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The 411: Sarah Rotheram


British perfumery Penhaligon’s has always appealed to those with rather eccentric tastes—after all, its founder, William Penhaligon, dreamt up his first scent, Hammam Bouquet, after inhaling the steamy aromas of the Turkish baths in London in 1872. Today, the unblushing spirit of the brand is carried on by Sarah Rotheram, whose tastes fittingly err toward the delightfully quirky. After studying fashion textiles at university in the southwest of England, Rotheram moved to London and discovered her passion for “creative perfumery,” as she calls it, at luxury scent purveyor Molton Brown. In 2009, she landed at Penhaligon’s and quickly launched an impressive repertoire of scents that reimagine the past—Sartorial, for example, fuses together woods, leather, violet leaf, honey, and spices to evoke the illusion of a Savile Row tailor’s workroom, while the latest release, Juniper Sling, is spiked with gin, juniper, and amber as an atmospheric homage to London’s roaring twenties. A frequent traveler and antique collector, Rotheram’s good taste extends to perfume accessories as well, and she recently introduced crystal atomizers handmade in Italy and silver-plated fragrance solids to the Penhaligon’s collection. Here, we asked the scent expert to expound upon her latest beauty loves from home and away.

The Signature Scents: A Revolving Cast of Favorites

“I could write a very long list of my favorite fragrances, as there are so many I go back to. My fragrance of the moment is Hammam Bouquet from 1872. Fragrances just aren’t made like that anymore! On the weekends, it’s Tom of Finland by Etat Libre d’Orange. I have also become addicted to Batucada, a new launch from [Penhaligon's sister brand] L’Artisan Parfumeur. The fragrance is full of vibration, swinging between sensual, fun, fresh, salty, fruity, and always surprising. Then Chanel No. 5—I always find time to dab this on, most often before bed. It’s one of the fragrances my mother always wore and as soon as I smell it on my skin, I am close to her.”

Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet, $120,; Etat Libre d’Orange Tom of Findland, about $93,; L’Artisan Parfumeur Batucada, launching this month at; Chanel No. 5 Parfum, $285,

The Bottle Shop: Aedes de Venustas

“When I’m in New York, I must visit this little perfumery in the West village. The store is adorable, decadent, and every girl’s dream playground.”

Aedes de Venustas, 9 Christopher St., (212) 206-8674,

The Pampering Paradise: The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort

“The spa pulls together different Asian therapies and bathing experiences focusing on the body and mind. Before your chosen treatment, you’re given Chinese foot pounding, an old ritual that stems from the days of bound feet and the concubines of feudal China. They literally pound your foot using a wooden hammer to alleviate the pressure and pain —I love it. Then there’s a rainwater waterfall bath, followed by a traditional Malay circulating bath and Japanese-style cleansing with a ‘goshi-goshi’ cloth. Afterward, you take a dip in the heated Rotenburu pool and finish with a gentle exfoliating wash, called a Shanghai scrub, which was once traditionally reserved for men. All this takes place in the most magical, breathtaking location, so you feel completely restored and calm.”

The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Laut Island, 32200 Lumut, Perak, Malaysia, 800-9899-9999,

The Beauty To-Go: Erno Laszlo

“I travel constantly and my skin can easily feel dehydrated and look dull. Two products by Erno Laszlo I can’t live without: the C-peel and the Hydro-Therapy Skin Vitality mask. When I land, the first thing I do in the hotel room is use the two-step scrub, then without fail, the next morning I use the mask.”

Erno Laszlo C-Peel, $80, and Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment, $55,

The Me-Time Break: Strokes and Stretching

“Swimming is my regular form of exercise, as I can do this anywhere. However, when I am back in London, I visit Julia at the Moss Pilates studio on Brushfield Street. The one-on-one lessons keep you really focused on your body and how you move and breathe.”

Moss Pilates, 10 London Fruit Exchange, 56 Brushfield St., London, 020-7377- 5959,

The Lip-Locked Love: Better Off Red

“I’ve heard that the average woman has nine lipsticks; I must have at least 30 red lipsticks as I’m always on the hunt for that perfect red. Any serious red lipstick girl must try the NARS matte lip pencil in Pop Life and Guerlain Rouge G lipstick No. 25.”

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Pop Life, $24,; Guerlain Rouge G De Guerlain Lipstick in No. 25, $47,

The Supper Clubs: St. John and the Tippling Club

“I am a regular and love the no-fuss decor and the British seasonal food at St. John’s. You must try the Eccles cakes with Lancashire cheese. I don’t normally have a sweet tooth and this is an exception for me. If you are in Singapore, then the Tippling Club in Dempsey Hill is a must. All of us at Penhaligon’s have been so taken with the food and experience that we are holding our next press event there.”

St. John Bar and Restaurant, 26 St. John St., London, 44-020-3301-8069,; The Tippling Club, 8D Dempsey Rd., Singapore, 65-6475-2217,

Photo: Courtesy of Penhaligon’s

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