Theo Fennell Scent

It is decidedly autumn. Meaning: it’s raining here. And I have a leak next to my back door. Get to call company that installed door tomorrow…

Oh, in between the trees are gorgeous and the fields at the farm shop offer a wonderful bounty (I think these are cabbages).

But as I write it’s raining, and given the sun rises after 7 AM and sets before 7 PM (and the dark will continue to close in until the Winter Solstice, when the sun arrives towards 9 AM and departs at 4 PM) it’s not my fave time of year.

Autumn sends me looking through drawers to divest clothing that no longer work, into my box of scarves to remind myself of what I actually have, and into the perfume box at the bottom of the closet for those things that only come out in cooler/cold weather.

Of course, each year, it’s the long discontinued, only fragrance ever released by celebrity jeweller Theo Fennell Scent. What a lame name for something that is truly gorgeous.

I’m surprised I haven’t written about this. I guess because I only visit with it this time of year and it’s hard to find (ebay, on discounters), so I don’t want to use up my bottle. I remain flummoxed as to why I didn’t buy more when it was released.

Launched in 2006 (a lifetime ago), Fragrantica calls this a chypre floral. I guess. It’s just heavy duty gorgeousness on me. Yes, floral, but some spice, something lush and delicious without being foody. Notes include rose, saffron, lily, cardamon, orchid, caraway, cinnamon, jasmine, orange blossom, labdanum, benzoin, patchouli, sandalwood and tonka.

Turin and Sanchez gave it 5 stars in the original The Guide and Turin called it a saffron musk (don’t see any musk notes, but I certainly ‘get’ that label). Per Turin, “A modern masterpiece moving from a radiant creamy musk opening to Guerlain style woody powdery mode and then back again to the opening. A perfectly unisex fragrance – original, memorable and technically brilliant”. Nose was Christophe Laudamiel.

I can’t recall when I bought my bottle, but I do know I got it at Selfridges and I had to wait for the exactly right SA to show up from his break because no one else knew where the boxes of this were. Just blank stares. As one would hope from a jewellery designer, the bottle is nice, tactile. Fits the hand well, good weight, manageable top.

Oh, my, this is gorgeous (I’m totally with Turin on this). In the back of my mind, I know it is, but each autumn when it comes out I’m reminded of Just.How.Gorgeous. On me, it starts saffron (I assume it’s saffron doing this) rose – ie, deep, full, slightly weird sour but in the best possible way. It’s got the raspiness of lily and the rose must have been one really happy flower.

This is very old school – ie, it’s more a soup than a salad in that the individual notes support one another rather than really standing out separately. I get the idea of caraway. As it develops on my skin, I get a worn silk lingerie thing – something tangled up on a well used bed. I guess that’s the jasmine and orange blossom’s contribution. I know I used lush above – also, rich, sumptuous, voluptuous, decadent.

The drydown is … well, everything you want a drydown to be? Which is to say, at least for me, resinous, with a smooth, full, buttery woodiness and just a whisper (really only a whisper) of spicy sweet.

Each year when I bring this out I’m bowled over all over again.

I guess I can understand why this was discontinued. It’s certainly not mainstream and it’s also not easy (a friend said it went sour on her). And for whatever reason it wasn’t that easy to find at the time. But it’s one of those frustrating things: why did you launch this if you didn’t plan to continue to offer it??? I would have happily continued to buy it.

Do you remember this? Is it in your collection?

An fyi for next week: my post will go up early on Monday rather than on Sunday to coincide with Halloween, one of my favourite holidays.

  • Scent_Insensibility says:

    I’ve been recommending this a lot recently as the colder weather approaches ( though it’s still mild in the UK, and the clocks go back tonight ! ) It does feel like a little secret, a cheap gem if you know it and can still find it. Those that love it REALLY love it.

    It’s a chypre in the same vein as Diva, full on and fabulous. With a spicy kick to boot.

    If you’re blind buying just bear in mind that ain’t caraway, it’s cumin ! Fabulous, spicy cumin ???

  • rosarita says:

    I have a bottle of this and look forward to it every winter. I’m going to dig it out to wear tomorrow and really study what I’m smelling! Great review, thanks.

    • cinnamon says:

      Glad to enable 🙂 I’ve actually put it on every day since I dug it out late last week. I really do forget from year to year how great it is.

  • Dina C. says:

    Beautiful description, Cinnamon. I’ve never sniffed this one. I love how a new season means revisiting the old favorite scents that go with that season. For me, cooler weather means Sycomore, Mitsouko, Bois des Iles, Bois d’Iris and all the leather scents. Enjoy that beauty!

    • cinnamon says:

      Tx. I wish Bois des Iles worked on me. At least Mitsouko does. And agree on the leather scents. The colder out (and dryer), the better.

  • alityke says:

    I had the pedestal box with neon pink tassel presentation. Boy was that beautiful but somehow didn’t fit how the actual juice smelt. The night club story ties the two together.

    I enjoyed the actual scent in small doses. Somehow all the dirty, used bed, sweaty human aspects came to the fore on me. DH LOATHED it. He rarely comments on my fragrances but sadly Theo Fennell Scent gave him a nauseous headache. He reacts to cut lilies & lily fragrances the same. I released the bottle & glorious presentation back into the wild.
    I’ve seen plain boxed bottles for sale on UK discounters for under a tenner quite recently. I wonder if this genuinely is one of the fragrances that IFRA neutered to such an extent it was unrecognisable?

    • cinnamon says:

      Alas. As I noted in the text a friend hates it and gets sour yech which she thinks is the saffron. I hope whoever ended up with the bottle appreciated it. Trying to think of when all the IFRA nastiness started. I don’t imagine this got much attention given for how long it was actually in proper release.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    How I love this too.
    I smelt it long after discontinuation and lemmings it hard for years.
    One of my dear perfume buddies Tim gave me a BNIC box a few years ago as a Xmas present. Overwhelmed is an understatement. So not only do I love it for what it is, it’s also a fabulous scent memory of a long happy friendship.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Oh, my, that was some gift. How totally wonderful. And definitely on the happy associations.

  • shiva-woman says:

    I have not tried this scent, but it seems to have an uhh… “unusual backstory” which raises a few interesting questions. After reading the excellent review here, I wanted to check it out over at Fragrantica wherein I did a double-take. The scent itself sounds lovely. Thought I would pass this along:
    “Theo Fennell Scent evokes Theo’s memories of clandestine times shared with his father on stolen visits to Paris’s most chic night club. It was these evenings, as a young boy, spent surrounded by the magical atmosphere of humorous decadence which inspired the future designer. Theo remembers being left, surrounded by rows of deliciously scented fur coats, watching their owners touching up their make up, giggling, gossiping and adjusting their stockings. These evenings were the inspiration….”
    Hmmm…the sweet nostalgia of father-son outings.

  • Tom says:

    I’ve not heard of this but I am totally lemming it. I hate it that good things get discontinued.

  • Kathleen says:

    I’ve not heard of this fragrance; however, by your description I feel that I have missed out. Enjoy your gorgeous fall perfume and preparations for your favorite holiday!

    • cinnamon says:

      It disappeared very quickly after a short manic period of interest. I think you can find samples own eBay. Tx regarding Halloween. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain…

  • March says:

    I love this; I have a decant but not a bottle. I find it huge in that old-school way, like some of the Amouages, yet it feels timeless rather than “vintage.” It starts out pretty darn sweaty on me (which I don’t mind!) and then settles down and lasts forever.

    • cinnamon says:

      I need to buy another bottle. Yes, timeless — that’s it! I don’t get the skank as sweat and it’s so well integrated, unlike some skankfests.

  • Tara C says:

    Never got a chance to sniff this one, it sounds so wonderful. I’m digging out all my favorite ambers as fall approaches, the best perfume season of the year!

  • datura5750 says:

    I love this one, thanks for reminding me, I will dig this out for the cooler weather, I remember that the jewelers website sold silver holders and caps for the bottles, I wish I had bought those and more of the scent…

  • Tanja says:

    I first tried it because a blogger thought it was a scanky scent, so i bought it blind for 20€ and after testing ordered a BUB, because it was cheap and discontinued. Perfect for autumn and winter

    • cinnamon says:

      It is perfect for autumn/winter. It’s available here for around £50 on a discount site. I’m really thinking I should buy another bottle because when it’s gone, it’s really going to be gone.