Penhaligon’s The Favourite : Perfume Review

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I try not to read the marketing material before testing a perfume–and with good reason. If I had learned that Penhaligon’s The Favourite was inspired by Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, I wouldn’t have described it as soft, ethereal and tender. It’s hard to imagine those adjectives applied to the favorite of Queen Anne and a prominent personality of 18th century Britain. A strong-willed woman who wielded power behind the throne, she evokes for me something more assertive than a musky floral. That being said, The Favourite is a lovely thing, and however mismatched its character and its story might be, I’m reaching for it whenever I want something comforting and elegant.

The appealing aspect of The Favourite is how it combines floral and fruity notes with a hint of powder. It starts with a bright and sweet citrus and immediately plunges into a floral accord combining soft, rose-like notes with violet. The effect is delicate, but once the musk becomes more prominent, The Favourite gains more richness.

The powdery accent is subtle. The Favourite not a powdery floral in the style of Ombre Rose or aldehydic blends like Lanvin Arpège, but the touches of violet and mimosa tone down the brightness of fruit and florals in the composition.

While every element is familiar–citrus, abstract florals, musk and sweet woods, The Favourite is a well-crafted perfume. It blooms on skin and lingers beautifully, creating a soft yet distinctive sillage. Over the past few months I have been wearing it more than any other of my complex and cerebral favorites. Sometimes simplicity and familiarity is exactly what one craves.

I would warn against buying it blindly because it contains a generous dose of musk and some people can’t smell it. In that case, the impression of the composition would change.

Penhaligon’s The Favourite includes notes of mimosa, violet, freesia, mandarin, musk, sandalwood.

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14 Comments

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for that lovely review. “The Favourite” sounds like a fragrance that I’d like to try. I like all those notes. Mandarin is not a favourite, but then I like the fruit enough to eat it. I think I’ve seen the 2018 film of the same name on the World Movies channel.

    The last fragrance I bought from Penhaligon’s was “Violetta”, from 1976. It’s about time I at least sampled another!

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline September 4, 2020 at 8:19am Reply

  • Gabriela: I tried it and really liked it. It’s one of those easy scents to wear and very delicate. My mom wasn’t convinced though, she ended up buying L´Ombre Dans L´Eau but you can’t compete with that one…
    We also tried Tuberose Gardenia, on her list for next time and I get the bottle and left overs!
    Nice perfume. Thank you for the review. September 4, 2020 at 9:30am Reply

  • Rhinda: I will look for this. I used to love their Bluebell when I was younger. Someone told me once it was Princess Diana’s favorite scent. But don’t know that for sure.
    I loved the Penhaligon sampler. Don’t know if they still make it.
    Thank you for this suggestion. September 4, 2020 at 9:45am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: It was the Iron Lady’s perfume, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher! September 4, 2020 at 10:44am Reply

      • Carolyn Middleton: I remember reading it was a favourite of both Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana & Kate Moss – three more different women you just can’t imagine! September 5, 2020 at 8:54am Reply

    • Carolyn Middleton: They do indeed still do their ‘sampler set’ – much more expensive than it used to be, along with all their products, since the take-over! September 5, 2020 at 8:56am Reply

  • Karen A: Comforting and elegant sound good to me!

    Always nice reading one of your reviews. September 4, 2020 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Deanna: For those in UK, Penhaligons are offering 2 free samples of any of their perfume, just the postage to pay.
    So of course I asked for The Favorite to try, after reading here about it. September 4, 2020 at 12:56pm Reply

    • Matty1649: Thank you Deanna for the heads up, I wanted to get a couple of samples but I cannot register on their site. I’ve tried about 4 times. Don’t know why !!! Very annoying September 6, 2020 at 10:06am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Sadly, I didn’t find The Favourite very interesting. Victoria’s favourable comment in her 27/7 post on her favourite summer perfumes this year raised my expectations that I would like it. So I was rather disappointed, when I didn’t (Of course that meant I wasn’t tempted to purchase a bottle!). September 4, 2020 at 5:19pm Reply

  • N: I’d like to try this if I ever get the opportunity. I’ve liked rose and violet together ever since YSL Paris. Warm and comforting are two fragrance facets I’ve been craving ever since March of this year. A fragrance that fits the bill for for me and one I’ve been enjoying is JM Poppy and Barley which has very subtle rose, violet, and blackcurrant notes that lasts for the first hour on me before turning into autumnal ocher colored fields. September 5, 2020 at 8:27am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: This sounds delightful and just the type of fragrance that I like. I will endeavor to procure a sample. September 6, 2020 at 9:30pm Reply

  • Neva: Mmmm…some of my favourite notes are included. I might like it, especially after I’ve realized I don’t have many typical floral perfumes. September 10, 2020 at 9:48am Reply

  • Inma: The first very special perfume I had was Penhaligon´s Artemisia and the second their “Lily of the valley”. They were so beautiful for me that they sparked my interest for getting to really know better about perfumery. Such a life long journey I was just starting unknowingly!

    NIce weekend! September 11, 2020 at 8:03am Reply

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