Friday, June 28, 2013

Vintage Muguet: Crown Sandringham

Today I am examining a muguet fragrance from different time period: Crown Perfumery Sandringham. Muguet, more commonly known as Lily of the Valley, is a difficult note in perfumery because it often goes too sour, too sweet, too floral, too cloying—yet in Sandringham, it is just right.

Sandringham was originally designed by Crown Perfumery in 1873 in the height of the Victorian Era where powdery, sweet, musty, animalic florals were popular for men (see Penhaligon’s reference Hammam Bouquet—vintage, of course) were all the rage. The world knows nothing of its original form save a few dusty descriptions in old books and witness testimony of persons claiming to have smelled it recollecting decades later. However, the Sandringham of which I speak was released at some point in the early to mid-1980s (the Victorian 1980s as some call them because there was a rebirth in interest in Victorian style scents in the trendier shopping arcades of London) when Crown Perfumery started anew after more than half a century of decay (Tom Clark, Greetings from the Victorian 1980s, State of the Carnation (Aug. 31, 2011),

I know that many men, in this modern era, will look upon muguet “lily” with disdain, but if you stop there, you would be denying yourself an excellent opportunity at a glimpse into the past. This fragrance, while very heavy on muguet, sits effortlessly atop a peppery, herbal chypre that keeps it just masculine enough to wear and just timeless enough to look back to a time when fragrance was a much more unisex affair.

Sandringham is the Edwardian/Victorian British masculine floral personified. It sits poignantly among other greats such as Dukes of Pall Mall Cotswold, Dunhill for Men, Floris no. 89, and even Hammam Bouquet. Sandringham features a realistic--likely natural--muguet note (lily) which is tempered by spices, woods, and musks to keep it safely masculine. Sandringham is an Edwardian dandy's scent (blast that it doesn't have an animalic element though) built around quality ingredients and traditional craft.

Sadly, Sandringham is one of the most difficult Crown fragrances to find and is gone forever as it was one of the first in the line discontinued by Clive Christian likely because of the cost of the muguet. Anglia’s new Sissinghurst is a poor substitute for the old gentleman’s perfume, but will do if you absolutely must. 

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