Review | Penhaligon’s Peoneve Eau de Parfum

A refreshing take on the rose and a departure from its traditional connotations, this new scent from Penhaligon’s centres on the peony – a lighter and more sparkling rose connection.

From its inspiration to its packaging, Peoneve conveys a demure feminine air. Yet it is a realistic garden floral, calling to mind not only the fragrance of blooms but also the foliage and earthy whiffs of a true garden.

Peoneve, the latest creation from Penhaligon’s, is an exquisite portrayal of an English garden in summer, bursting with lush green foliage and heady with the scent of blossoming flowers. At the garden’s heart grows the radiant Peony flower; beloved by master perfumer Olivier Cresp for its abundant petals and velvety scent.

– Penhaligon’s

The first soliflore – and overtly feminine – fragrance from the British perfume house since 1976, this pleasing scent is the creation of Olivier Cresp, the same nose behind Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling.

It opens with a fresh greenness courtesy of violet leaf absolute, leading seamlessly into a luscious heart of peony, peppery Bulgarian rose and a robust white floral note by way of hedoine (a powerful synthetic booster that accentuates floral notes).

It then settles into sensual, earthy base notes of vetiver, musk and cashmere wood; exuding a warm suede-like finish that could have been muggy and overwhelming, if not for the green and floral notes that balance it.

Its dry-down also has some ambrox whose creamy, velvety nature combines well with vetiver to lend sexiness and modernity to the fragrance.

During the Peoneve preview I attended, Penhaligon’s Singapore described it as being warm and light, ‘like the morning sun’. Very apt, considering the connection between the sun and a garden!

Unlike ephemeral florals, this bouquet is anchored by velvety woody notes. An apt representation of the modern woman whom this perfume celebrates: Beautiful and beguiling, yet stoic and strong. I like how the perfume juxtaposes the fragility of a woman’s heart with her verve and strength, embodying this in its verdure vestige and note behaviour.

It could be likened to Le Labo’s signature Rose 31, a sweet rose balanced with woody notes but the latter – calling to mind the rose stem – is skewed more masculine to my nose (I’ve heard that some men love this), while Peoneve is distinctly feminine in tone.

This fragrance is composed of less than 15 ingredients but the proportions are so carefully tinkered that the resulting jus is fairly complex…not surprising for a creation of Monsieur Cresp. The scent evokes a sense of familiarity but it isn’t banal; a testimony of his masterful craftsmanship.

A little olfactive trivia:

Peoneve is modelled after a specific peony. Using NaturePrint, headspace technology developed by Fermenich, Cresp was able to recreate the exact scent of a peony he had been growing in his garden in Grasse.

With scientific apparatus and a molecular science chart, Cresp recorded, broke down and chemically-analysed the smell of that particular flower to replicate it in a lab.

The end-result? An authentic, natural floral scent. “Here our quality of peony is very natural, because we use some green, leafy elements, even some aquatic elements in order to make it very natural,” according to Cresp.

As it would require a lot of peonies to yield an adequate amount of scented oil, the perfumer utilised carbon dioxide extraction to obtain the bloom’s essence – an environmentally-friendly method that extracts the essence from a subject but leaves it unscathed.

The extraction machine is a special juicer, if you will: It blasts a supercritical form of carbon dioxide into a pressurised chamber where the CO2 behaves like a gas and a liquid to be an extraction solvent that draws out essential oils.

The process is costly, I’d imagine but I suppose it helps that Penhaligon’s has always had the practice of not putting budget restrictions on their creative people, giving them free rein to concoct their olfactory nectars. :)

Though it was made to last, Peoneve has an average sillage but strangely vacillates between long-wearing and short-lived on my skin. Touch-ups are easy, though – I decanted my press piece into a Travalo atomiser so that I can enjoy it when on the move.

In Singapore, this fragrance retails at S$220 (50 ml) and S$310 (100 ml).

Here’s a Monty Pythonesque video with tongue-in-cheek advice from Pen’s on when to wear Peoneve. ;)

Image and video source: Penhaligon’s


  • Katie says:

    This brand is new to me but I will be checking it out-sounds like a great scent (sometimes straight up floral is too cloying for me)with the green notes and woodsy notes balancing the floral. And what a pretty bottle! So old fashioned and glamorous looking!

    • makeupmag says:

      Hey Katie,

      You have to explore Penhaligon’s – they have some very pretty scents that I think you’ll like. The packaging is quite distinctive too (so elegant, the ribbons). Orange Blossom is a fave of mine; think floral sweetness laced with tea. Love it! Let me know what you think. :)

  • Katie says:

    Hey I finally got a chance to check out Penhaligon’s website. You’re right very pretty and lots of unique scents. Thanks for introducing me! Cornubia especially intruiges me but I like the idea of Bluebell too! I love the detail that goes into the packaging!

    • makeupmag says:

      Hi Katie!

      It’s my pleasure! I hope you find something that you like. Look out for the Christmas sets – they’re value for money and are nice samplers that might lead you to a full-sized bottle. ;) Bluebell is very raw and earthy – I’m not sure if that’s your kind of scent…? I agree – the packaging is exceptional.

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