Hooray, hooray! I am glad. Penhaligon’s has launched another fragrance in the Portraits Collection, with the exciting name The World According to Arthur. As you probably know, the Portraits fragrances of the British cult brand are among my personal favorites, because the background story of the collection is simply unbeatable. Funny, surprising, macabre, smug and absolutely snobby are the fragrance members of the now quite large Portraits family, which I accompany here in the Duft-Tagebuch right from the beginning.
It occurs to me that I promised you a family tree some time ago, which puts all the fragrances within the Portraits Collection in familial or social relation to each other. A somewhat complex topic – as I noticed when skimming the various creations along with their associated stories – which is why the promised listing is still a bit of a wait. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I haven’t really had a good idea how to adequately and understandably work through the tangled connections – olfactory and familial – for you.
What do we know about Arthur?
Arthur, this much is known, is the big brother of Lord George. He was destined by his family for a career in law, but this did not suit the snobbish Arthur at all. He wanted to go out into the world and free himself from the shackles of social bonds. He found support in Constance, the sister of Lord George’s wife, Lady Blanche.
Affectionate fans of Portraits will know that Constance was dedicated the Eau de Parfum Changing Constance, which paints the picture of a woman more than critical of the social norms of her time and a fighter for women’s rights. It is therefore understandable that she supports Arthur’s desire for freedom and encourages him to go against the expectations of his family.
The World According to Arthur olfactorily translates that very outburst of Lord George’s brother. The lid of the bottle – as usual decorated with an animal head – already reveals where the journey is likely to go: A golden dragon adorns the intensely red colored Eau de Parfum and thus points the way to Far Eastern China. Isn’t the color scheme just perfectly chosen once again? Thought out in every detail, I am thrilled. The English press text is extremely amusing to read and is peppered with one or the other allusion, which is why I would like to present the original version in rhyme form here today:
Feeling the weight of (Great) Expectations, and the pressure from his (numerous) tedious relations, this first son fled (quite literally) a career in the Law, you see the luck perceived by others was to him quite a bore. His quest when journeying to the Celestial Empire was to take his spiritual co-efficient perceptibly higher. He visited hills, lakes, and temples in a decrepit wagon, looking high and low for his own Lucky Dragon.
His one ambition, that he had tried to hide, was to Break on Through (to the Other Side), and to know what lay behind The Doors of The Great Wall. Sometimes one needs to travel far, to reveal the familiar.
A trip to the Far East
One or the other may have already recognized that “The Great Expectations” is a reference to the eponymous work by Charles Dickens. While “Celestial Empire” and “The Great Wall” obviously refer to China and its wall. “Break on through (to the Other Side)” is the title of a song by the band The Doors, also mentioned, from the early 1970s. I suspect there are other allusions hidden in that very text that I have not yet been able to decipher. Anyone with ideas on this, feel free to post in the comments. 🙂
The World According to Arthur thus brings us a touch of China into the rigid social corset of 19th century Britain, as it is to London that Arthur eventually returns. In his luggage is a collection of life wisdom, a good portion of self-confidence and the scent of delicious incense.
Even though the fragrance notes in our store do not clearly list this one, I definitely find the valuable incense in the press material. The ingredients mentioned here are: Frankincense, vanilla, ambrette and tonka bean.
The world from Arthur’s point of view
Lovely and exceedingly warm, infused with the beguiling spice of dark and noble vanilla and aromatic tonka bean, The World According to Arthur reveals an enchanting and exceedingly intriguing scent. In the meantime, the vanilla appears almost liqueur-like and sweet, and its extraordinary spice facets are particularly well accentuated when preserved in the finest alcohol.
The finest incense gives the creation of Penhaligon’s soft-smoky nuances, which sometimes appear leathery-amber, underpinned by balsamic-woody accents. The tonka bean gets its big appearance in the further course and provides intensity and depth with its characteristic coumarin notes.
The creation appears soft as fluffy cotton in the background. A delicate and powdery creaminess flows around the heady combination of spices and incense, offering it a solid base and longevity.
Beautifully warm and spicy, The World According to Arthur from Penhaligon’s Portraits Collection is a sensual and seductive oriental mix of incense, vanilla and tonka bean, backed by cozy, lovely and smooth notes. Quite a present and self-confident, but not exaggerated fragrance, which – despite its classification as a men’s fragrance – I consider a unisex creation. Ideal for the cooler season, for office and everyday life as well as for going out in the evening. My tip of the day: Definitely test it! 🙂