The ultimate personalised perfume ­– via Penhaligon’s and Alberto Morillas

It isn’t every day you discover that one of the world’s most celebrated ‘noses’ is up for hire.
But Alberto Morillas – famed for fragrances like Bulgari Goldea, Calvin Klein ckone, Marc Jacobs Daisy,  Versace Bright Crystal and Yellow Diamond, winner of the coveted Prix François Coty and more, more, more – will now create you a signature scent, through a new service offered at Harrods Salon de Parfums. (Which has just been extended, on the Sixth Floor, offering new spaces including the Penhaligon’s boutique where we photographed Mr. Morillas recently.)
As a brand new venture, there’s currently no waiting list for Penhaligon’s Bespoke by Alberto Morillas – though our hunch is that will rapidly change. The downside? You will need £35,000 to spare. In think that in the grand scheme of things, that’s honestly not unreasonable; this is the equivalent of getting Rembrandt to paint your olfactory portrait. And no question there’ll be customers lining up for the service. Us? We’re buying extra EuroMillions tickets and keeping everything crossed.)
The process involves lengthy consultations with Penhaligon’s in-house fragrance expert, and a to-and-fro process which is likely to take eight to nine months. Not for the impatient, then. But at the end, the fragrance will be presented in two customised 200ml British cut crystal decanters, inside a luxuriously lacquered wood box – in case the perfume-lover is in any doubt about how exclusive an opportunity this is. (The decanters can be refilled at any time, with the recipe exclusive to the customer.)
Alberto Morillas and Penhaligon’s have form. Even before he began his career as a perfumer, Alberto Morillas was a fan of Blenheim Bouquet – indeed,  ‘Penhaligon’s perfumed my father, my grandfather. It’s a style of perfume that you don’t find anywhere else.’
Morillas created the sublime Iris Prima, and of the witty, characterful-in-every-way Penhaligon’s Portraits ‘family’, is responsible for The Tragedy of Lord George and the soon-to-be launched Mr. Beauregard (a cad of a chap, by all accounts, but he smells dashed good – all orris, lemon, pink pepper and resinous benzoin).
We were delighted to present Alberto Morillas with his own copy of The Scented Letter (he’s a new fan!) – and he also found time to share his five favourite smells with us…
1. Orange flower ‘Always my favourite because it reminds me of the house in Seville where I grew up.’
2. Rose There is such amazing variety in rose; some fresh, some musky, some like incense… It is the eternal sign of femininity, in the garden and in perfumery.
3. Tomatoes If I’ve been travelling somewhere – China, or the Far East – I love to come home and enjoy a tomato. For me it’s a combination of two things: the leaf – which smells so unique, so green, when you rub your fingers on it – and eating the flesh of the tomato. Is there anything nicer than the simple pleasure of enjoying a summer-ripe tomato, with a little salt…?
4. Patchouli This is a dream ingredient for a perfumer and I just love the smell – and its incredible versatility as an ingredient. You add it to moss, and it becomes a Chypre. You mix with jasmine, and you have a beautiful exotic floral.
5. Incense I grew up in a Catholic community and this is the smell of the cathedral in Seville. It makes me a little sad, but at the same time is a very peaceful and meditative smell. As a perfumer, quiet and peace is incredibly important to me. A very important part of the creative process for me is to sit and do nothing – just to think. I can spend hours simply thinking, creating in my head, staring at the sea or sitting in my garden. I take photographs of things that inspire me and I might scroll through those, but no e-mail, no social media, no scrolling for ‘likes’. Just quietness and stillness.

If a personal perfume from Alberto Morillas is beyond your budget, however, you might want to consider the semi-bespoke service that Penhaligon’s is also offering within the Salon de Parfums (see above). Another gifted perfumer, Fabrice Pellegrin, has created four bases – Chypre, Woody, Ambrée or Amber – which can be customised with four different top notes: rose, iris, sandalwood and oudh. And trust us, the results are sublime. (We are saving for the Chypre/sandalwood combo.) The price varies between £300-425 depending on what you choose (oudh and iris being the priciest).

This customised perfume will be mixed before your eyes and hand-poured into a classic Penhaligon’s bottle, adorned with a beautiful velvet bow in a choice of colours.
Did someone say ‘birthday’…?
Find the new Penhaligon’s boutique in the Salon de Parfums, 6th Floor, Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
By Jo Fairley

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