Standing outside London’s oldest surviving perfumery Floris, with its original shop front, you’d be forgiven if you thought you’d been taken back to the 18th Century. Having been situated on Jermyn Street since 1730 and still owned by descendants of founder Juan Floris these 280 years later it is fair to say that the team know more than a thing of two about the magical world of fragrance.
Stepping inside the perfumery, you’re instantly immersed into its rich heritage with display cabinets dating from the Great Exhibition of 1851 housing bottles that are as old as the premises themselves. Even though the perfumes are no longer made on site, the techniques and scents that they use today pay homage to the original creations.
Perfume became fashionable in the late 18th century at a time when personal hygiene and London’s sewers had yet to be discovered. Needless to say London and the people who lived there stank! It was under these conditions that Menorcan born Floris arrived and created his signature eau de perfume, Limes to mask these nasty smells.
Limes became the foundation of a range of perfumes that were worn by men and women alike (in the early days of perfumery, scents were not gender specific). Beau Brummell, Oscar Wilde and Mary Shelley were all faithful Floris customers. Much later, both Winston Churchill and Eva Perón wore a night-scented jasmine in scent No. 127. The James Bond novelist, Ian Fleming, was also a fan. He wore perfume No.89 and had his special agent bath in it in Dr No (Floris was also name-checked in Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker). Marilyn Monroe was also said to wear the Rose Geranium perfume - she bought six bottles of it when she visited the UK.
Perfume has gone hand in hand with fashion since the beginning of time. Floris, with its royal warrant and A-list fans, has always been there right at the top – making it the global brand it is today. Their latest collaboration in the fashion world is with Savile Row tailor, Spencer Hart. They’ve created a fragrance that complements the 1950s style suits that evoke the Rat Pack and are now worn by Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys and Benedict Cumberbatch.
The royal warrant that sits majestically above the shop front is evidence of its patronage by the British monarchy. Granted in the 1800s by George IV Floris has been creating and supplying perfume for the royals ever since. For Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Floris created two scents that were hand delivered to Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s lady-in-waiting sent a message to say that she loved them. Wills and Kate were also given a “Wedding Bouquet” to mark their marriage.
You don’t have to be royal or famous to enjoy having a perfume created especially for you. Bespoke fragrances are a large part of their business today. With more than 200 ingredients per bottle experienced perfumer Sheila can guide you in your choice of customizing a fragrance or creating one from scratch. Select your favourite scents, wear them on your skin to get a feel for them and then let the expert mixing begin.
* Floris recently opened a smaller, bespoke boutique in Belgravia. Their perfumes can also be found in John Lewis, Peter Jones, Harrods and Fortnum and Masons.