The English house of Penhaligon's offers several floral fragrances for women, yet I've never really fallen for any of them. Bluebell is too astringent for my taste, Elisabethan Rose is pretty but fleeting, Violetta is weirdly herbaceous, and I'm just not a Lily of the Valley person. However, the press release for Peoneve caught my eye. This new launch is described as "an exquisite portrayal of an English garden in summer, bursting with lush green foliage and heady with the scent of blossoming flowers," and was developed by perfumer Olivier Cresp, with notes of violet leaf, peony, Bulgarian rose, hedione, vetiver, musk and cashmere wood.
Although peony isn't my absolute favorite floral note, I do like it, and I'll usually give it a try when it appears in something like L'Occitane Paeonia (which is a bit dull) or Parfums de Nicolaï's Rose Pivoine — or Estée Lauder's new-classic Pleasures, of course. The main problem with interpretations of peony, for me, is that they tend to err on the side of watery-lemony freshness, when I'd prefer a little more pollen and petal in the mix. Peoneve seems to take the latter course.
Peoneve's opening notes are a bit sour and sharp, to my nose; there is something "natural" about this effect, like crushed green leaves and overblown flowers with bruised edges. The fragrance's heart, a woody peony-rose bouquet, is more enjoyable for me. I'm not sure how the inclusion of hedione affects the composition — I actually had to read up on hedione, and I found this post on Bois de Jasmin to be useful — but I'm not sensing much of this molecule's warmth and radiance in Peoneve. However, I do notice the dry and earthy vetiver, which gives a shade of darkness to the floral center. Penhaligon's does seem to be offering us a blooming peony bush in a garden, rather than a neatly arranged cluster of peonies in a florist's shop display case, and this approach fits the brand's overall aesthetic.
Overall, after I've tried it a few times, Peoneve is pretty much what I hoped it would be: a peony-inspired scent with just enough dirt and stems to keep things interesting, so that it's not just a pretty, "girly" fragrance. Peoneve would probably please fans of "modern rose" fragrances like Yves Rocher Rose Absolue and Stella McCartney Stella just as much as anyone seeking a new peony fragrance. I found it more substantial than other peony scents I've tested in the past. (Peoneve's perfumer Olivier Cresp also developed Peony Angel for Thierry Mugler a few years ago; if I had some in my collection, I'd be curious to see how Peoneve compares to it.)
Penhaligon's is currently previewing Peoneve at the luxury department store Harvey Nichols in London, and if I were there, I'd certainly swing by Knightsbridge for a visit to the store's "multi-sensory terrace," where one can experience Peoneve while enjoying refreshments and cocktails inspired by the fragrance. (I'd need to decide between the "Rose Garden" and the "Violet Breeze.") Since I'm not in London, and I've just used up my sample vial, I'll look forward to trying Peoneve again when it arrives the United States at the end of the summer.
Penhaligon's Peoneve is available as 50 ml ($120) and 100 ml ($155) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for Penhaligon's under Perfume Houses.
Note: top right image is Edouard Manet, Bouquet of Peonies (1882), via Wikimedia Commons.