New Fragrance Find: Portraits Collection | une femme d'un certain âge

Feminine, With An Edge

Three of my favorites from Penhaligon's Portraits fragrance collection. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Fragrance With Character

Fragrance is such a tricky beast. I find that my tastes shift periodically, and scents that once delighted now leave me cold or even annoy. I like something feminine, but with an edge. And it has to have a warm heart.

I was first introduced to Penhaligon’s a few years ago by Josephine of Chic At Any Age. At that time, the brand wasn’t available in the U.S., so I’d try them out whenever I was in the UK or France. I liked their unique fragrances, and have since learned that they do not test on animals, and their products are made with only high quality natural ingredients.

I recently had the chance to try some of the fragrances from their Portraits collection, and am smitten. The blends are very unique, and complex without being heavy. The bottle designs are bold and dramatic. And who could resist these amusing snippets of backstories of the characters (the family of a mythical “Lord George”) that populate the collection…

The Women

The Bewitching Yasmine. She is by all appearances soft and quiet. Yet at the same time, she conducts herself with a rare force. Some, the less determined, would find her distant, maybe cold, but appearances are notoriously misleading.

(This fragrance has top notes of coffee and cardamom, mid-notes of jasmine and incense, and an oud base.)

Clandestine Clara. And isn’t she a complex creature… A forceful personality, spicy but equally sweet, she has travelled in exotic countries and company – and in her smoky, velvety, woody air you may detect a memory (or three) of his Lordship… She is rebellious, contradictory, independent, unconventional – a woman ahead of her time. 

(The notes I picked up on are vanilla, cinnamon and amber, but also a slightly chypre note I can’t identify that sharpens and focuses the blend.)

Ruthless Countess DorotheaA most ferocious matriarch, known for her sharp mind, even sharper wit and a secret fondness for the company of young men and scones. A fragrance that has impeccable manners. Refined and thoroughly reassuring. Both are misleading. Revenge. It’s even better than biscuits. 

(I’d describe this fragrance as “refined spice.” Notes of bergamot, ginger, sherry, and maybe a little vanilla to round off the edges.)

These are not the entire collection, but are my favorites. I’m having trouble deciding between the three, but am leaning toward Bewitching Yasmine which dries down quite nicely and seems to last longest on my skin. These “ladies” all have a very light sillage, are well-mannered and do not enter the room ahead of you.

Pour Les Hommes…

The men’s fragrances in this line are no less colorful…

Mens' fragrance: Penhaligon's Monsieur Beauregard. Details at une femme d'un certain age.


Monsieur Beauregard. “Our French friend” is how this unknown but over-familiar houseguest is typically introduced. His lingering gaze lets you know he’ll take things from here. A special kind of perfection that with its strong caressing silence speaks volumes! Confidently quiet. Mysteriously sexy. Be warned. One look is all it took.

While this Portraits fragrance range isn’t inexpensive, Penhaligon’s does have a multitude of products from perfume and eau de toilette, bath and body, and even home fragrances. This Mixed Scent Library sampler includes a range of scents including the original house fragrance “Hammam Bouquet” and is $30.

I’m going to keep an eye out for more fragrance lines that aren’t tested on animals and will report back.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. Just wanted to introduce you to the brand.

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. February 5, 2018 / 3:57 am

    First of all, Penhaligon’s marketing department’s writing is just da bomb! I ADORE their descriptions of these characters … uh, perfumes. Someone should write a BBC miniseries about these folks … I mean, perfumes.

    At what US venues does Penhaligon sell these scents?

  2. Lisa
    February 5, 2018 / 4:10 am

    Thank you, I’m going to explore these. Thank you for letting us know that this isn’t a sponsored post.

  3. ValToo
    February 5, 2018 / 6:24 am

    I wear Penhalogon’s Quarcus! I didn’t know I could find Penhalogon’s in the U.S. It’s always on my shopping list when I go to the U.K.

  4. Lea
    February 5, 2018 / 6:29 am

    Now I’m intrigued and will seek them out. Thank you!

  5. prema3
    February 5, 2018 / 8:00 am

    I started wearing Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir in about 1985. I was in my mid-30s and looking for a signature. I have never gotten tired of it, and most people like it. I had one boyfriend who forbade me from wearing it, but he wasn’t that great of a boyfriend. My husband loves it. It always makes me think a little bit of incense, and when I looked up the ingredients it was clear why, Top Notes: Rose, Chamomile; Heart Notes: Oakmoss, Jasmine, Muguet, Ylang-Ylang; Base notes: Patchouli, Musk, Amber and Sandalwood,

  6. Darling Lily
    February 5, 2018 / 9:10 am

    Penhaligon’s are a venerable old brand; I think Diana, Princess of Wales wore Bluebell. Well, Lady Diana Spencer did, at any rate!

    I don’t believe Penhaligon’s only use naturals, at least not in the sense that people usually mean when something is said to be made with only natural ingredients. Mme Dorothea above, for instance, has Cashmeran listed in the basenotes, and Cashmeran is definitely a synthetic. I don’t say this to be snotty, and hope it isn’t coming across as so!

    Zoologist is a unique brand, with distinctive presentation and highly original perfumes. (Some border on bizarre, but all are worth a sniff!) AFAIK, they do not test on animals.

    Strange Invisible Perfumes, Honore de Pres (I believe all natural) and Velvet & Sweet Pea (my personal favorite and really lovely packaging) are brands I trust as being completely cruelty free.

    I am much more lax about cruelty-free fragrance than makeup, but I am trying to make more informed choices!

  7. Brenda
    February 5, 2018 / 10:04 am

    Such cute branding! Fragrance can be lovely at home or when you are not seated in close proximity to others.

    There is nothing less appealing (or dangerous for those with allergies) to be crowded in a restaurant, theatre, public transport, hospital, school, doctor’s office with someone who wears scent. There’s a reason those “scent aware” signs are popping up everywhere – many perfumes are made with a fixative that is actually biosimilar to dry-cleaning fluid.

  8. lisa
    February 5, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    Nice to become acquainted with some new scents. Next time I’m in Bloomies I’ll have to check them out. I love Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt but it has zero staying power even when layered with the body cream. Would love to try something new.

  9. lisa
    February 5, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    On another note, I purchased a Lo and Sons OMG bag. Love it! I found the OG too overwhelming on my 5’2″ frame. Thanks for the recommendation.

  10. Suzanne
    April 25, 2020 / 9:24 am

    Floral scents give me headaches but several years ago you posted a perfume that I loved. Not floral, maybe tobacco undertones. I bought it and wore it very often. Unfortunately I left it on the counter in our cabin when we took a cruise last September. I have searched and searched but cannot remember the name. Do you by any chance have a list of the perfumes you wear on this site?? I would recognize the name if I saw it. I love your style and have gotten so many ideas from you.

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