What is is about peonies? I'm not sure I've ever met anyone that doesn't adore them, the way their tight buds unfurl into those heady, blowsy blossoms, tipping drunkenly on their unsteady stems. There's a particularly dreary spring drizzle out today, so I'm splashing on some Penhaligon's Peoneve to transport my senses to a sunny summer day, knee-deep in a bed of the fragrant, velvety blooms.
Peoneve starts out with the sharp, peppery, unmistakeable hit of peony - a very lifelike facsimile that other peony-based fragrances never quite seem to capture. The note is is fleshed out with more than a litle tea rose, which shares a similar note and compliments and strengthens the peony . This isn't your typical perfume rose, but more of the fresh, prickly, antique variety, very bright and tart. A natural hint of violet leaf ties all these blooming notes together, and though it imparts a strong freshness, a certain dewy garden quality, I wouldn't consider this a stridently green fragrance at all - it's far too...well, pink. There's a fresh, almost watery impressionistic feel to it overall, like freshly plucked peony blooms floating in a delicate, china bowl.
All this bright, tart freshness dries to a very clean, very faint base with just the tiniest hint of creaminess. Unfortunately, the simple, light feel to the fragrance translates into very little staying power. What lingers is lovely and subtle, but it never really changes into anything different or unexpected on skin - what you first smell is basically what you get, which will be a selling point for some, and a disappointment for others.
Overall I find it very pretty, very polite, but am left wanting a bit... more. More depth, more realness, that little hint of something unusual or even a bit off to really pique my interest. I personally like that old fashioned hint of powderiness or spice to really round out the base of a fragrance, but it's also very out of fashion these days, and this offering is a clever way to bridge that gap for Penhaligon's. It's the perfect choice for people who like the idea of an elegant, simple floral but have found the London landmark's more classic offerings too old-fashioned for their tastes. Peoneve is the perfect scent for a May wedding or a lazy summer picnic on a cool, green lawn - light, tart and modern without sacrifing its feminine prettiness.