the bottle.

From the look of it, you might expect something powdery, but this scent is--while flowery--also earthy and spicy in the best possible way. I've never traipsed through the woods in Britain during April or May, so I've no idea what a bluebell really smells like, or whether in fact it has a smell at all, but when I smell this perfume, I picture this exactly:
It has the exact smell of dense blue, of shadow, of the cool, damp ground, of the wood and bark on the trees. This scent seems to me the perfect representation of the thing, even if it were nothing like the actual scent of a bluebell (according to the Penhaligon's site, it is an "authentic" soliflore, so I'll take their word for it). I was excited when I saw this picture on Wikipedia, because it matched so perfectly the image in my head...or almost, because in my head, it was cloudy and raining a bit. The only other scent I can think of that brings me this amazing feeling of being comforted by cool blue shadows is Annick Goutal's Eau de Camille, which is a bit headier because of the lilac, but also more delicate in the base, more fleeting, where Bluebell holds its intensity quite nicely through the day, offering a peaceful glance of woods after rain.

*images from Penhaligon's and Wikipedia