Penhaligon’s Ostara : Fragrance Review

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My tastes for white florals are indiscriminate, encompassing everything from vulgar things like Guerlain Mayotte to prim school governess types like Jessica McClintock. But even I can get tired of the genre and retreat to other pastures for a change–dry woods and damp mosses, perhaps. This is what happened for most of last year, when I was so satiated with white florals that I declared a moratorium on new acquisitions. But it’s a testament to Pehnaligon’s Ostara’s loveliness that despite my best intentions, I ended up breaking my resolve.

ostara

Ostara shines brightly to me for its surprising combination of the lush, decadent heft that makes lovers of white florals swoon and the exhilarating springtime freshness. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour built the composition around the theme of narcissus, a flower that on a stem smells honeyed and indolic, but when turned into essence becomes leathery, musky and somber. Ostara melds both facets, but it stays on the sunny side.

To achieve the effect, Duchaufour’s trick is to amplify radiance, and at this he is an indisputable master–consider how luminous he could make dry woods in L’Artisan’s Timbuktu. From the first minute on skin Ostara glows, rich in green, citrusy and leafy nuances but without suggesting the component parts. In other words, don’t expect to smell along the marketing pyramid and find bergamot and then juniper, mint, violet, etc. Like a flower from a magician’s wand, it unfolds as a big, dewy blossom.

Its mood is bright and playful–a Technicolor fast-paced ride along the Grand Corniche.  Most of Ostara’s story zooms through different floral layers: the crunch of hyacinth, the heavy apricot and wintergreen sweetness of ylang ylang, the subtle powder of violet. Even the end of the journey, a soft layer of sweetened woods and musk is charming and plush enough to linger for hours.

It’s the kind of fragrance you put on and immediately feel more energized, ready to sweep some Cary Grant off his feet or just get out of doors while looking adequately presentable–dark Belgian mornings moderate one’s ambitions.

When I looked up the price on Penhaligon’s website, I noticed that Ostara is heavily marked down. Whatever it means, a special limited time offer or a permanent departure, it makes for a good deal: $35 for a 50ml bottle or $49 for a larger size.

Penhaligon’s Ostara EDT includes notes of clementine, bergamot, juniper, pink pepper, spearmint, blackcurrant bud, violet leaf absolute, hyacinth, narcissus, cyclamen, ylang ylang, hawthorn, wisteria, vanilla, benzoin, musk, amber, white wood effects. 50ml/$35, 100/$49.

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181 Comments

  • Aurora: A five star review, how exciting and rare, it must really be special! You write of it delightfully, Victoria and I also love your photo. On account of the price drop this has been my first purchase of 2016, a bottle is in the post (£32 for 100ml), I haven’t even tested the scent (I know this is quite silly), aren’t the best perfumes ever the ones where the blooms go beyond real flowers? Your words ‘like a flower from a magician’s wand’ is so poetic and so true. January 13, 2016 at 7:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with you completely. Perfumes that merely replicate the scent of flowers are pleasant, but my favorite kinds are the ones that are a whole story, a fantasy, an idea. Trying to decipher the story is the best part. January 13, 2016 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Sandra: 5 stars! It will be on my must smell list.
    Your mention of Jessica McClintock reminds me of my job in high school, I worked in a office and wore this perfume to work. My boss very nicely told me not to wear that again.
    I think white florals do not wear well on me. I really loved Soir de Lune by Sisley but on me it just didn’t smell right. Maybe its just skin chemistry. January 13, 2016 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s a very good lily of the valley, but it occasionally smells too prim & proper on me. I still prefer Diorissimo when I’m in a mood for lily of the valley. January 13, 2016 at 12:30pm Reply

      • Kelly: JM is my mama’s longtime scent (she used to wear Anne Klein up until it was discontinued and I have lovely childhood memories of that too), and it smells just divine on her. I think it’s such a romantic scent — of course, it turns sort of sour on me. How things work I guess. Lucky I have some vtg Diorissimo which seems to work for me!

        Ostara is quite lovely, I better go pick a bottle up for so cheap! January 14, 2016 at 4:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Lily of the valley accords (like some other green floral notes) have this tendency to turn sour on some people. I noticed it when I was testing fragrances at the lab. I suspect it’s one of the reasons why true green scents are often so difficult for many. January 15, 2016 at 4:46am Reply

  • Audrey: I fell in love with this the second I tried it and bought a bottle immediately, it’s such a perfect spring treasure! Lovely review! It’s great to see that I’m in good company :). It reminds me of walking into a plant nursery in early spring….pots of daffodils, tulips and hyacinth, soil, a slight reminder of cool late winter air, and warm golden sunlight. January 13, 2016 at 8:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s very much that impression for me too. I love how there is a hint of wet soil smudging the petals. January 13, 2016 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Scented Salon: Wow, a five star review AND a superb price. It almost makes me want to try it even though I dislike white flowers. However, one day, Chanel’s Gardenia and Houbigant’s Orangers en Fleurs so captured me that I actually bought some. One never knows. January 13, 2016 at 8:58am Reply

    • Victoria: White flowers is such a wide genre that it’s impossible to generalize, of course. Moreover, Ostara is not a conventional white flower like tuberose or gardenia. It’s closer to hyacinth and daffodil. January 13, 2016 at 12:32pm Reply

      • Tamara: Is it similar to Cristalle EDP? January 13, 2016 at 12:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Cristalle is more obviously citrusy than Ostara, and while some florals overlap, the perfumes are very different, both in character and in smell. January 13, 2016 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: How lovely to read a 5 star review, with such a great price to boot. It really awakens a longing for spring but we still have winter to go here in the Lowlands (including dark mornings)…so Ostara (German queen of Spring and Early Dawn) should be a perfect stand-in. January 13, 2016 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, the bluebell forest is still a few months away, but I love such reminders of spring all year around.

      I hope that you’re feeling better, by the way! January 13, 2016 at 12:33pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: I do feel better, thank you for asking. It is still a ways to go, but I am really well on the mend. Warm wishes to you! January 13, 2016 at 5:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m very glad to hear it! When you aren’t feeling well, you realize how unimportant everything else is. January 14, 2016 at 9:43am Reply

    • Karen (A): Hamamelis – our witch hazel has been flowering for the past few weeks and the fragrance is gorgeous. So funny to have this rich, enveloping fragrance from the tiniest of blooms that are basically unnoticeable unless you are right by the tree. Glad you are on the mend. January 15, 2016 at 5:48pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: Hi Karen, I only now read your kind comment. Thank you. The witchhazel is about to bloom here, already the faintest trace of scent is noticeable. Like Ostara a true spring messenger. January 28, 2016 at 5:24pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Just like Aurora, I did the same. 🙂
    Actually I’ve been sitting on my hands since the sale was announced. I hadn’t given Ostara much thought since, like you (Victoria) – I’ve an overstock of white florals. This is my first FB of anything in over a year. At such a great price I think I’ve little to lose.
    The last WFs I took an interest in were Jour d’Hermes and Chanel 1932, both of which I enjoyed. How do they compare? January 13, 2016 at 10:07am Reply

    • OperaFan: Oh…. and a tube of Sartorial shaving cream ($25) for the hubby…. January 13, 2016 at 10:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I also couldn’t resist seeing the discount. It was discounted already last year for some reason, but I was surprised to see it still in effect.

      Ostara is less abstract and sharp than Jour d’Hermes. It smells more like petals and flowers, more nature-like, as it were. As for its differences from 1932, I’d say that it’s brighter and greener. January 13, 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

      • OperaFan: Oh good. The radiance and green characteristics were among the description that moved me to buy. January 13, 2016 at 1:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s not a true green floral, but it has enough green notes to tone down the heft. January 14, 2016 at 9:37am Reply

  • rosarita: Oh this sounds lovely! Who couldn’t use a whiff of spring on a cold winter’s day? Bertrand Duchafor is a must try. Thanks for the review! January 13, 2016 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: And I did wear it happily in the summer as well. 🙂 January 13, 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Iuliana: This review makes me smile as much as a spray of this perfume: I tried to resist (on the grounds of having bought too much perfumes in/since December, including your favourite in its category last year, Alaïa), but failed spectacularly, except in respect of the bottle size. I got a 50ml, although at Penhaligon’s in London the limited 100ml edition in a sumptuous agate-like box was less than 50% more. For what is worth it, I asked whether the reduced prices meant that they intend to discontinue it, but I was assured that it is not the case. January 13, 2016 at 11:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for confirming it. I was wondering why it was discounted and was worried that it might be on its way out. Now, this would be a shame, because it’s easily the most interesting perfume in the line. January 13, 2016 at 12:37pm Reply

      • Iuliana: I agree, especially since they discontinued the other Duchaufour gem (in my opinion, of course): Amaranthine. Luckily, I got my hands on a bottle before it disappeared from their stores :-). January 13, 2016 at 7:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also loved Amaranthine. For some reason I thought that it sold well, but perhaps the real issues were the regulations. January 14, 2016 at 9:45am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I’ve been wanting to buy this one and now is the time! This must be spectacular to earn a 5 star review from you. January 13, 2016 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I only don’t understand how I managed to leave it off my best of 2015 list. 🙂 January 13, 2016 at 12:41pm Reply

  • CateHerself: I too succumbed! $60 for 100 ml of springtime, delivered right to my door? I’m in. And this despite being an incense, chypre sort, but winter has seemed relentless this year and your review so enticing … perhaps I’ll discover a new side to myself? January 13, 2016 at 1:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you like it! At any rate, it’s always good to take a break and try something new. January 14, 2016 at 9:37am Reply

  • Carla: five stars and narcissus, considering a blind purchase! January 13, 2016 at 3:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you have a chance to try it on skin first, I recommend it, but you know how I feel about blind purchases. January 14, 2016 at 9:38am Reply

  • Neva: Okay, I hope there will be a bottle left for me after all of you got yourself one 😉 First I read the review of course and I loved it! I felt it was somewhere between white floral and green, am I right? If yes, I’ll buy it blind too! Can’t wait for spring to arrive. January 13, 2016 at 3:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s not green enough to be a green floral, and there is some sweetness there, but it’s not a classical white floral, heavy and smothering (even though I like those too). January 14, 2016 at 9:39am Reply

      • Neva: Thank you! As I said, I’m ready for a blind buy, but I visited Penhaligon’s website and the prices were 80something Pounds for 100 ml and 60something for 50 ml!!! Where did you find the discount? January 14, 2016 at 10:06am Reply

  • Austenfan: I blame you for creating a major lemming! This sounds right up my street. (Un)fortunately the sale is confined to the States, as far as I can make out.
    Thanks for such a lovely review! January 13, 2016 at 3:59pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Austenfan! You can by Ostara at Celeste in Den Haag, € 82. January 13, 2016 at 4:40pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Sorry, buy (!) January 13, 2016 at 4:43pm Reply

    • Hamamelis: Hi Austenfan, it is for sale at parfum-klik and superwinkel, both at .nl for 42,- euro’s 50 ml and 53,- euro’s for 100 ml. I have bought online from both discounters in the past, and they are reputable. Not enabling or anything 😉 January 13, 2016 at 5:00pm Reply

      • bregje: Thanks for the tip,you temptress 😉 . Now i’m considering getting it too.
        And i was so proud of myself after i cleaned out my perfume and make-up stash and only kept the things i really love to wear. Only to fill up the space with new bottles.Oh,well…maybe it’s time to accept myself for who i am.ohm. January 24, 2016 at 12:43am Reply

    • Austenfan: You are all making this very tempting! Thanks for the tips. January 13, 2016 at 5:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was going to mentioned the other sources, but you already received plenty of hints. I’d love to hear what you think. January 14, 2016 at 9:42am Reply

      • Austenfan: It’s very lovely. It reminds me a little of Le Temps d’une Fête, but they are different enough to justify owning both. Or so I tell myself. January 21, 2016 at 7:37am Reply

        • Victoria: Since Andy mentioned the link, I have been seeing it too, but I also think that they don’t overlap too much to make having both superfluous. The characters are similar, but the stories aren’t. January 21, 2016 at 7:41am Reply

  • Patricia: This sounds delightful, and the price makes it even more attractive. I can’t wait to try it! January 13, 2016 at 6:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: It would be interesting to hear what you think and how it compares to your other floral favorites, Pat. January 14, 2016 at 9:44am Reply

  • hajusuuri: Wow, I may need to stop in the Penhaligon boutique at Rockefeller Center tomorrow! January 13, 2016 at 8:41pm Reply

    • Alison: Hajusuuri, do go to Rockefeller. I was there recently myself and had the best sales associate. He was such a gem I just wish I remembered his name! Dark hair with dark rimmed glasses, maybe his name started with a C? Anyway, he was so knowledgable and fun, walking me through nearly every bottle. I ended up taking home Lothair and will now have to check out Ostara. Have a fun visit! January 13, 2016 at 9:49pm Reply

      • hajusuuri: I went there on Friday and I am now the happy owner of a 50 mL bottle for $38 and change. There were no sale signs anywhere so I asked. In any case, I will leave it in its shrinkwrap until after the NST Splitmeet in February in case I end up splitting it. January 17, 2016 at 12:17am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a nice boutique too! 🙂 January 14, 2016 at 9:46am Reply

  • Andy: I have been enchanted by this fragrance ever since I smelled it this past spring at the Penhaligon’s boutique in Covent Garden. And to think that up until then I’d passed on many Penhaligon’s fragrances, thinking they were all staid and boring. How wrong I felt when I smelled Ostara! Anyway, I’m so glad you share my positive feelings toward this fragrance. I really did enjoy the springtime fantasy that this perfume took me on, and it hit all the right notes to make me think of springtime woods and gardens filled with the scent of flowering bulbs and wet soil (which made me smile). For me, it’s a touch less “impressionistic” than, say, Le Temps d’une Fete, and for that reason, I think I may have to consider a bottle to keep the Nicolai some company in my perfume drawer… January 13, 2016 at 11:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also think that many Penhaligon’s perfumes are bland, and they’ve done nothing to change my opinion with the last two launches. Blasted Heath and Blasted Bloom are the dullest things. But Ostara is very different–plenty of character and something new as well.

      Can’t agree more on your comparison to Le Temps d’une Fete! January 14, 2016 at 9:48am Reply

  • Tati: Jumping in on the run for Ostara! My first bottle of the new year… although we’re only two weeks in! I was longing a spring-like scent and the price can’t be beat. BTW, is that a bottle of TF Cafe Rose in the picture? January 14, 2016 at 2:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Keeping fingers crossed that you will like it. I always feel so anxious when someone writes that they made me a purchase based on my review. 🙂

      Yes, that’s Cafe Rose. I loved that whole collection, but this perfume is one of my favorites. January 14, 2016 at 9:50am Reply

      • Tati: Just received my bottle of Ostara today and sprayed some on. So lovely!!! And unlike anything else in my collection which tends to be heavier/orientals. My only mistake was not ordering two during the sale. Thanks so much, Victoria. January 21, 2016 at 2:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: So happy you liked it! Someone described it as flowers and custard, and it’s so spot on. January 24, 2016 at 7:52am Reply

  • Annikky: I loved the opening of this very, very much, but then it seemed to disappear after two hours or so. I shall try again, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Or maybe it happened because I can unfortunately be anosmic to musks.

    Anyway, such a lovely review to brighten this grey January. Definitely going to sweep someone off his feet now 🙂 January 14, 2016 at 5:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, that’s the reason, because Ostara lasts on me through a shower.

      Good luck! 🙂 January 14, 2016 at 9:51am Reply

  • Karen (A): Springtime in a bottle, what could be more perfect in the middle of January! My only “issue” is with a review (and price) like this, how am I supposed to not give it a try – so, I, too, jumped on the Ostara bandwagon. January 14, 2016 at 5:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that it will be that and more. Please let me know what you think, Karen. January 14, 2016 at 9:52am Reply

      • Karen (A): Could not believe it when the UPS man delivered a package from Penhaligon this afternoon – boy, record time! Had already put on Chamade, but a test spray on my hand made me smile, a nice treat on a cloudy day. I’m looking forward to trying it on its own tomorrow! January 15, 2016 at 5:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yay! I’m happy that the first impression is positive. January 15, 2016 at 8:08pm Reply

          • Karen(A): What fun, I put on a clear bright yellow sweater (struggled to find the right adjective), mixed some Ostara with Vani-cream for a scented lotion spritzed a couple of times and have been enjoying this quite a bit! It has all kinds of facets as it wears, looking forward to the next few hours. January 16, 2016 at 10:57am Reply

            • Victoria: A great way to scent your weekend! January 17, 2016 at 5:09am Reply

  • Nicola: So happy to see a 5 star review for this beauty which I fell for when it was released last year. To me it is definitely a yellow flower fragrance if that makes sense, so cheerful, yet with a hint of honeyed, pollen-y, skankiness. I lucked in on a discounted rollerball in TK Maxx just before Christmas, just the right size. Denyse (Grain de Musc) had it on her best of 2015 list 🙂 January 14, 2016 at 8:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, yellow floral fits it much better than white floral, and your description is just perfect. January 14, 2016 at 9:52am Reply

  • Carolyn Middleton: Such an interesting review, Victoria, thank you. I was hoping, as a Penhaligon’s Bluebell wearer of many years, that Ostara would be a replacement for my much missed PdN Le Temps d’Une Fete, but unfortunately not. However, my best friend, whose preferences are very different to mine, was pleasantly surprised when she received compliments at work (from her all-male colleagues) when she used a sample of Ostara I’d picked up for her – she’d not been complimented at all prior to this! I quite like Ostara, but think I’ll stick to Bluebell, though I will pop into the shop when I’m in Edinburgh this weekend. Still hoping PdN will bring back LTd’UF however, not to mention my even more greatly missed AG’s Eau de Camille! January 14, 2016 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Bluebell is so completely different, and I can see why you wouldn’t be as taken with Ostara. On the other hand, Le Temps d’Une Fete is available still. You only need to place a special order for it with Nicolai. January 15, 2016 at 4:41am Reply

      • Carolyn Middleton: Thank you so much for the info re LTd’UF, Victoria – I dread to think how much it will cost, but I may well enquire, at least. January 15, 2016 at 1:14pm Reply

        • Victoria: Good point. I thought that it might be the same price as the usual retail, but I wasn’t sure. If you find out anything, I’d love to know. People often ask about this perfume. January 15, 2016 at 2:37pm Reply

          • Carolyn Middleton: Have just emailed PdN asking if it’s available via special order, & if so, options for concentrations, sizes & prices – will keep you informed. January 15, 2016 at 4:57pm Reply

  • LenaD: I love daffodils! I planted a few dozens of them in my yard in November and have been fussing over them for the last month or so! With the weather being so out of wack a whole bunch of them sprouted, so I cover and uncover them depending on the forecast. LOL
    I snagged Ostara at a great discount thanks to you! I will be taking it with me to Moscow when I go next week! It will help me with the happy thoughts! January 14, 2016 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have a pot of chives outside, and they also have sprouted in this odd weather. Daffodils are hardy little plants, so I’m sure that they will delight you in the spring. January 15, 2016 at 4:42am Reply

  • Qwendy: Thanks so much for the Sale tip! I have liked this a lot when sniffing at various shops but I am NOT usually a white flower ….. But I am quickly draining my Rubj sample, so I got some Ostara at a fantastic price thanks to you! Xxx January 14, 2016 at 3:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Did you discover Rubj in the traveling box? It’s a polarizing perfume because of its raunchy side, but if it works, it’s a marvel. Ostara is much easier, of course, but no less lush. January 15, 2016 at 4:43am Reply

      • Qwendy: Yes I did, Victoria! I am a bit Funk Blind so Rubj is wonderful for me …… Radiant Is a quality I love in a perfume, but I need them to be blended to obfuscate the Tuberose — I know I am in the minority here :-). Excited to get the Ostara, thanks again! January 15, 2016 at 12:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, you might be in minority in the US, since tuberose is one of the favorite perfume notes among Americans (according to the consumer studies, at least). 🙂 Well, I count myself as a fan. January 15, 2016 at 2:32pm Reply

          • Surbhi: I spent few years in kolkata when I was little. Mom used to take me to book market there and the walk was through the flower market. It smelled tuberose. Even though rose was visible everywhere but few stems of the fresh tuberose were enough to capture the air. The memory is so strong that I dragged mom to go visit the same market from a different city last year. Sadly, it was destroyed to construct a mall 🙁

            But that has just made my tuberose memories stronger. But every time I read tuberose as a note, I smell it again. I understand it won’t smell like the market but if you know of something smelling really close to real tuberose, please let me know. January 15, 2016 at 9:06pm Reply

            • Victoria: Have you smelled Frederic Malle Carnal Flower? And here are more options:
              http://boisdejasmin.com/2005/06/note_of_the_wee-3.html January 16, 2016 at 4:53am Reply

              • Surbhi: Oh yes. I tried that recently. It was a very good perfume (considering buying it). ITs not exactly the tuberose smell that I knew of (or I remember now) but it was a very good perfume. I Will check out these options as well. Thank you very much ! January 16, 2016 at 4:26pm Reply

                • Victoria: In my experience, when you look for something so specific like your memory of a particular flower, you will rarely find it. Perfume is someone else’s fantasy, not an exact reproduction of nature, so it’s a tricky quest. As for Carnal Flower, it uses some of the best Indian tuberose essence on the market, and I like that it’s not too sweet and creamy as some tuberoses can be. But you might have more lucky with some other soliflorals I mentioned on my list. Perhaps, your tuberose is more of a milky type. January 17, 2016 at 5:05am Reply

  • Alicia: Irresistible review, Victoria. I have just ordered this little marvel. As you know well, I love florals, and narcissus is a very old love of mine. My mother’s favorite was Caron Narcisse Noir, which even after reformulation is always present in my collection. Now to add to its sultriness a new, spring like, radiant daffodil, will be pure joy.I confess that I had somewhat of a prejudice regarding Penhaligon, all because of Bluebell, which I found nasty (although I like its soliflore, Violetta, and from time to time I enjoyed Sartorial). I can’t resist narcissus and your 5 stars.Thank you, Victoria. January 14, 2016 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Violetta is the only other Penhaligon I own right now. I liked some other fragrances (Artemisia, Amaranthine, Sartorial), but on the whole the line is bland. Which is why Ostara seemed like such a welcome departure from their usual wan florals and sterile colognes. January 15, 2016 at 4:49am Reply

    • Qwendy: I think it is the Narcissus that did it for me too! Any recs for other Narcissus perfumes? January 15, 2016 at 1:00pm Reply

      • Victoria: L’Artisan used to have an excellent solifloral called Eau de Narcisse. My hope is that they bring it back.
        Guerlain Vol de Nuit has a beautiful narcissus note, but of course, it also has many other things, so I’m not sure how strongly narcissus would stand out to you. January 15, 2016 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Rachel: Wow, such different experiences of this one. Some describe it as warm and honeyed and skanky, and others masculine (in the beginning) and basically a pretty, clean scent, while others describe it as having a “sharpness, causticity, and clean freshness “. It’s killing me because I want it to be the warm yellow honeyed but not too sweet one with lots of hyacinth. I’ve been looking for one of those and this one’s on sale!!! Aargh. Which is it?? Thanks Victoria! January 15, 2016 at 12:21am Reply

    • Victoria: None of those descriptions is Ostara to me, to be honest. Since you’re looking for something very specific, I suggest finding a sample first (it shouldn’t be too difficult). Otherwise, the risk of disappointment is too high. January 15, 2016 at 4:51am Reply

  • Nick: This article makes me run to the mall to hunt it down and smell it out of curiosity!

    Even though I cannot have either tuberoses, jasmines, orange blossoms, gardenias, or any other similar flowers on me, I still love to have them in my gardens. It feels right having them permeating the warm night air.

    That being said, I have bothered to hunt down, and smell some. So far, I like the singular A La Nuit and abstract Beige bouquet. January 15, 2016 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s worth smelling just to see how florals can be interpreted. Duchaufour is so good at creating these big, bright, radiant accords, and Ostara is not an exception. January 15, 2016 at 10:30am Reply

  • Lily: Curious – does anyone have experience with Penhaligon’s Elixir? I was poking around their sale to see what all was on and that one sounded intriguing as well. But it hasn’t even rated a mention on any of the Penhaligon’s threads here…thanks! January 15, 2016 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it, although I’m vaguely aware of it. Now I will have to sample it just out of curiosity. January 15, 2016 at 2:40pm Reply

      • Lily: I look forward to your thoughts! My preferred decant site didn’t have it, alas – haven’t looked elsewhere yet. I read somewhere that Olivia Giacobetti developed it. I think she has done some others that got high praise here…. January 15, 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: She usually is able to create such beautiful, weightless accords, so it sounds intriguing. January 15, 2016 at 4:40pm Reply

    • zoesmama: I own Penhaligon’s Elixir and I absolutely love it. I’m not great at picking out specific notes, but to me it smells like what a true chypre used to smell like. In looking at the notes, I can say that incense does play a role here, as does cinnamon. I wouldn’t say it has a skank note, but for me, this is catnip, if that makes any sense. If you’re a chypre fan, try this. It’s lovely. February 1, 2016 at 11:01am Reply

      • Lily: Thank you for chiming in! I may have to track down a sample now 🙂 February 1, 2016 at 3:50pm Reply

  • marymary: A successful blind buy this one. I get quite a lot of honey and the daffodil is very prominent. And it’s quite unusual. January 16, 2016 at 5:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Phew! I’m so happy to hear this, Mary. 🙂 I’m wearing Ostara today, by the way, since all of this talk made me crave it again. January 16, 2016 at 7:55am Reply

  • Chin C.: I went to try out Ostara today after your review and find it very nice – very flowery and green. I found it’s opening very similar to the first hour of Olene – maybe it’s the honeysuckle. Ostara was a tad softer and I think it I like it better.

    I would definitely buy a bottle if I get it at $35 but at where I live they did not have the discount. I can’t even get the rollerball on its own – it’s available for purchase after purchase, they say. A huge disappointment. January 16, 2016 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: A good point about Olene, which is beautiful but is harsh and raspy as it dries down. Ostara is silky and soft, but it still has enough drama.

      Strange about all of these split discounts. Someone else mentioned that at the boutique the discount wasn’t advertised, but it came up when a sales associate rang up their purchase. January 17, 2016 at 5:13am Reply

  • natalya baranova: To me, ostara is all pepper. I wonder if my nose really amplifies pepper; eau de merveilles to me is also pepper through and through January 16, 2016 at 11:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, not sure. I don’t get so much pepper out of either, but of course, these things are subjective. January 17, 2016 at 5:07am Reply

  • Surbhi: I went to Saks today to try OStara. They didn’t have that one in the store. But she asked me to try YSL splendid bouquet and Majestic rose (saying they could be similar). I didn’t like the splendid bouquet at all. But I did like Majestic rose. January 16, 2016 at 8:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Splendid Bouquet is based on tuberose, and it’s much sweeter and heavier than Ostara. I did like Majestic Rose too. January 17, 2016 at 4:55am Reply

      • Surbhi: Your 5 star. one more bottle sold without trying. January 17, 2016 at 6:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: Gosh, I really hope that you like it. 🙂 January 18, 2016 at 11:56am Reply

  • Tiffanie: I love this type of flower and its scent. Yesterday as I took my evening walk I noticed paperwhites have begun to bloom in my neighborhood. I took a sniff of a few, and whew! From a distance their scent is lovely, and up close it is appealing in a complex, jolie laide sort of way. I love fresh white flowers, but I’m finding that often fragrances which lean towards yellow flowers appeal more to my nose. Honeysuckle, ylang, and linden, even lily are the big flowers I love in fragrance.

    Thank you to Victoria and all the commenters, too, for creating such excitement over Ostara.
    I am so glad you mentioned the sale price at Penhaligon’s.

    I added my name to their mailing list and received an email this morning (Sunday, January 17) stating briefly and simply, “Sale Ends Today” but no details on which sale prices will change . . . decisions, decisions, decisions . . . January 17, 2016 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Honeysuckle is also one of my favorite flowers, on plant or in perfume. It’s tricky to render properly, because some honeysuckle accords smell good on their own but when they’re blended into the composition, they lose their honeysuckle character. I miss Marc Jacobs Blush, which was inspired by pink jasmine, but to me it smelled of honeysuckle. January 18, 2016 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Alicia: Talking of white florals: I have just received a sample of Abdes Salaam (?) Venezia Giardini Segreti, and tried it. Victoria, this is a greenish sambac jasmine mixed with ambergris and some myrrh which in the drydown approaches gardenia. I like it very much. If you have a chance, don’t miss it. Would love your opinion of it. I might be too subjective: even the name enticed me. I come from an old Venetian family. January 17, 2016 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Alicia: Sorry, Victoria. I am sorry to say that these Venetian secret gardens are too fleeting a joy. No lasting power at all, like the treacherous Osmanthe Yunnan. Few things upset me more than when I love a perfume it doesn’t stay for at least three hours. Unrequited love. January 17, 2016 at 11:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh no! For me those kind of perfumes are too frustrating. January 18, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

      • Alicia: Indeed, Victoria. Better to avoid such frustrations. Yesterday snowed all night, and today the cold reigns, but my library is warm, and I am writing on a 17th century play,enveloped in an old friend, smooth as velvet: Coromandel.A lasting joy. January 18, 2016 at 12:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: To me this sounds so idyllic. 🙂 January 18, 2016 at 2:25pm Reply

    • Surbhi: someone told me to apply a fragrance free oil / moisturizer on the area and then spray the perfume. It will last much longer. It seemed to have worked better for me with that tip. January 18, 2016 at 12:44pm Reply

      • Alicia: Thank you, Surbhi. That is what I always do: apply the perfume over mosturized skin. It is a good tip. Still there are some fragrances that will not last; their short life might be prolongued for a little while, but not long enough.I have decided to avoid them. No point in spending good money, and worse, falling in love with a scent which will not last at least four hours. I am not talking of colognes, of course, whose short life one takes for granted. Nevertheless your tip is good for a medium life perfume. Thank you very much for your care. January 18, 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Patricia: My bottle just arrived from Penhaligon’s, and I love this perfume. I also bought L’Eau a la Folie blind because of a review of yours, and that one became an instant favorite. (And I’m glad I have it because I believe that it’s now discontinued.)

    Not that I’m recommending buying without trying! Just in this case I was helpless against the pull of your beautiful review and the low price. 🙂 January 18, 2016 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so delighted to hear this, Pat! Enjoy it. And that you got it at such a good price is an extra boon. January 19, 2016 at 4:40am Reply

  • sara: Thanks for a lovely review of a lovely fragrance. I used up my decant so quickly. When I read about the sale, I bought my first FB in over a year. Perfect for this freezing weather!! I love narcissus/daffodil fragrances and they are few in number. January 19, 2016 at 4:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I do too, and they especially seem welcome on cold, snowy days like the ones we’re having now. January 20, 2016 at 5:02am Reply

  • SilverMoon: Victoria, thanks for this review of Ostara. Great to see it got five stars. I happened to stop at Penhaligon in the City of London last February and was chatting to the SA about perfumes, etc when she very kindly took out a sample of Ostara (that was to be launched the following week!) and gave it to me. I loved it right away. I would say that this is more of a yellow or early spring flower smell (I do not think of it as a white flower). My nose seems to hone in on the daffodils and hyacinths. It even has a honey like smell at moments. I am going to wait for the first daffodils to bloom before using it 🙂 January 19, 2016 at 5:26pm Reply

    • Susan: Hello, Victoria. Thanks for the delightful review. I am a loyal reader of many years.

      Ostara is certainly a beautiful fragrance. To my nose, it is almost identical to Perle de Mousse, another Duchaufour creation for Ann Gerard. What are your thoughts on this similarity? January 19, 2016 at 6:57pm Reply

      • Victoria: I recognize the same fingerprint, but I don’t find them that much alike in the end. Perle de Mousse is much greener and more watery, with a more assertive moss note, whereas Ostara has a sweet, almost nectar like floral layer. It also lasts very well on me, while Perle de Mousse is an ethereal creature. January 20, 2016 at 5:04am Reply

        • Susan: Thank you for your opinion on these two fragrances, Victoria. The moss note in both is prominent for me, but I agree that Ostara has a brightness and sweeter character. A lovely addition to my collection. January 20, 2016 at 2:30pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you to you too for highlighting the similarities, Susan. After all, they’re by the same hand/nose, and I like both of them. It would be difficult to choose just one. 🙂 January 20, 2016 at 2:42pm Reply

            • Susan: Yes, within the springtime theme, these fragrances are the composer’s adagio and arpeggio. January 20, 2016 at 4:48pm Reply

              • Victoria: Such a beautiful way of putting it. January 20, 2016 at 4:55pm Reply

                • Susan: One’s emotional response to perfume can be similar to that of music. Perhaps in another thread sometime, Victoria, you would consider asking readers to share their associations with music and cherished perfumes. Would be really fun. January 20, 2016 at 6:28pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Another terrific idea for a poll! I will put a post in the queue. January 21, 2016 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Truth be told, a white floral is such a vague term. Either way, Ostara is lovely, surprisingly fresh and lush at once. January 20, 2016 at 5:03am Reply

  • SophieC: Thank you for encouraging me to take the plunge – I ordered a reduced rollerball which arrived today and I have just put it on. I dismissed Ostara as smelling too like daffodils, which while I love I didn’t want to smell like when I tried it when it was first released. It smells of the promise of spring and sun and happiness now. Thank you for cheering up my day. January 20, 2016 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear this, Sophie! I like that while it smells nature-like at the beginning, it’s abstract enough to make me dream. Not that anything wrong with replicating the scent of flowers, but it’s always much more interesting when the perfume is more of a fantasy. January 20, 2016 at 2:37pm Reply

  • Monica: Victoria, based on your review and the great price, I blindly bought a FB of Ostara that I just received. It is Spring in a bottle! What a beautiful fragrance. I am enjoying it a lot. Thanks! January 21, 2016 at 8:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Spring in a bottle is so right. Happy, uplifting, vivid. Very happy that it worked for you. January 21, 2016 at 9:51am Reply

  • Ayesha: Blindly got my bottle of Ostara!!!! Cant wait to use it:) January 21, 2016 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you like it, Ayesha! January 24, 2016 at 7:50am Reply

      • Ayesha: Got the perfume and am delighted! Its a burst of sunshine; a very happy perfume indeed. I can imagine strolling in the Lake District admiring the bright yellow daffodils admidst the lush greenery. Can hear Dorothy Wordsworth and William Wordsworths poetry. Ostara is like children laughing; energetic and vivacious personality. Carefree! January 31, 2016 at 12:59pm Reply

        • Surbhi: That is some serious poetic description ! January 31, 2016 at 1:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: What a description, Ayesha! You make me want to run and put on this perfume. 🙂 February 1, 2016 at 6:31am Reply

  • Lily: What an interesting perfume this is. In my neck of the woods daffodils are usually blooming by late January or early Feb., when there is still quite a lot of cold weather to get through. So. I mention that because on my skin this perfume feels almost like an Oriental, the warm/powdery sweet base is so prominent. The whole is vacillating between smelling like a literal daffodil and smelling like a vanilla custard. Not what I expected, though lovely. What it makes me think is that it’s a perfume MEANT for this late-winter period, where you still want the comfort of warm heavy spicy scents, but are starting to see hints of spring. But if that is the case Ostara is somewhat of a misnomer since that sabbat isn’t celebrated until spring is in full bloom…. In any event a good instinct for me to pick this one up on sale, it’s unlike any floral I’ve smelled before, and I love daffodils. 😉 January 22, 2016 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your comment that Ostara oscillates between vanilla custard and spring flowers is spot on. It’s one of the fascinating aspects of this perfume, and such contrasts make it interesting to wear. January 24, 2016 at 8:09am Reply

      • Lily: One of my Test sniffers is a chef, and his comment was “I wish I knew how to make whatever that smells like.” High praise. LOL January 24, 2016 at 10:13am Reply

        • Victoria: That’s a compliment! But he has a point–I also would love a dessert that tasted the way Ostara smells. January 24, 2016 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Surbhi: Got my bottle today finally !! It smells really nice. Generally I don’t like anything that has a sweet note. But this seems ok. It has a lovely opening. Didn’t stay much long one me though. 30-45 mins maybe. 🙁 But I was working out so the heat might have made it disappear faster. I Would like it to stay longer though so I Will try again. January 26, 2016 at 9:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: That may be the reason, since on me it lasts through a shower. I’m glad you like it! January 27, 2016 at 2:23pm Reply

      • Surbhi: Lasted through the day. I don’t smell it all the time but I catch the smell every now and then. A very different floral. Thanks for the 5 star or I Wouldn’t have given it a try. January 28, 2016 at 5:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m glad! Unless you’re anosmic to something in Ostara, it should last and last. Enjoy it! January 29, 2016 at 10:44am Reply

          • Surbhi: It took a little while for my nose to get used to it. But now that’s the only fragrance I have worn for this week. Just smells fresh. I still can’t figure out what kind of smell it is. But I feel like it’s not really a perfume kind of feeling more like walking outside in the gardens full of flowers or neighborhood that has gardens outside their home. February 1, 2016 at 1:45pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, for me it also captures a fantasy of flowers, spring and sunshine, not just a smell of a specific flower. February 2, 2016 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Surbhi: Not sure if this is the right post for this comment. If not please let me know and I will correct it next time.

    I usually spray perfume with bottle very close to my skin (the idea is to not spray my outfit to avoid stains)

    Accidentally, I sprayed Ostara today almost a feet away. And I Smell it very differently initially. I smelled raw pepper initially and nothing else (never noticed that before). I was just curious if spray makes a difference or with frequent usage my nose has started picking up different notes. I repeated the experiment and smelled pepper again. February 6, 2016 at 2:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: This can happen. The way you apply changes how much perfume gets dispersed on your skin and in the air, and it can affect the way it evaporates. February 8, 2016 at 5:17am Reply

  • SilverMoon: Hello Victoria and all Ostara fans,

    I was speaking to the manager of the Penhaligon in Covent Garden this afternoon. While chatting, she informed me that the company has decided to discontinue Ostara. When I asked her why, she said it was not very popular (whatever that means in terms of P’s decision). I mentioned I was surprised that they did not give the perfume even a year before making the decision. What a shame! Anyway, I bought the last one they had in stock. Of course, there are still around until stocks last… February 7, 2016 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh no! Yes, this is exactly what I meant in my Givenchy review last week–brands aren’t willing to give any time to their perfumes.

      Thank you for letting us know. February 8, 2016 at 5:23am Reply

  • Isabel R: Yes, thank you SilverMoon for letting us know! Based on Victoria’s review I had put Ostara on my wishlist, but I shall have to get it while it is still available. Two other scents that I love and that has been quietly discontinued are the new version of Dior Diorama (les Creations de M. Dior) and Rochas Songe d’Iris. So sad. February 8, 2016 at 7:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, very disappointing about Dior. I wasn’t aware that it’s gone. February 8, 2016 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Isabel R: I found out when I visited their website, and they displayed all of the “Créations de M. Dior” except for Diorama. I sent an e-mail to their customer service to enquire why that was, and they replied that Diorama has been discontinued. It is however still available in some online stores, and perhaps also some department stores. February 8, 2016 at 12:55pm Reply

  • R: Dear V, recently I tried this one since you rated it as 5 stars, not disappointed, but considering that Seville a l’Aube merely got 4 stars, I am kind of confused. Definitely I understand that to evaluate a perfume is almost depending on personal taste, but, they do smell similar to my nose especially the drydown… It seems that Mr. Duchaufour just replaced orange blossom with green flowers then released it as a new fragrance. I love them both, the problem now is, I’m struggling to decide whether to pick a FB of Ostara or not since I already have Seville a l’Aube, which has better longevity and sillage also, but they said Penhaligon’s is going to discontinue this pour thing, and it’s not cheap as you mentioned above, more expensive than Seville a l’Aube indeed. February 18, 2016 at 12:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I never reviewed Seville a l’Aube, so I don’t know how I would have ranked it. The review of it here is by another writer. I very much enjoy it. But I disagree that it’s identical to Ostara, especially if you examine the way they are constructed. As for Ostara being more expensive, it’s also not the case. Seville a l’Aube is $165 for 100ml, while Ostara at full retail is $128 for the same amount (and some boutiques are still running their sales). Get whichever perfume that feels better to you.

      I changed “anonymous” to R, since my blog blocks comments without an identification. You can pick another user name if you want. February 18, 2016 at 2:11am Reply

      • R: Thank you Victoria, I’ll re-test it for sure, and probably buy myself a bottle which is on sale. February 20, 2016 at 4:43am Reply

  • SandyC: I love Ostara, Penheligon’s best, IMO . The only complaint I have is the vanilla in the dry down. It’s oddly jarring and seems out of place with rest of the notes. More amber would have been complementary, at least to my nose. March 5, 2016 at 12:29pm Reply

  • ZH: Just a heads up, Ostara can now be found in massive quantities in many TK Maxx’s all across the UK. I have no idea why they’re getting rid of it in such large batches (at great prices too!). I did try it at a boutique and it’s lovely! Really brings to mind wet, dewy and heavy white petals on the first whiff! March 9, 2016 at 5:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re discontinuing it. Very unfortunate. March 12, 2016 at 12:38pm Reply

      • Masooma: I found out today after visiting every boutique/specialist perfümerie in Zurich. It was no where to be found and then a quick look on the website confirmed my fears that it is to be discontinued. Same goes for Lolita. Apparently its soon to be an online thing in switzerland as all the shops said they were no longer stocking it! April 19, 2016 at 4:44pm Reply

  • Kàthryn McTighe: Dear Victoria, I read your blog with great interest and many times have been so influenced by a review or article that I have gone in search of a fragrance via one of the sample websites we have here in America. I am compelled to write that your review of Ostara and the five stars you gave it mystifies me completely. I bought 2 samples and wore it several times and maybe it’s just me or my chemistry, but I found it to be very unremarkable, hard to appreciate in any respect, and just not pretty. Boring, in fact. What am I missing?

    Now Chanel’s Beige, on the other hand, which I discovered thanks to your review, is one of my top 5 scents since I’ve been collecting niche perfumes. Your blog keeps my perfume life interesting and informed, even if I didn’t like Ostara. May 14, 2016 at 3:22am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re missing nothing. We all have different olfactory memories, predilections and affinities. So, I agree with you that starting with samples is the best way to go. Enjoy Beige! And thank you for your kind words. 🙂 May 14, 2016 at 5:06am Reply

  • Surbhi: On sale for $22.5 and $32 for 5o ml and 100 ml on their website. May 20, 2016 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Flora: Sadly, Ostara is now officially discontinued. Your review helped me make the decision to blind buy it, which is something I rarely do anymore, but this is exactly the kind of floral I love, and I usually like whatever you do! 🙂 May 21, 2016 at 10:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂 May 23, 2016 at 2:08pm Reply

      • Flora: Thank you Victoria! 😀 May 24, 2016 at 12:51am Reply

  • epapsiou: So it is discontinued as others have mentioned. The SA said IFRA regulations make it impossible to make. They had it heavily marked down. $23 for 50ml and $33 for 100 (which I promptly bought) May 25, 2016 at 8:11pm Reply

  • Kateryna: Hi! I’ve recently bought Ostara in not official internet store and I’m not sure whether it is the original one perfume. Could you tell me the barcode of your bottle, please, if you still have it? Cause when I was checking my barcode it was said, the prefume was made in the USA/Canada. November 29, 2016 at 7:05am Reply

  • Catherine Barroll: Hello fellow perfumistas! I am posting to let anyone who loves Ostara to know that I have two bottles that I bought just after I heard it was being discontinued. I bought it unsmelled, from the website after the glowing review I saw above. Once I got them it only took a couple of squirts for me to realize it was very nice, but simply not for me. I would gift it to a friend, but all the women I know prefer a less penetrating fragrance (it’s the west coast and people are funny about perfumes here)If anyone wants to buy them (two fifty ml. bottles, together or individually please let me know, I’ll give them to you for 22.50 U.S. , 20.00 for the opened one,( Ive taken six squirts out of it to date) Still in their boxes. I don’t know what the shipping charges would be, but I can find out. Let me know… January 31, 2017 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Gabriela: Hi, are you still selling them? May 6, 2017 at 5:16pm Reply

  • bellaciao: I blind bought this based on the Cary Grant mention:)- and was NOT disappointed:)-

    Oh, and I also stocked up on Diorama! February 3, 2017 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Helena Almeida: Hello ! I wanted to order this fragrance but I can’t find it on Penhaligon’s site, any clue ? Thank you ! October 30, 2017 at 6:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s been discontinued. October 31, 2017 at 4:15am Reply

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