Having never been much of a lavender fan, it was with some trepidation that I approached Lavandula. Reminding myself that I had been won over time and time again by Penhaligon’s other fragrances (Hammam Bouquet, Endymion, etc) I also faced the first sniff with a modicum of optimism: would this be yet another yawner, or something unique and surprising? The answer: Whoa! With notes of basil, canella, pepper, lavender, lily, clary sage, musk, vanilla, amberwood and tonka bean, Lavandula is like nothing I’ve experienced before.
Lavender. The word conjures images of satin eye pillows, Yardley soap, and bitter, buttery blossoms. Let’s face it, lavender hardly tops anyone’s list as most provocative note, especially as a main note. There are exceptions of course, most notably Caron’s Pour un Homme and Lutens Encens et Lavande, but lavender just seems so…well, dull to me. So you can imagine my shock when I tested Lavandula and found not another boring elixir, but a great, heady brew of herbs and musk that strikingly portrays this most mundane of notes.
Lavandula opens with an almost questionable accord of peppery greens before relaxing into its mid-notes of an almost lemony-lavender. As the fragrance settles, a somewhat animalic tonka and musk accord melt into a hint of vanilla and woods, anchoring the scent firmly on the skin for a good 2-3 hours. Calling to mind Burberry Touch for Men and Azarro’s Pure Lavande, I’m puzzled why Penhaligon’s chose to list this not in the men’s section of their website, nor even in the unisex section, but in the women’s fragrance section. Hmmm. As the scent dries down, the aroma simplifies and develops a transparency on the skin that stands in stark contrast to the richer opening.
With good longevity and sillage, Lavandula is that rare breed of herbal-orientals that offers a multi-faceted character and a new way of viewing classic ingredients. Whether or not you’re a fan of lavender, give this one a spritz the next time you see a tester and enjoy the journey.
Lavandula is an Eau de Parfum, and is available in 50 and 100 ml bottles. For buying information, see the listing for Penhaligon's under Perfume Houses.