Perfumes, perfume maker
Article added on March 18, 2004
Floris London is one of the world's most traditional perfume makers, established in 1730 by Juan Famenias Floris. The Spaniard from the island of Menorca first opened a barber and comb-maker shop to London's fashionable gentlemen in the capital's elegant quarter of St. James. Missing the scents, aromas and memories of his Mediterranean childhood, he began blending oils, essences and fixatives from the Continent into the first Floris fragrances using skills developed on his way to England in Montpellier, which at the time rivaled Grasse as the capital of the French perfumery industry.
Perfumes quickly became the vocation and core business of Floris and the talk of the town. Today, the shop is still located at its original premises at Jermyn Street, once residence to the Duke of Marlborough, Gray the Poet and Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Not only the fragrance business flourished at Floris, but also the sale of handmade hair combs, handcrafted from tortoiseshell (imported from Menorca) and ivory. Other products included shaving brushes, hatpins, toothbrushes, fine-tooth combs and razor-straps, all made on the premises.
In 1820, the first Royal Warrant was granted to J. Floris Ltd as "Smooth Pointed Comb-makers" to the then newly appointed King George IV. Today this first Royal warrant is still on display at 89 Jermyn Street together with no less than sixteen others. Ever since 1820 Floris has held the Royal Warrant of every reigning monarch to this day. Currently, Floris holds two: Perfumer's to HM The Queen Elizabeth II and Manufacturers of Toilet Preparations to HRH The Prince of Wales.
In 1995, The Prince of Wales commissioned a number of companies holding his Royal Warrant to produce a selection of merchandise for The Highgrove Collection, the proceeds of which would benefit The Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation. Floris created a selection of fine toiletries reflecting the Prince's taste which are sold both in Floris' Jermyn Street shop and the Highgrove shop.
Today Floris is run by the eighth generation of descendants of the company founder, Juan Famenias Floris. Soon after his arrival in London, Juan Floris married and Englishwoman, Elizabeth Hodgkiss, and they had seven children. The current Floris generation, Directors John Bodenham and Christopher Marsh, are both great great grandsons of Mary Ann Floris, who in turn was the great granddaughter of Juan Floris. Mary Anne Floris married James Radford Dutton Bodenham in 1870. She subsequently took over the business, buying out the interests of her brother, Joseph Floris. Joseph was said to be a gambler. His was sent to the United States - with a one way ticket - and was never seen again. Together with her husband, Mary Anne handled the family business. Handing it down to their sons, the family name changed from Floris to Bodenham.
The Jermyn Street shop is fitted with Spanish mahogany showcases purchased from the 1851 Great Exhibition in London's Hyde Park. Through the years, the family has consistently kept examples of their products, the earliest items date from around 1800-1810 and the earliest receipt from 1816. They form today's private Floris family museum (created around 1910) in the back room of the shop.
Until the 1960's, the entire Floris operation was run from the premises at 89 Jermyn Street. Products were hand-crafted in the basement, then elegantly packaged by hand before being brought upstairs to the shop shelves.
The expansion and increased demand made it necessary to purchase other premises from which to make and distribute the Floris products. In the early 1970's, a small premises and laboratory unit was established in Sussex, other premises had to be built a decade later. By 1990 the production of the entire Floris range was moved to Tiverton in Devon, while the distribution center remained in Sussex.
The first shipments of Floris products to the USA came in 1912. In 1986 Floris opened a shop on 703 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. In recent years, Floris has become available in many more perfumeries than before, online ordering is possible since April 2000 and new products have been launched and old scents revived. It remains to be seen if Floris can keep up the quality of its products as well as its exclusivity.
The list of well-known past and present Floris customers is almost endless. The names range from Errol Flynn, Michael Caine, Brian Ferry, Mick Jagger and David Bowie to Sir Winston Churchill, from Vivien Leigh, Wallis Simpson and Emma Thompson to Margaret Thatcher.
Jermyn Street was the epicenter for distinguished London gentlemen in the 18th century situated at the heart of Gentleman's "club-land". In Regency times, the famous dandy Beau Brummell would discuss his current fragrances at length with Mr. Floris. And Oscar Wilde, who was famous for wearing a green carnation, wore Malmaison Carnation, still on sale at Floris today.
Some of the products still on sale even date back to the mid-18th century, for instance Lilly of the Valley and Lavender. Some of Floris' perfumes have very particular stories, for instance Special 127 was created for Russia's Grand Duke Orloff in 1890. Following his death, the perfume was named from the page number of the special formulas book which it occupied.
Among Floris' famous customers was also Emma, Lady Hamilton (biography in German). At the turn of the 18th century, Lord Nelson was a Floris customer. He was writing from overseas whilst fighting the French to order perfume and other luxury goods for Lady Hamilton.
The Floris archives hold reams of treasured letters from famous and less famous customers detailing their preferences and thanks. On July 25, 1863 Florence Nightingale thanked Mr. Floris for his "sweet-smelling nosegay" and giving news of the Army's sickness record in India. Mary Shelley traveling abroad sent friends clear instructions on where to purchase her favorite combs: Floris.
White Rose was for sale at Floris from c. 1800 to 1940 and reintroduced as a Floris Classic in April 2003. Its top notes are floral rose, violet and carnation. The middle notes include violet, jasmine, spicy rose and iris. The base notes comprise orris, musk and amber. White Rose is special for its soft and warm notes, without the green notes of older and more traditional rose fragrances.
Through Queen Victoria, whose Royal Warrant and crest is still displayed on the Front of the Floris Jermyn Street store, White Rose was introduced into all royal families of Europe, including the Empress Alexandra of Russia, who was Victoria's granddaughter. Alexandra's favorite fragrance is well known to be White Rose.
In the 1920's and 1930's, wearers of White Rose included Gertrude Lawrence, who often received the perfume as a gift from her great chum Noel Coward, a prominent Floris customer of the time.
Another Floris Classic reintroduced in 2003 is Summer Limes. This vibrant, zesty and refreshing fragrance evocative of lime groves and Mediterranean summers, for both men and women, was first introduced in the late 19th century to combat the oppressive heat of the city in summer. Limes opens with citrus fresh lemon and lime notes. The middle notes of sweet citrus and lime blossom then carry the fragrance through to the mellow musky base.
The gentleman's fragrance No. 89 simply takes its name from Floris' Jermyn Street premises. In recent years, James Bond movies have increasingly become a product placement venue. The idea may even come from Ian Fleming's novels since the fictional character of James Bond for instance always wore No. 89. As for Al Pacino's character in Scent of a Woman, he declared he knew the woman in his "sights" was wearing a Floris fragrance.
In 1999, Floris created a new range of products for the home in five fragrances, including room spray fragrance and scented candles. Scented botanicals (pot pourri) are for sale too. By the way, already on a price list of 1853 one can find products for "The perfuming of Apartments".
In March 2001, a sixth home fragrance, Floris At Home: Grapefruit & Rosemary was launched. Its fresh, sharp grapefruit zest is combined with a hint of Spring Rosemary to produce a tangy fragrance with subtle nuances brimming with energy. This feel-good home fragrance is evocative of early, dew-dusted mornings as spring ventures into summer. The contrasting flavors of Grapefruit & Rosemary will infuse your home with a vibrant yet soothing energy.
In 2001 Floris launched Cefiro, its first fragrance tailor made for the luxury hotel market, designed to be used by both men and women. Cefiro opens with an intricate combination of sparkly citrus top notes, including lime, grapefruit, mandarin and lemon. The fragrance then takes on hints of light, leafy green bergamot and neroli blended with sandalwood. Green tea notes and musk prolong this citrus accord.
Floris products can be found in luxury hotels around the world, in London for instance at The Connaught, Claridge's and at The Dorchester, which, in 2003, had its own exclusive set of amenity products created by Floris, only available at the hotel. It comprises: Spearmint & Spice Shampoo, Spearmint & Spice Conditioner, Almond Oil & Aloe Vera, Lime, Lemon & Mandarin Body Wash, Honey & Almond Bath Oil, Citrus & Lavender Soap.
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Floris in Jermyn Street. Photo © Floris, London.
Floris in Jermyn Street. Photo © Floris, London.
Summer Limes. Photo © Floris, London.
Floris Cefiro. Photo © Floris, London.
Bouquet de La Reine. Photo © Floris, London.
Floris Badeseife. Photo © Floris, London.
China Rose Eau de Parfum. Photo © Floris, London.