Penhaligon’s Ostara: Radiant Beauty & Luminous Spring

Penhaligon’s new Ostara is an ode to Springtime and daffodils. It is also one of those rare scents whose opening left me wishing I had poetic talent in order to convey its exquisite beauty and the multitude of images which it inspired in my head. I wished I could paint like an Impressionist master, so that I could capture its rare sense of luminosity. I wished there were a way I could adequately express its essence, its intricate delicacy, and Bertrand Duchaufour‘s technical brilliance — which is on full display here, more than usual, in my opinion. I looked for sonnets, paintings, something, to convey just what the spectacular opening felt and did to me, but I failed time and again, because everything seemed trite or a clichéd in comparison. Perhaps that is because Ostara’s deceptively simple, seemingly unadorned opening is ultimately more of a rapturous sensation than a bouquet of notes. It’s as though a moment in place and time — as well as all the radiant light of that day — had been squeezed into one bottle. I wish I had the poetic words….



Ostara is a new eau de toilette that was released a few weeks ago. On its website, Penhaligon’s describes the scent as follows:

Introducing Ostara, the beautiful new solar floral inspired by the ultimate spring time bloom, the daffodil. Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour created the fragrance, using his own childhood memories of abundant, sweet narcissus flowers in Auvergne, in France to capture the optimism and sunlight that spring brings. Named after the Goddess of Spring, Ostara represents resurgence from bulb to bud to bloom.

Daffodils with grape hyacinths via

Daffodils with grape hyacinths via

Ostara opens in an affirming burst of green and yellow: Juniper, Violet Leaf Absolute and Spearmint are layered against vibrant notes of Aldehydes, Blackcurrant and Clementine. Narcissus Absolute leads the sun-drenched floral bouquet, gathered with Hyacinth, Hawthorn, and Cyclamen, which are given depth by the humming warmth of beeswax. The fragrance then settles into a powdered, resinous base of Benzoin, Vanilla, Styrax, Amber and White Wood effects.

Penhaligon’s official list of notes omits a few things mentioned in that description while adding several others, like bergamot, red berries, ylang-ylang, wisteria. As a result, places like Luckyscent (which just posted the fragrance yesterday on its site) combines them all together for a more complete list:

Clementine, Bergamot, Red Berries CO2, Juniper, Spearmint, Blackcurrant Bud CO2, Violet Leaf Absolute, Leafy Effects, Aldehydes, Hyacinth, Narcissus Absolute, Beeswax Absolute, Cyclamen, Ylang Ylang, Hawthorn, Wisteria, Styrax Resinoid, Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Amber, White Wood Effects.

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. (Direct website link embedded within.)

That note list is a very long one, but I think it is significant for one key reason: many of those elements share facets similar to those of a daffodil. I think we’re all familiar with the flower’s aroma as a whole, but have you ever stopped to think about the various parts which, together, make up that bouquet? While many people know that daffodils have an undertone of dry hay, others may not notice that the flower also bears tiny whiffs of something herbaceous and grassy like mint. As for their floral sweetness, it is simultaneously: heady, nectared, and dewy in a manner similar to hyacinths; and creamy and sometimes indolic like jasmine (or ylang-ylang). As perfumer Ayala Moriel explains on her blog, Smelly Thoughts, it even sometimes sharing a green-white floral nuance similar to tuberose. Yet, all those intoxicating layers also come with a bitter greenness that resembles tomato leaves, an astringency that can be replicated via the scent of violet leaf and black currant (which I call “cassis”).

Narcissus or "paperwhites" against a backdrop of daffodils. Source:

Narcissus (or “paperwhites”) against a backdrop of daffodils. Source:

If not handled deftly, narcissus absolute (which is the concentrated form used here) can take on rotting, indolic, and/or smoky undertones, similar to that which may come, respectively, from: hawthorn; an indolic flower like ylang-ylang; or smoky styrax resin. Yet, a lot of the time, daffodils have a clean freshness, which might be similar to a restrained use of aldehydes. (As a side note, the word “daffodils” is commonly used as a generic, blanket description for three different flowers: daffodils, narcissi, and jonquils. Technically, all of them belong in the over-arching narcissus genus, but “daffodils” are the large, yellow trumpeted sort, while narcissi are the white or white-yellow variety that are sometimes called paperwhites. I’ll just use the two words interchangeably, since I can’t tell any difference in scent.)

What Mr. Duchaufour has so cleverly done here with that long list of notes is to layer a variety of materials that share some facet or another with a daffodil in order to recreate the flower’s smell in the most photorealistic way possible. He’s covered every whiff, every subtext, and every possible angle imaginable to go beyond the mere floral sweetness that lies on the surface. He’s done so in a manner where each note is individually clear, up close, if you focus, during the first few hours and, yet, you’re primarily struck by the sum total — the larger picture, so to speak. I think the naturalism of the bouquet is such that some people won’t realise all the underlying cogs and wheels that have created that portrait, so perhaps Mr. Duchaufour’s greatest magician’s trick is the way Ostara’s seamless complexity creates the illusion of simplicity. Or, perhaps, it’s the fact that you’re left feeling as though you’ve bathed in luminous light at the very pinnacle of Spring, creating a mood and situation in time rather than simply a cocktail of raw materials.



So, that is the general overview of Ostara, a framework within which we can discuss the perfume’s specifics. Ostara opens on my skin in a burst of floral luminosity centered on the nectared sweetness of daffodils. Their fat, buttery, sunny petals are caressed by the green fingers of its astringent-smelling leaves, smudged with the dewy, purple liquidity of hyacinths, and then sprinkled with strands of hay and straw. A trace of earthiness lingers at the base below, the dark earth of sweet, slightly damp loamy soil through which green shoots of grass, mint, and violet leaf are poking out their heads in response to Spring’s clarion call. They are the most fragile of notes at first, but they start to grow, sprouting through the sweet earth to wind their way around the two flowers at Ostara’s heart. It’s a breathtaking bouquet that imbues you with shining light, but my main feeling was that a breathless floral tenderness had kissed my skin with the very embodiment  of Spring’s fragility, hopefulness, and budding sweetness.

Painting by: Dorian Monsalve at (Website link embedded within.)

Painting: Dorian Monsalve at (Website link embedded within.)

It’s a tableau that is always evolving, deepening, and gaining new layers. 15 minutes in, a shadow of darkness falls upon the yellow prism, smelling of the cassis absolute that Mr. Duchaufour loves to use these days. It’s a subtly musky note that is surrounded by green leafiness, rather than juicy fruitiness. Truth be told, I smell nothing fruity about Ostara, regardless of the 3 or 4 varieties in the note list. Instead, I smells slivers of smokiness and a drop of woodiness. Much more noticeable, however, is the green astringency of the narcissus. On Ms. Moriel’s site, I read that narcissus absolute can take on a noxious odor akin to rotting, gaseous wet weeds, which may be why one of my blog’s commentators said she often experiences a gasoline aroma. The latter isn’t present here, but Ostara definitely has an undercurrent which, up close, if you really focus, truly does resemble the smell of wet, rotting, green weeds.

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. Direct website link embedded within.)

That sounds far worse than it is, especially as it is a subtle nuance and it actually works really well here. For one thing, it counterbalances the sweetness of the daffodils (which is starting to share some overlap with the sweetness found in fresh jasmine), as well as the growing prominence of the hyacinth with its equally sweet, floral liquidity. For another, it adds to the realism of the bouquet. Let’s face it, both those flowers have a definite bitter greenness in nature, whether it is the crushed sap of the hyacinth’s stems, or the more piquant, tomato-leaf aroma of the daffodil’s stalk, sepal, and leaves. Mr. Duchaufour has cleverly incorporated just enough of the murky, bitter, and astringent qualities to create a true-to-life rendition of the flowers, rather than a laboratory-made concoction that is merely sweet floralcy. Plus, the darker, green sides adds a more unisex quality to the scent, thereby enabling men who enjoy daffodils to wear Ostara without feeling their scent is excessively “femme.”



All of that brings me to my next point: one of the things that I appreciate about Ostara’s opening phase in the first two hours is the very deft balance of notes. Nothing about the scent is too sweet or, at this stage, too astringent. I never feel as though I were wearing a green floral and, while the notes mention bergamot as well as the often lemony-green scented violet leaf, Ostara doesn’t feel at all citrusy either. There is no fruitiness, and even the dark shadows from the cassis and dark earth can’t alter the fragrance’s glowing orb of radiant sunniness. As for the flowers that are Ostara’s focal point, they never feel gooey, syrupy, or like molasses. More importantly, they aren’t shrill and don’t smell synthetic. Instead, they are smooth, their sweetness offset by other elements, and only their very best features are highlighted.

Hyacinths. Source:

Hyacinths. Source:

Take the hyacinth, for example. It is one of my favorite flowers, both in life as well as perfumery, so I’m rather thrilled by its power here. It never smells nebulously abstract or noxiously bitter, two things which characterized the flower in Mugler‘s Supra Floral (Les Exceptions Collection). In Ostara, though, it has the narcotic, intoxicating, concentrated pastel sweetness that is the most beautiful part of the flower, along with a liquidity that rings out as clear as bell, almost the way orchids do. Yet, at the same time, this heady floralcy is surprisingly refreshing and crisp in Ostara. It’s also laced with the dryness of hay, though the latter isn’t hugely prominent. To my surprise, the hyacinth almost overshadows the daffodil near the end of the first hour, and then, again, much later during the drydown. There is a weird back-and-forth dance with the note on my skin, because it occasionally surges forth as a leader, usually remains as the daffodil’s equal, but sometimes is so weak that it feels as though it’s finally fading away, only to come back 25 minutes later to entwine its purple arms around its sunny playmate. I happen to be delighted over the hyacinth’s prominence, but those with less enthusiasm for the flower may not be quite so keen.

Blackcurrant buds. Source: The Perfume Shrine.

Blackcurrant buds. Source: The Perfume Shrine.

The only parts of Ostara that I don’t like are the clean musk and the extent of the greenness later on. The first time that I tried the scent, I applied only a small quantity: a few spritzes from an atomizer that were roughly equal to 1.5-ish sprays from an actual bottle. The clean musk was noticeable from the start, and grew excessive for my tastes by the start of the 2nd hour. A big part of the problem was how it amplified the narcissus’ tomato leaf-like aroma, while also turning the cassis leaves muskily sharp. In essence, there was simply too much sharpness about the notes as a whole.

Things were better with a larger dosage (roughly equal to 3 large sprays from a bottle) because the other elements bloomed more strongly to alleviate a portion of the sharpness, causticity, and clean freshness but, even then, it still wasn’t as smooth or gentle as I would have liked. After Parfums d’Empire‘s Corsica Furiosa, I’ve concluded that I really dislike tomato leaf when it is a strong note. While the aroma in Ostara is not as prickly or overpoweringly caustic as it was in the PdE scent, there are times from the 3rd hour onwards where I would have preferred much less of that tomato-leaf-like side altogether, especially when mixed with aldehydic cleanness.

Still, the first two hours are spectacular. Ostara is primarily a beautiful dance between the daffodils and hyacinths, encircled by various forms of leafy greenness like druids bowing before Spring’s floral gods. Once in a while, there are ripples of something that almost feels like heady wisteria coated with honey water, though it could be just part of the hyacinth since the two flowers do share a bit of an olfactory overlap. Adding to the loveliness is the creaminess which awakens in Ostara’s base roughly 90 minutes in. It is simultaneously a textural quality that evokes images of velvety petals coated in clotted cream, but also an olfactory chord whose creamy sweetness mimics lush jasmine. Somehow, it does all that while smelling of nothing else but daffodils. Intellectually, I’m impressed by how the cogs turn; emotionally, I’m floored by the intoxicating quality of the scent, cannot stop sniffing my arm, and keep having visions of radiant light.



Speaking of light of a different sort, Ostara turns soft and wispier by the end of the 2nd hour. It was always an airy scent, even at the start, but it’s turning thinner in body now, despite the daffodil’s creaminess. The projection is only an inch above the skin, at best, and I find myself having to lean in closer and closer to my arm to detect the fragrance’s nuances. There is barely any sillage, either, unless I move my arms quite a bit. On the plus side, though, it takes Ostara 7 hours to turn into a true, full skin scent, even if the vast majority of that time the scent hovers at perhaps 0.5 inches of projection. The 7 hour part is good but, still, how I wish Ostara were an eau de parfum instead of an eau de toilette. Those first two hours would probably blow my mind.

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Paul Huggins Photography. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Ostara’s middle or heart stage begins at the start of the 3rd hour. I’m more ambivalent about it, for the reasons previously explained. Though the aldehydes first stirred about 75 minutes into Ostara’s development, they grow really noticeable at the end of the 2nd hour. Or perhaps it’s the blasted white musk that Penhaligon’s likes to employ in all its fragrances that I’ve tried to date. Whatever the source, I’m not keen on it. At around the same time, the green bitterness really surges ahead. The cassis and violet leaf (perhaps the hawthorn as well) have combined into something that really mimics the fuzzy, caustic pungency of crushed tomato leaves. It not only emphasizes the narcissus’ weedy, green legs, but it also cuts through the hyacinth’s heady sweetness, weakening it substantially, at times blotting it out as though it were a dying note. Meanwhile, the sense of darkness is growing stronger, too, though it no longer smells like dark, loamy soil. Rather, it’s more like styrax, a quiet smokiness that creeps at the edges of the daffodil’s sunniness.



By the time the fourth hour rolls around, the balance of notes has shifted quite a bit. The hyacinth has faded away (for now, at least), leaving only a creamy daffodil sweetness blanketed by bitter greenness. The latter is too strong for my personal tastes, and too imbued with aldehydes and/or clean musk. It is even worse when you apply only a small amount of the scent which is why, in my first test, I veered from thoughts of buying a full bottle of Ostara to being much more cautious. Again, quantity makes a difference and my issues are alleviated to an extent when I apply a larger dosage, but I’m still hesitant when I think of Ostara’s middle phase. For other people, I think the matter will come down to a personal taste preference for both clean freshness and astringent greenness. My threshold for the latter is low, and my tolerance for aldehydes or white musk even lower still.

One other issue was noticeable regardless of how much scent I applied, and it’s partially related to the strength of the greener elements. Midway during the 3rd hour, the notes have blurred to such an extent that the daffodil is starting to feel abstract on my skin, more indeterminate and hazy than the clear bell of the first two hours. From afar, I have difficulty in picking it out at times because there is merely floralcy that is sweet, fresh, creamy, and vaguely sunny or spring-like. I should add that “from afar” is technically a bit of an exaggeration because Ostara hovers just above my skin at the 2.5 hour mark and the sillage is extremely low. I think the “tomato leaf” greenness has simply blocked out some of the daffodil’s light (and aroma), muffling it to the point of abstraction.



Ostara continues this way for a number of hours without significant change. Both the creaminess and the aldehydes/musk fluctuate in strength; the daffodil’s nuance of jasmine-like sweetness comes and goes; and the hyacinth pops up in a ghostly manner in the background once in a while. Ostara’s tiny rivulets of styrax smokiness fade away by the 4th hour, and a subtle suggestion of hay replaces it. I think. It’s a little hard to detect the finer details given just how soft the fragrance is, and how all the notes overlap. That said, when I put my nose right on my arm, the scent continues to puff away with decent strength. But the bouquet itself is a bit of a blur centered on sweet, yellow, daffodil-ish floralcy covered with bitter leafiness that is shot through with clean whiteness.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

The final drydown begins at the top of the 7th hour and marks a return to form, as well as the bouquet of the first two hours, albeit in a much simpler and softer manner. I’m surprised by two things. First, as the blanket of greenness lifts, the individual notes snap back into focus, regaining clarity, and being much easier to pick out. Second, the hyacinth reappears and, once again, it sometimes overshadows the daffodils. The purple flower is heady, sweet, almost coated with honeyed water, but also imbued with drops of bitter green sap from its stems. The daffodil weaves in and out, occasionally hiding behind its cohort’s skirts, and varying its aroma from sweet hay to fresh, green, bridal jasmine. Once in a blue moon, in Ostara’s base, there is something that almost feels like silky, creamy beeswax meshed with a drop of benzoin-ish vanilla. As a whole, the fragrance is now warmer, smoother, and softer in feel. It is also finally a true skin scent at this point as well.



Ostara continues to be a marriage of daffodils and hyacinth in a Spring wedding until its very end when it final hours when it turns into simple, abstract green floralcy. In total, it lasted just under 12 hours which superb not only for an eau de toilette, but for a floral one on my wonky skin. I rarely experience such numbers for either floral soliflores or floral-dominated mixed scents (which is how I would classify Ostara), and I’m talking about eau de parfums, not the even weaker concentration at play here.

I’m really thinking about buying a bottle of Ostara for myself. While I hesitate for the reasons stated here, something about the opening has entranced me so much that I keep pondering how much I am willing to put up with the green and clean sides later on, not to mention the very low sillage. That last part is another big sticking point for me personally, though it does make Ostara a scent suitable for a conservative office environment. One positive is that Ostara is reasonably priced, though at some places more than others. It officially retails for $150, €120 or £110 for a 100 ml bottle, or $120/€95 for a 50 ml one. The large bottle is obviously a better deal, per ml, and I have my eye on the ones at Luckyscent where the old Penhaligon pricing seems to be in place: only $135 for the 100 ml, and $110 for the small size. (Please don’t tell them that they’re below market!) Even at the regular $150/€120 rate, though, I think Ostara is worth it for those who absolutely adore both daffodils and hyacinths.

On Ostara’s Fragrantica page, the few people who have tested the scent are quite positive about it. One person called it “exquisite,” while another said “this fragance is really something very special.” The one ambivalent review stems from the strength of the hyacinth note which the person found to be “garish” and “discordant” amidst all the daffodils. As I remarked earlier, the strength of the note here will not be to everyone’s tastes, and it clearly wasn’t for that poster though she says that she will probably buy a full bottle nonetheless. One thing I noticed was that the Ostara’s longevity votes tend to be on the low side with the majority (4) choosing “Weak” which translates to a terrible 1 to 2 hours. I think Ostara’s very intimate sillage creates an impression that the fragrance has died rather rapidly, because how many people are going to put their nose right on their skin to detect what’s left after a few hours.

Photo: Ryhor Bruyeu or Gbruev. Source: Dreamtime Royalty Free Stock image.

Photo: Ryhor Bruyeu or Gbruev. Source: Dreamtime Royalty Free Stock image.

In terms of blog reviews, Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur raves about Ostara. He writes that daffodil is one of his favorite notes in all perfumery, so I think it says something that he finds Ostara to be rarity in how properly it conveys the flower’s true scent. One reason why is because of Ostara’s bitter greenness:

For me the difficulty in getting a daffodil accord correct is in the real flower there is a green astringency that is usually not seen as an asset in a fragrance. In the new Penhaligon’s Ostara perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour makes what I consider a real daffodil perfume.

How M. Duchaufour goes about doing this is to use a cassette of notes made to create that astringent underpinning to the narcissus that makes me think daffodil. Early on he lets Ostara be expansive and sweet before tilting it into something that carries the scent of renewal.

Later, he discusses how Ostara’s heart may be based on the narcissus, “but the green accord is an equal partner in this part of the development.” He obviously liked that part more than I did, but we share a common appreciation for the hyacinth note and how it “really does make this like smelling daffodils growing in the earth after a spring rain.” I encourage you to read the full review if you’re interested in the scent.

The bottom line is that Ostara is a fragrance that all daffodil lovers should try. Really, you should. Forget the technical brilliance and how exceptionally it’s been put together. Ostara succeeds in the most important way of all: it’s an intoxicating fragrance with rare luminosity and great evocative power that makes you come back again and again for another sniff.

Cost & Availability: Ostara is an eau de toilette that comes in two sizes, the most common being a 100 ml bottle for $150, €120, or £110. Some places also offer a 50 ml bottle for $120, €95, or £78. Penhaligon’s: Penhaligon’s UK and U.S. have both sizes and offer free domestic shipping. You can look at the Store Locator Guide for shops which carry its products around the world. In the U.S.: Twisted Lily has Ostara in both sizes, sells samples, and ships worldwide. Luckyscent sells it for the cheaper price of $135 or $100, depending on size. Parfum1 and Shop London have it for the $150/$120 price.  In New York, Penhaligon’s is available at Aedes, Saks, Eisler Chemist, and some other shops. In Washington D.C or Baltimore, Penhaligon’s is sold at Sterling & Burke, and Loafers & Lace, respectively. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, the line is carried at The Perfume Shoppe but they don’t show Ostara on their website. Beauty Bar Cosmetics (which doesn’t have an online retail website) also carries the brand. In the U.K., your best bet is one of the many Penhaligon shops but Harrods also sells the brand. In France, Penhaligon’s is sold at: Paris’ Nose (though they don’t have Ostara listed), Les Galleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché (which has Ostara), Printemps, and other stores. The Netherland’s Celeste has it in both sizes. First in Fragrance carries Penhaligon’s, but doesn’t have Ostara yet. For all other locations throughout Europe and beyond, you can check Penhaligon’s Stockist listings for a location near you. Samples: You can buy Ostara samples from a number of the links listed up above. Surrender to Chance doesn’t have it.

45 thoughts on “Penhaligon’s Ostara: Radiant Beauty & Luminous Spring

    • Thank you. I think you’d enjoy this one, Gioff. You’ll have to find a shop in CPH to give it a sniff.

  1. Yaaay!!! I loved Ostara from the first spritz and immediately ordered a FB fro the Penhaligon’s website as soon as it showed. The word that comes to mind is “enchanting” the opening blast is so exquisite, and everything that follows is so beautifully blended, that even when I get a whiff of the green bitter note, I honestly don’t really care, I STILL want to chew my arm off it’s that good. Even my spouse said “Did you get some fresh Narcissus? Where are they?” To a confirmed scent hater like him, that is nothing short of a miracle. Penhaligon really killed it with Ostara. Bravo!

    • I thought of you, Robert, when testing Ostara because I remembered you saying how much you loved it. Is your husband really a hardcore anti-scent person? Ouch, that must be difficult. I always wonder about the day-to-day dynamics of a passionate fragrance lover living with an equally passionate hater of fragrance. For me, the joy of perfume is *so* much better when shared, and nothing makes me happier than having my loved ones experience/enjoy/sniff things I love, but I’m lucky that few around me hate perfume. The only person is a sibling who has now become allergic to scent, after loving and wearing it for decades, but I don’t actually *live* with her as you do with your spouse. Must be tough, Robert. But at least he seems to have enjoyed the photorealistic beauty of Ostara. Now I’m curious about any other exceptions to his rule, as well as the fragrances he’s hated passionately. 😀

      • Well it really boils down to his allergies more than anything else! He really likes all my assorted Shalimar’s EXCEPT when I go all “one-sprtiz-over-the-line”, and then it’s just one big sneezefest. His favorites are few, but some that come to mind are Chanel Sycomore, Royal Apothic Dogwood, and Le Antichambre Tabac. What the common denominator is, maybe tobacco…who the hell knows???

  2. First two hours are outstanding, but the balance is just pretty good.

    Did you get a chance to try Bruno Fazzolari’s Narcisse des Montagnes release last year? A must for daffodil lovers.

    Anyway, with that one basically gone from the marketplace, I will likely buy a partial bottle at least of Ostara.

    • The first two hours are really special, indeed. And you’re right that the rest doesn’t reach quite the same levels. As for the Fazzolari, no, I didn’t try it.

  3. I’m going to have to try this. I have literally thousands of narcissus (narcissi?) on my property — one of the few flowers that our deer, gophers, rabbits, etc etc etc won’t eat — and the different varieties smell quite different, so I’ve been wondering what a perfumer thinks daffodils smell like. Most of mine don’t have much scent beyond ‘green’, some smell … uh … not so great (those never get cut for indoor admiration), and some really have lovely scents. If you’re curious as to how much scent variety exists, you could poke around the White Flower Farms daffodil pages for examples. Not trying to plug them :^) I just know they have a wide variety.

    • So, do you find a big difference between the scent of daffodils, narcissis, and jonquils? Or are the differences most noticeable between sub-types within each of those 3 larger categories? Thank you for letting me know about White Flower Farms daffodil pages. I’ll have to give them a look if I get the chance.

      • The ones with the best scents seem to be bred to have scent, and the breeders seem to focus on big fancy types, so… it’s some of the big ones that smell the best. The petite ones usually have little scent. Paperwhites smell the worst, to me, I never understand why they’re so popular for indoor forcing :^)

  4. As I read narcissus, I thought – I love narcissus. Then I read hyacinth and thought – I love hyacinth. Then I laughed at myself. I love all the flowers, to look at and to smell. Ostara does sound absolutely wonderful!

    • It really is wonderful, Maya, though primarily for those first 2, utterly magnificent hours at the opening! The first Penhaligon’s scent that has really impressed me.

  5. I’ve got to say, that in spite of your protestations that you haven’t captured the beauty of this scent, you have conveyed a sense of the beauty of these flowers! And, in spite of overwhelming evidence that I would not be able to wear this, I simply must get my nose on it!! Yes, you have some reservations about Ostara, but I found this a beautiful review indeed. It makes me keen on smelling all these beautiful flowers in nature, and painted such a lovely picture for me – thank you!! Ooh, hay and straw and loam and paperwhites. I have smelled a difference between them and yellow daffodils, but perhaps it was the incredibly old and impossibly crowded clumps of them that I lived with for some years. I really could keep gushing and babbling. Your review brought to mind some wonderful olfactory memories of warm days, beautiful flowers, and my hay/straw mulch. I no longer have this garden and it’s wonderful to be brought back. Fragrance is amazing (duh) whether in the bottle or in reality. Matters not to me. Thanks again for the fabulous review!!

    • I agree with Julesinrose, this was a beautiful review. I am expecting a sample of this by midweek. It sounds lovely though probably not one for me as I can’t see myself windmilling my arms around to create sillage.

      • Thank you, Rich. I grinned at the thought of you flailing your arms about like a windmill. Heh. You’ll have to try Ostara outside of work so that its delicacy doesn’t get drowned out by other scents. Either that, or douse yourself with a lot in order to have a stronger scent after the first 2 hours.

    • Awww, thank you, Jules. I would have liked to come up with some evocative poetry — preferably, from someone who actually *is* a poet — but I found nothing that really conveyed what I wanted. And resorting to Wordsworth would have been too cliched. lol. You’ll have to let me know how you fare with Ostara and if your white flower allergies kick in, because I would sooooooo long you to have an olfactory version of those old memories and the garden you once had.

  6. I think you’ve done it justice, and if anything renders you speechless it’s actually an incredible recommendation. I just ordered a sample. Thank you.

    • Holly, so good to see you! I hope you’ve been well. Did you have a good holiday season and 2015 thus far? As for Ostara, my version of being “speechless” involves almost 4,000 words 😉 😀 but, yes, I was spellbound and almost rendered mute by that gorgeous opening. I hope it’s the same way on your skin.

      • Hi, thanks for the warm welcome and I’m glad to be back! That was rather an inarticulate comment I made, wasn’t it? I can be rather garrulous, so in an attempt to avoid rambling I tend to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind and then stifle myself. 😉

        It has actually been a stunning time for me, since last summer. A veritable tsunami that wreaked havoc, destroyed much and now I’m picking up the pieces. A Herculean task!

        I hope all is well with you and yours.

        • Well, I’ve rather missed your “garrulous” comments, but I’m sad to hear that things have been so turbulent. I hope it wasn’t a literal tsunami or weather thing that destroyed your home but, even if you’re merely using a metaphoric reference, it sounds extremely stressful. I had hoped you’d been off doing something happy, fun, and wonderful. It sounds like an awful 8 months instead. I hope that is all behind you now and, fingers crossed, that the rest of the year is significantly better!

  7. You made me smile because today was a beautiful, sunny day , with a high of 77° and I went for a long walk around town admiring all the new blooming bulbs-particularly the daffodils. And as Jules said, you did capture the beauty of the scent.

  8. I keep telling myself I don’t like flowery perfumes but I actually have quite a few of them, with Opardu leading the pack. You’ve made this sound soooo good I must try it soon. Coincidentally, just this week, all the planters near my office and the adjacent buildings as well as right around Lord & Taylor (on 5th Ave.) had daffodils and blue hyacinth and for once, New York City smells pretty good. I was also tempted to pull a few of the flowers to stash them away in my oversize bag but it would be miracle to do it undetected 😉

    • Heh, I think pulling hyacinths and daffodils out of 5th Avenue planters might not go unnoticed…. 😉 As for florals, I think you do indeed like them more than you think, in my opinion at least. There is the JAR fragrance you’re planning on getting, a few from Ormonde Jayne, all the many, many many iris scents you love (and some of those certainly count as florals), several rose ones, and let’s not forget the floriental genre. You’re not all about the dark, twisty, ambered and/or smoky, in other words. 🙂

  9. I passed the Penhaligon boutique on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris just yesterday, on my way to Jovoy!
    I agree with the other comments, you absolutely do have a way with words, Kafka. I’ll try to take a sniff of Ostara as soon as possible, this afternoon if I can.

    • Merci, ma chère, but I think this one deserved something more poetic to describe its beautiful opening. I hope you love those first 2 hours as much as I did. Spray on a LOT if you want to detect the scent properly after that time!

      • Perhaps, but your review was still a delight to read. 🙂
        And try it I did! You’re right, it’s so beautiful. The sales assistant put several sprays on me without me having to say a word about the application, so I think they know about that. 🙂 As you said, it’s really photo-realistic, and I loved it. I felt like I had just bend over to smell the flowers in a garden.
        I did detect something that bothered me and grew more proeminent but I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps it was the same astringent greenness you described? It had a sort of metallic tinge (not sure it’s the right word, but it’s the best I can come up with). Maybe it was the aldehydes that bothered me, maybe the white musk (though I’m not sure I know what white musk smells like). Ah, I don’t know how to describe it.
        I could have done with out it, but still, it’s such a beautiful perfume!

        • I think violet leaf can have a very metallic quality to it but, here, I suspect it’s the combination of the various green accords heightened by the clean musk. As for what white musk smells like, your basic savons liquides for clothes is that aroma taken to an extreme. When you dry your clothes in the machine, do you ever use the scented sheets to toss in with them? If so, that’s perhaps the best representation of the utmost version. Aldehydes are a little different, because their soapiness is not (usually) as pointed as white musk and there is almost a waxier, softer quality. Think of bubble bath bubbles. A good representation of aldehydes would be the top notes in Chanel No. 5. The more commercial Chanels often add in white musk as well, but Chanel No. 5 has more aldehydes in the opening stage. So, I hope that clarifies the differences.

          Either way, I think what you experienced in Ostara is a mix of the green bitterness and the white musk. Definitely not my favorite part once it begins at the end of the 2nd hour and the beginning of the 3rd. But the rest is so beautiful, I’m going to try to ignore the unpleasant bit as much as I can. (I ended up being a full 100 ml bottle.)

          • Thanks for the details, Kafka! That was very informative. It’s not my favourite part either, but the rest is SO impressive! I must add that their boutique was utterly lovely. The Penhaligon displays I saw in department stores don’t do justice to their aesthetic.
            I don’t think I like white musk very much then. I think I’m not into clean scents at all. I’m more used to aldehydes but I don’t do well with them either. They tend to turn very soapy on me (Chanel n•5 is a prime example).

  10. I’m a daffodil fanatic, and in a previous home I think that I grew literally everything in genus Narcissus that can be bought or scrounged in the U.S. I was always amazed at the variety of scents that they produced, from soft “green” to complex sweetness so narcotic that, in mid-spring, I could often be found lying in the garden paths, just inhaling. Therefore, naturally I bought a decant of Ostara as soon as I could get my greedy paws on one.
    I get a green opening with some bitter notes that really does remind me of the first spring foliage emerging, but without the undesired ( at least by me) dirt notes that were so prominent in Black April. Then nothing much for a bit, and then, unmistakably, the scent that the large-trumpet daffodils tend toward when they have a scent at all. More precisely, it smells like the scent that carries on the breeze when a whole yard full of them bloom, interplanted with hyacinths. It makes me so joyously happy that, despite the poor projection and sillage and a truly dismal longevity of 2 1/2 hours start to finish, I will unhesitatingly buy a bottle. My usual objections to clean or white musks seem truly irrelevant here.

    • Aaah, wonderful. I’m so glad it worked on your skin. Even better, you got the daffodil-hyacinth mix as well! As for 2 and 1/2 hours, on YOUR crazy skin that is actually not bad at all! I’d expected 40 minutes or less! I mean, if the super-dense Slumberhouse Kiste extrait lasts a mere 4 hours on you, and almost everything else dies between 15-40 minutes (especially pure florals), then 2.5 hours is actually almost astonishing for you!

      I actually did end up buying a bottle very late last night. I was just browsing through eBay and looked up Ostara not expecting to see anything for such a new release. To my surprise, I found a sealed box in a 100 ml size for about $123. You know what a sucker I am for a bargain (even if it’s only barely less so than the Luckyscent price). Anyway, I just gave in. It was the hyacinth part of Ostara and its first 2 hours that did it, I think, since I’m still dubious about the middle phase. I figured that, at $123 for 100 ml, I could just reapply Ostara to cover up the heart phase and keep reliving the opening? Anyway, if you feel you will “unhesitatingly buy a bottle,” then look on eBay. The seller had 2 others at that price.

  11. I love daffodils in excess. A single flower doesn’t cut it for me, you need a whole hillside of them to get the effect I love. I never buy one bunch–I tend to buy half a dozen at a time to get the whole of springtime into a room at once. Ostara seems to be performing this magic. And I finally bought a bottle today, having happily worn my way through a sample. (And, how lovely, was given a rollerball of an extra 7.5ml as a gift.) Reapplied it several times throughout the brisk but amazingly sunny day to get that *gorgeous* radiant opening, and the rise of the narcissus-hyacinth dance over and over again. Sunshine on my skin–a rare treat in this city–making this scent shimmer around me.

    It dies fairly fast on me. An hour or so and it’s a ghost. But it surprised me this evening by blooming again after about three hours of not even the palest whisper. And it’s still hovering around–echo-quiet, but not leaving–seven hours on. And if there’s a heavy dose of white musk polluting it, I am extremely fortunate–I think it’s one I can’t smell.

    (I wish they could perform this same magic on their inspid and sour bluebell perfume–that much maligned flower. I once had a garden with so many of them I could pick fat, fat bunches and still leave the garden covered. They filled the room with heady, peppered, blues and violets. Ostara seems to tell the story with daffodils I wish someone could do with bluebells.)

    • I’m so happy to hear how much you loved Ostara, Katie, and that you found it radiant. YAY! 🙂 The longevity on you is disappointing but not completely surprising, I must say. I do think that it’s an “echo-quiet” scent as you described after the first hour, so it may take a large quantity and continued efforts to detect it.

      Then again, it may just be one of those rare “ghost” scents on your skin, the sort that seems to die out completely but surprises you by suddenly reappearing hours later. A few of the Chanel Exclusif florals are rather known for doing that precise thing. It’s not a common thing, but perhaps Ostara is like that on your skin. Does increasing the quantity two-fold or more seem to impact that ghost dance at all?

  12. God I love this perfume. I bought the smaller bottle and have been wearing it constantly this spring. I’m no perfume expert, but this just smells so good to me. It instantly makes me think of daffodils, is entirely appropriate (without being boring) for the conservative office I work in, doesn’t give me a headache, and seems to be “instant cheerful yellow” for the first hour or so.

    I agree that it has a bitterness note that is quite strong. To me, that bitterness reminds me of the smell you get when you run a nail into the stem of a daffodil and release the smells from the inside of that stem. It’s crispy-bitter, grassy green, but still with the ‘daffodil’ smell that is so hard to explain in words. And I love it, so so much.

    • First, welcome to the blog, Dottie. Second, how wonderful that you found a scent you love so much. I agree that the bitterness is very necessary to create a truly authentic daffodil scent because it replicates so closely the aroma of its crushed stem. Without it, I don’t think Ostara would be so photo-realistic. I just wish that it were not quite so strong on my skin, but that is a personal taste issue. I’m glad to hear that it works well for you despite its great prominence. 🙂

  13. Tried Ostara today and the very first thought came to me was Seville à L’Aube! This smells almost like that and did not notice any difference at least in the beginning. Though I like Seville à L’Aube as well, I do not find any worth enough for buying.
    I did not even bother about asking for a free sample.

    • How interesting and unusual that Ostara smelt like orange blossoms on you. I’m not quite sure what to say to that, but I can see why it would negate the main point of the fragrance for you.

  14. I bought a bottle too, and you do have poetic phrasing; you stage such beautiful imagery, both with prose and the actual images you bring to your pages. Ostara has been so warmly received, rightly so, it’s one of those rare fragrances that I can apply in the morning when I walk to the park with Luca the poodle. Apres L’Ondee is another.
    So enthused was I that I planted 50 daffodils over Easter and almost dislocated my thumb with one of those bulb planter things. It’s the Southern Hemisphere here Kafka, we are saying goodbye to summer.

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  16. Penhaligons have officially discontinued Ostara. If you want it, I’d advise to get it now. The Penhaligon’s store in Edinburgh has informed me that they are not allowed to sell Ostara (or anything related to Ostara, such as the roll-on perfume) after April 30. Get it now and get your back ups. Or hunt it down later and hope for the best. I managed to get the very last 100ml bottle in Edinburgh, in a limited edition (one of 150) lacquered jewellery-style box, for £50. Now I have a new home for my pearls, and a backup for when my 50ml bottle runs out.

    I have no idea why Penhaligons has discontinued it, but like my beloved Amaranthine (also by Duchaufour), it is going, going… gone.

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