Perfume Reviews

Neutral Reviews of Sartorial by Penhaligon's

Total Reviews: 16
Reynolds Woodcock ( Daniel Day-Lewis ) in Phantom Thread

19th March, 2018
Sartorial is a conventional fougere with a twist: there are some added metallic and sweet notes. It starts off smelling very similar to the iconic Brut, only being a bit more complex and an added depth. There is a metallic element in the heart, and after about 2-3 hours a semi-sweet, honeyed beeswax note creeps in to give it more substance. However, the final dry down becomes a little too sparse for my tastes - especially given what comes before. Sillage is appreciable at first before calming down, and overall it lasts about 6 hours on skin.

I'm a fan of fougeres, but I like them more green and astringent. While Sartorial is a very respectable fragrance, eventually it's somewhat limiting for me. It pushes the fougere in directions that don't quite sit right with me. As a result it's hard for me to pick it ahead of many including Brut, Azzaro, Tsar, Jazz, Nobile, Rive Gauche Pour Homme, Invasion Barbare and Fougere Royale. This is simply a personal preference, and the rating is reflective of that.

Therefore, even though I'm neutral, I recommend this to anyone seeking a modern gentlemanly fragrance within the fougere family.

12th February, 2017
I will say up front that fougere is not my favorite scent family. With that out of the way, there are components of this I enjoy. The woody notes are nice and do give off the intended Savile Row tailor shop note.

But I find the scent too sweet and cloying with a pronounced vanilla note for this to really work for me. It also is a very penetrating and potent scent.

Lastly, this reminds me of a scent I used to wear in high school and while I can't remember which it was, it makes this smell kind of imitational and low-rent.

Just not for me.
26th February, 2016
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The ‘smell of a high end tailor’s shop’ was so hyped on this one when it came out, that people felt inclined to go into rhapsodies about steaming hot irons and offcuts of twill and what have you. Thank goodness I didn’t test it then – who knows, maybe I’d have succumbed to all that nonsense, too.
In any event, I approached Sartorial with caution, applying just a tiny bit first and got quite puzzled with what my poor nose was smelling. It was sweet, it was daddy-o, it was Brut as I remembered it from my teenage years, with what seemed like a massive aromachemicals cloud that threatened to trigger headaches.
However that’s no way to treat a perfume, and so I finally gave it a decent spraying and this, surprisingly, worked much better. Sure the Brut reference was still prominent, but now I could appreciate that this was a somewhat more complex and engineered composition. So beyond the lavender and tonka sweeties which acted as traditional ‘man cologne’ signifiers complete with non-specific woody backing, there were several subordinate notes playing little harmonies from the wings.
A faint hiss of something metallic at the start, a mellowing touch of cardamom in the heart, floral notes, aldehydic and ozonic twists, resinous murmurs, and oh yes, ‘white musk’, yards and yards of it.
Ultimately Sartorial is backward looking, a typically sweet ‘English’ barbershop fougère, and I’ve had my bellyful of those. Still, there is no denying it has been crafted with skill.

22nd January, 2016
Interesting. Like a cross between Brut and Grey Flannel, heavy on the metallic violet leaf and minty lavender. There's an ozone element as well, like the smell of aluminum foil, as well as some cinnamon/mace pie spices. The whole thing comes together to smell like an abstract warm brown mix of woody earth, dank greens, pie, and outer space.

Personally, though I can see how they contribute quite a bit to the modernization and artistry of this scent, I find the ozone distracting and unnecessary, so I'm only voting neutral. Personally, I'll just stick to Brut.
06th January, 2016
Generic (English)man. Will make the wearer blend right in to the office crowd.
03rd December, 2013 (last edited: 07th December, 2013)
Not impressed

Nothing special, had very high hopes but.. Azzaro pour homme more seductive and elegant fragrance.

14th September, 2013
Horrifyingly rigorous post-modern recreation of early 70s Brut and those who wore it. I was transported unwillingly back to about 1972 and the way adults smelled to me as an 8 year old: stifling aftershaves, slightly musty though recently pressed flannel suits and an impossible-to-ignore note which I can only describe as the smell of a block of alum after it has been rubbed over a fresh shaving cut. A million miles from Savile Row, but not from the easttbound District Line during the morning rush hour, when Ted Heath was prime minister.

Neutral only for the sheer intensity of my reaction. I can't even handle this as irony, let alone on my skin.
17th March, 2013 (last edited: 18th March, 2013)
Another fougere of sorts from Pen's...opens with a quiet, dry, grassy green, and includes a heavy dose of the same type of subtle florals as in Monsieur de Givenchy, as well as some slightly musty fruit. After a few minutes it starts to get sappier, and some sort of sweet spice becomes more noticeable underneath, like drinking a Dr. Pepper in damp earthy grass. The vanilla starts to show up a little later but stays restrained behind the spices. At this point I have trouble remembering the differences between this stuff, their English Fern, and Houbigant's reissued Fougere Royale, though I'm not the best judge of traditional fougeres. I like how it avoids the wintergreen-like note that usually bugs me in this group, but because they've replaced it with cola-type spices, it's a dubious victory by my tastes. Still, it manages to stay more masculine than most of their "masculine" scents, and stays old-fashioned without being too dated. I also recommend it, along with Polo Modern Reserve, as a green scent that starts out "summery" and slowly becomes heavier and more "wintery" toward the end.
06th May, 2012
Sartorial by Penhaligon's - Upon application, one is treated to a remarkable, barbershop accord. This clean melange is an amalgamation of the green, mowed grass of violet leaf, the sour, orangey neroli, the mildly sweet cardamom, the spicy black pepper as well as the candied sharpness of ginger. An interesting aura of ephemeral steam as well as an errant, metallic something intrude; and aldehydes impart their laundered linen effect. Meandering to the awaiting middle, muguet-like cyclamen, sweetly green linden bloosom, as well as the freshness of lavender lovingly add their veiled, floral facets to the somewhat stuffy opening. This exquisite heart is wonderfully showered with earthy and buttery beeswax yielding a slightly carmelized blend, while hints of leather flitter about. Transitioning to the commonplace base, balsamic gurgum wood, clean oakmoss, dry cedar, fleeting driftwood, vanillic tonka bean, boggy patchouli, soapy white musk, faintly powdery amber, woody myrrh as well as some source of oiliness, all combine as the groundwork for the refreshing drydown. Albeit this composition is constructed and layered well, it is nonetheless just another barbershoppy, oldmanish fragrance, with good longevity and projection.
08th January, 2012
bokaba Show all reviews
United States
I've given Sartorial a lot of thought before writing this review. I initially liked it, then reviled it, and now find it rather ho-hum. After all the media surrounding this fragrance and its supposedly Victorian bespoke tailoring industry association, I hoped it would evoke that same imagery for me--unfortunately it did not. To be honest, Sartorial is nothing more than a 1970s-1980s aromatic fougere in the style of Jazz, Azzaro Pour Homme, and others juxtaposed on top a warm heart of beeswax, which is probably Sartorial's only interesting feature. Overall, I find Sartorial to be a somewhat modernized version of a macho aromatic fougere with beeswax and loads of other unappealing notes and "effects." Ginger, aldehyde, gurgum wood, ozone...all of these would have been far out of step with a true Victorian-inspired scent. Nonetheless, the beeswax heart is appealing, but the cacophonous opening and synthetic musky ambergris base (a cheap musk and ambroxan I figure) make this scent not to my taste. Perhaps the most bothersome part of Sartorial is the fact that Penhaligons took a staple genre of men's perfumery, dressed it up, and re-bottle it is some centuries old formula. If you should ever get the chance I would suggest trying the little known and discontinued Belgravia by the Dukes of Pall Mall--nearly identical, but exudes traditional English refinement, simplicity, and quality.
10th November, 2011
I don't know anyone still around that might recognize what a Savile Row tailor's shop would smell like, let alone turn that into a fragrance. Nonetheless, there are a couple of issues to address in Sartorial. First, is the opening is quite harsh, very metallic and ozonic, and a bit difficult to break through as it is completely dominant for the first 30-40 minutes. Second, is that I think that it's trying much too hard to be something more than it really is. Finally, despite the ingredient list longer than a box of Twinkies, this manages to still be rather linear in its transformation.

I don't get aromatic fougere from this at all, but I feel transfixed from the opening on this as a Barbershop-like clean scent, which isn't a bad thing. That remained from the top -- where it was most overpowering -- to its base several hours later , when it became tolerable, sedated, and a bit more refreshing, and certainly more powdery in the dry-down. Again, it seemed analagous to a barbershop visit from my childhood where you open with that very strong after-shave aroma, calmed later by talcum powder. The scent is simple, clean, fairly unpretentious in the final outcome.

So why did it take more than 24 different elements to resurrect what otherwise would be a turn-of-century, classic experience? The outcome seems too spare for the elements in the composition, many of which are beyond detection -- for instance, I don't sense wood or leather in this at all, though I'd say it was over-the-top if I noticed those as well.

I don't dislike it, though compared to my other scents, this isn't one I'd find myself wearing much. It's not quite my personal style or profile, despite it being both jolly well-executed and jolly pricey.
06th October, 2011
I like the idea and execution of Sartorial’s opening far more than the rather over-engineered heart and base.

Early indications suggest traditional grooming treatments, formality and pending sartorial elegance. Sadly, it does not maintain this opening quality throughout.The rather clumsily conceived faux-fougere evolution sees Sartorial shift from raconteur to crashing bar room bore. An hour in, and I am ready to bail.

It is rare for me to be fatigued by a fragrance, but this just wore me down.
13th April, 2011 (last edited: 15th August, 2011)
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Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom
A real classical fougere -- it has the 3 main ingredients --- linalool, coumarin and oakmoss extract (synthetic now) and is very masculine. It is also very potent. I get that 'dry cleaners' steamy note too. It's a nice fragrance, but I won't wear it very often because like all straightforward fougeres, at one point or another,it is going to smell like Faberge's 'Brut' and I can detect it here.

PS. I much prefer the wonderful re-animated Zizonia from this House. What a sleeper that is.
15th March, 2011
This fragrances seems to elicit lengthy narrative reviews concerning Sartorial's intention to evoke a complex narrative of its own. Not as a scent that befits a well dressed man, but a scent that smells like a tailoring shoppe, that's the goal here. I find it a jumble of odd notes that bespeak nothing much except the marvelous "out of the box" creativity of the maker. Ultimately, I didn't like it at all. Sure, it's something of a magic trick to get a fragrance to make you think of beeswax, but the question is "Why?". Women's fashion shows display myriads of wildly creative dresses that real women would never wear. The creativity has run riot, but there's nothing there nothing to wear. Similarly I would say congratulations to Penhaligon's for bringing this to market. I would never wear it, but it is interesting. Now give me something that works with a Henry Poole sports coat!
30th January, 2011
The name alone caught my attention. I checked all over Tokyo at the usual purveyors of PH frags seeking the first that would have this one. Found it today at Isetan in Shinjuku. It's undeniably a masculine fragrance, reminding me of Japanese barber shops. The closest frag I've experienced to this one is New York by Parfums de Nicolai, and similar to that one, I can't get away from the powdery scent that seems to endure from start to finish. I like this one slightly better than New York, but not enough that I want to have both in my wardrobe.
03rd November, 2010