Penhaligon’s fascinating fragrant history

Penhaligon’s are one of the most famous fragrance houses in the world, a proudly British brand with the most fascinating fragrant history…

Hot towels and steamily scented delights were the order of the day for customers flocking to the famous Piccadilly Turkish Baths on Jermyn Street and it was here that William Penhaligon started working as a hairdresser in the 1860s. Originally from Penzance, Cornwall, his shrewd eye for business led to him opening a rival salon just down the street a few years later. There, Penhaligon began creating his very own fragrances, lotions and potions for a most discerning clientele to enjoy.

1891 saw what was then ‘Penhaligon’s & Jeavons’ move to the even more prestigious premises of 33 St James Street and 66 Jermyn Street, with the two stores linked together at the rear. They announced to the press that not only were they the sole suppliers for the original Penhaligon’s ‘hit’ fragrance of Hammam Bouquet, but that both shops boasted a new- fangled invention of… electric lighting – still a novelty at this point in retail!

Clearly a whizz with the scissors and the scents, Penhaligon was appointed Royal Barber and Perfumer to the Royal Court during Queen Victoria’s reign and by 1903 his business was granted its first Royal Warrant from Queen Alexandra. Nearly a century and a half later, Penhaligon’s has added Royal Warrants from The Prince of Wales (granted in 1988) and the Duke of Edinburgh (granted in 1956) to their regal roll call.

140+ years old they may be, but that doesn’t mean the techniques they use are stuck in a time-warp. Penhaligon’s consistently make the most of the newest fragrance technology – from CO2 extraction to Nature Print Technology and beyond – promising that ‘each bottle contains a blend of the very old and very new.’ Those distinctive bottles tap into their history, too; clear glass and brightly coloured bow-ties adorning the stoppers are a direct echo of William’s original design.

Still made and produced in England, many of the original fragrances can still be found in the current collection, including Hamman Bouquet. Lately, however, Penhaligon’s have collaborated with some of the greats noses of modern times – including Bertrand Duchaufour, Olivia Giacobetti, Olivier Cresp and Alberto Morrillas.

Lately, a whole ‘family’ has been added to their already impressive stable of fragrances, the Penhaligon’s Portraits. Displaying more than a dash of exquisite eccentricity, we’re invited to get to know the characters, like The Ruthless Countess Dorothea, who is ‘A most ferocious matriarch, known for her sharp mind, even sharper wit and a secret fondness for the company of young men and scones.’ While described in mischievously historical tones, it’s a tingling, ginger-infused shot of oppulence on a cosy, slightly boozy base. And all the Portraits fragrances have their fingers on the button of contemporary fashions – much like the house of Penhaligon’s itself.

Penhaligon’s is a treasure trove of scents to discover – rich in both heritage and modern mischieviousness – and how many perfumeries still standing (and thriving) since the 1800’s can you think of? We love the way each boutique has its own distinct personality, too, with lavishly appointed interiors uniquely themed to suit each location.

Have you been to visit the newly re-vamped Penhaligon’s Wellington Street store in Covent Garden? We rather swooned over the decor (while sniffing out all the latest scents). Whichever boutique you visit, we’re sure you’ll love getting to know the entire ‘family’ of fragrances…

By Suzy Nightingale

Meet the Jo Malone London Gent – John Boyega

Following in the footsteps of the ‘Jo Malone London Girls’ –  Poppy Delevingne and Karen Elson – get ready to greet the new fragrant face and ‘Jo Malone London Gent‘: London born movie star, John Boyega.

Jean-Guillaume Trottier, Global President of Jo Malone London, explained they chose Boyega because, as a ‘…born and bred Londoner, John is intelligent, inclusive and witty. He shares our core values of generosity and creativity and is unafraid to speak his mind. His vivacity and whole-heartedness make him a wonderful fit with Jo Malone London and I am delighted to welcome him to the family.’

The boy from Peckham’s done well, that’s for sure: from recieving BAFTA’s 2016 Rising Star Award and the Chopard Trophy at Cannes, Boyega captured worldwide attention for his starring role as Finn, forst in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (which happens to be the highest-grossing US film of all time), and again in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (the highest grossing film, worldwide, of all time).

But it’s not just the big-hitters he’s known for, as Boyega has also graced indie smashhits such as Detroit and Attack the Block, now bringing his vibrancy, vigour and versatillity to the proudly homegrown brand, and along with redefining what it means to be a contempirary gent right now, Jo Malone London say he ‘mirrors our scents which always accentuate the surprising and the bold. Whilst known for being a huge presence and personality, Boyega himself values understatement and originality in scent.’

And we’re sure you’re going to want to know this gent better, so are delighted to share with you a Q&A, below, as well as a sneak peek at his first film for Jo Malone London…

What made you join the Jo Malone London Family?

John Boyega: ‘I love the creativity and storytelling element of Jo Malone London. It’s something I resonate with, it’s how I work best: with discussion, collaboration and down to earth honesty. Jo Malone London always delivers unexpected and unique ingredient choices and scents. It’s refined, but it’s surprising too. My life is the same, a subtle contradiction: my job, my profession, and then I still come home to this town, I still go to the supermarket late at night in my pyjamas. In some ways, everything’s changed, but then again nothing has.’

What is your relationship to scent?

‘Scent is part of my everyday style. My personal style is quite casual but I like to mix it up with interesting fits with Japanese influenced jackets, fitted trousers and chains. I like that I can change up my scent to suit my style. I’m guilty, I like to layer my fragrance. You can make some really interesting smells. If my life was a bottle of cologne it would be called: Conflicts and Success. A new Boyega line.’

What is your first memory of scent?

‘My first job was before school, I would deliver post, milk and sweets. And then I used to sell a bit at school. Sell a little bit of candies, Rockies, Haribo’s. So, my childhood smells like those old school sweets, those drumsticks, gobstoppers, spicy soup.’

What Jo Malone London products would you recommend?

Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense is a solid favourite. It’s a really good scent. I like to wear it on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t attract too much attention, but at the same time it gets people looking and smelling.
I also like a bit of oud; oud is a lovely smell.’

What do you look for in a script?

‘I look for a number of things in a script. But for me, the main thing is the character arc. I don’t want my character to begin and end the movie the same. I want a change, something different. Something that happens with the character, that means you have to go on an interesting journey with him.’

What’s your favourite part of being on set?

‘My favourite part about being on set is collaborating with the people. I’ve always watched films and never had clarity in my younger days on how the magic starts and is created. So, to be a part of that and witness it is the biggest rush.’

What is something you didn’t expect about being famous?

‘One thing I didn’t expect about being famous is the fact that some things don’t change. Sometimes you have to wait in the queue like everyone else and that’s fine. I mean, I guess I got told so many things about being famous I thought that everything was going to change for me. But I still go shopping late at night in my PJ’s. Nothing’s really changed.’

What wouldn’t you go a day without?

‘I won’t go a day without wearing a comfortable pair of socks. It doesn’t matter if they’re different socks because sometimes in the wash, things get confusing. But as long as they’re both comfortable. I’m cool. I also wear scent every day.’

What do you miss most about England when you’re not here?

‘Sometimes I miss the weather, because I want to put on a jacket. And not always be surrounded by blue skies and sun. I miss the moody faces, I can’t lie, there’s something about the reality and honesty that I like. I just miss London, I miss home.’

What’s the first thing you do when you get back to London?

‘The first thing I do is take a drive. I go back around South London, then drive around Crystal Palace, all the way around Dulwich, go down to Brixton. Just go for a drive, get the feel of the city, see what’s going on. Put the radio on. I just catch a vibe.’

So now, settle down, and get ready to see the Jo Malone Gent in action! (If you happen to have a bottle of Bronze Wood & Leather Cologne Intense nearby, you could always spray that all over for some multi-sensory cinema action, as now at least we know his current favourite fragrance…)

So for his latest – scented – starring role, expect to see Boyega further ‘navigate new territory, celebrating Britishness, storytelling and fragrance as he takes on a new kind of spotlight as the first Jo Malone London Gent.’

Floris River Dawn – hand-poured, By Request

Floris have released River Dawn, a limited edition fragrance of only 200 hand-poured bottles. Invoking shady streams and woodland walks, it’s definitely making us spring-ready…

Venturing out to explore the River Avon for their inspiration, the Floris perfumery team followed its meandering course as it begins in the beautiful, golden-stoned Cotswolds and as various tributaries merge, finalling flowing through Wiltshire on its way to the sea.

Edward Bodenham, Perfumery Director at Floris, spoke about their fragrant journey:
‘Historically we always launch our hand poured collection in late January, when winter is setting in but nature provides a few early signs of spring, particularly on our river banks. I love this time of year and whilst working on the ‘River Dawn’ scent with our team, it became clear that I wasn’t alone. Our rivers drive us on, providing tranquillity and uplifting our spirits, even in the harshest coldest winter, as the sun rises on a new day, they continue to shape our land, our geology, our industry and trade. They are a constant source of inspiration.

I recently walked along the banks of the Avon near Bradford Upon Avon. It’s a part of the world that for me encapsulates a huge amount of the beauty of our country. Interestingly our perfumer, Penny Ellis, who worked with me in creating this fragrance is a keen river swimmer who has swam sections of the Avon during these colder months which gave her huge inspiration when composing the scent.

We wanted to reflect the vibrant yet reflective tranquillity of flowing, shimmering water. How it feels to be in that raw environment. The natural beauty of the cold river bank, signs that spring is on its way as tea olives force through the cold, and snow drops appear in the shade of wooded forests, never far from the water. Most of all, we wanted to portray that emotion felt when rising before the dawn to see these landscapes completely unspoilt, before the world awakes. The river dwellers, fishermen, swimmers, rowers and those who still earn a living, working in harmony with its flow.’

Love at first sniff?
From the first spray, you’ll be transported to those gurgling tributaries with a crisp, galbanum freshness that speaks of green shoots bravely poking their heads above ground. Think fats buds just about to blossom, spiderwebs bejewelled with dewdrops, the cheering sight of snowdrops and hyacinths and a drift of spring’s first apple blossom in the air. Grounded with soothing sandalwood and delicately dusted with orris, this is the perect thing to wear when you want to celebrate that subtle shift in the seasons – not quite the end of winter, but good lord it’s almost in sight. A lightening of days and spirits, then, that make this a must-have (and a beautiful choice for any spring brides, we say).

Read more about the historic heritage of Floris in our page dedicated to their story…

Floris River Dawn £180 for 100ml eau de parfum
Only available at 89 Jermyn Street and florislondon.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale