With Sartorial, the classic aromatic fougère of the 70's comes back in an unexpected British revival. It is the era of Azzaro Pour Homme and Balafre Brun by Lancôme, but also Paco Rabanne, Drakkar Noir, Tactics and other many scents built on a similar formula. This type of scent was extremely popular in the next decade (just see the sales of Azzaro in France) and became almost a standard in male grooming. There are hundreds of inexpensive aftershaves and deodorants sold all over the world. Sartorial is precisely that: a type of formula that went everywhere, from the couture houses of the 70's to the discount shops in 2010. Fabergé, the company which launched Brut in the 60's, was producing in the 80's under the new name Elida Fabergé many types of masculine toiletries. One of them was the range of Denim body sprays. Sartorial (Penhaligon's) comes from there and not from Savile Row. Despite the beautiful marketing story, the truth is rather different. It is a type of scent quite popular at Symrise (precisely Dragoco and H&R), a company less focused on couture fine fragrances in the past.
With Sartorial, Bertrand Duchaufour simply revisits a classic type of formula which became an olfactory standard for the 45+ European males. He updated the scent of the rather complicated original structure and he used noble materials like myrrhe, tonka and some beeswax. It is not an interpretation and not an original twist but rather what French calls "dépoussiérage d'une formule" with a new "titre de noblesse". Taking a type of scent that now is found in France in the most common mass market products, certainly unknown by the snobbish elite who shops only high end "made to measure" boutiques, is rather a humoresque situation.
There are not many things to say about the perfume and certainly not the case to speak aesthetics because there is none here, except a long list of official ingredients. Many are redundant in the final formula. Sartorial is a beautiful perfume, many will love it, other will adore it, but certainly this is not a new contribution to the history of perfumery and less to its art. That's why this type sells so well in the grooming area since the mid 70's!
But the most "embarrassing" example for Sartorial is Rive Gauche pour Homme, a perfume launched several years ago by YSL, a classic aromatic fougère, or a modernized Azzaro with several new woody sensual ingredients in the drydown. Sartorial is just a reorchestrated version as it was another beautiful niche creation from Jacques Zsolty several years ago. If Rive Gauche pour Homme or Azzaro pour Homme had their "pure perfume" version like Terre d'Hermès or Habit Rouge, Sartorial would be a pale copy of that. What is new however is the tenacity of Sartorial and the use of several balsamic notes. The "old" testosterone aromatic fougère high on lavandin and geranium was also high on oak moss, synthetic moss and musky tonalide underlined by the new powerful ambery ingredients. Sartorial is not quite strong on skin but has an acceptable tenacity on fabric.
Maybe mainstream brands should learn something from this case. Some have beautiful perfumes in their portfolio, underappreciated by the public but an inspiration for some niche brands. Somehow Sartorial demonstrates the essence of marketing: you take a scent that sells, change the bottle and the label, you add a beautiful story and you sell it through a different channel. People shopping in high end stores will certainly not visit Sephora.
Without a clear artistic direction and a true vision, Penhaligon's is a hopeless brand that is not able to manage the launches and give a clear direction. Sadly, Amaranthine was the exception and not the start for this esteemed British house.
Here you have a beautiful movie done for Sartorial. It's up to you to find why Savile Row lead to Rive Gauche and Azzaro pour Homme.
"Artist, Quentin Jones, was commissioned by Penhaligon's to create a stop-motion animation exploring the story behind the new gentlemen's fragrance Sartorial. Filmed at the Norton & Sons shop on Savile Row, the animation features the fragrance's creator Bertrand Duchaufour. Patrick Grant, the owner of Norton & Sons, also makes a cameo appearance."
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art