Named “Perfumer of the Year” by Cosmetique Magazine in 2017 and honoured with the French Trade Magazine’s annual Oscar, French Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin sits down with Penhaligon’s to discuss his most recent creation. Like much of the fragrance connoisseur’s previous work, Pellegrin has become known to take people on an olfactory journey with his unique blend of vivacious scents – his latest contribution to Penhaligon’s icon-clast Portraits collection is of no exception. The World According To Arthur is the newest addition to the celebrated Portraits family; a curious young fellow who fled a career in law and conquers a spiritual journey to discover what lay behind The Doors of The Great Wall. His motto? “Sometimes one needs to travel far, to reveal the familiar.”

What was the inspiration behind Arthur? How did it evolve from an idea, into the fully formed fragrance?

The inspiration behind the new Portrait fragrance was to create a magnificent incense scent. This incense finds itself in the heart of the new Portraits fragrance Arthur. The Portraits collection is composed of unique fragrances, each distinctive in their scent. In the process of creating Arthur, I selected different qualities of incense; I was searching to obtain the most fresh, resinous, and dazzling facet! There are numerous ranks of incense, each with varying quality. For Arthur I desired the purest incense, taken from the Boswellia sacra, a tree that grows in the dry regions of North-East Africa and in the South of the Arabic peninsula, worshipped by the ancient civilisations. In total, I selected three types of incense, whose olfactive profiles are complimentary. One of the other incenses selected pertains a Vulcan characteristic, which brings a burning effect to the scent, reminiscent of a dragon’s fire – a mythical creature whose head is the ornament of the bottle. I was able to unify the different treatments of incense to create a scent that was coherent with my initial idea.

The Portraits family are full of secrets, what are the secrets behind the creation of this perfume? What makes Arthur unique?

What renders this fragrance truly unique is the choice of an exceptional incense, associated to an innovative extraction process. The combination of an overdose of incense creates this rare, desirable scent, generating a real addiction to the fragrance.


Fragrance is very personal, but how do you hope that Arthur will make the wearer feel?

Desirable and sensual. The fragrance for me is an accessory, but also a weapon of seduction, and the extension of one’s soul and spirit! Arthur becomes a method of speech, and a form of self-expression.

Who do you imagine wearing Arthur?

I imagine a man or a woman, who is searching for a fragrance which is unique, identifiable, and intense. The ideal person would be touched by a sensation or a feeling when first discovering Arthur. This fragrance has been created to surprise and trigger the unexpected.

How long did it take you to design the fragrance? What sort of research, discovery, dreaming went into creating the fragrance?

Each perfume I create begins with a rough idea, that I work on for months and sometimes years.

Arthur has notes of incense, ambrette seeds and vanilla – what do each of these ingredients bring to the fragrance?

I have spoken a lot about incense, which was my starting note for this project. I wanted to create a magnificent incense, without being mystical as this note is often associated with places of worship. I created the ensemble of this fragrance with the idea of a dialogue between the ingredients, I wanted each ingredient to have its own effect. Whilst the incense brings verticality, the vanilla brings roundness and sensuality. The ambrette seeds, derived from the hibiscus flower, creates a unifying trait between the vanilla and the incense. Once extracted, the scent is complex, both fruity, iridescent, and very musky, which brings it softness.

Were you previously familiar with the Penhaligon’s Portraits collection?

I am honoured to create my first Portrait fragrance for Penhaligon’s. I am greatly amused by the fragrance collection, which captures the famous British spirit with a mixture of humour and provocation. Each portrait represents an invented persona, and the collection composes a family aristocracy, so British. What brings me joy today, is having the chance to write a story about this genealogy.


Discover a fragrance family quite unlike any other, where nothing is quite as it seems. Portraits is a tribute to the good old English spirit: stiff upper lip, caustic humour, and a knack for provocation.


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