Family legacy and a sense of place bond two of Mayfair’s most venerable names. Sharing a longstanding heritage, Floris – London’s oldest perfumery – is a natural partner for us at Rocco Forte Hotels, with Brown’s, London’s first hotel, in our collection.
We met with the Director of Floris, Edward Bodenham, the ninth generation of his family to create scents with royal approval. Here we share our insightful conversation and reveal tales of espionage and secret new scents.
Do you feel there is a special connection between Floris and Brown’s Hotel?
We’ve been neighbours with Brown’s since it first opened in 1837 and we’ve had various collaborations over the years. For the Queen’s Jubilee, we teamed up with the team from The Donovan Bar who, inspired by our Platinum 22 fragrance, created The Jubilee Gintini cocktail.
How does it feel to be the ninth generation of the Floris family?
Like Rocco Forte Hotels, Floris is a family business. My sister heads up production in Devon, where we make all of our fragrances.
I’ve been visiting my dad and grandfather at our family business on Jermyn Street since I was young, so it felt natural to become part of it.
It’s only when looking through our archive or working on a new fragrance that I feel a sense of previous generations and I ask myself, ‘Would they approve?’ That anchor guides the fragrances we create and decisions we make. I have a feel for what fits with our family brand ethos.
Why is the private room in your Jermyn Street store so special?
When I open the original Spanish mahogany bookcases, I’m immediately taken back to when I was 10 years old, which is wonderfully nostalgic. It’s amazing how fragrances can do that.
St James’s used to have a festival every September on Jermyn Street. The road was closed and a brass band played – it was a highlight of the year. All the shops along the street hosted activities with Floris perfumers working on fragrances in the back room. There’s a real sense of community here, with St James’s Church very much at its heart.
Where are your favourite places in Mayfair and St James’s?
Fortnum & Mason’s brasserie, 45 Jermyn Street, is beautiful, while The Red Lion is a wonderful Victorian pub that’s been a meeting point for the Floris family for many years.
How does a heritage brand like Floris appeal to modern tastes?
We’re always experimenting with raw materials to create new fragrances. For example, ten years ago we were frequently asked about oud – a dark and smoky resin from the agar tree, native to the Middle East – and first started using it as part of a collaboration with Harrods.
Fig is a more recent new material. At lunch, I go to St James’s Park where you get a wonderful waft of fig trees. That’s what inspired Mulberry Fig, a new floral, amber fragrance which started ‘By Request’ and proved so popular that it sold out. We’e very excited that it will be joining the main collection in spring 2023.
How do you create new fragrances?
We’re inspired by our old formula books and archives. We are also rooted in our location. Our Jermyn Street fragrance has green notes to reflect the area’s plane trees, leathery vetiver to reference neighbouring shoe shops and cigar makers Davidoff of London and James J Fox, and juniper and coriander as a nod to Berry Bros & Rudd’s botanical gin.
We hand pour 50 to 100 bottles for our ‘By Request’ range – the small runs enable us to be more experimental. Some, like Mulberry Fig, are so popular, we introduce them to the main collection.
What does the future look like for Floris?
We’re launching our 007 fragrance. Author and James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, was a regular customer – he mentions Floris in three of his novels and it also features in several films. So it was lovely to be asked to create a scent for the 60th anniversary of the James Bond films.
It’s all been kept under wraps until today but I can reveal that the new 007 scent is a rich and spicy fragrance with amber at its base. Incidentally, No. 89, which my grandfather created in the 1950s, was Ian Fleming’s preferred scent.
We are also expanding our range of candles and diffusers, adding a new fragrance to the existing four of cinnamon and tangerine, hyacinth and bluebell, sandalwood and patchouli and grapefruit and rosemary. It’s a secret for now but do come back and I’ll tell you more.
For an aromatically spritzed sensorial adventure, sip a Jubilee Gintini in Donovan Bar in Brown’s Hotel or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 20 7493 6020 to arrange a bespoke consultation at Floris.