Penhaligon’s Zizonia: A 1930′s original perfume that chose me

by Paris B on · 17 comments

in Fragrance,Product Reviews

Reviewed by:
On February 4, 2014
Last modified:January 29, 2014


When I go shopping for fragrances, I have a belief that it is the perfume that chooses you and not otherwise. How else does it explain how some scents smell like a flower garden on some people yet on me, makes me smell like I fell into a sewer? You see, the scent didn’t choose me icon smile Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

Which brings me to Penhaligon’s of London, a niche fragrance house that hails from England. I seem to recall seeing the iconic flacons sold at Isetan KLCC but I cannot say for certain because I don’t seem to recall it being very prominent. However, I have always held a fascination for the brand so last year when I was down in Singapore, I decided to pay the Penhaligon’s boutique at Marina Bay Shoppes a visit. To cut a long story short, I ended up walking out with Zizonia from the Penhaligon’s Anthology series.

penhaligons zizonia bottle Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

If you’ve never been to a Penhaligon’s boutique, I highly recommend it. I walked in there feeling rather uncertain, knowing the name of only one perfume – the very popular Juniper Sling. I was served by a knowledgeable gentleman who, instead of pushing me fragrances, instead asked me what sort of scents I liked.

So, I told him I went for something a little spicy, woody a hint of sweetness but nothing strong or cloying or floral or fruity or sweet. Basically, I avoid most girly scents. Right off the bat he told me Juniper Sling wouldn’t work for me but I had to try it. I mean, so many people love it! So I did, and gag! I smelled like I’d just poured a bottle of gin all over me and had inbibed glasses of alcohol. I reeked of it! Once we got that out of the way, I was open to trying something new and I was handed samples of Zizonia and Malabah.

I actually tested quite a few different scents, and I realised that the scents at Penhaligon’s are quite different from those at other niche brands like Jo Malone or Diptyque which I’m a little more accustomed to. They’re quite different from the regular counter perfumes as well and I liked that difference!

The flacon is prettily packaged for one.

penhaligons zizonia box2 Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

Penhaligon’s fragrances come with a jaunty bow in different colours tied around the neck and the shape of the bottle is quite distinct. When I eventually told the SA that I would take Zizonia, he actually told me that I had expensive taste, because it turns out that Zizonia is part of the Anthology Series, which is a series of classic Penhaligon’s perfumes from their archives and only came in one size – 100ml. Regular scents come in 50ml and 100ml sizes which of course meant also that this was more expensive.

penhaligons zizonia Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

The box tells the story of Zizonia which was a perfume originally created in the 1930s and is described as a “nomadic and mysterious oriental, an odyssey of burnt spices, patchouli and pepper, leading to a lush oasis of sweet orange, ginger and vetiver. Heady and exciting”

You know what? It is. I had to have it.

penhaligons zizonia closeup Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

On me, Zizonia has a very distinct scent that I have not found in any other brand. Despite being an Eau de Toilette, I find it fairly longlasting and it sits well on my skin for almost the whole day. At the end of the day, I still smell whiffs of it which makes me very happy.

At the first sniff, I get a sharp peppery and spicy scent that to some hints at masculinity. For me, it hints at warmth. It then settles down quite quickly to a more well rounded, slightly sweet orange and bergamot scent tempered with a woody vetiver and settling down on my skin as a spicy, warm, oriental, woody scent. It’s wonderfully complex and incredibly unique and I love this one!

Officially here is the breakdown of Zizonia scent:

  • Head notes: Orange, Bergamot, Coriander
  • Heart notes: Lavender, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Ginger, Geranium, Black Pepper, Cumin
  • Base notes: Patchouli, Amber, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Sandalwood

penhaligons zizonia cap Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

I don’t spray on too much as I feel it to be a bit strong, and since it lasts on me, I’m quite happy to be economical with this. In a cooler environment, this warms me up but even when it’s hot as it is here, I don’t find it too strong nor too heady although those who aren’t fans of spicy scents might.

I wear this quite often and it’s quickly become my signature scent simply because it’s incredibly unique. The other nice thing about these niche perfume brands is that the scents aren’t segregated into men or women perfumes. Anyone can wear any scent, so long as you like it! I would peg Zizonia for a slightly more masculine perfume scent but if you like slightly masculine scents and oriental spicy scents then you may like Zizonia.

But if you are a girly girl in your perfume preferences then this one will not be for you at all. But then, there’s always a perfume for everyone and as I believe, it will choose you icon smile Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

penhaligons zizonia top Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

One more thing that I loved about the Penhaligon’s boutique. After packing up my perfume, they sprayed their Penhaligon’s tissue paper with my choice of scent i.e. Zizonia, wrapped everything up and placed it in a paper bag. When I got home, I used the tissue paper as liner for my drawers and everytime I open my drawer, I get a whiff of Zizonia. Absolutely wonderful icon biggrin Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

I’m happy Zizonia chose me icon smile Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me

Have you tried Penhaligon’s fragrances? Do you have a fave from this brand?

I’m very new to Penhaligon’s and since I don’t think we have a boutique here, it’s going to be hard for me experiment a little more but I suppose I could always save it up for the next time I visit Singapore or come across a Penhaligon’s boutique anywhere in future icon smile Penhaligons Zizonia: A 1930s original perfume that chose me If you have a rec, please share. I’d love to check it out!

Paris B

Penhaligon’s Anthology Series Zizonia Eau de Toilette Price: S$290/100ml Availability: Penhaligon’s boutique in Singapore

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[ 17 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

LeGeeque February 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

*wistful sigh* I love reading your perfume reviews. I remember you said you’re not good at them but clearly, you’re getting better and better so good on you!

I love perfumes when they’re not segregated. I believe if a perfume works on you, it works on you, it doesn’t matter if it was developed for the male or the female. Also, isn’t it wonderful finding a signature scent that just works on you? It’s way better than getting a designer bag because it is almost impossible for the scent to smell the same on antoher person. Chances are, the bag’s probably on many others’ arms!

Please review more niche perfumes!


Paris B February 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Thank you for letting me know I’m making sense… somehow :) I love playing with niche and non segregated fragrances too. After all, a good scent should work with our body chemistry and who’s to say that women can’t wear spicy perfumes and men, florals? It’s how it works with our bodies that makes it unique. I love the designer bag analogy :D No bag is sacred these days. Designer bags are a dime a dozen on so many people’s arms, I’d rather smell unique than look generic ;) I’ll try more niche perfumes as I go along but it’s hard coz we don’t get many here (and when we do, they’re pricey!) But I’ll work on it ;)


lyn February 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Penhaligon’s has really beautiful scents. I used to have Elizabethan Rose a long time ago when I was in a rosey phase. At that time, Penhaligon’s just launched in Malaysia and had a small corner in Parkson KLCC. There were limited scents available too. Elizabethan Rose is a simple, basic rose that is not too sweet or powdery. Really lovely if you are looking for a no-frills type of rose scent.


Paris B February 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Mm that sounds so lovely but I’m always a little wary about rose scents. Still, no harm taking a wee sniff right? I don’t even know if we still have Penhaligon’s here anymore. Too niche.


lyn February 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Yes, we do! There’s a corner in Isetan KLCC that has quite a nice collection of Penhaligon’s. It’s on the same floor where they sell all the other perfume brands (somewhere near Dyptique).


Paris B February 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Oooh I know where it is. It’s together with Annick Goutal. I remember seeing the bottles with their bows but I don’t think the SA is knowledgable at all to help pick the perfumes :( Still, it’s good that we can check it out locally :)


lisa February 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

I’ve been to the branch at Ion before and walked away without anything. Think i might have to re-visit the store again and see if anything calls out to me. The bottles appeal to me though. Recently, i’ve discovered the Atkinsons’ 24 old bond street fragrance at Robinsons. Love the unique, slightly smoky scent. But it just isn’t lasting.


Paris B February 5, 2014 at 7:08 pm

There was an Indian gentleman at the Marina Shoppes store who wasn’t the usual SA. Very knowledgeable and very obliging. I don’t know if he’s there all the time though and I’ve forgotten his name :P I love discovering niche fragrances but it’s such an expensive experiment


Nicci February 4, 2014 at 11:49 pm

This sounds amazing! I recently got a sample of Penhaligon’s Endymion (also a masculine scent) and I love it.


Paris B February 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Mmm I love that name! I love how sometimes our body chemistry can make a masculine scent smell good or even sweet.


Holly February 5, 2014 at 12:23 am

i am always wearing men’s cologne, my current one is Yves Saint Laurent’s La Nuit de l`Homme. I love spicy woody scent and never have been a “floral” girl, yet recently I fall for Chanel’s Allure. the smell just haunt me like a mid-summer night’s dream. I dont care much about people’s opinion on my choices of cologne or EDT, I just like to have it lightly spray on my hair so I can smell it myself throughout the day.


Paris B February 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Despite my not favouring floral or girly scents, one of my fave is Dior J’adore, a decidedly floral scent lol! That’s probably how you feel about Allure. I too don’t quite care what people think about my perfume. At the end of the day, it’s how comfortable I feel wearing it :)


Jacqueline February 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm

You know what, I’m actually afraid to go in. I fear for my poor wallet who has taken a terrible beating from Jo Malone (lol) I wasn’t even a perfume wearer until late last year. Your post has gotten be intrigued I’ll probably drag a fellow enabler into Penhaligon one day and throw caution to the wind.


Paris B February 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

LOL! I found Penhaligon’s quite different from Jo Malone in terms of scents and feel. Jo Malone feels light and girly and pretty and floral, while Penhaligon’s has for me a more masculine feel about the whole brand. But do go in and browse and see if they can match you up with anything. It’s absolutely fascinating how they do it!


yee February 7, 2014 at 12:04 am

Does anyone know if there’s still a Penhaligon’s counter in Isetan, Suria KLCC? Cos it’s listed on the Penhaligon’s website…


Paris B February 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Hey Yee, Lyn has just confirmed in the comment above that the Penhaligon’s corner in Isetan KLCC is still there. I remember seeing it about a year ago but I haven’t gone back to that corner since so I’m not sure. It’s a small section only though so don’t miss it!


iza March 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm

i have their lily of the valley variants .. it’s quite refreshing smell for my liking and not of the same smell of others been using at least in my office .. hahahah … love being different.


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