When I heard that Penhaligon’s were releasing more Anthology fragrances I was thrilled to say the least. In the last few years they’ve rewritten the rule book on fragrances with the olfactory essence of everything from a tailors workroom (Sartorial) to the Gin and Tonic (Juniper Sling) finding their way into a bottle. Esprit du Roi dates from 1983 – when I was just a toddler. It provides a fascinating insight into the social and cultural tastes of that era…in fact to smell it is like travelling back in time. This got me to thinking – how best to convey the fragrance to you? Describing a smell in words is all good and well; but it never quite matches up to the experience of inhaling it yourself, smelling it for the very first time. So I put two and two together and came up with five. Taking the title of the fragrance (Roi meaning King) and the notion of time travel, I decided to head to Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII. Surely the best place to test out this fragrance is on the cobbled streets of Tudor England?
Standing in front of Hampton Court Palace the awe inspiring grandeur leaves you feeling somewhat small and somewhat mortal, perhaps Penhaligon’s can help…a liberal spritz of Esprit Du Roi and I head inside. In a way the palace reflects Penhaligon’s itself, both date back generations to a time out of the reach of memory. Imagining what the past was like is something which is made easier with the help of Esprit du Roi.
I head to my favourite place fist – the maze. Where better to let loose the top notes of citrus, mint, tomato leaves and mandarin than here? Weaving my way round the half a mile of looping pathways and dead ends, Esprit Du Roi comes alive. With the combination of the scent trapped between the hedges and my appalling sense of direction I find myself stumbling into back into areas I’ve already been – where the fragrance still hangs in the air, bringing the verdant foliage to life with it’s complex aroma. I almost wish that I won’t find my way out.
Next up is the Great Hall, the place where the King himself would dine upon his dais. With a jaw dropping gothic hammerbeam roof, this room, with all its history, seemed to speak to Esprit Du Roi’s base notes. Intense vetiver, grey amber and oak moss fill the room with all the heady gravitas you would expect from a King. I’m getting a little carried away at this point – a little top up of the fragrance and my delusions of grandeur are in full swing.
Finally the Privy Garden – a stunning example of formal and geometric landscaping, is where the notes at the heart of Esprit Du Roi seem most at home. Henry VIII may have spent his time here marvelling at the flora and fauna so delicately and precisely planted, so it is fitting that I should wander the same lawn shrouded in Esprit Du Roi’s Egyptian geranium, ylang ylang, honeysuckle and Jasmine. Esprit Du Roi truly is a scent fit for a King, I might not live in a palace, and I might not really be able to travel through time but smelling like this is as close as anyone will get. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this fragrance is that it smells so good it makes it pretty easy to imagine yourself with 8 wives.
Do you agree? Do you wear any fragrances that transports you back in time?