From the looks of so many celebrity fragrances, it must be easy to turn out a tropical, fruity floral fragrance. It's almost become a cliché. Not that there's anything wrong with a jumble of white flowers, roses, and grape juice, it's just that it gets boring. In Penhaligon's Amaranthine Eau de Parfum, perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour shakes up the tropical fragrance game by adding a distinctly sweet, milky note; a kick of spice; and a healthy portion of naughtiness to the fruity, banana-inflected flowers most people associate with tropical fragrances. The result is a sort of tropical-oriental, like Jayne Mansfield Jane Russell in Macao.
According to Wikipedia, amaranthine either relates to amaranth, a gorgeous plant with dripping reddish-purple stalks from which you can harvest grain; or an imaginary flower that never fades. Another online definition said amaranthine stands for "eternal beauty". Penhaligon's website lists Amaranthine's top notes as green tea, white freesia, banana tree leaf, coriander seed oil, and cardamom absolute; its heart notes as rose, carnation, clove oil, orange blossom, ylang ylang oil, and Egyptian jasmine absolute; and its base as musk, vanilla, sandalwood, condensed milk, and tonka bean absolute. (Props to Penhaligon's for listing perfumers on their website.)
When first on my skin, Amaranthine smells like green tea and kiwi with a trace of cumin. If it weren't for the cumin, at this point Amaranthine might smell dangerously close to shampoo. In just a few minutes, the fragrance's spicy-floral heart kicks in. Full blown rose and indolic jasmine are most prominent to me, but coriander and cardamom, with the cumin still playing in the background, take these flowers out of Patou Joy's drawing room and into Dorothy Lamour's boudoir. Within a quarter of an hour, cream, vanilla, and sandalwood have arrived. Instead of smelling maternal or gourmand, they pump up Amaranthine's intimacy.
Amaranthine is less fruity than it is exotic. You won't be tempted to add vodka and a paper umbrella garnish and take it out on the deck to watch the sunset. As for Amaranthine's naughtiness, I would rate it a PG-13. Unlike, say, Rochas Femme and Amouage Jubilation 25, both of which I'd give an R for their dose of body odor-like cumin, Amaranthine has only a passing whiff of cumin and just a hint of the dirty panty effect of The Different Company Rose Poivrée (rate that one an X). Really, Amaranthine smells less like sex than like it's been slept in — warm, personal, and unwrapped.
Hours later, all that is left of Amaranthine is a sweet, almost smoky scent. I don't see incense listed in Amaranthine's notes, but I swear I smell a tickle of it just before the fragrance disappears completely. Dabbed from my sample tube, Amaranthine has medium sillage — you'd have to be standing within arm's length to smell it — and lasts about four hours. I'd love to smell Amaranthine sprayed, and if you've tried it both ways, please comment.
Penhaligon's Amaranthine is available in 50 or 100 ml Eau de Parfum (shown above left), or as a limited edition Parfum in a 30 ml bottle (above right). For information on where to buy Amaranthine, see Penhaligon's under Perfume Houses.