Penhaligon’s Sartorial is meant to conjure the scents of a tailor’s shop: Norton & Sons, Bespoke Tailors at No. 16 Savile Row; but I don’t get the vibe of a high-end tailor’s shop when I smell Sartorial — no scents of old wooden cabinets and floors or “motorized-metallic” aromas of hot, well-oiled sewing machines, no odors of new woolens and cottons. What I DO get when smelling Sartorial is the scent of men…not the natural body scent of men, but the scent of lots of ‘men of a certain age’ gathered in one place, all of them wearing old-fashioned, inexpensive (but not “cheap”) aftershave lotion on their faces.
Sartorial opens with a sparkling aldehydic and “wet” ozone accord. This “department store” fragrance accord leads quickly to familiar territory: metallic violet leaf that smells a tad ‘old fashioned’ and sedate. Perhaps it’s the ‘sedate’ part of Sartorial that gives me pause; every time I wear it I feel sad; my bad mood is no doubt due to some association I have with the overall smell of the composition. Smelling Sartorial, I immediately get the feeling of “Weekend in the City with Nothing to Do” or “Everybody’s Left Town (on a Fabulous Vacation)…Except ME.”
Sartorial goes from ozonic to fougère territory in a matter of minutes as aromas of moss (a bit musty-dirty) blend with a ‘watery’-mineral note (cyclamen?), washroom lavender and tonka bean/vanilla. There’s also a barely perceptible beeswax note Penhaligon’s touts as a “modern thread running through” the fragrance (what’s exactly modern about beeswax?...being wary of using it in decent quantity?)
Several of Sartorial’s notes gather together in its base to produce hazy “amber”: the powdery scent of sheer, but not too clean, musk; ‘nougat-y’ tonka-vanilla; the scent of aged leather (sniff inside an old boot with its hint of saltiness); and some bitter-dusty patchouli wrapped in ‘cobwebs.’ Sartorial smells brighter, cleaner and more like a classic fougère on fabric than it does on skin; it’s like getting two colognes for the price of one if you apply Sartorial to your shirt one day, and to your skin another day.
Sartorial is not dull, and it’s not ‘dumb,’ but even with its unusual phases and scented “hiccups” of weirdness, it’s, overall, a “square,” cologne-y fragrance. Sartorial is ‘well-made’ and it might be interesting to smell it on a really young man…or a woman, but I feel like I’m aging myself by decades when I wear it — so, I won’t. The addition of ozone to Sartorial’s traditional fougère recipe doesn’t give Sartorial a boost; it dates the fragrance during its opening, making it feel “out of touch” and behind the times.
Penhaligon's Sartorial has good lasting power and sillage and was developed by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour; the notes include aldehydes, ozonic effect, metallic effect, violet leaf, neroli, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, beeswax, cyclamen, linden blossom, lavender, leather, gurgum wood, patchouli, myrrh, cedarwood, tonka bean, oakmoss, white musk, honey effect, old wood effect, vanilla and amber. Sartorial is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($80/$110). For buying information, see the listing for Penhaligon’s under Perfume Houses.