Tralala; what a fantastic name for a perfume. It’s very hard to say it to yourself in anything other than a sing-songy voice. It’s what a young girl would trill while skipping through a meadow on a sunny day picking daisies and lacing them into her hair.
Carefree and more than a little kooky, this unusual moniker combined with the clownish doll’s head bottle with oversized bow-tie, means that expectations for this fragrance are definitely set to “kitsch”.
Tralala is the product of a collaboration between Penhaligon’s and off-beat British fashion house, Meadham Kirchhoff.
The clothing label was established in London in 2007 and is known for mixing old-fashioned vignettes with modern aesthetics to come up with something frivolous and fresh. Their style is opulent, idiosyncratic and darkly romantic.
Penhaligon’s have scented the Meadham Kirchhoff catwalk shows for the past nine seasons, so this joint perfume project seems like a natural progression. The fragrance is intended to represent “the surreal and fantastical world their designs represent”.
Top notes; aldehydes, whiskey, ambrette seed butter, galbanum, violet leaf
Heart notes; leather, tuberose, ylang ylang, incense, orris, carnation
Base notes; patchouli, cedarwood, opoponax, vetiver, heliotrope, myrrh, musk and vanilla.
This varied assortment looks like it’s been spewed out by a random note list generator. Again we begin to suspect the result will be suitably bizarre.
The opening is definitely on message. It’s an oddball mix of clashing accords. There are lots of aldehydes, quite a bit of spicy saffron, a splash of whiskey and for a while, the cool metallic twang of violet leaf.
The aldehydes are very soapy and airy, creating a retro haze over the more edgy top notes. Unlike the customary fizzy aldehydes which shoot up and then disappear like fireworks, this bright mist hovers above the skin for the best part of an hour.
I suspect that with so much going on, different skin types (and noses) will pick up different facets. On me, the heart is chiefly a very supple suede underneath sweet florals with a few fronds of saffron left-over from the opening. The effect is soft, girly and lightly powdered.
This stage is not dissimilar in feel to Bertrand Dauchaufour’s Traversée du Bosphore for L’Artisan Parfumeur.
The warm base is resinous with vanilla, some fluffy heliotrope and a spiral of smoke from the opoponax, á la Shalimar. It’s a very conventional ending, but I guess even fashionistas like to pull on a pair of comfy jogging pants come the end of the day.
Despite some weighty ingredients, Tralala tinkles away at a high register. It makes a style statement but never feels remotely loud or base heavy. It has very good longevity, lasting about eight hours on me.
Although it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of (English Breakfast) tea, I wouldn’t call it challenging. That somewhat strange and soapy opening is the quirkiest it gets. Like that classic British foodstuff, Marmite, you’ll either find the perfume’s whimsical nature endearing or you won’t.
Penhaligon’s describe Tralala as “counter culture couture” and that’s what it is for the most part: a refined and feminine mélange of differing elements in a fragrant game of mix and match. It juxtaposes vintage with modern, hot with cold and childishness with sophistication.
It could prove to be this season’s must-have accessory for those fashion mavens who like to stand out from the crowd without pushing the boundaries too far.
Have you tried Tralala yet? Are you tempted?