The great thing about designer scents is that they allow those of us with more slender means to treat ourselves to something special without breaking the bank. I've long coveted Theo Fennell's bold and exquisite jewellery designs but had neither the means nor the justiifcation for such an extravagant pruchase. It wasn't until I was dashing through a local department store that I learned that there was a Theo Fennell fragrance; several boxes were languishing in the clearance section and although I couldn't see a tester, the hefty discount (I paid just £14.95, the original price was approximately £45.00) persuaded me to part with the cash without sampling the fragrance first.
This fragrance comes in a very simple white card box which is, to my surprise, hot pink inside. The bottle is a heavy clear glass sphere, about the size of a billiard ball with a small flat base and a faux seam halfway down. The Theo Fennell logo is embossed in the glass. The clear perspex lid is a bit disappointing compared with the bottle but the overall look is simple and stylish and worthy of a place on any dressing table. the colour of the liquid inside is amber and it does slightly have the look of something which has discoloured but I am sure it hasn't.
Mine is the 75ml eau de toilette with spray vaporiser. Given the longevity of this scent I did check (several times) that it was the eau de toilette and not the eau de parfum that I had picked up. Even before I pumped the spray for the first time I knew that this would be a grown up scent and I was not wrong. If you like fresh and light and fruity stop reading now; this is no girlie girlie scent, this is a fragrance for real women and it's mature and complex.
Described by the perfume guides as 'oriental chypre' the spicy and woody elements are what jump out first but a more considered testing reveals how complicated this scent is. The initial hit is strong; it came at me like a truck and my initial reaction was 'Who can I palm this off on?' Stick with it, though, because it doesn't take too long to calm down, revealing top notes of rose, saffron and lily. It's definitely not an out and out floral, however; the heart notes come through quite quickly and the scent morphs into something quite warm and spicy with a distinct whiff of cumin but also the warmth (but not the often cloying nature) of vanilla and the delicate perfume of cardamom.
With recognisable base notes of patchouli, sandalwood and tonka bean, this fragrance develops into something quite sensual and expensive smelling. I can spray this in the morning and the scent is still going strong well into the evening. It does cling quite ferociously to clothes, however, and on a couple of occasions I've abandoned some other fragrance I wanted to wear because it can't mask the Theo Fenell.
Much as I love this perfume it's not really me in some respects. In the brand's notes Theo Fennell talks about his inspiration for the scent, recounting childhood visits to the a chic Parisian nightclub with his father (I wish my dad had taken me to Parisian nightclubs!) and describing how he wanted to evoke the remembered scents of heavy perfumes on the fur coats of the wealthy women there. Indeed, there are certainly elements of glamour and opulence in this perfume and it strikes me as the ind of scent to wear for an elegant evening engagement - not something I very often get to. Nonetheless I stick tenaciously to this scent because I love it; yes, it's probably too heavy for regular daytime wear but I just can't get enough of it.
Dare I say it, this is a fragrance that could be worn by men or women. As well as the notes I have described there are also hints of leather and incense which are quite masculine. I find it highly reminsicent of Alexander McQueen's Kingdom, another scent which is quite heavy and spicy and contrasts quite dramatically with the fragrances I am usually drawn to.
You do need to shop around to find Theo Fennell's fragrances online but they are there if you look. Apart from my spot in my local Fenwicks store, I haven't seen this fragrance in a high street store. Prices vary wildly online, you may have to pay around £50 for the eau de toilette or the parfum, depending on your luck.