From the Archives: Walter Penhaligon - Perfumer & Businessman
Posted on 2nd February 2015 by Nick
Walter Penhaligon joined the family business in 1887, taking charge of the laboratory and becoming responsible for formulation of perfumes and cosmetic products. Walter became an expert Perfumer, and took over the business following William's death in 1902.
In 1902, Walter created our timeless classic Blenheim Bouquet for the Duke of Marlborough. Named for Blenheim Palace, Blenheim Bouquet was incredibly forward thinking and revolutionary for its time: a citrus fragrance for men (at the turn of the 20th century men would wear soliflore fragrances such as a rose or violet).
Walter travelled the world extensively, visiting such faraway, exotic locations as Buenos Aires, Singapore, Australia, India and China. By 1907, Penhaligon's had agents worldwide.
Walter continued to create fragrances, and by 1911, the lineup included Esprit du Lavande, Lily of the Valley, English Fern, Douro Eau du Portugal and Zizonia (the present version of Zizonia is an update to the formula from the 1930s). All of Walter's masculine fragrances carried the thread of lavender through them, relating them to his fathers' original creation Hammam Bouquet.
Becoming Master of the Guild of Hairdressers, Wigmakers & Perfumers in 1909, Walter was highly respected and extremely popular. He was described in the Hairdressers Chronicle ‘as an inspiration to the entire membership in dealing practically, seriously and effectively with all of the concerned profession.’ For his retirement from the position in 1911, Walter received an engraved cup and silver tea service.
Sadly, in 1918, Walter's health deteriorated and his son Leonard took over the business. Walter passed away in 1921. His obituary read ‘To know Mr Penhaligon was to know a choice spirit so seldom found.’ Walter's leadership and creativity shaped Penhaligon's into the perfumers it is known as today.