Floris – Royalty, Churchill & Marilyn Monroe loved them: here’s why YOU should, too…

Floris have scented everyone from royalty, Florence Nightingale, prime ministers and even Marilyn Monroe, but now you can dip into their incredible history (and try some their more contemporary fragrances) in their newly curated Floris Discovery Collections

The long-distinguished history of Floris first began in the dreams of one Juan Famenias Floris, who in 1730 sailed from his native Minorca to set up in London. Marrying an English girl, he settled in business as a barber on Jermyn Street within the fashionable St. James’s area, first making hair combs and then assuaging his homesickness by blending fragrant oils he’d transported from Europe. Customers soon took to ordering bespoke blends, all recorded in leather-bound ledgers, enabling Floris to re-create them should further supplies be required in the future – and thus a fragrant dynasty was born.

 

Many of those original ledgers, order forms and letters of thanks are still in existence, preserved by successive generations of the Floris family, and offering a uniquely fascinating glimpse of British fragrant taste through the ages. Their books boast orders from Admirals serving under Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, George IV, through to Winston Churchill. In 1820, Floris received the first of 16 Royal Warrants and retains the title: Perfumers to HM The Queen Elizabeth II and Manufacturers of Toilet Preparations to HRH The Prince of Wales.

 

 

And then there was Marilyn Monroe. The scent the world’s biggest sex-symbol always made sure to stock up on? In their extraordinary archive (some of which is on display in the rear of their Jermyn Street boutique), Floris happen to have an original form detailing Marilyn’s order for their surprisingly unisex and greenly fresh Rose Geranium. Indeed, she loved it so much she requested SIX bottles at a time be delivered to her in Beverley Hills! (NB: A far more contemporary rose is their A Rose For… in The Private Collection – an intriguingly smoky gossamer embrace).

 

 

 

The original Floris shop still stands on Jermyn Street. (A couple of generations ago, fragrances were actually manufactured two floors below street level, in a basement known as ‘the mine’.) Now beautifully refurbished, the boutique many other intriguing artefacts to discover on display, along with a wide wardrobe of perfumes to explore. Edward Bodenham – an ancestor of Juan Famenias Floris himself – is the current Perfumery Director at Floris, with fragrance clearly in his blood.

Floris Classic Collection Set £35

As he explains: ‘I feel immensely proud to be part of the family business and to have the opportunity to help introduce our perfume house to a new generation. I have such fond memories of visiting the shop from a young age, and it is very nostalgic for me to be around the fragrances that I have grown up with my whole life. They really are like old friends to me.’

No matter how fascinating or notable their past, however, no perfume house could merely trade off their history. So as Edward notes – and more recent creations like sun-drenched Neroli Voyage in the Classic Collection and utterly addictive Honey Oud in Private Collection, prove – Floris are ‘always evolving. We have to be experimental and explorative when working on new fragrances – in just the same way my forefathers were in their day.’ Adding: ‘I hope that they would be proud of our creations today.’

Floris Private Collection Set £35

No question about it, in our minds. And we say: here’s to the next 300 years or so, Floris!

Celebrating 100 years of Shalimar (and why we still love it)

It’s really quite incredible to think that Shalimar is 100 years old – having been first launched in 1921 – and that Guerlain‘s most romantic fragrance is still worn and adored to this day. If you’re already a fan of the fragrance you’ll know how special it is, but if you’ve never tried it… oh, you’re in for in a treat!

 

Jacques Guerlain – Guerlain Perfumer 1890-1955

‘A good perfume is one whose scent corresponds to an initial dream.’

 

 

The History: The most prolific of the Guerlain perfumers, Jacques’ rein lasted for an astonishing 65 years. He took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 and was responsible for creating the ultimate signature of Guerlain, the ‘Guerlianade’: an accord which blends vanilla, bergamot, balsams, tonka bean, iris, rose and jasmine, and has been at the heart of (almost) every fragrance since the early 1920s. His most celebrated creations include L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and of course, the astonishing Shalimar, launched in 1921, which remains one of the bestselling fragrances in the world.

 

 

 

The flacon for Shalimar is almost as fascinating as the fragrance inside. Sometimes described as the ‘bat’ bottle (we hadn’t until now quite realised it resembled outstretched wings!), it is also said to resemble a basin that could be admired in the Mughal gardens in India, and was designed by another talented Guerlain, Raymond, with a dark blue stopper chosen to evoke Indian starry nights. The bottle won first prize at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industry in 1925.

 

 

Why perfumers love Shalimar: When we interview perfumers, we often ask which classic fragrance they wish they’d created or most admire. One of the most frequent answers? Shalimar, of course. Carlos Benaïm told us, ‘My grandmother used to wear Shalimar. It is magnificent, absolutely wonderful, with that mossiness – not just oakmoss, but the other mosses which we’re restricted from using so much these days…’ And Alberto Morillas – another nose often cited as one of the most talented perfumers working today – explained, ‘If you ask me what is the greatest fragrance ever created, I’d say Guerlain Shalimar. Some might imagine it’s old-fashioned but it’s also very modern. There are all sorts of contrasts inside it – but it works so well.’

 

Guerlain Shalimar £83 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

Why we love wearing Shalimar: Imagine a silky pair of 1920s pyjamas worn as daywear (or with heels, to a cocktail party) as uplifting lemon and bergamot swirl with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine. Beautifully rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. To wear Shalimar is still the ultimate gesture of olfactive romance.

Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam. And it’s one of those perfumes that people will still be wearing and talking about in another 100 years, we reckon.

Many Happy Returns, Shalimar!

By Suzy Nightingale

 

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba returns!

When fragrance ingredients become scarce, suddenly our favourite scents can be rendered obscure – something fans of Angela Flanders Aqua Alba know all too well. But those craving this perfectly seasonal, warm and smoky fragrance can now rejoice, as it’s back, baby!

Originally released as a limited edition in 2012, Angela Flanders Aqua Alba soon achieved something of a cult following – and no wonder, for this loamy swirl of amber-rich magnificence celebrates the very art of blending, distilling the distinctive flavours of whisky – translating them into a fragrance that captures the character without smelling as though you’ve had one too many. Indeed, the name Whisky stems from the Gaelic word meaning ‘water of life’, and the dark, peaty notes of Aqua Alba perfectly evoke i’ts magically restorative properties.’

Brown Oak Moss – one of the key base ingredients for Aqua Alba – suddenly became unavailable, meaning that the original formula needed to be completely re-worked from scratch. Flanders’ daughter, Kate Evans, has now painstakingly amended that original formula with new accords that still create the spirit and true character that so many fell for, which has been, she admits, ‘…quite a journey.’

Kate reminisces that ‘It was a fascinating process to watch Angela create Aqua Alba originally, inspired by her conversations with Jim Beveridge, Master Blender at Johnnie Walker Whisky; and attempting to replace the lost ingredient while remaining as true to the original as possible has been quite an olfactory challenge.’

So what did Kate discover to re-create the distinctly cosy mossiness of the first fragrance?

Angela Flanders say: ‘Distinguished, comforting and rugged, Aqua Alba draws on elements of the Scottish landscape that so imbue whisky with its distinctive flavours – peat smoke, heather, wind blasted wood, soft green mosses… Labdanum and patchouli represent the moss and earth, overlaying a heart of heather and gaiac wood, on a base of sweet amber, oudh and smoky peat.’

Says Kate, ‘With such a loyal following for this particular perfume, and a waiting list for the new iteration we are thrilled to have it ready in time for this winter season.’ Not nearly as thrilled as though of us who have waited breathlessly for it to return…

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba £79 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at angelaflanders.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Lavender true… five scents to make your heart sigh for an everlasting summer

Swathes of purple patches embellishing the countryside truly lift the soul – there’s something about seeing simplicity en-masse that becomes staggeringly beautiful…
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Aesthetically pleasing we can all agree, but many fragrance fans unfairly discount a dominant note of lavender in perfumery as being ;old-fashioned; – perhaps recalling scented drawer-sachets or bath salts that rarely use the high quality, perfume-grade lavender, and instead the far cheaper, dusty-old-drawer smelling low quality essential oil or even poorly made synthetic lavender.
Judge not, oh ye of little fragrance faith, until you have read on!
Known in Provence as ;blue gold;, the best lavender used in perfumery tends to be grown in higher altitudes, and often doesn’t at all resemble what we think we know lavender smells of. Pure lavender essential oil can be spicy, peppery, herbaceous, misty, smoky or green and many cannot identify the note when asked to sniff blind.
Recently we took a group of our VIP Subscribers to the wonderful Mitchell & Peach Lavender Farm in Kent, and everyone was enchanted by the picturesque countryside and the family’s in-depth knowledge and passion for the land and the crops they tend there.
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With lavender having a resurgence as a note to rediscover in contemporary fragrances we suggested you try, it is also important to appreciate those British classics that have withstood the test of time, and fragrances that cherish it as the “hero note” – revelling in their true lavender love.
You can read more about the history of lavender’s use in perfumery on our fascinating Ingredients section of the website, but in the meantime, here’s our edit of the absolute must-try lavender scents. And every time you spray, you can keep summer alive that little bit longer…
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Freshly aromatic with a twist of eucalyptus and rosemary with the traditional lavender, the heart is a tender bouquet of geranium, rose and orange flower, with an earthier base of patchouli and musk for a dusky trail…
Bronnley Lavender £13.50 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at bronnley.co.uk
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Made by the Cistertian monks of tiny Caldey island in south west Wales, this is humbly presented yet unexpectedly sublime – all fresh air, hazy dawns and mist-draped secret gardens. Almost slightly minty, it’s like a late Summer breeze in a bottle…
Caldey Island Lavender £17.50 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at caldey-island.co.uk
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With a green hay-like sweetness, this is Yardley London’s signature fragrance. Beautifully elegant, lavender leaves enhance the freshness on top, then the oil is infused with neroli and clary sage, geranium,  sandalwood and tonka for a smooth dry-down…
Yardley English Lavender £9.99 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots
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With zesty lemon, verbena and grapefruit shot through the composition of this ultra-green lavender, it’s a wakeup call for the senses. Gauzy jasmine and delicate hints of amber intrigue the cedarwood trail…
Crabtree & Evelyn Verbena and Lavender de Provence £20 for 30ml Cologne
Buy it at crabtree-evelyn.co.uk
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One of the very first flowers distilled by founder Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane uses lavender directly sourced from farmers’ cooperatives in Haute-Provence. This aromatic tribute to their homeland is the softest way there is to soothe frazzled nerves…
L’Occitane Lavender Relaxing Roll-On £12 for 10ml Cologne
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com
Do you have a favourite lavender fragrance, or have you tried one recently that really changed your mind? Do get in touch by Tweeting, posting a picture and tagging us on Instagram or e-mail us here – we’d love to hear about it!
Written by Suzy Nightingale