Tag Archives: St Valentine’s Day

Extraordinary gentleman of the Knight… White Rose by Floris for Sir John Gielgud The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

Perhaps Sir John was always more Green Carnation than White Rose.

A peculiarly British contradiction: feted peer of the realm, first among actors, arrested and prosecuted for ‘sexual offences’. Further enobled after his conviction.

His surface charm, that most say ran deep, and mellifluous tone that spoke of an equally honeyed, and giving, heart, never deserted him.


I wonder if, like his great aunt, the every bit as legendary Ellen Terry he might have been tempted by the wares of Floris of Jermyn Street.

I’m sure he knew of the Turkish baths that once stood nearby, and proved inspiration for Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet.

The Floris shop still has the same wooden counters created for the Great Exhibition in 1851, from behind which Ellen, and John and now you are served.

Perhaps he might have chosen White Rose, a quintessentially theatrical scent.

Not large or grating you understand.

But subtle and insinuating like a fine actor’s performance.

It starts as a juvenile violet, sweet, innocent, slightly confectionery. Grows into a leading lady heart, more power and depth, jasmine providing elocution and projection.

The finish is pure dressing room: fading flowers, endless powder and slap, the spice of costumes worn tens of dozens of times.

Actor and theatre, person, place, perfume all one.

Gielgud, the performer personified is one of only eleven people, five actors, to have the rare distinction of an EGOT.

This inelegant acronym signifies their capturing of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, and dominance of all performing arts.

Interestingly, Sir John received more Grammy nominations than for any of the purely acting awards… that voice…

… Wizardry!

Farewell then from the world of magic and theatre and roses.

Happy St Valentine’s Day.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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Rule Britannia…. Elizabeth I by Jean Patou and Historic Royal Palaces for Dame Judi Dench The Perfumed Dandy’s Four Thespian Roses for St Valentine’s Day 

The power of a queen is not determined by her physical stature.

Nor the impact of an actress by her tenure on the screen.

Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar for her fleeting performance of Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare In Love”.

Outshining, to some minds, many of the juvenile leads.

Whether on set she wore the perfume that bears the name of ‘good Queen bess’ I must confess I do not know.

However it would have been most appropriate, for this work of olfactory archaeology must by one of the most ancient scents on the market today.

Lost for many years, the recipe for what fancies itself to be the fragrance worn by England’s Great Virgin, was rediscovered in the library of the Royal Horticultural Society in a volume enticingly named ‘The Mystery and Lure of Perfume’ by C J S Thompson.

It reads thus:

”Take 8 grains of musk and put in rose-water 8 spoonfuls, 3 spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it”

How closely these instructions have been followed by Patou, who worked with Historic Royal Palaces, to restore the perfume is unknown.

The result, however, is distinctly pleasing.

Old fashioned in an imperially-laundered way, it is an aroma by which to set sail and conquer continents.

Subtle, yet persuasive, it is not provocative or alluring, this is a pretty, clean, restrained rose to be admired, but not defiled.

One imagines it was once used in great quantities and in so doing to similar effect…

A side note on Dame Judi, though her appearance in this instance might have been short, her presence on the British stage and screen is long.

She first appeared professionally in 1957 at the Old Vic, forerunner to the National Theatre. She has gone on to play practically every major female part in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, Chekhov, Ibsen and the modern canon.

She won her first BAFTA film award (of six) in 1966, her first for television in 1968, the same year that she opened in the West End premiere of Cabaret as Sally Bowles to huge acclaim.

And whilst she has amassed more than 25 major film awards over her 55 year plus career it is to the theatre that she belongs.

Perhaps best known to the rest of the world as ‘M’ in the Bond films, at the age of 79 she has been voted ‘Greatest Theatre Actor of All Time’ by her peers and fellow professionals in industry bible “The Stage”.

Rose Queen of the Theatre.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy



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Of all the gardens in all the world… Une Rose by Frederic Malle The Perfumed Dandy’s Rose Scented Letter


Today the flower bed is Flanders Fields.

The few fool hard February roses are poppies made.

Protruding on precarious stalks from sodden earth turned clay with endless winter’s rain.

One, though, remains almost the same.


Identical in raw silk swirls to last summer, when, dressed in fatigues, he tapped your left shoulder, made you turn, scurried round to steal a kiss upon a your right cheek.

Then behind his back, with hidden hands, lest you chastise him for his horticultural crime he removed a whole corolla from its stem. Bringing forward and together cupped palms, offered you a bowl of crimson petals.

Holy roses.

You lean in to smell the bloom before you now, its perfume pathetically diminished.

All season-sapped strength has been coraled into this fine display, leaving nothing behind for scent.

“Of all the rose gardens in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine.”

You’d said it as soon as you saw her name.

He, predictably, replied:

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Or the end, you thought, as his hand, calloused by army drills linked with yours, hardened with pruning and hoeing and weeding.

His khaki, your park keeper’s green, merging into camouflage you wished could hide you from the world and his call back to Helmand.

The aroma from half a year ago returns.

Inside, but not in approximation, no: hi definition news channel fidelity.

That same smell. Precisely.

Glace fruit, green at once wooden stem, the taste of red wine on his blistered lips as they search to find your mouth, the buzz of bumble bees, the musk of his armpits.


That one rose.


Your six foot frame, normally so composed, as athletic as his soldier’s, still as supple as the dancer you dreamt of being, is about to give way.

The flourish from “Gone With The Wind” bursts forth from your mobile phone.

You redden. An elderly Japanese woman in an immaculate Macintosh of the type the British themselves never wear anymore looks across bemused from a nearby bench.

His face a few inches square on your screen.

New message.

“Here’s looking at you, kid!”

The roses in the mud look all the more like opium poppies now, and Wilfred Owen’s lines run through your mind.

Une Rose by Edouard Flechier for Frederic Malle is a narcotically, deceptively simple floral.


A truth serum scent that remembers in hyper-reality an exact fragrance belonging to a certain flower at a determined time.

This is, as the name suggests, the smell unique to a strain of rose, perhaps even a specific plant, possibly just in one season, week, hour or moment.


It is the memory of how a flower seemed, smelt, just ‘then’, rendered chemical, bottled, shipped and sold.

That said, it is not straightforward, for roses aren’t.

If other flowers contain olfactory kingdoms, roses are continents.

Here we have an opening that is full with fruit, sweet, too sweet perhaps for some, leaning a little to a bath oil and attars.

Then nature intrudes, a wood that is more green stalk than tree, a hint of honey and other flowers and something that adds depth, frivolity and flirtation.

Red wine: Beaujolais rather than Bordeaux, playful, young, mischievous.

Yet, all said, just as wine, for all the allusions it contains, still invariably tastes of wine, so this perfume is pervasively, inescapably, all about rose.

A sculpted, complex, personal, sexual, recollection of a rose.

Play it again, Frederic.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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Let the blooming good times begin… The Perfumed Dandy’s Festival of Roses

IMG_20130627_182421 Fairest Flower Tops

I make no apologies or bones about it…

I am The Dandy and I reserve my right to like, nay adore a rose if I wish to, and I do!


Therefore, between now and St Valentine’s Day I declare a minor festival or Fetes des Roses!

Over the next eight days I shall be picking out some favourite fragrances that bare a trace of the Queen of Flowers for slither-like slight reviews.

I shall also be posting a few long-overdue scented letters that bear the aroma of these most opulent corollas.

And, if you crave my indulgence, I will also re-post a few of my favourite musings on perfumes with that certain Elizabethan something.


Let the merriment commence on the morrow!!!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy


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Is it even acceptable to receive scent…? The Perfumed Dandy’s Fragrant Forum

Friends, Fragrance Fiends, Lovers everywhere

These next twelve days , will, so a friend at one of the world’s very most famous department stores tells me, represent the most frenzied period of perfume buying of the entire year.

More scent will be sold than on all the advent days in the immediate run up to Christmas.

More bottles will be boxed, wrapped and dispatched than for all the birthdays in the year combined.

And for why?

Well, St Valentine’s, bien sur!

It is the doing of that old King of Hearts himself.

So this week a simple, well near simple question.

Do you like receiving scent as a gift?

Has The Dandy gone mad? I hear you ask in turn… for are we not all more than a little partial to perfume to say the least.

But consider this proposition…

How do you feel when someone buys you a scent unsolicited, as a surprise, that you haven’t chosen or at least advised on?

Ah! A little tougher now perhaps? Or perhaps not. Possibly we’re an easy going crowd, happy to have our senses tingled by the tastes of others…

Open to olfactory experiences from all directions!

Do tell. Do.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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